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things. already learned that according to Spinoza there was never
a beginning and cannot be an end to the Universe as
revealed by our senses. In his view, the impressions we
have of an external world constitute our inadequate idea
of the infinite number of things which eternally follow in
endless variety from the necessity of the divine nature.
Of the things thus involved in the necessity of the divine
nature, individual things, or things which are finite and
have a determinate existence — such as stars, planets,

50



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 51

trees, animals, and all the various objects of our senses —
cannot exist nor be determined to action unless by means
of another cause which is also finite, and again this
ulterior cause depends on a farther finite cause, and so on
ad infinitum} I have already suggested that this merely innumer-
amounts to the assertion ot an innumerable and endless endless
series of successions such as we partially picture in evolu- changes
tion, and devolution, growth and decay, the whole of the JJfty.
innumerable and endless series being comprehended
within the divine unity of substance.

Now, amongst the finite things thus constituted is men. Humanity:

T n p n • r mind and

I do not mean man as a race ; lor Spinoza was so far a body.
' Nominalist ' that he would not tolerate any idea of
species except such as results from the compound image
formed by the mind when trying to recall a group or
series of individuals having marked points of resem-
blance, too numerous to be retained separately in the
memory. It is then the personal man — myself, yourself,
himself, that is Spinoza's subject when he discourses of
the Origin and Nature of Mind. Of course, he has in
view the endless varieties of individual character, and is
perfectly aware that to large numbers he must be unin-
telligible. But he is inspired by a faith that truth must
in the end prevail ; and so far as he is teaching the truth
he knows that his word cannot die.

For the purpose I have in view it will not be necessary scope of
to do more than give briefly Spinoza's theory of the rela- chapter? 11
tions of body and mind with a very few of the results

1 See Props, xvi. and xxviii., Pi. i. It is true that nothing is said
there about our ■ inadequate idea' of the Universe of finite things ; but
it is clearly involved.



does not
touch evo-
hitional
origins.



52 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

thereof as set forth in his Part n. If the word ' Origin '
stands in the title, we must not be misled by it. For he
Spinoza certainly had not before him the same problem as Darwin
and Haeckel ; though their conclusions, could he have
foreseen them, would not in the least have disturbed his
serene contemplations of the eternal life. Because such
conclusions do not touch his doctrine of Substance,
v \ Attributes, and Modes. However, what he means by the
word Origin here is, clearly, the immediate cause or
causes 1 of the finite mind, that is, of any personal mind
^ v \ now in being.
Man a finite It will be remembered that, according to the Master,
tension and Extension and Thought are each infinite Attributes of
the divine Substance or God, and each subject to an
infinite variety of Modes, or modifications, which Modes
again may be either finite or infinite. Of the finite
Modes of Extension and Thought man is an instance.
For his body is a finite Mode of the Attribute of Exten-
sion, while his mind is a finite Mode of the Attribute of
Thought. But this does not mean that mind and body
are two essentially different things. On the contrary, as
Extension is one aspect of the divine Substance, and
Thought is another, it follows that mind and body are
both finite expressions or manifestations of the one
ultima te reality. Therefore, if we would follow this
teacher accurately, we are not to think of a ' soul ' or
'body' in the ordinary sense, but of God manifested
under finite modes of Extension and Thought. Thus

1 The reader may need to be reminded that Spinoza's notion of
'cause' is certainly one of the points on which later thought tends
irrevocably to diverge from him.



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 53

Spinoza's theory is at least free from the difficulties felt
by previous philosophers as to the interaction of spirit
and flesh. For there is no interaction ; because they are
the same thing in different aspects.

