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Adequate Ideas Are Infinite Modes

Adequate Ideas Are Infinite Modes

(p.23) Chapter 1 Adequate Ideas Are Infinite Modes
Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination
Eugene Garver
University of Chicago Press

The Ethics starts with God, and Part 1 gradually descends from God and its attributes through its infinite modes to the individual—the finite modes—including individual human beings. The rest of the Ethics is spent showing how the individual can return to God, finally uniting with God in what Spinoza calls the intellectual love of God. Although the relation between finite and infinite modes is crucial, Spinoza does not elaborate on it. By identifying the infinite modes of thought with the adequate ideas of Part 2, this chapter shows what the relation is between finite and infinite modes, and between inadequate and adequate ideas. It argues that, like all infinite modes, adequate ideas have no conatus, that is, they don’t have to exert themselves to continue to exist. The issue for the rest of the Ethics will be how such adequate ideas can exist within a finite mind.

Keywords:   conatus, infinite modes, finite modes, God, adequate ideas, inadequate ideas, imagination, geometric method

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