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phrase, Spinoza is made needlessly obscure by our forgetfulness of his
Pantheism. Thus, in the present case, he does not in the least suggest
that the Jewish Jahweh, or personal God, must be thought of at
every moment in order to make our lives religious, but rather that
everything is so, which we desire and do consistently with the sense
of our being infinitesimal parts of one perfect Whole.


a doctrine, let us ask ourselves whether lions and tigers
and wolves are bound, so far as their conscious impulses
are concerned, by any other law than that of appetite ?
Surely no one will pretend it for a moment. And if we p r0 p.
try to make a moral difference between such creatures schol. 2.
and ' natural ' man, the effort is only an indication that
we are still influenced by obsolete traditions of man's
miraculous origin. But on the theory of evolution the
Master is obviously right. There was a time when, so
far as conscious impulse 1 was concerned, men were 'a
law unto themselves ' just as much as lions and tigers

Now such a stage of human evolution had obviously
less perfection, that is, less fulness of being, than any
stage attained by man when awakened to a sense of God,
that is, a consciousness of being part of a Whole, which The God-
consciousness, being finite, is necessarily subject to regu- ness am i "
lations co-ordinating it with other parts. ' In order that moral law '
men may live harmoniously and be helpful to each other/
says the Master, ' it is necessary that they should yield
their natural right and mutually give security that they
will do nothing which would injure their neighbour.' 2

1 This limitation is intended to prevent possible misunderstanding.
Because, of course, if by ' law ' we mean regular and inevitable suc-
cession, 'natural man' in all his impulses and in every other respect
was as much subject to law as trees and stones and streams.

- I do not read this as implying any anticipation of the eighteenth-
century myth of the contrat social. The passage only describes the
practical effect of natural man's evolution into the social state. Nor
do I see the slightest ground for the inference sometimes drawn that
Spinoza regarded the moral law as only ' positive,' or artificial, and
dependent on human authority. Not only the general tenour of his
writings, but his life, contradicts this. Nor does the passage follow-
ing, in which he docs discuss positive law, justify such a view of his



To attain this, they must have recourse to the principle
already laid down that no affection or impulse can be
controlled except by an affection or impulse both stronger
than and contrary to the affection to be controlled ; and
that in general every one will abstain from hurting
another if the injury will entail a greater hurt to him-

right to


xxxvii. ,
Schol. 2.

ment of re-

of which
the infrac-
tion is

' By this law, then, Society can be bound together if only it
can assert for itself the right which every individual has, of
defending himself, and make itself the judge of good and
evil. Provided also that Society must have the power of
ordaining the community's order of living, and the power of
legislation, and of sanctioning its laws not merely by reason,
which cannot compel affections (or impulses), but by threats.
Now this Society, held together by laws and by the power of
self-preservation, is called a State (Civitas), and those who
are defended by its jurisdiction are called Citizens. From all
this we readily gather that in a condition of nature there is
nothing declared to be good or evil by the consent of all.
Because every one, in a condition of nature, considers only
his own convenience, and according to his own fancy, having
regard solely to the standard of his own convenience, deter-
mines what is good or what is evil ; nor is he bound by any
law to obey any one but himself alone. Hence, in a con-
dition of nature, crime (peccahm) cannot be conceived ; but

teaching ; for he is there discussing the political definition of mutual
rights, and what is good for the State as a whole, not good in the
sense of that Vdiich helps each man to realise his ideal self. It is to
this aspect of higher rffcmhood as res acta existens that eternal
morality appertains — eternal in the sense that whenever and wherever
the same conditions occur, the same rule holds good. Spinoza's view
seems to have been that, when the sense of being parts of a whole
began to dawn, the need of living by reason began to be felt. And
Reason means the realisation — which may take many forms from
animism k) pantheism — that man is a ' partaker of the divine nature,'
and subject to the eternal necessities of God's life. See Part v.