It may perhaps be suggested that any practical exposi- Objection
tion of Spinoza on these lines must be inconsistent with by Sir F.
my adoption above of Sir Frederick Pollock's criticism on criticism
the double appearance of Thought in the system. For,
if the critic is right, as I have acknowledged, then Exten-
sion (or at least consciousness of Extension) is only a Mode
of Thought, and therefore only one Attribute, that of
Thought, is cognisable in man. I do not, however, agree
that any inconsistency arises. For Sir Frederick Pollock
himself says that his criticism leaves the practical issues does not

touch the

of Spinoza's philosophy untouched ; x and it is with these practical

issues

I am mainly concerned. Indeed, even while allowing
that Extension is a Mode of Thought, we feel it to be so
different a mode from feelings of pain or pleasure, of
desire or dislike, of ratiocination, induction or deduction,
that it is easily and naturally kept apart as a group of
forms of consciousness clearly distinguishable from those
that do not involve the notion of extension or space. In
this sense, while fully recognising that Extension itself is Extension

J ° ° as a Mode

a Mode of Thought, we may still attach significance to of Thought

. sharply

Spinoza's theory of mind and body as the same thing distmguish-

t on -iTr ., ... able from

under different aspects. We pursue the exposition, other
adhering to Spinoza's method, but always with the reser-
vation above stated.

As Spinoza puts it then, the body is the 'object' of The body as

1 Of course, what I say here is only my interpretation of Sir
Frederick Pollock's criticism.



54 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

which the mind is the ' idea.' But we must mark the

difference between Spinoza's notion of ' object ' and that

(xiii.,Pt.n.) of many other thinkers. For he does not mean that

the body is something outside, at which the mind looks

as through a window. He means rather that the body

is a finite mode of Extension, whose definiteness is

otherwise realised in the other aspect of the same thing,

that is, a finite mode of Thought. The two aspects are

absolutely inseparable, because they are finite modes of

co-existence and essentially related Attributes of the

divine Substance, or God. 1

How the The next point we should notice is that the mind has

the body, no knowtedgejof theJ)ody except through mental ideas of

inconsistent bodily affections. 2 This might seem a truism, were it not

Slism. 6 ' that it used to be in effect denied by ' materialists.' For

in assuming that the mind is nothing but an undefined

order of molecular vibrations in the brain, they excluded

altogether, except as modes of motion, any 'ideas' of

bodily affections. Nor is the question merely one of

words, at least in the view of Spinoza. For according to

him every finite expression of the Attribute of Extension

has a corresponding finite expression under the Attribute

1 The inseparableness is even more apparent on Pollock's view,
because both body and soul are different finite modes of the same
Pt. II., Attribute of Thought.

1 ' 2 This word is to be understood as including all sense impressions or

internal feelings. Mr. Hale White and Miss Stirling in their excellent
translation prefer the word ' affect.' This is marked as obsolete in the
New English Dictionary ; but that is of course no reason why it should
not be used for a special purpose. But since explanation is needed, it
seems just as convenient to use a familiar word with the understand-
ing that it includes all possible mental impressions or feelings or efforts
whether usually classed as perceptions, emotions, thought or will. In
an analogous sense we use the word c affections ' as applied to the body.
We include under the word all possible effects wrought on brain, nerve,
muscle, or other tissue.



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 55
of Thought, and also innumerable other finite expressions Correlation

of Exten-

under the other countless Attributes of God unknown to sion and
us. What may be the finite expression of a tree or a with
mountain or a stone under the Attribute of Thought other
apart from man he does not expressly say, though
it is everywhere implied that their ideas exist in
God. But if Professor Clifford's suggestion of the in- Bearing of

• t n i i n Clifford's

separability of matter and thought be adopted, we are 'mind-
able to apply to all creation Spinoza's theory of body and the theory.
mind. For he holds in effect that the human mind is
God thinking of the human body ; and if so, the element-
ary thought of ' mind-stuff ' which Clifford assumed to be
in all matter, is God thinking of that matter ; or to use
language more in accordance with Spinoza's phraseology,
it is the finite mode of the Attribute of Thought corre- All <mind-

° stuff' is a

sponding to the finite mode of the Attribute of Extension finite mode
in the tree, mountain, or stone. It is well therefore to Attribute
remember that though Spinoza regarded mind and body
as different aspects of the same thing, the mind was to
him the more easily realisable aspect.

At the same time he teaches (Prop, xxiii., Pt. n.) that
the mind does not know itself unless in as far as it is How the

Diind

aware of the ideas of bodily affections. This is a doctrine knows
familiar both to metaphysicians and poets. Thus Tenny-
son sings of the babe's progress : —

'The baby new to earth and sky,
What time his tender palm is prest
Against the circle of the breast
Has never thought that " this is I " :

' But as he grows he gathers much Tennyson's

And learns the use of " I " and " me," metaphysio

And finds " I am not what I see,
And other than the things I touch.'"



s



56



ETHICS OF SPINOZA



not to be
identified
with

Spinoza's.



