Spinoza’s first theistic argument

Whatever we clearly and distinctly know to belong to the nature of a thing, we can truly affirm of it.

Existence is clearly and distinctly known to belong to the nature of God.

And so since we see clearly and distinctly that unicorns are quadrupeds, we must affirm that this is truly the case, though we are not committed to confirming everything that might be said of them (e.g. whether they sleep, or whether they exist, whether there are any on Krypton).

Spinoza gives no account of the minor premise, and so presumably thinks it self-evident. Any serviceable philosophical account of God will do: God is a necessary being, the absolute, the non-conditioned, etc.. Again, if existence did not belong to him by nature, it would belong to him in the way it belongs to a derivative, secondary reality or creature, etc.

Like all ontological arguments, there is always some fresh way of putting them that makes them seem obvious and irrefutable.


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