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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 11, 1985

Harold Zellner
Pages 453-462

Spinoza’s Causal Likeness Principle

Axiom 4 of the Ethics of Spinoza runs: The knowledge (cognitio) of an effect depends upon and involves the knowledge of the cause. Since this is in the ancestry of some of Spinoza’s most important and characteristic claims, a clarification of its meaning would be highly desirable (in the literature it is left unhelpfully vague.) I argue that A4 is a causal likeness principle, according to which causal relationships always feature a property which in some sense is “passed” from the cause to the effect. This interpretation provides a key to understanding some darker passages.