Human Immortality

  • Errol E. Harris
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idees International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 59)


We have found it possible to resolve the many contradictions which prima facie seem so blatant in Spinoza’s philosophy. The rigidity of his method and its discursive rationalism we have found not incompatible with his representation of the highest form of knowledge as intuitive. The reconciliation is found in a conception of truth as a coherent discursus embracing an all-inclusive whole. His apparent atheism and naturalism is not really in conflict with his constant insistence on the fundamental necessity of the nature and existence of a transcendent God. His unrelenting determinism is, despite all appearances, consistent with free action and moral responsibility and with what is the only valid and defensible conception of teleology. His explicit denial of the reality of good and evil is, nevertheless, consistent with his moral outlook and his delineation of a true and a supreme good for mankind. And his polemics against superstition are yet in conformity with his respect for and advocacy of a true and universal religion. But there remains one problem still to face, and perhaps the most difficult of all: How is the finite mind of man — the idea of a body, which is a finite mode of extension, limited and determined both spatially and temporally — reconciled, through an adequate knowledge of nature or substance, with the infinite and eternal being God?


Human Mind Adequate Idea Finite Mode Temporal Existence Infinite Mode 
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  1. 7.
    Cf. H.H. Joachim, op. cit Book III, Ch. IV; Leon Roth, Spinoza (London,1945), pp. 140–163; Ruth Saw, The Vindication of Metaphysis (London, 1951),pp. 128–136; Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza (London, 1946), pp. 126–132; J. Caird, Spinoza(London, 1910), Ch. XVI; A. E. Taylor “Spinoza’s Conception of Immortality,” Mind, V, 18, (N.S.), 1896.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Errol E. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityUSA

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