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Proposition lxviii. may be treated parenthetically. For An impos-
it puts an hypothesis which in a succeeding Scholium is thesis. 5P °~
shown to be impossible. That is, ' supposing men to be
born free, they would form no conception of good or evil
so long as they remained free.' For that man is free who
is led by reason alone. But such a man can have no
other than adequate ideas, and therefore has no concep-
tion of evil. (Prop, lxiv.) The implication is that he
sees things as God sees them.

But Spinoza takes the opportunity of illustrating the
meaning of the above impossible hypothesis by the myth
of Adam's innocence and fall. Perhaps the great Jew
gives us here a reminiscence of his studies in the Hagada Spinoza as
or exposition for purposes of edification rather than exact b
interpretation. At any rate, he suggests that in the story
of Adam's creation, ' no other power of God is conceived
excepting that by which he created man.' It was to
keep the latter within the range of adequate ideas that
he was debarred from ' the tree of knowledge of good and
evil.' And by an edifying modification of the ancient
text Spinoza tells us, God warned Adam ' that as soon as
he ate of it he would immediately dread death rather
than desire to live.' With an obscure allusion, possibly


to sensual degradation, we are told that when Adam
1 came to believe that the brutes were like himself he
immediately began to imitate their affections ' (passions).
Thus he fell under inadequate ideas and lost his freedom.
This freedom, however, was regained by the Patriarchs,
who were ' led by the Spirit of Christ, that is to say, by
the idea of God, which alone can make a man free, and
cause him to desire for other men the good he desires for
himself.' Sir F. Pollock seems to doubt whether Spinoza
was serious here. I do not know why we should
hesitate. Early habits of thought had a charm for him
as for lesser men. And after all he only uses the
myth as a sort of paradigm to explain what the con-
dition of man would be on the impossible hypothesis of
Prop, lxviii.

lxix. The virtue of a free man is seen to be equally great

whether in avoiding or in overcoming dangers.
Abraham This may be illustrated by the attitude of Abraham
slavery . aiU Lincoln towards slavery ; an attitude subject at the time
of the war and after to undeserved criticism. He had no
constitutional power to make the existence of slavery the
gage of battle at the outset. And his virtue or his valour
was seen in declining the danger which such an uncon-
stitutional course would have involved. The Union alone
could be legally alleged as the prize to be maintained at
all costs. But when the conflict had reached the stage
at which slavery was recognised on both sides as absolutely
incompatible with a restoration of the Union, then Lin-
coln's virtue, or valour, was equally shown in facing the
danger of the emancipation proclamation as justified by
the emergencies of war.


A free man living among the ignorant 1 seeks as much as lxx.
possible to avoid their favours. oVfev^SS

This is because the servant of Eeason and the devotee worthless.
of superstition estimate so differently things good and bad
that there is between them hardly any current coin.

Only free men are entirely congenial (gratissimi) toward bra.
each other.

The free man never acts with malignant deceit but always Ixxii.

A man directed by Eeason has more freedom in a common- lxxhi.
wealth (civitate), where he lives according to an agreed con- grea ter in
stitution of things (ex communi decreto) than in solitude, where s ? cial . life

r i t , ? i , ' than m

ne obeys only himself. solitude.

This looks paradoxical, but the explanation is that the
man actuated by Eeason alone knows no fear, nor does
he suffer compulsion, but from the free action of his
essential nature seeks the good of his kind. For such
free action there is more scope in a commonwealth than
in solitude.

The concluding Scholium is as follows : —

1 These and such-like principles of the true freedom 2 of
man as hitherto expounded are related to Fortitude, that is,
to Force of Mind and Generosity. Nor do I think it worth
while here to exhibit separately all the properties of Forti-
tude ; still less (to prove) that a brave man should hold no
one in hatred, should feel anger toward no one, should not
envy nor cherish indignation, nor feel contempt for any, and
least of all should give way to Pride. For these lessons and
everything concerning true life and Religion are readily

1 There is a doubt whether this is the word Spinoza wrote.
A version taken direct from his autograph has ignavua — vile, or
worthless — instead of ignarvs.

