Spinoza and the Problem of Contingency

Speaker: Dr Gregor Moder

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Spinoza appears to be the paradigmatic thinker of necessity. He writes quite directly that there is nothing contingent in nature (nullum datur contingens) and that everything is determined to exist from the necessity of the divine nature. We only refer to certain things as contingent because of the imperfection of our knowledge. Even when Spinoza criticizes the notion of Divine Providence, he does not argue in favor of irreducible contingency in the order of nature: what he criticizes is the idea that God acts according to his free will, arguing instead in favor of God’s determination of all things. This paper will take the hard way of putting pressure on Spinoza precisely by discussing the question of contingency, a question that has risen in prominence in contemporary philosophical debates. The central argument will revolve around the separation between epistemology and ontology on the one hand and temporality on the other.

Speakers

Dr Gregor Moder, Senior Research Associate in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana

Gregor Moder is a Senior Research Associate in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana and currently a Visiting Fellow in English (Spring semester of 2024). His research interests include German Idealism, theory of ideology and philosophy of art. He is the author of Hegel and Spinoza: Substance and Negativity (2017; German edition 2013). His works include Comic Love (2016, in Slovene), a co-edited volume on The Object of Comedy (2020), and another volume on The Ethics of Ernst Lubitsch (forthcoming in 2023). His latest book is Antigone: An Essay on Hegel's Political Philosophy (2023, in Slovene; will appear in German with Turia+Kant in 2024).

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