Jonathan Edwards’ End of Creation and Spinoza’s Conundrum

Walter J. Schultz


Baruch Spinoza (1677) argued that the very concept of acting to achieve an end entails that the agent values the state to be achieved more than the initial state.  So, if God created the world to achieve an end, then the state achieved must be more valuable to him than his initial state without creation.  It must provide God with something real and valuable that he otherwise lacked.  It follows that God must not have been fulfilled in his initial state without creation.  If this is so, then God is not self-sufficient and, therefore, not perfect.  Furthermore, God must have acted out of necessity to satisfy a deficiency.  If God acts out of the necessity of his nature, then he is not free. This paper explicates Edwards’ mature concept of God’s end in creation as it developed in awareness of the work of Adrian Heereboord, Baruch Spinoza, and Samuel Clarke.  It then shows how Edwards’ view overcomes Spinoza’s conundrum


Religion, Philosophy, Spinoza

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