Volume 39, Issue 2, July 2023
Aristotle, Spinoza, and Burnside on Infinite Space
Aristotle argues that the world is populated by real and distinct physical substances; Spinoza that there must and can only be one physical substance. Aristotle’s view carries considerably intuitive appeal, but Spinoza’s logic can, under the right interpretation, seem awfully convincing. Andrew Burnside (2023) helps us to explore what occurs when Aristotle’s unstoppable intuitive appeal meets Spinoza’s impeccable logic. Burnside’s project, as I understand it, has two aims: to show that Spinoza’s argument for one extended substance is a better account of physical reality than Aristotle’s arguments against an infinite body and, second, to support this claim by defending Yitzhak Melamed interpretation of Spinoza as genuinely dividing reality into substances and modes. I would like to press Burnside on the usefulness of comparing Aristotle and Spinoza with respect to an infinitely extended physical thing and then raise several question for his reading of Spinoza.