only in the civic state in which, while good and evil are
determined by the general voice, every one is held bound to
obey the State. Crime, therefore, is nothing other than
disobedience, which accordingly is punished by State right
only • and, on the other hand, obedience is counted as merit
in a citizen because, on account of this very thing, he is
reckoned worthy to enjoy the advantages of the State.
Farther, in a condition of nature, no one by the general voice Property
is possessor of any single thing, nor does anything occur in Institution
nature which can be said to belong to this man and not to of nature,
that ; but all things belong to all. It follows that, in a con-
dition of nature, there can be no disposition {voluntas) to
render to each his own, nor yet to take away from any man
what is his. In a word, no action can be called just or unjust
in a condition of nature, but only in the civic State where
the general voice determines what belongs to this man or to
that. From all which it results that justice and injustice,
crime and desert, are notions from without, 1 and not attri-
butes which manifest the nature of the mind/

Passing over two propositions about the conservation
of a balance of motion and rest in the body, propositions
essential to the intellectual completeness of the system
but not to the practical lessons I am trying to emphasise,
I may summarise a number of succeeding propositions as
follows : —

All things are useful which make for social peace : Aphorisms,
whatever has the contrary effect is evil.

Joy, in its direct operation, is not evil but good : Grief, tfi.
on the other hand, in its direct operation, is evil.

1 Notiones extrinsecas — i.e. generated by outward relations. The
practical meaning is that 'morals' are evolved only out of special
relations between special Modes of the divine Attributes — e.g. men.
But perhaps the ' condition of nature,' as above, was prehuman rather
than human.





Cheerfulness cannot be in excess ; but it is always
good. On the other hand, Melancholy is always evil.

Pleasurable excitement may run to excess and be evil.
Pain may be good to the same extent as pleasurable
excitement or joy may be evil.

Love and sensual passion are subject to excess.

The Scholium here is worth quoting.


The mad-
ness of

Evil of



1 The affections (or passions) by which we are daily buffeted
have reference generally to some single part of the body
which part is more affected than any of the rest. And
accordingly the affections have an extreme excess and so hold
the mind fixed upon one sole object that it is unable to think
of others. And although men are exposed to many affections
(or passions), and accordingly very few are found who are
always buffeted by one and the same affection, yet there are
not wanting those to whom the same one affection obstinately
adheres. For we sometimes see men so much affected by one
object that even if it is not present they fancy that they have
it at hand. If such a thing befalls a man who is not asleep,
we say that he is delirious or mad. And not less are they
thought mad who burn with Love, and who day and night
dream of a mistress, or a paramour \ for they usually excite
laughter. But when the miser thinks of nothing else than
gain or treasures, and the ambitious man of glory, and so on,
these men are not believed to be mad ; they are rather offen-
sive and considered deserving of hatred. But in very deed
Avarice, Ambition, Lust, and such like are a sort of madness,
although they are not reckoned as disease.'

Hatred can never be good — that is, hatred towards
men. He who lives by the guidance of reason endeavours
as much as possible to counteract by love or generosity
hatred, anger, and contempt toward himself.

Affections of Hope and Fear cannot in themselves be


good, but only so far as they serve to restrain the Hope and
excesses of Joy. ' So far as we strive to live by the guid- seded by
ance of Reason, to that extent we shall depend less on
Hope, and free ourselves from Fear, while at the same
time we endeavour as far as possible to be lords of fortune
{fortunce imperare) and to direct our own actions by the
certain counsel of Reason.' 4

The affections of Self-conceit and of Contempt are xlviii.
always evil.

Pity 1 is out of place in a man whose life is guided by l.
Reason, and in itself is evil and useless.

The demonstration goes far to explain -the paradox, and Paradox

° if tf on Pity.

runs thus : —

' Pity is sorrow and therefore in itself evil. But
the good which follows from pity, namely, that we en-
deavour to free from his misery the man whom we pity,
is what we desire through the dictate of Reason alone to
effect. Nor can we achieve anything that we know clearly
to be good unless we do it by the dictate of Reason alone.
Therefore Pity in a man who lives by the guidance of
Reason, is evil in itself and useless.'

