From time to time, we are fortunate enough to be given a book that promises to transform our understanding of central aspects of a philosopher's thought. I have in mind, among works on early modern philosophers, such acclaimed efforts as Margaret Wilson's Descartes, Daniel Garber's Descartes’ Metaphysical Physics, and—closer to home as far as this review is concerned—Edwin Curley's Spinoza's Metaphysics: An Essay in Interpretation. In the same category is Yitzhak Melamed's Spinoza's Metaphysics: Substance and Thought, the most important work devoted to this topic since Curley's seminal monograph, published in 1969.

Melamed begins by laying out two principles that, he claims, structure much of Spinoza's metaphysics.1 First, there is the principle of sufficient reason (PSR), a version of which Spinoza endorses in Ethics 1p11d2: “For each thing there must be assigned a cause or reason, both for its...

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