Puzzling about Spinoza on expression (part 2)

My previous post asked some questions about Spinoza’s notion of expression. I’m particularly interested in – puzzled by, really – the expression done by attributes and modes. In that post, I asked whether it helped to think of Spinoza’s talk of expression using the model provided by Leibniz’s claim that “every effect expresses its cause” (Discourse on […]

Puzzling about Spinoza on expression (part 1)

Writing about Leibniz on expression got me thinking about other early modern talk about expression, and in particular about Spinoza, who talks several times in his Ethics about things expressing others. Some of this expressing involves language, but other cases seem not to. Thus both attributes and modes are said to express things. For example, 1p6 talks of the infinite attributes of […]

Whatever happened to the theory of supposition?

Reading Arash Abizadeh’s recent “The Absence of Reference in Hobbes’s Philosophy of Language” reminds me of something that puzzles me about early modern philosophy of language. Whatever happened to the theory of supposition? If you look at medieval scholastic theories of language, you find repeated mention of signification and supposition, two semantic features of terms. […]

Leibniz, internal action, and experience

Leibniz sometimes describes thought as an internal action (see this earlier Modsquad discussion). Moreover, in a couple of places he says that we can know this by experience. Indeed, he suggests we can know enough in this area by experience to establish some substantive philosophical truths about the mind. Thus, in “On Nature Itself” (1698): Indeed, […]

“For one man calleth Wisdome, what another calleth feare”

Discussions of Hobbes’s views about language seem to proceed on two separate paths. (Neither of these paths is terribly busy, I’ll grant you, but they both seem to be there.) On the one hand there are discussions of Hobbes’s general philosophy of language — signification, nominalism, and the like. On the other hand there are […]

Do only minds express God?

[Cross-posted from modsquad.] As I’ve been arguing in previous posts, Leibniz in 1686 offered an argument that [A] all individual substances express God. As he put the point in the essay “Primary Truths”, “all individual created substances are different expressions of the same universe and different expressions of the same universal cause, namely God” (my italics). However Leibniz also […]