Spinoza, Ethics, De Deo, Propositio 28, Scholium:

Sequitur quod Deus non potest proprie dici causa esse remota rerum singularium nisi forte ea de causa ut scilicet has ab iis quas immediate produxit vel potius quae ex absoluta ejus natura sequuntur, distinguamus

I can't understand meaning of ea in forte ea de causa and I don't know how forte here can mean by chance.

Shirle translates it:

perchance for the purpose

1 Answer 1


The ea (= ) modifies causa, using the very common adjective–preposition–object of preposition arrangement: 'for this reason.'

The forte is from the noun fors, 'chance' (not the adjective fortis, 'strong, brave'); so the ablative/adverbial form means 'by chance.'

  • Thank you. The Latin word order is confusing for me. How can I learn it?
    – Ali Nikzad
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 16:43
  • Note that forte does not really mean “by chance” here. Nisi forte/vero (+ indicative) is a standing expression indicating an exception which the author may grant but thinks is improbable or does at least not detract from his original claim. It can be translated as “unless perhaps” or “unless I suppose” or “unless of course” etc. Famous Cicero quote: Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit. – For almost nobody dances sober, unless perhaps he is insane. Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 19:03
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    @SebastianKoppehel. I grant that it may be a weakened idea of 'chance'; but it would still be very common to use 'by chance' (or 'perchance') in English in such cases, where it's more like a simple 'perhaps.' (In fact, the 'hap' of 'perhaps' also means 'luck' or 'chance' so that, etymologically speaking, 'perhaps' also means 'by chance.')
    – cnread
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 19:32
  • @cnread I suppose it is quite close, I just wanted to point out that nisi forte is a common collocation and one need not interpret it as the autor talking about any actual “chance.” Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 20:01

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