Freedom and determinism in Spinoza's Ethics

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Applebaum, Sara T.
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University of Guelph

This thesis is an investigation of Spinoza's compatibilist account of causal determinism and human freedom. Beginning with an examination of Spinoza's definitions of Nature, beings, freedom, and determinism, and then studying the human status as part of Nature not unlike other natural parts, humans are then affirmed as inherently causally determined by the same necessary laws dominating the order in Nature. Through the understanding of determinism, the causal order, and human necessity, however, Spinoza affirms the human potential for achieving a unique form of freedom which is nonetheless devoid of arbitrary choice and hence distinct from freedom of the will. Such freedom which remains compatible with the determined Nature, grants activity to human states and acts allowing for the ascription of moral value, while not extricating humans from the prevailing Natural order.

Spinoza, Ethics, Freedom, Determinism, Nature