2 The avowed subject of Part iv. is human bondage. But by
contrast the principles of liberty have necessarily been suggested.


enforced by earlier propositions of this Part, 1 as for instance
that hatred is to be conquered by love, and that every one
guided by Reason desires for the rest of men the good he
desires for himself. To which must be added what in many
places we have remarked, that a brave man puts in the
forefront of all his considerations the fact that all things
follow from the necessity of the divine nature; and that
accordingly whatever he thinks to be hurtful or evil, and
also what seems impious, terrible, unjust, and vile, occurs to
him in that form because he conceives the facts themselves
in a disorderly, fragmentary, and confused manner. On this
account he tries first of all to conceive things as they really
are, and to free himself from hindrances to true knowledge,
such as are Hatred, Anger, Envy, Derision, Pride and the
like, which we have pointed out above, and so he endeavours,
as much as lieth in him, to do good — as we have said — and
to rejoice. To what lengths, however, human virtue may
proceed in such attainments, and what is its power, I will
show in the succeeding Part.'


To this Fourth Part Spinoza adds an important ap-
pendix. He seems to have been aware that his so-called
' mathematical ' method of proof must cause special diffi-
culties to students of his system. And he apprehended,
not without reason, that these difficulties would be speci-
ally felt in regard to his method of discussing human
bondage. He therefore added a kind oifHcis of the whole
Part compressed into thirty-two paragraphs or chapters.
Whether these are really much easier to understand than
the propositions themselves, with such illustrations as
above given, is a question on which opinions may differ.

1 Sc, Props, xxxvi., xxxvii., xlv., xlvi., etc.


But I think it well to give the appendix without note
or comment, only premising that the translation is in-
tended as usual to exhibit the meaning clearly to English
readers, and therefore does not adhere verbatim to the
Latin where such a method would make the English

My observations in this Part concerning the right principle The
of living have not been so arranged as to be (readily) seen as J^sons* 5
one whole, but have been proved here and there according as for the
I could more easily deduce one from another. I propose ppen
therefore here to recapitulate them, and to arrange them
under the most important heads.


{ All our efforts or Desires follow from the necessity (in- Theory of
evi table tendency) of our own nature in such a manner that Desire -
they may be understood either through that nature itself alone
as their immediate cause, or else from our being a part of
Nature which part cannot be adequately conceived apart
from other individuals.


* The desires which so spring from our own nature that Active and
they can be understood through that nature alone, are such SJJST
as belong to the Mind in so far as the latter is conceived to
consist of adequate ideas ; but other desires do not belong
to the Mind except so far as it conceives things inadequately ;
and their force and growth is not to be determined by human
power, but by the power of external things. Therefore the
former desires are rightly called active (or actions), but the
latter passions (i.e. passive). For the former indicate our
power, and the latter, on the other hand, our impotence and
fragmentary knowledge.



Good and ■ Our activities (adiones), that is, those Desires which are
determined by man's power or Reason, are always good.
But the rest may be as often bad as good.


The chief ' Thus in life our prime advantage is as far as possible to
end of Man. ma k e perfect the intellect or Reason ; and in this one thing
the highest happiness or blessedness of man consists. That
is to say, blessedness is nothing other than that very peace
of mind which springs from the intuitive knowledge of God.
Now to make perfect the intellect is nothing other than to
understand God, and the attributes and actions of God
which follow by necessity from His very nature. Wherefore
the chief end of the man who is led by Reason, that is, his
supreme Desire, by which he seeks to regulate all other
desires, is to get an adequate conception of himself and of all
those things which may fall within the scope of his intellect


Good and ' There is therefore no reasonable (rationalis) life without
bad- intelligence, and things are good only in as far as they help

the man to enjoy that mental life which is measured by
intelligence. On the other hand, those things only do Ave
call bad which hinder a man from perfecting Reason and
enjoying a reasonable life.