That is, help to the suffering should be prompted by
reason and not by passion. 2 The Scholium is worth
giving at length : —

1 He who fully knows that all things follow from the Schol.
necessity of the divine nature, and are carried on according

1 Commiseratio. As said before, the attempt to render Spinoza's
Latin word for any Affection always by the same English word would
cause confusion on account of differences of connotation in different
passages. ,

2 Morbid sentiment may condemn such teaching. But if it were
followed for ten years in our land, idle vagrancy and social malinger-
ing would be abolished.


to the eternal laws and rules of Nature, will surely find
nothing that is worthy of Hatred, Laughter, or Contempt.
Nor will he pity any one ; but so far as human virtue avails
he will endeavour, as the saying is, to do good and rejoice. 1
To this we may add that he who is easily touched by the
sentiment of pity and is moved by the misery or tears of
another, often does something for which he is afterwards
sorry. This is partly because we do not know clearly
that anything done from sentiment is good, and partly
because we do know clearly that we are easily deceived by
fraudulent tears. Of course, in the above remarks, I have in
view the man who lives by the guidance of reason. For he
who is not moved either by Eeason or by Pity to help others,
such a creature is rightly called inhuman ; for he seems to
be alien to manhood.'

Gratitude. ' Favour ' (in the sense of special love to a man who
has done good to another) ' is not contrary to reason, but
is in harmony with it, and may arise from it.'

Schoi. 'Indignation' (in the sense of hatred to a man who has


illegitimate, done harm to another) 'is essentially evil. But mark that
when the sovereign power, in virtue of the desire by
which it is actuated to defend the peace, punishes a
citizen who has done harm to another, I do not say that
the sovereign power shows indignation ; because it is not
by hatred impelled .to the destruction of the citizen, but
it punishes him at the instigation of piety.'

Humility. Humility is not a virtue ; that is, it does not spring
from Eeason.

Penitence. Penitence is not a virtue ; that is, it does not spring
from Eeason.

These paradoxical utterances are necessitated by
Spinoza's fundamental principle that a man's essence is

1 ' Trust in the Lord, and do good.' — Ps. xxxvii. 3.


his power, not his impotence. Therefore anything which
concentrates a man's attention on his impotence is bad ;
that is, it hinders the ideal self. There is more in this
than would at first sight appear. But it is admittedly
dangerous and is guarded by the following Scholium.

1 Since men seldom live under the direction of Eeason,
these two affections, namely, Humility and Penitence, and, in Scholium
addition to these, Hope and Fear, do more good than harm ; fty^S?
and accordingly, since error is inevitable, it is better to err tence >
in that direction. For if men impotent in mind (i.e. morally Fear?' an
impotent) should all be as presumptuous 1 as they are weak,
they would scruple at nothing. And if they had nothing to
fear, by what bounds could they be held together and kept
in order ? The mob terrifies when it does not fear. And so
there is no wonder that the Prophets who had regard to the
advantage of all, and not of a few, should give such high
praise to Humility, Penitence, and Eeverence. And indeed
those who are susceptible to these affections can be led much
more easily than others towards a life under the guidance of
Reason, that is, toward freedom, and the enjoyment of the
life of the blessed.'

Either excessive pride or excessive self-depreciation Pride,
indicates both utter ignorance of one's self and extreme lv ' aud lv1 '
impotence of mind.

Hence it follows that the proud and the despondent
are specially susceptible to affections (or passions).

The proud man loves the company of parasites or lvii.
flatterers, but that of the noble-minded he hates.

Here follows a Scholium : —

1 It would be too long a task to reckon all the evils of Schol.
Pride ; since the Proud are susceptible to all passions and to Pride sus-
none less than those of Love and Pity. But here it must by H^*
no means be forgotten that any man is called proud who passions.
1 >So I take ceque omnes mqaerbirent.



thinks less of others than they deserve, and therefore with
The essence this understanding Pride is to be defined as Joy arising from
a man's false notion that he is superior to the rest of men.
And Self-depreciation (pusillanimity) in contrariety to this

is joy aris-
ing from a
false idea
of superi-

Pride would be grief arising from a man's false notion that

The oppo-

Pride akin
to madness.

