Saturday, September 11, 2010


In his essay "The Ethics" Spinoza speaks of essence and existence. 

Sometimes I wonder if philosophers are just playing word games.  

Here is a quote from wiki:
Existentialism was coined by Jean-Paul Sartre's statement that for human beings "existence precedes essence." In as much as "essence" is a cornerstone of all metaphysical philosophy and the grounding of Rationalism, Sartre's statement was a refutation of the philosophical system that had come before him (and, in particular, that of Husserl, Hegel, and Heidegger). Sartre that existence and actuality come first, and the essence is derived afterward.
More quotes from wiki:
"Essence," in metaphysics, is often synonymous with the soul, and some existentialists argue that individuals gain their souls and spirits after they exist, that they develop their souls and spirits during their lifetimes.

In philosophy, essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity.

Sooooooooooo my question is this "Does the word essence (that Sartre uses) mean the same as the word essence that Spinoza uses.   For Sartre, we exist then we create our essence.  The essence is changeable.   BUT I think Spinoza is speaking of an essence that is unchangeable.  The essence (of which Spinoza speaks) is what makes a human a human rather than a lion.

So I think we need to add an adjective:  the changeable essence or the immutable essence

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