Evil from ' But since every thing of which a man is an efficient cause
man lde * * ,s g°°d °f necessity, therefore nothing evil can happen to a
man unless from outward causes ; that is to say, inasmuch as
he is a part of all Nature whose laws human nature must
obey, and to which it must conform itself in an almost
infinite number of ways.



1 Now it is impossible that man should not be a part of The natural
Nature or not follow her usual order. But if he should dent oncir-
have a position among such individual objects as accord with cumstances.
his own nature, by that very fact will his power for action
be aided and sustained. If, on the other hand, he lives
among such objects as scarcely accord at all with his own
nature, he will hardly be able without a great change in
himself to accommodate himself to them.


' Whatever in Nature is met with that we judge to be evil, Prerogative
or able to hamper our existence and enjoyment of a life serration?"
according to Reason, this it is allowable for us to get rid of
by such method as appears safest. And whatever, on the
contrary, is met with which we judge to be good or useful
for the preservation of our (essential) being and for the
enjoyment of a life according to Reason, this it is allowable
for us to take for our benefit and to use it in any way.
And by the supreme right of Nature absolutely everything
is allowable to each man which he judges to conduce to his
welfare. 1


' Nothing can be more accordant with the Nature of an Place of
(individual) thing than other individuals of the same kind, thTliie" of
And therefore (see VII. above) a man can have nothing more Reason,
suitable for the preservation of his (essential) being and his
enjoyment of a life according to Reason than (another) man
who is led by Reason. Farther, since among individual
objects we know nothing more excellent than a man led by
Reason, therefore in no way whatever can any one more
clearly manifest his resources in skill and talent than by so

1 Any one who has followed the Ethics so far can scarcely need ;i
reminder that no one acting according to Reason can judge anything
to be good for himself if it injures another.



moulding 1 men that they come at last to live under the
direct authority of Reason.

No enemy
more fatal
than man
to the
higher life.

yields to


' In proportion as men are mutually actuated toward each
other by Envy or by some other passion of Hate, in that
proportion are they contrary to each other, 2 and consequently
the more to be feared inasmuch as they have more power
than any other natural things.


1 Minds, however, are conquered, not by arms, but by Love
and Generosity.


Union is < To men it is above all things profitable to form com-


munities and to unite themselves by such bonds as are best

fitted to make of them all one man, and generally to do

whatever serves for the strengthening of friendships.


ineffective- « But for such purposes art and watchful care are needed.

nunciation. For men are changeable — few indeed being those who live
by the direction of Reason — and at the same time they are
predominantly envious, and more inclined to vengeance than
to pity. To bear with each, therefore, according to his
disposition, and to refrain from imitating his passions, re-
quires a rare strength of mind. But, on the other hand,
those whose only skill is to criticise men, and to revile their
vices rather than to teach virtue, and rather to break their
spirit than to fortify their minds, are injurious both to
themselves and others. On which account many of them,

1 Hominibus ita educandis.

2 This is not the truism that it looks. The underlying thought is
always the development of man's highest good, the life according to
Reason. It is with respect to this that men mutually envious and
angry are 'contrary to each other.' Whenever the above becomes a
truism there will be no more war.


through excessive impatience and a false zeal for Religion, How false
have chosen rather to live among beasts than among men ; renlfon
just as boys and youths who cannot bear calmly the rebukes has°made
of their parents, betake them to the army and choose the eranK
discomforts of war and despotic command rather than home
comforts with paternal reprimands; suffering any kind of
oppression, if only they may spite their parents.


Although, therefore, men generally bend everything to Moral


their low desires, many more advantages than disadvantages cli

arise from their social union. Wherefore it is better to
endure with an equal mind the injuries inflicted by them,
and to apply our minds to those things which make for
concord and the confirmation of friendship.


' The things that beget concord are such as belong to Moral
justice, fairness, and honour. For besides what is unjust society?
and unfair, men are revolted by what is accounted base, or
by the contempt of any one for the established customs of
the State. In order to win Love, our prime requirement
is Religion and Piety, with all that they imply. On this
point see, in this Part, Prop, xxxvii., Schol. 1 and 2 ; Prop,
xlvi., Schol. ; Prop, lxxiii.


