Spinoza and Necesitarianism

Im having trouble figuring out a bit of Spinoza… The class I am taking gives me the impression that there is some diffirence in the way Spinoza talks of Necesitarianism and the common concept of determinism. Im confused about what the diffirence is in terms of Spinoza between necesitarianism and determinism. A question on an exam can point out my difficulty:

“Do you think that human behavior is governed by deterministic laws? If you do, do you think these laws are necessary? Is there any reason to think that they are not necessary?”

If they are deterministic laws, wouldnt that automaticly mean they are necessary?

I haven’t read Spinoza or anything so I’m not authoritative here, but I have a pretty good guess about the difference. Determinism is the idea that given a sufficiently sophisticated set of cause/effect laws about how the universe works (e.g. “x always causes y”), this set of laws logically implies everything that will happen in the universe after some point in time (say, the “big bang”). Necessitarianism on the other hand would say that the laws themselves are necessary, that it is impossible for the laws to be other than they are.

Determinism refers to the completeness of the set of events implied by a set of laws; necessitarianism refers to the logical necessity of the laws themselves.

Of course then necessitarianism is absurd, but there’s no opinion so absurd that it hasn’t been entertained by some philosopher or another…

Well from my understanding of esoteric Christianity, creation and the laws that sustain it are a necessity so that agrees with the concept of necesitarianism. However, these laws are continually being sustained either consciously, mechanically, or a combination of both. When they are sustained mechanically, the result is Determinism.

Determinism can only be defined as such when the result is determined. However, in conditions with little consciousness and a great deal of interacting mechanical laws governing situations, prediction is impossible so the results are called accidental.

Man, with only occasional intervals of consciousness, is governed by determinism including accident. However, consciousness brings a choice. Our lives are determined by influences but consciousness allows for a degree of choice between influences we must fall under.

In this way the laws implied by Necessitarianism exist as necessary for Creation but what is determined by them or Determinism, is relative in relation to consciousness which is our potential.

As a Necessitarianismisicist I think its necessary to say that from necessity, and not necessarily contingency, what is necessarily understood as necessity is in fact not necessarily important here. It seems necessary to suspect that I wouldn’t necessarily understand necessity as “that which is necessary,” necessarily, but rather as contingent.

Just concern yourself with what is necessary, Tank.

If our behavior was governed by anything, that would include our conception, which would mean that we couldn’t conceive of that thing, which would mean that it couldn’t be a law. Laws, qua science, are how we predict, not things that govern the world. They’re not ‘out there.’ Legal laws are ‘out there’ as in books but only effective through our own self-judgment which is in us or the judgment of a judge (which is also something that happens in us). There is no such thing as a law appart from us.

If there is something out there that determines us, we will never know it. Any attempt to grasp the thing that is doing the determining is, by definition, insufficient. It is better to say we are us and let the determining factors drop out. A lot of people find it comforting/useful to believe in something. I find this almost impossible for me in the same sense that I couldn’t bring myself to castrate myself unless I really really had to.

You asked a question that you have to answer. If you accept someone else’s answer realize what you’re doing.


“or the judgment of a judge (which is also something that happens in us). There is no such thing as a law appart from us”. Avatar of Dave, I don’t think that there is a concrete or subjective judgement that ‘we’ can actually make. For, it seems that the judgements we make are created by the empirical observations that were gathered (outside) of ourselves during our known life. Therefore, every decision that we make isn’t exactly determined. Instead, all of our empirical experiences has influenced us to determine what decisions we feel like making. So, I guess the law outside of ourselves is actually experience. For, we can never escape it my friend.

ii) Don’t just ask questions. Bring something to the discussion.