According to Spinoza, “ . . . if we suppose that a person perceives his own lack of power because he recognizes that something is more powerful than himself . . . then we conceive that the person is simply understanding himself distinctly . . . ” (Ethics IV, Demonstration to Proposition 53, my italics). What does Spinoza mean by ‘something’ here? Given that there are two kinds of adequate cognition for Spinoza, which one is at stake when we understand that something is more powerful than ourselves? This paper addresses these underexamined questions by considering different ways of conceiving our weakness against the backdrop of Spinoza's epistemological and metaphysical commitments.

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