Pride and
ity as

he is inferior to the rest of mankind. But this being granted,
we readily conceive that the proud man is necessarily envious,
" te .of pusil- an( j ^hat he regards with the utmost hatred those who are
most praised on account of their virtues. Nor can his hatred
of them be easily overcome by Love or kindliness. And he
takes pleasure only in the company of those who humour his
impotence of mind, and from a fool turn him into a madman.
1 Now although Self-depreciation (pusillanimity) is contrary
to Pride, yet the Despondent (pusillanimous) is next neighbour
to the proud. For since his Grief arises from measuring his
own impotence by the power or virtue of other men, that
Grief will therefore be lightened, or he will rejoice, if his
fancy should be engaged in the contemplation of other
people's vices. Hence the proverb, " The consolation of the
miserable is to have partners in affliction." And on the other
hand he will be all the more sad in proportion as he believes
himself debased below the rest of men. Whence it follows
that none are so prone to envy as the despondent (pusillani-
mous) j and also that such people for the most part watch
the actions of mankind more with a view to fault-finding
than to reformation ; so that at length they praise self-
depreciation for its own sake and glory in it, but so that
they may still seem to be despondent. Such consequences
follow from this mental affection as inevitably as it follows .
from the nature of a triangle that its three angles are equal
to two right angles ; and I have already said that I call these
and similar mental affections bad (only) so far as I confine
my attention to the service of man alone. But Nature's
laws are concerned with the general order of Nature of
which Man is a part — a remark I make in passing, lest any
one should suppose that I have desired here to recount the
wicked and preposterous deeds of men, whereas I have

The incon
caused to
by such
does not
imply dis-
order in


sought only to set forth the nature and properties of things
(as they are). For as I have said in the Preface to the
Third Part, I look on the mental affections of man and their
properties just as I look on the rest of natural phenomena.
And indeed if the mental affections of man do not manifest
human power, at least they set forth that of Nature and also
her art, not less than many other things at which we wonder,
and by the contemplation of which we are delighted. But I
hasten on to note concerning the affections whatever is
productive of profit or loss to man.'

Glorying (i.e. joy in the thought of some action of ours Glory,
which we suppose others to praise) is not repugnant to
Reason and may even spring from Pieason.

Here it seemed necessary to the Master to exclude And vain-


{ vainglory.' And this he does in a Scholium which Fviii.,'
explains that the latter depends upon the shifting opinion
of the mob. The implication is that true glory can be
sustained only by the praise of those who are steadfastly
guided by Eeason.

' As to Shame, all that is needed may be gathered from Shame,
what we have said about Pity and Penitence. This only I
add ; that just like Compassion, Shame, though it be not a
virtue, is yet good in so far as it shows that the man affected
by Shame has in him a desire for an honourable life, even as
pain, so far as it shows that the injured part is not mortified,
is also good. Thus, even though a man ashamed of some
deed is of course subject to Grief, yet he has more of
perfection than the shameless one who has no desire for an
honourable life.

1 This is all that I designed to say about the mental
affections of Joy and Grief. . As to Desires, they are good
or evil" according as they spring from good or evil affections.
But in truth, all desires, so far as they are begotten in us by
affections which are passions, are blind, nor would they be


in any way needed if men could easily be led to live under
the sole direction of Reason. And this I will now briefly

Reason We were taught at an earlier portion of this section

can supply .

the place * of the Ethics that knowledge, if it is to have practical

passion. power, must put on the nature of feeling, which of course

Prop. lix. i s a form of passion in its technical sense. We now

have the converse lesson that reason may be as effectual

as feeling. But this does not contradict the previous

passage ; for more knowledge of this or that is not to be

confounded with Eeason.

