Department of Philosophy



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Syliane Charles (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières)

"Hobbes and Spinoza on Conatus"

The notion of “Conatus” plays a crucial role in Spinoza’s metaphysics, to the point that it is often believed that Spinoza invented this notion.  This could not be falser.  First of all, the notion of “conatus” played an important role in scholastic physics, where it helped explain the motion of objects.  Secondly, Spinoza’s predecessor Thomas Hobbes was actually the first philosopher who gave a more general – not to say “metaphysical” – meaning to this concept by relating it for the first time to the notion of life.  We know that Spinoza knew Hobbes’ philosophy at least from the De Cive, and most likely from the Leviathan.  But did he possibly derive his own notion of conatus from Hobbes?  If so, from which writings?  This paper will offer an in-depth explanation of the “conatus” in Hobbes’ explanation of life, which we must understand in contra-distinction to the Scholastic use, in order to then compare it with Spinoza’s. 



Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Watson Hall 517 @ 4:00 pm

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