Volume 14, 1988/1989
Spinoza’s Temporal Argument for Actualism
In three places Spinoza presents an argument from (a) determinism and (b) God’s “eternity” to (c) “actualism”, i.e., the doctrine that this is (in some sense) the only possible world. That he does so shows that he distinguishes (a) from (c), which he has been thought to conflate. On one reading of ‘eternal’, he is claiming that an infinite past entails no other world was a “real” possibility. As might be expected, the argument is a failure, but it may help explain why Spinoza holds that there are no contingencies.