Volume 42, Issue 2, June 2002
F. Scott Scribner
Extending Spinoza… For the Love of God!
Spinoza, Lévinas, and the Inadequacy of the Body
In his Ethics, Spinoza maintains that God’s essence is expressed as both thought and extension. Despite this claim, however, Spinoza’s very definition of truth, understood as adequation, would seem to reduce the aspect of extension to an exclusively intellectual paradigm. I question the extent to which a body remains a body throughout the Ethics in the transition from the first knowledge of the imagination to the highest know ledge of adequate ideas. As a way to think beyond the totality of adequation, I tum to Emmanuel Levinas’s distinction between totality and infinity. I reference Levinas in order to highlight certain impasses within Spinoza’s system and to serve as a possible alternative articulation of an extensional love of God.