The mind
not neces-
sarily cog-
nisant of
all bodily



That is, the mind does not know itself unless in as
far as it has the ideas of bodily affections. But we
must beware of thinking that such poetry or the
metaphysic underlying it is exactly the philosophy of
Spinoza. For, as we have seen, the latter would not
tolerate the notion of any other Substance than God ;
and both body and mind were to him merely two finite
modes of divine Attributes so intimately correlated, that
whatever of the Being of God was expressed by one of
them was also expressed in another way by the second.

Here, however, we must pause for a moment to guard
against other misunderstandings. For it might be
asked, Does Spinoza mean that the mind, being the
body in another aspect, has cognisance of all that goes
movements. on ^ n ^ Q body ? Have we any introspection of the
action of the arteries and veins, or of the cerebellum,
or of the grey matter and white matter of the brain ?
Of course, it never occurred to him that such an in-
terpretation could be put upon his theory. In explain-
ing why it did not occur to him, some reiteration is
inevitable and may well be excused. For though the
Master held that both body and mind were finite modes
of infinite Attributes of God, he also held that they
could not be isolated, but were links in an endless
series of causes and effects, all summed up in God.
Now, as we have already acknowledged, his doctrine of
'cause' is obsolete. But we must bear it in mind in
prder to do him justice. For (Prop, ix., Pt. n.) he does
not look upon the Infinite as, so to speak, the im-
mediate cause of the individual creature, but rather as
the cause of an infinite series of things following each






THE NATUBE AND OKIGIN OF THE MIND 57

other or connected with each other in eternal succession. Restate-
ment of
Thus, the idea of the individual creature m actual exist- Spinoza's

ence has God for its cause, not in so far as He is infinite, individual
but in so far as He is affected (moved) by some other idea
of an individual thing actually existing, of which God also
is the cause in as far as He is affected by a third idea of an
individual thing ; and so on for ever. The language may
seem needlessly technical, though, of course, it is not so.
But it just amounts to this, that individual things are
not separate creations, but ' parts and proportions ' of an
unbeginning and endless series, every member of which
is dependent on every other, while the sum is God.

But Tow does this bear upon the relation of body Bearing
and mind ? It bears upon it in this way — that the relations of
body is not an isolated group of phenomena whose career body,
is rounded off by its own apparent inception and ter-
mination. It is connected in both directions with an
unbeginning and interminable series of what we call
physical events, that is, successive modes of the Attri-
bute of Extension. Such also is the case with the
mind under the Attribute of Thought and that Attri-
bute's finite Modes. But it does not follow that the Does not
two are so related that every molecular movement in representa-
the body corresponds to a definite wave of consciousness, nnitJmind
— or, to put it in the Master's way, calls up an idea in j^tryevery
the mind. 1 The protozoa from which by a long course [J^bodv

1 Here I might pray in aid recent doctrines of sub-consciousness, to
the effect that there is a considerable field of mental life which calls
up no idea in the mind unless in exceptional circumstances. If that
be so — and I strongly incline to agree with the doctrine — Spinoza
may well have been more fully right than he could know in his day,
when he treated the body as 'the object' of the mind ; though it is
not everything in the body that becomes an object idea in the mind.



58 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

of evolution the tissues of the human body have been
evolved, had indeed 'mind-stuff' in Clifford's sense, and
therefore the rudiments of Spinoza's conception of the
relation between body and mind. But by slow evolution
the mental faculties have acquired a concentration and
intensity within, as it were, a particular area, outside
of and untouched by which lie the merely organic pro-
cesses which are forms of the Attribute of Extension.
Because Thus while it remains true that the body is a finite

such move- J

mentsare m ode of Extension whose definiteness is otherwise
incompre-
hensible realised in the finite mode of Thought constituting the

except as . .

