More of Wittich’s Anti-Spinoza: the Criticism of Ethics, Part 1, Definition 3

Definition 3: By substance I understand that which is in itself and conceived by itself; that is, that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing from which it must be formed.


The author can here be observed committing the same error as we have already noted in Definition 1, namely second notions are considered in abstraction from their particulars, before their particulars are grasped. In this way it comes about that we really grasp a shadow and do violence to human thought, since all people understand by substance a particular thing among extant things — God, a mind, a body. Considering in these particular things that which is real [12] they find infinite thought in God, finite thought in the mind, and extension in the body. But now a philosopher meditates in his soul, and reflects that all these (infinite thought, finite thought, and extension) are real and extant, as they are understood by themselves and alone and represented in ideas such that there is nothing else in them from which they could be taken away. He then understands such things alone to subsist in full form and thus calls them substances, thus forming the abstract notion of substance, which is a thing that is understood by itself and alone, and so is by itself in that there is nothing from which it could be taken away.

Lecturer in Philosophy, University of St. Andrews — personal website: