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Horst Steinke


pany, it seems that the


simultaneously, has been written twice, in two

styles, in dual registers)» (Id.,

Spinoza et le problème de l’expression

, Paris, Editions

de Minuit, 1968, p. 317).


Parkinson, in his rejoinder to Savan, makes reference to Wittgenstein,

with respect to Wittgenstein’s famous alternative to stating in language, name-

ly, communicating by «showing» (p. 93). Our reading of Spinoza would seem

to indicate that Spinoza was convinced he had devised a different solution,

consisting of the expressive power of deductive logic. The fact that nowadays

formal logic is spoken of as “language” is part of a separate history of ideas.

Therefore, whenever the term “language” is used in the context of science, its

distinction from natural, “ordinary” language needs to be kept in mind, as in

Yovel’s commentary on the “language” of


: «The scientific method de-

fines, above all, the universe of discourse of the


. Language in this do-

main is to serve adequate ideas only, it takes its model from a formal deduc-

tive calculus, construed

ordine geometrico

and ideally requiring an absolute degree

of transparency. […] To understand a term we are neither allowed nor re-

quired to transcend the given linguistic system to something else – natural

language, the history and etymology of words, the linguistic habits of actual

speakers – or to consider the role of metaphor, connotation, and other se-

mantic inputs and accomplishments. The entire information necessary and

relevant to fully understand this language is supposed to reside in the system

itself, as if it were a formal-deductive calculus» (Id.,

Spinoza and Other Heretics


cit., pp. 137-138).


And we are assuming that it cannot have been anything else or less

than a deeply thought-out choice, the result of profound reflection within and

as part of his «total world view» (Fløistad, p. 113).


As a footnote in terms of the history of reception of Spinoza’s philos-

ophy of language, it would not be amiss to mention Einstein. M. Paty por-

trayed Einstein as a kindred spirit, fundamentally, and also found in him the

same view of language: «If the model, and the manner, of certainty, is mathe-

matics, what leads to it is a mental work, the description of which he does not

insist very long on, and which, indeed, does not need words. It is work on

concepts, but the latter are not necessarily expressible in words» (Id.,


and Spinoza

, in

Spinoza and the Sciences

, cit., pp. 267-302, p. 293).


This fundamental assessment does not preclude a nuanced Spinozan

understanding of the functionality of language otherwise, as in P.-F. Moreau,

Spinoza. L’expérience et l’éternité

, Paris, Presses Universitaire de France, 1994, pp.

307-378. Nevertheless, Moreau also acknowledges, in line with our main ar-

gument, the specific status of language (as part of the first kind of knowledge,

the realm of bodily experience) in Spinoza’s epistemic system: «Les mots sont