Scholarship at Penn Libraries

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 1998


This paper argues that Spinoza makes a distinction between the constitutive essence of God (the totality of His attributes) and the essence of God per se (His power and causal efficacy). Using this distinction, I explain how Spinoza can conceive of God as being both an immutable simple unity and a subject for constantly changing modes. Spinoza believes that God qua Natura Naturans is immutable while God qua Natura Naturata is not. With this point established, Curley's claim that Spinozistic modes are causally dependent on but not properties of God loses much of its attraction. In conclusion, I suggest how God's essence is related to His attributes and His modes.


Postprint version. Published in Philosophy and Theology, Volume 11, Issue 1, 1998, pages 71-84.

NOTE: At the time of publication, author Nicholas Okrent was affiliated with Columbia University. Currently (March 2006), he is a librarian at the University of Pennsylvania Library.



Date Posted: 15 March 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.