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Vico’s Ring


From our point of view, in any case, the key point is Spino-

za’s own motivation and conviction in casting his most im-

portant work in

mos geometrico

, which was his belief in the truth-

fulness and truth-generating power of deductive logic. Today his

success in carrying out his project may be a subject for debate

but he personally was absolutely convinced of its supreme epis-

temological status



It is therefore not surprising that the


of correct, truth-

preserving reason(ing) itself became an



of concern when

varying conceptions of the stock-in-trade of the geometric

method came into use. A case in point is Spinoza’s friend,

Lodewijk Meyer, who wrote the Preface to Spinoza’s

Principles of

Descartes’ Philosophy



In it Meyer outlines his views of the key

parts of the geometric method, namely, definitions, postulates,

and axioms. A comparison with Spinoza’s own exposition and

use of these concepts, however, indicates differences of under-

standing, and Spinoza was drawn into defending his propositions

at a meta-level, as obviously truth-preservation would be in jeop-

ardy if the meaning and function of definitions, axioms, and pos-

tulates were to become indeterminate



As stated above, a second essential part of deductive logic are

the premises or initial assumptions on the basis of which deduc-

tive reasoning can do its work


. How does


deal with this

requirement? The surprising answer – considering the philosoph-

ical stature of


– is that the establishment of such first prin-

ciples is not found in the work. Spinoza studies have examined

this lacuna from different points of view. According to one view,

an explicit exposition of such underlying principles was unneces-

sary since


as a whole makes clear how the most fundamen-

tal terms need to be understood


. Others, however, find this ex-

planation problematic as it could be branded as circularity


. It is

far more in keeping with Spinoza’s grand philosophical project

to view the absence and omission of a fully-developed rationale