Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Timothy M. Costelloe

Committee Members

Aaron M. Griffith

Robert S. Leventhal


In this thesis, I argue that Spinoza's views on negation are coupled with a view of being which, although Hegel misunderstands it to an extent, makes it impossible for finite things to exist, as Hegel's "acosmist" reading of Spinoza maintains. I begin by arguing that acosmism would present an internal problem for Spinoza's system in the Ethics, framing the importance of the topic and showing why Hegel's interpretation, as an interpretation, does not work. After that, I first provide an account of Hegel and Spinoza's views on negation. In the process, I give an account of Hegel's views on being and nonbeing, and then I discuss Spinoza's views more explicitly on this subject. That discussion suggests that Spinoza must ground negation and nonbeing (which merely express a kind of relation between positive realities that stand apart from one another for Spinoza) in purely positive being, which becomes problematic when coupled with Spinoza's views on being and monism. I argue that grounding negation and nonbeing in positive being requires that the monistic substance must unify being and nonbeing: something Hegel accepts can be done but Spinoza rejects. I argue that this problem is the crux of Hegel's acosmist reading of Spinoza and that Spinoza himself recognized the problem. After providing an account of Spinoza's solution, I argue that he nevertheless does not answer the central issue of this problem, so that his attempt to avoid acosmism cannot ultimately be called successful.