Spinoza, Ethics, De Deo, Propositio 33, Scholium 1:

res aliqua impossibilis dicitur; nimirum quia vel ipsius essentia seu definitio contradictionem involvit vel quia nulla causa externa datur ad talem rem producendam determinata

William White translates the last part in following way:

or because no external cause exists determinate to the production of such a thing

According to the translation and with respect to the context, it seems to me that producendam here is incorrect and the correct is producendum which is an accusative gerund. But I saw three versions and all had wrote producendam.

1 Answer 1


This kind of metonymy is very common in Latin. For a simple example, vir mortuus is literally "a dead man" but can also mean "the death of a man". This is somewhat similar to how summus mons can be "the highest mountain" and "the peak (= the highest part of a mountain)". The point is that reading very literally can easily be misleading in Latin.

Not only is this kind of metonymy allowed, but it also appears to be idiomatic. After all, we do say ab urbe condita instead of a conditione urbis, although the latter would be literally more sensible and more appealing to speakers of many modern languages.

This is exactly what you see in your passage, and there seems to be no mistake. A literal translation from English to Latin would seem to require a gerund, but a gerundive is indeed the more idiomatic choice. Semantically, you should not think of the gerundive modifying a noun but of the noun and the gerundive forming a new semantic unit. You can see or phrase it many different ways, but a less literal point of view is needed to parse and compose constructions like that.

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