Spinoza and the Hybrid Distinction of Attributes

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Emanuele Costa Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN USA

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In this paper, I address the issue of what kind of distinction separates the attributes of Spinoza’s substance. I propose to consider the distinction between attributes neither as a real distinction nor as a pure distinction of reason. Instead, I ventilate the alternative of understanding attributes as distinguished by a hybrid distinction, of which I trace the development during the Medieval and Early Modern eras. With the term hybrid, I capture distinctions which are neither a real distinction between substances or real accidents; nor a pure distinction of reason, produced or fabricated by the intellect. I shall argue that Spinoza’s notion of attribute falls under the scope of a hybrid distinction, thus sidestepping the longstanding debate between objectivism and subjectivism.

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