links in au mind, the obscure processes of the body, links in an

endless ; ;

series, endless chain of previous and succeeding processes, are

not necessarily represented by ideas in the mind — that

is, are not normally a part of consciousness. At the

same time, they form no exception to Spinoza's principle

that every Mode of Extension is correlated to a Mode

of Thought. Because to the Infinite Mind every process

occurring within the Attribute of Extension is eternally

present. 'The ideas of the affections of the human

body in so far as they are related only to the human

mind, are not clear and distinct, but confused.' (Prop.

and such xxviii., Part n.) The reason given is that 'an adequate

an endless .

series can knowledge of external bodies and of the parts composing

present to the human body does not exist in God in so far as He
Thought, is considered as affected by the human mind, but in
so far as He is affected by other ideas.' That is, ex-
ternal bodies and our own organism are links in an
endless series which cannot be present to a finite mode
of Thought, but only to the infinite Thought.

It is. of course, obvious that the same argument is



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 59

applicable to the mind's knowledge of itself, a know- The

. . argument

ledge which it owes to the body. And this Spinoza equally
fully allows. But at the same time he holds that we mind.
have a faculty for 'seeing Him who is invisible'; and Coroi.,

l^rop xxix

that when this faculty is freely and fully exercised we
can see ourselves not as isolated links in an endless
series, but as essential components of an Eternal Life.
When that is achieved he dares to think that we know But there

is a know-

ourselves as perfectly as we know God. We may not ledge that

all of us be able to adopt this confident tone. Yet I knowledge.

hope, when we have finished our study of the Ethics,

we shall feel that even for far humbler mortals than

the great Seer, there is ' a vision and a faculty divine '

by which we can realise and triumph in the Eternal

Life that breathes through us.

Should any one still think this clarity of religious con- Herbert

. Spencer

templation to be contrary to Herbert Spencer s doctrine again.
of the Unknowable as affording the true reconciliation
of Science and Religion, I can only ask him to have
patience, if possible, until the completion of the ex-
position. Here I may only reiterate the remark that
the aims of the greater and the lesser philosopher are Difference

t no t-i n • of his aims

entirely different, lor Spencer thought it necessary to from those
raise the question of an ultimate ' Actuality ' only so ° pi
far as to clear it out of the way before proceeding with
his synthetic doctrine of phenomenal evolution. 1 To

1 This is made abundantly clear in the last two paragraphs of the
Postscript to Part i. of First Principles (Revised Edition, 1900).
Though he there insists emphatically that no agreement with his
doctrine of the Unknowable is in the least necessary to an apprecia-
tion of his ' orderly presentation of facts,' or treatment of phenomena,
lie does not in any wise withdraw his proposed 'Reconciliation' of
religion and science.



GO ETHICS OF SPINOZA

Spinoza, on the other hand, the supreme object of con-
templation was that very reality which Spencer regarded
as outside the scope of his main work. But the con-
tradiction is more apparent than real. For Spinoza
nowhere treats human faculty as competent to under-
stand how one infinite Keality is constituted by the
apparent Many. He never supposes that the finite
mind can see, as God sees, all at once the innumerable
and endless series in which both mind and body are
But the Un- infinitesimal elements. 1 For Spinoza, therefore, the re-

kuowable t * * '

remains conciliation between religion and the science of his

with °

Spinoza day lay also in a recognition of the Unknowable. His

no less

than with sense or the unity of things is spiritual. For though

in his strains of prophetic fervour he dwells on ' the

intellectual love of God,' it is clear to the sympathetic

reader that this intellectual love is the apotheosis, as it

J were, of all purifiedi aciiltifis^ concentrated into an intuition

/ of the ultimate one Being, which our life in God enables

I us to .feel, but which our understanding can never grasp.

/ It remains true, therefore, that the ultimate constitution

of things, as an infinite number of unbeginning and

\ endless series, is unknowable. But it is also true that

we may have an intuition of a Unity which is God.

Need for The digression may be excused as an effort to keep

plication "of constantly in view the ulterior aim of the earlier books

anddepen- 8 * tne Ethics. The next point to be noted is that the

thfeon' human mind is fitted for many perceptions (ad plurima

variety of

bodily ] See Pt. n., Prop. xxx. In this and the following proposition

movements. Spinoza speaks of our ignorance of the ' duration ' of finite things

including our own bodies. But the proofs seem to indicate that

existence in a particular mode is meant ; and what I have said in the

text is clearly implied.