Actions are < To all actions to which we are determined by a mental

in them- .

selves in- affection, which is a passion, we may also be determined


by Eeason without passion.' The idea is that bodily
actions are all in themselves indifferent, that is, neither
good nor evil. And they only become good or evil
according as they make for or against the development
Moral f the ideal self. Thus talking, eating, drinking, and, to

quality ° ° °

depends on take Spinoza's illustration, the act of striking, are colour-
spiritual m m
relations, less except in their relation to the ideal self. If they

serve that, they are good ; if not, they are bad. Now to

that is, on act according to Eeason is simply to do those things


which follow from the inward necessity of our own
nature considered in itself — that is, apart from the
powers of the external world which deflect it from its
true course. And such of us as consider ourselves — in
spirit, though not always in the letter — to be Spinoza's
disciples make bold to say that if any man could emulate
the serene devotion of the Master who, from the time of
his enlightenment, sought only to realise the divine
thought identifiable with the man Spinoza, he would find


Reason as thus conceived to be to him c wisdom and
righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.'

1 Desire springing from Joy or Grief such as affects vices of
only one or several, but not all parts of the body, has no desire! ° C
proper bearing 1 on the good of the whole man.'

We must remember that in Spinoza's system the body
is the man in extension, and the mind the man in thought.
They are therefore the same thing in two different aspects.
For practical illustrations of the above proposition we
may refer to drunkenness, sensual vices, and gambling,
which gratify a part but do not serve the whole of the man.

* Desire springing from Eeason is incapable of excess ' i*i.

r ° & r Desires of

— that is, it is always an impulse toward the realisation Reason are

Of OUr best Self. of excess.

So far as the Mind conceives anything under the lxii.
direction of Eeason, it is equally affected thereby whether unaffected
the idea be of a future thing or a past or present.

We may remember that on the natural man things
immediate have much more influence than things remote,
notwithstanding that the power of the latter over him is
in the order of Nature equally certain. We may also
remind ourselves of the fine utterance of Kepler when
under the direction of reason he published his laws of
planetary motion.

1 The lot is cast. I have written my book. It will be read ; instance of
whether in the present age or by posterity matters little. Kc P ler -
It can wait for its readers. Has not God waited six thousand
years for one to contemplate his works ? ' 2

1 Rationem utilitatia totiua hominia non hdbet. But the practical

sense is as above.

2 So. the true laws of planetary motion. The reference, of course,
is to the old chronology, which dated creation about six thousand years


lxiii. He who is led by fear and does what is good in order to

avoid trouble (malum) is not led by reason.

Penalties The suggestion is that fear of penalty cannot sustain

cannot °° r J

inspire noble conduct as reason can. For by the desire spring-
ness. ing from reason we pursue good directly, and only as

an incidental consequence escape evil. The difference
between the positive pursuit of good and the negative
avoidance of evil is not inaptly illustrated by the example
of a sick and a healthy man. 'The sick man through
fear of death eats what he dislikes ; the healthy man
takes a pleasure in his food, and so enjoys life more than
if he feared death and made it his chief aim 1 to avoid


ixiv. The knowledge of evil is inadequate knowledge ; hence it

knowledge follows that if the human mind has none but adequate ideas,

excludes it would form no notion of evil,

In other words, if our consciousness could expand so as
to fill the infinite Universe — of course an absurd supposi-
tion — there would be no shadow of evil in it.

ixv. Under the guidance of Reason we shall take the greater

good and the lesser evil wherever a choice lies between the

It must be remembered that good and evil here mean
respectively what favours and what hinders the develop-
ment of the ideal self.

lxri Under the direction of Reason we shall prefer a greater

future good to a present smaller good, and a present smaller
evil to a future greater evil.

This, of course, has been a familiar doctrine of preachers
1 Ecmque directe vitare cuperet.


in all ages. But the distinctive note of Spinoza is that
under the guidance of Reason he recognises only real good
and real evil verifiable by experience. With this agrees
the following : —

The free man thinks of nothing less than of death ; and ixvii.
his wisdom is meditation not of death but of life. Tbe lre( r

man not

These words need no comment. with death -

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Online LibraryJ. Allanson (James Allanson) PictonSpinoza; a handbook to the Ethics → online text (page 13 of 21)