Section 5

Spinoza's Philosophy -- The Soul's Immateriality

by David Hume Icon

Every philosophical system has contradictions regarding:

  • external physical objects
  • the ideas of those objects

These contradictions are so clear and determinate in our imagination.

There are naturally bigger contradictions in every hypothesis regarding:

  • our internal perceptions, and
  • the nature of the mind.

We imagine that these are so much more obscure and uncertain.

The intellectual world is involved in infinite obscurities.

  • It does not perplex itself with such contradictions.
  • What is known is known.
  • What is unknown, we must leave unknown.


Some philosophers promise to reduce our ignorance, at the risk of creating contradictions.

  • Some reason on the material substances which they suppose are inherent to our perceptions.
  • Others reason on the immaterial substances which are also inherent.
  • To stop these endless objections on both sides, I ask these philosophers: What do they mean by ‘substance’ and ‘inherent’?

This question:

  • is impossible to answer from the material perspective
  • is very difficult to answer from the mental perspective

Every idea is derived from a precedent impression.

  • If our minds are a substance, then we must also have an impression of it.
  • This is very difficult, if not impossible, to be conceived.

An impression can represent a substance only by resembling it. But an impression cannot resemble a substance, since, according to this philosophy, this makes it not a substance.

Those philosophers reply that the substance is not physical or material, but is an idea perceived by our minds.


  • what is the impression that produces it that idea?*
  • how does that impression operate?
  • where does it come from?
    • Is it an impression of sensation or of reflection?
    • Is it pleasant, or painful, or indifferent?
    • Does it attend us always, or does it only return at intervals?
      • If at intervals:
        • when does it return and
        • how is it produced?

*Superphysics Note: The impression is called ‘samadhi’ which is derived from pure consciousness (atman in Sanskrit). It is a pleasant impression of sensation which happens when the kundalini rises. The rise is depedent on so many factors, though it is possible to happen always.

Philosophers evade these questions by saying that the idea of a substance exists by itself and is sufficient. Such an idea:

  • involves everything that can possibly be conceived, and
  • will distinguish:
    • substance from accident, or
    • the soul from its perceptions.

But my reasoning is:

  • whatever is clearly conceived may exist.
  • everything, which is different, is distinguishable and separable by the mind.
  • therefore, all our perceptions are different from each other.

This means that our perceptions:

  • are also distinct and separable from everything else in the universe and
  • can exist separately by themselves.

Perceptions therefore are substances.

  • Substances define substances.*

*Superphysics Note: In Superphysics, this invisible pseudo-material substance is called ‘aether’.

We cannot arrive at any satisfactory notion of substance through:

  • a idea and
  • the first origin of ideas.

This is a sufficient reason for abandoning that dispute on the soul’s materiality and immateriality.

  • It makes me absolutely condemn the question itself.

Our ideas only come from perceptions.*

  • A ‘substance’ is not a perception.
  • Therefore, we have no idea of a ‘substance’.

*Superphysics Note: Hume has no concept of the unity or Oneness of creation. This is because he takes the perspective of the human only, and not of the Supreme, as the One of Parmenides


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