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I would like to know how to understand unde in the last sentence:

SCHOLIUM II: Non dubito quin omnibus qui de rebus confuse judicant nec res per primas suas causas noscere consueverunt, difficile sit demonstrationem propositionis concipere; nimirum quia non distinguunt inter modificationes substantiarum et ipsas substantias neque sciunt quomodo res producuntur. Unde fit ut principium quod res naturales habere vident, substantiis affingant.

It is taken from Spinoza's Ethics and the translation by R.H.M. Elwes is the following:

...hence they may attribute to substances the beginning which they observe in natural objects.

So:

  • ut principium substantiis affingant = "they may attribute the beginning"
  • quod res naturales habere vident = "which they observe in natural objects"

Unde, adv.
1. from which place, whence
2. it replaces sometimes connection of a, de, ex with relative pronoun (taken from my dictionary)

Does it mean in that sentence "hence" or does it has some other meaning?

fit (facio) - I am not sure where it should belong in that sentence, either, perhaps it belongs to "principium" ? So "fit principium" would be "made beginning"?

8

A very literal translation:

Whence it comes that the beginning which they see natural things possess, they attach to substances.

A more natural translation:

This is why they ascribe to substances the same beginning that they see natural things possess.

Notes:

  1. Unde is strictly speaking a relative meaning "whence, from which place". But Latin often begins sentences with relative pronouns that are really just a way of connecting back to the previous sentence. Such relatives are usually better translated as if they were demonstratives: in this case, "hence / from here".

  2. fit ut is a common expression meaning "it happens that, it comes to be the case that". The clause following the ut in such cases is called a "substantive ut-clause", since it fulfills the role of a noun in the sentence -- here, it's as if the entire clause beginning ut is the subject of fit (since it describes what "becomes" or comes to be the case). Substantive ut-clauses take a subjunctive verb, which explains the form of affingant.

3

UNDE

They actually mean the same thing. You can say whence or hence. The only problem you run into is the awkwardness of the Latin period in translation. Instead of keeping it one long sentence and having unde function as a relative, "from which point (=whence) they..." or "Hence, they...".

Think in English the difference between the two in simple relative clauses.

I saw the boy, who was walking to the store.

I saw the boy. He was walking to the store.

FIT

Not entirely sure on this one, but perhaps he's post-positioning the ut, giving the phrase ut fit, meaning "as usual." If that were the case, it would be polemical (which fits the rest of the context), "As usual, they attribute..."

Latin has no problem with stacking things up front that would sound clumsy in English, so perhaps that's why the translator chose to leave it out?

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I strongly suggest you to read English translations of William White and Samuel Shirley. These are more precise than Elwes translation.

White:

I fully expect that those who judge things confusedly, and who have not been accustomed to cognise things through their first causes, will find it difficult to comprehend the demonstration of the 7th Proposition, since they do not distinguish between the modifications of substances and substances themselves, and are ignorant of the manner in which things are produced. Hence it comes to pass that they erroneously ascribe to substances a beginning like that which they see belongs to natural things.

Shirley:

I do not doubt that for those who judge things confusedly and are not accustomed to know things through their primary causes it is difficult to grasp the proof of Proposition 7. Surely, this is because they neither distinguish between the modification of substances and substances themselves, nor do they know how things are produced. And so it comes about that they ascribe to substances a beginning which they see natural things as having.

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  • Welcome to the site! Can you add the White and Shirley translation of the passage to your answer? That would make the case much stronger.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 9 '19 at 13:40
  • White: I fully expect that those who judge things confusedly, and who have not been accustomed to cognise things through their first causes, will find it difficult to comprehend the demonstration of the 7th Proposition, since they do not distinguish between the modifications of substances and substances themselves, and are ignorant of the manner in which things are produced. Hence it comes to pass that they erroneously ascribe to substances a beginning like that which they see belongs to natural things
    – Ali Nikzad
    Apr 24 '19 at 7:09
  • Shirley: I do not doubt that for those who judge things confusedly and are not accustomed to know things through their primary causes it is difficult to grasp the proof of Proposition 7. Surely, this is because they neither distinguish between the modification of substances and substances themselves, nor do they know how things are produced. And so it comes about that they ascribe to substances a beginning which they see natural things as having
    – Ali Nikzad
    Apr 24 '19 at 7:09
  • Thanks! I edited your answer to include those. You can always edit your own answers and questions to add or fix something.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Apr 24 '19 at 15:32

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