Liebniz, Spinoza and the Idea of God Comparison Essay by Rhapsode

Liebniz, Spinoza and the Idea of God
A comparison between the views of Benedict Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz concerning the idea of God.
# 102598 | 2,575 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2008 | CA

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This paper compares and contrasts the idea of God posited by Benedict Spinoza with that posited by Gottfried Leibniz. The paper points out that, according to Spinoza, God exists necessarily from its divine nature, inhabiting the world as the world inhabits it. It claims that Leibniz saw the elegance of this utterly rational God, though he also espied a threat that he attempted to displace by defending the traditional anthropomorphic idea of God. Spinoza's God is beyond human, to which the human notions of 'good' and 'evil' do not apply. Leibniz saw in this God no freedom, no agency, and no morality by which man could live. The paper concludes that these two philosophers, arguably the most significant of their day, differed drastically in their views of God's role with regard to the world. While Spinoza's view of a non-human God appeals to humanity to find a liberal and democratic method by which to exist in the world, Leibniz's more traditional view of God involves the reliance upon faith and provides a perfect example upon which humanity must model itself.

From the Paper:

"While this eminently rational idea of God possesses an almost geometric elegance, the implications of such a view would greatly disturb Spinoza's contemporaries, Leibniz among them. Since all things follow necessarily from God's nature as substance, determined solely through itself, it follows that things could not be any other way than they are. "Things could not have been produced by God in any manner or in any order different from that which exists." This is an utter rejection of the supreme anthropomorphic father figure, who chooses between right and wrong and lays down laws by which humanity is judged. Good and bad are reduced to human notions relative to our limited experience of the world, completely irrelevant to a universe that functions from the necessary. Morality is seemingly abolished, and God seems too powerless to ever have created anything at all. In fact, freedom to Spinoza is the ability to be determined by nothing other than one's nature, which entails that only God is completely free as the one substance, and to choose to be anything but what he is would be absurd, as what he is, is perfection. "...God alone is a free cause. For God alone exists only from the necessity of his nature and acts from the necessity of his nature." The threat to the theocratic order is explicit here, for while Spinoza's God is necessarily perfect, he is not necessarily good. Following from necessity, what we term 'evil' is as much in God as what we call 'good'. This God is not based on relative human notions or longings: it follows purely from the necessity of reason. Spinoza maintains that he sees God as surely as he can see the truth of a geometric proof: "I know it in the same way that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles." The rejection of ultimate reward and punishment places the onus for morality squarely upon human shoulders; a yoke religion explicitly labors to remove because it is too heavy for most humans to bear and would lead to social chaos. Perhaps Spinoza had such in mind when he penned the last line of his Ethics: "...all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Leibniz, Gottfried. Discourse On Metaphysics. Trans. Dr. George R. Montgomery. Open Court Publishing Co.: La Salle, IL. 1968.
  • Leibniz, Gottfried. Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters. Trans. and ed. Leroy E. Loemker. D. Reidel Publishing Co.: Dordrecht, Holland. 1969.
  • Spinoza, Benedict. Ethics. Trans. and ed. Edwin Curley. Penguin Books, Ltd.: New York, NY. 1996.
  • Spinoza, Benedict. Spinoza, Complete Works. Ed. Michael Morgan. Trans. Samuel Shirley. Hackett: Indianapolis, IN. 2002.

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Liebniz, Spinoza and the Idea of God (2008, March 30) Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

MLA Format

"Liebniz, Spinoza and the Idea of God" 30 March 2008. Web. 20 April. 2024. <>