Spinoza and architectural thinking

Beth Lord* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although Spinoza makes few remarks about architecture, his use of architectural examples, understood in the context of his metaphysics and theory of knowledge, reveal the architect to be a distinctive kind of human thinker. In this paper I explore the kind of thinking the architect does, first by demonstrating that Spinoza distinguishes the architect's adequate way of conceiving a building from inadequate ways of imagining one, and second by considering how Spinoza might have understood the architect to translate that adequate thinking into the practice of building and construction. I argue that for Spinoza, the architect integrates imaginative, rational, and intuitive thinking, and the parallel forms of bodily action, to understand and construct a building in its causal connections to its component materials, environment, and users. To understand the true idea of a building is therefore to understand its embeddedness in the world and its functional place in a network of modal relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-504
Number of pages16
JournalIntellectual History Review
Issue number3
Early online date21 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Spinoza
  • architecture
  • building
  • art
  • adequate idea
  • inadequate idea
  • imagination
  • temple

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