1 Concord, moreover, is often the result of fear ; but then it Neither
is without good faith. It is to be observed, too, that fear g^5n«n t a
arises from impotence of mind and therefore is of no service sufficient
to Reason ; nor is pity, though it assume an aspect of piety, concord.


' Men are also conquered by bountifulness, especially those Care of the
who have not the means of providing the necessaries of life. [[JtSness of
On the other hand, to help every one who is in need, far the State,
surpasses the resources and faculty of a private person. For



the wealth of a private person is utterly insufficient to meet
the demand. Besides, the capability of any one man is too
limited to enable him to unite all the needy with him in
friendship. So that the care of the poor is the business of
the community, and concerns only the general welfare.


Gratitude ' In receiving favours and returning thanks, quite different
has its considerations are necessary ; on which see Part IV., Prop.
sideratkms. lxx. ; and Prop, lxxi., Schol.


Illegitimate 'The love of a harlot, that is, the lust of sexual inter-
love ' course, which is stirred by bodily form, and absolutely all

love which recognises any cause other than the freedom of
the mind, easily passes over into hatred ; unless indeed, which
is worse, it is a sort of madness, and even then it begets
discord rather than concord.


Marriage. 'As to marriage, it is clearly in accordance with Reason
if the desire of corporal union is occasioned not merely by
bodily form but by the Love of begetting and wisely educat-
ing children ; and also on condition that the love of both the
man and the woman has for its cause not merely bodily form
but also and especially freedom of mind.


Flattery. 'Flattery also produces concord; but only by the base
vice of self-enslavement or by treachery. There are none,
therefore, who are so easily taken by flattery as the proud
who wish to be greatest and are not so.

ciation akin
to Pride.


In self-depreciation there is a false colour of Piety and



although Self-depreciation is opposite to


Pride, yet the self-depreciating man is next neighbour to
the proud. 1


' Shame also helps concord, but only in such things as Shame,
cannot be concealed. Moreover, since Shame itself is a kind
of Grief, it is not adapted to the service of Reason.


' The rest of the affections of Grief in their bearing on Grief
men are directly opposed to justice, equity, honour, piety, £SpM
and religion ; and although Indignation seems to have a indignation
colour of equity, yet in a state of things where it is per- borders on
mitted to every one to judge the deeds of another, and to
vindicate his own or another's right, life is practically without


'Affability, that is, the craving to propitiate men, if it is Affability ,
determined by Reason, is related to Piety (cf. Pt. ix., ^ g and
Prop, xxxvii., Schol. 1). But if it should arise from passion
(ex affectu) it is Ambition, or a craving, by which men under
a false pretext of Piety very often stir up quarrels and
seditions. For he who desires to assist the rest of men
either by advice or by his substance, in order that they may
together enjoy the supreme good, will study above all things
to win their love ; but not to draw them into admiration (of
him) so that a system may be named after him ; and he will
avoid giving any occasion whatever for envy. In ordinary
talk, too, he will avoid mention of the vices of men, and will
take care to speak only sparingly of human impotence. But
he will talk at large of human virtue or power and of the
means by which it may be perfected ; so that men, being
moved not by fear nor by revulsion of feeling, but by the

1 The common phrase, 'the pride of humility,' shows that the same
thing has been observed by the unphilosophie many.



affection of Joy alone, nay, as much as in them is, try to live
by the Rule of Reason.

Our atti- « Excepting men, we do not know any individual object in


Man and Nature in whose mind we can take pleasure or that we can
Nature. un ite to ourselves in friendship or in any kind of society ; 1
and therefore regard to our own profit does not demand that
we should preserve anything which exists in Nature except
men ; but such regard teaches us to preserve it or destroy
it according as either course may be useful, or to adapt it to
our own use in any way whatever.