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 61

p&rvipien dum, il, xiv.), and becomes the more fitted for
perception in proportion to the number of modes in
which the body can be disposed,. If there is any
obscurity at all here it is caused by the technical mode
of stating a truth obvious to common - sense. For
without discussing the probability or otherwise of the
once notorious Kaspar Hauser's relation of his early Case of
experiences, it is certain that an infant recumbent in Hauser,
a fixed position with no object to gaze upon but the
roof of a shed, would, if he were so treated for eighteen
or twenty years, be an infant still. But the child of and of a
natural growth, who runs and leaps and climbs, who child.'
listens and looks eagerly, who practises innumerable
movements of feet and fingers, all such actions being
correlated with vibrations of brain cells, must rapidly
multiply perceptions, and constantly increase their clear-
ness. And this is practically what Spinoza means in
the proposition quoted. 1

To this theory of the connection of bodily mobility The
with activity of mind, Spinoza leads up by a series of on biology.
interpolated 'lemmata,' or premisses, which, however,
in this case are not taken as granted, but proved after
his method — together with certain axioms. Both the
axioms and the lemmata curiously foreshadow Spencer's
fundamental principles of biology. But the Master
excuses himself from labouring the subject any farther

1 If the case of intelligent cripples or paralytica be thought incon-
sistent with the above, it should be remembered that these have, for
the most part, had their time of mobility ; and besides, under move-
ments of the body, Spinoza includes all tactile and visual impressions
of the social world, and likewise all molecular movements of the brain,
so far as these are correlated with thought.



62 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

than is absolutely necessary for his moral and religious
aim. For a similar reason, I pass on with the remark
that this dependence of the mind upon the multiplex
modifications of the body becomes ultimately the key
to Spinoza's theory of salvation as unfolded in his
concluding book.
Prop. xvii. An interesting but curious rather than convincing use

Impression . _ _ . . .

made by or the lemmata is made in discussing the persistence of

fty fcfti* n sl 1

things only impressions made through the senses, and their transfer-
moved by ence to imagination. With the interworking of the fluid
affection of an( ^ so ^ parts of the bodily tissues we need not in the
shutting present state of physiology trouble ourselves. But the
former 6 P om t is, that an impression once made may recur, though
the thing that made the impression is no longer present.
For example, a boy who has fraudulently enjoyed the
luscious fruit of a forbidden orchard, may find his mouth
water with desire for a repetition of the feast a week
afterwards when he is no longer in view of the trees.
Nor is there any remedy except some obvious penalty, or,
far better, some new and higher ideal of honourable
enjoyment, which shall eclipse and exclude the idea of
the fruit in the boy's mind. The application of this
principle to many other forms of temptation through
persistence of ideas is obvious. And whatever form of
religion we prefer, it remains equally true that the
covetous, the lustful, or the revengeful man is liable to be
haunted by fixed ideas, originally conveyed through the
senses and perpetually recurrent until some stronger
idea intervenes to exclude and cancel the evil thought.
Whether that stronger idea be an alleged revelation from
God, or the wrath of Allah, or the love of Christ, or the



THE NATURE AND ORIGIN OF THE MIND 63

enhancement of Nirvana, the principle remains the
same.

The influence of impressions, whether for good or evil, Association

r ° g of ideas.

is enormously increased by the association of ideas,

according to which if the body has received two or more Prop, xviii.

impressions simultaneously at one period, one of these

impressions will at another period call up ideas correlated

with the whole group. Thus, a slave of drink, trying to

regain his liberty, if he happens to hear in another room

the popping of a cork, may have the memories of jovial

carousal so strongly revived that in the absence of any

stronger idea nothing will prevent his relapse. And

equally it is true that a young man away from home and

hesitating on the verge of vice, may be arrested and

recalled to virtue by a strain of music from a church

door, as the melody recalls the religious ideals cherished

in a home of purity and love.


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Online LibraryJ. Allanson (James Allanson) PictonSpinoza; a handbook to the Ethics → online text (page 5 of 21)