Persistence through Time in Spinoza

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9780739170021: Persistence through Time in Spinoza

This book concerns the nature of time and ordinary cases of persistence in Spinoza. The author argues for three major interpretive claims. First, that Spinoza is committed to an eternalist theory of time whereby all things (whether they seem to be past, present, or future) are equally real. Second, that a mode’s conatus or essence is a self-maintaining activity (not an inertial force or disposition.) Third, that modes persist through time in Spinoza’s metaphysics by having temporal parts (that is, different parts at different times.) If the author is correct, then a significant reinterpretation of Spinoza’s modal metaphysics is required. The book also puts Spinoza into dialogue with some recent work in analytic metaphysics.

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About the Author:

Jason Waller is an assistant professor of philosophy at Eastern Illinois University. He has recently published articles on Spinoza in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Journal of Philosophical Research, and Iyyun: The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly among others. He works primarily on Modern Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Political Philosophy.

Review:

Persistence Through Time in Spinoza is a tough-minded and gracefully-written discussion of some of Spinoza’s most enduring metaphysical insights into the nature of time, material constitution, and temporal continuity. Fully conversant with contemporary literature on space and time, Jason Waller is able to tease out of Spinoza’s texts issues of abiding philosophical concern. (Daniel H. Frank, Purdue University)

Waller’s book is a terrific discussion of the relation between bodies and time in Spinoza’s metaphysics. He insightfully synthesizes historical understanding with recent work in metaphysics and philosophy of science. The resulting argument hangs together as a clever, cohesive, persuasive whole. (Michael Jacovides, Purdue University)

Situating Spinoza’s metaphysics within a contemporary framework, Waller deftly makes a case for the bold thesis that Spinoza is committed to a 4D conception of bodies. One of the chief virtues of Waller’s book is its admirably clear presentation of some central but thorny features of Spinoza’s thought. More generally speaking, I think Waller’s book is a great example of how the right author can, without sacrificing scholarly sophistication, make difficult and technical elements of a philosopher’s system accessible to a wide audience. I highly recommend it. (Thaddeus Robinson, Muhlenberg College)

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