Food, ' The profit which we derive from objects external to us,

Mind. aUC over aR d above the experience and knowledge we obtain
because we observe them and change them from their original
form into others, is chiefly the preservation of the Body.
And for this reason those objects are the most profitable to
us which can feed and nourish the Body, so that all its parts
may be able properly to perform their functions. For the
more capable the Body is of being affected in many ways,
and affecting external bodies in many ways, the more capable
of thinking is the Mind. (Pt. iv., Props, xxxviii. and xxxix.)
But of this particular character there seem to be very few
things in Nature. Wherefore it is necessary for the requisite
nourishment of the Body to use many foods of diverse sorts.
That is, the human Body is made up of very many parts of
diversified nature, which need constant and varied food in
order that the whole Body may be equally adapted for all
those things which naturally result from its constitution, and
that the Mind also may by consequence be fitted for con-
ceiving many things.

1 Presumably Spinoza never kept a dog. But the more liberal
estimate formed in modern times of the intelligence and sympathy of
higher animals does not directly contradict the above doctrine as to
our right to use Nature. It only modifies it by bringing some non-
human things within the outer circle of human sympathies.



1 In procuring all this the capacity of any one man would
be insufficient if men did not mutually assist one another.
But money has furnished a concentrated equivalent of all Money
possessions. Hence it comes to pass that the idea of money ^ things.
has such a hold on the Minds of common men ; because they
can scarcely conceive any sort of Joy without the concomitant
idea of money as its cause.


' This, however, is a vice only in those who seek money Misers and
not because of poverty nor because of urgent needs, but tnnlt «
because they have learned the arts of gain, by means of
which they make a grand appearance. As for the Body,
they nourish it according to custom, but sparely, because
they believe they entirely lose just as much of their posses-
sions as they spend on the preservation of the Body. But
those who know the true use of money and regulate the
measure of their wealth according to their needs alone live
contented with little.


' Since therefore those things are good which help the parts Joy, its
of the body to perform their functions, and since Joy consists amfdan4i>
in this, that the power of man, in as far as he is both Mind
and Body, is aided, or increased, therefore all things which
bring Joy are good. Yet since things do not work for the
purpose of giving us Joy, nor is their power of action regu-
lated by the consideration of what is profitable for us, and
lastly, since Joy very often affects predominantly one part of
the Body, it follows that the affections of Joy and by con-
sequence the desires also suggested by it, run to excess,
unless Reason and watchfulness are at hand. And we must
add that we are most chiefly affected by what is sweet to us
at the present moment, nor arc we able to prize the future
with equal emotion. (Pt. IV., Prop, xliv., Schol. ; Prop, lx.,



Errors of < Yet Superstition appears on the contrary to make what-
fciolTcon- ever brings sadness to be good and whatever brings Joy to
cernmg Joy }-, e cv i\ t gut, as we have said (Pt. iv., Prop, xlv., Schol.), no
being, unless affected by envy, is pleased by my impotence
or misfortune. For the greater the Joy with which we are
affected, the greater is the perfection to which we attain,
and by consequence the more are we partakers of the divine
nature. Nor can any Joy ever be evil when a sound con-
sideration of our own profit controls it. But, on the other
hand, he who is led by Fear and who shuns good as an evil
thing is not guided by Reason.


The 'But human power is very limited and is infinitely over-

Reason ° f P asse d by the power of external causes. And therefore we
have no absolute power to fit to our needs the world around
us. Nevertheless we shall bear with an equal mind what-
ever happens contrary to our notions of our own welfare if we
are conscious that we have done our duty, and that such
power as we possess could not by any possible exertion have
avoided those ills ; while at the same time we remember that
we are part of the Whole of Nature and follow in its course.
If we clearly and distinctly understand this, that part of us
which is determined by intellect — the better part of us —
will entirely acquiesce and will endeavour to hold fast that
acquiescence. For so far as we live by the intellect we can
only desire that which is inevitable, 1 nor can we at all
acquiesce in anything but what is true. Thus in as far as
we rightly understand these things, so far the better part of

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Online LibraryJ. Allanson (James Allanson) PictonSpinoza; a handbook to the Ethics → online text (page 14 of 21)