Although in his early works Spinoza is critical of “beings of reason” (entia rationis), nonetheless he thinks that they are useful in certain contexts. This paper discusses the metaphysical and epistemological status of “beings of reason”—such as universals, measurements, and value terms—and tries to explain how, even if they are problematic, they can be useful. I shall argue that Spinoza borrows from Suarez and other neo-scholastics the idea that beings of reason are analogical. The regulatory function of beings of reason depends upon the possibility—a possibility that is most often not realized—of the similarity of the imaginative entity to an actual being. I discuss the role of beings of reason in Spinoza’s conception of the part-whole relation and the construction of an imaginative sign. I shall claim that the case of beings of reason sheds light on the nature of the imagination itself in the Ethics.
Spinoza on Beings of Reason [Entia Rationis] and the Analogical Imagination
Rosenthal, Michael. “Spinoza on Beings of Reason [Entia Rationis] and the Analogical Imagination.” In Spinoza in 21st-Century American and French Philosophy: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Moral and Political Philosophy, edited by Charles Ramond and Jack Stetter, 231-250. London: Bloomsbury Press, 2019.