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alone. But considerations of skin moisture arise, and the
intervention of a protective vapour. Here the molten
metal is an ' inadequate cause.'

1 It may be necessary to remind the reader that this notion of a
particular cause is open to destructive criticism. In each case the
'cause' is the whole of Being, in its eternal energy. Spinoza's 'ade-
quate cause ' is really that particular link in the eternal chain which
fixes the attention of consciousness because it seems proximate.



THE NATURE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 91

The purpose of the above definitions is immediately
apparent. 'I say that we act' — or are agents — ' when £san ade-^
anything is done within us or without, of which we are we are

J ° active ; as

the adequate cause ; that is (by the preceding definition), inadequate,
when from our nature anything follows within us or
without, which through that nature alone can be clearly
and distinctly understood. On the other hand, I say that
we are passive when anything is done within us or any-
thing follows' — or is occasioned by — 'our nature, of
which we are only in part the cause.' Here again,
perhaps, we may venture to illustrate. If a labouring
man stops on his way home to buy a bunch of flowers or
a present of fruit and takes it home to his wife, he is ' the
adequate cause ' of his wife's pleasure, and is a free agent,
because what happens both within him and at his home
follows entirely from his nature. But if instead of going
into a flower- and a fruit-shop, he turns into a public-
house, and is plied with drink till he is ' not himself,' and
if in the sequel he goes home to abuse his wife and
assault her, he is not in this case an ' adequate cause.'
The evil procedure and actions cannot be clearly and dis-
tinctly understood through his nature. For the normal
working of his nature is perverted by social custom and
alcohol. He is not a free agent therefore. That is, he
does not act, but suffers. 1

The affections or impressions discussed in this Third Definition

of affec-
Part include everything by which the body's power of tions.

action is helped or hindered, together with the ideas

1 Once more a warning against illegitimate inferences. It does not
follow that because he is not an 'adequate cause,' therefore he is not
to be blamed. Blame and punishment are resources of this ' force and
necessity of Nature' fur turning inadequate into adequate causes.



92 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

thereof. Now manifestly the last words here are most
important. For though according to the Master, man is
a finite mode of two Attributes, Extension and Thought,
it is by Thought alone that Extension is realised. And
apart from the former — as indeed Sir Frederick Pollock
has shown — the latter is nothing. Therefore to us the
ideas of the bodily affections, or impressions, are more
than the affections or impressions themselves. And
hence I persist in thinking this Part of the Ethica to be
concerned with mental affections.
God and After repeating in the form of a proposition the defini-

tion already given of action and passivity Spinoza makes
an interesting addition, which requires us to keep closely
in mind his doctrine that the human mind is God thinking
in a finite form. For he teaches that ideas which in the
mind of any man are adequate, are adequate also in God
in as far as He constitutes the essence of the human
qu°ate Ideas mm d- But those ideas which are inadequate in man are
in God. nevertheless adequate in God, not in so far as He contains
only the essence of the mind, but inasmuch as He con-
tains within Himself also the ideal side — literally ' the
minds ' 1 — of other things. "We may here recur to our
illustration above. The poor man who plays the good
husband has an adequate idea which enables him to be
an adequate cause. And the adequate idea of love and
duty simply expresses God as constituting the essence of
the man's mind. But when he is overcome by drink and

1 Mr. Hale White and Miss Stirling regard this word (mentes) as a
misprint or scribal error for 'ideas.' I am not so sure. Not the
human body only, but all individual things are finite expressions of
the Attributes of Extension and Thought. In the latter aspect even
stones must have their ' mind ' — though, of course, incommensurate
with the human mind.



THE NATURE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 93

violence, he has no longer an adequate idea, nor is he an
adequate cause. Yet still the inadequate idea — say, of
impossible, selfish isolation in pleasure — is adequate in
God, because in the divine mind there is not only the
idea of the momentary passion, but at the same time of
the long course of moral evolution from worse to better,
in which such trials and failures are inevitable steps.

The next important doctrine is that the mind is active Distinction

, . of action

when it has adequate ideas, and passive — or subject to and passion.

passion — when it has inadequate ideas. This, of course,

does not mean that every man of action, such as Napoleon Prop. m.

Bonaparte, has adequate ideas. Far from it. For to

Spinoza, the self-centred ambition of such men appeared

to be generated by very inadequate ideas indeed, and to be

a form of slavish passion. Pieferring back to the defini- Depends

• pi i • t upon the

tion previously given of adequate and inadequate ideas, difference
we remember that the former are limited modes of infinite adequate
Thought constituting the essence of the human mind quateideas.
concerned, but not including anything else. Whereas
inadequate ideas are only fragments of a divine thought
which here includes other things besides the particular



recipient or reflective human mind.



For illustration let us take Socrates on the one hand, Socrates

ami bargon.

as described by Xenophon, and, on the other hand, an
Assyrian king, probably Sargon II., as sketched by Isaiah.
And of course, the correctness or otherwise of the portrait
drawn makes no difference to the purpose for which it is
here used. Now Socrates as citizen, moralist, and teacher,
thought of himself as a responsible member of au ordered
society, stationed where he was by divine power and
burdened with a duty to transmit to others such con-
victions of the relations between true knowledge and the



94



ETHICS OF SPINOZA



Part ii. ,
Prop, xi.,
Coroll.



Assur or
Sargon n.



higher life as involved the salvation both of individuals

and the State. This idea of Socrates, concerning himself,

seems to correspond very fairly with Spinoza's notion of

an 'adequate idea.' That is, it may with reverence be

regarded as the thought of God, 'not so far as He is

infinite, but so far as He constitutes the essence of the

mind ' of Socrates. Not that the infallibility of Socrates

as a philosopher, moralist, or teacher, follows in the

least from this. Indeed it will be found that he had

many inadequate ideas according to the definition of

Spinoza. But all the same, his idea of himself and his

mission is, I think, a very fair illustration of what the

Master meant by an adequate idea.

Now turn to a very different character suggested by a

passage in Isaiah : —

1 Woe ! Assur, the rod of mine anger,
And the staff of my indignation !
Against an impious nation am I wont to send him,
And against the people of my wrath to give him a charge.

But he — not go does he plan,
And his mind, not so does it reckon ;
For extirpation is in his mind,
And to cut off nations not a few.

For he has said :

" By the strength of my hand have I done it,
And by my wisdom, for I have discernment ;
And I removed the bounds of the peoples,
And their treasures plundered."

Is the axe to vaunt itself over him who hews therewith ?
Or is the saw to brag over him who saws therewith ?

Sworn has Jahweh Sabaoth :

"Surely as I have planned so shall it be,

And as I have purposed, it shall stand.'" 1



Extracts from translation by Canon Cheyne in the Potychrome Bible.



THE NATUKE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 95

Now here Sargon n. — if the identification be right, Applica-
tion.
though the name matters not — is so presented by a

prophet making no pretence to philosophy, as to afford a

very apt illustration of what the great Jew of more than

two millenniums later meant by the domination of an

inadequate idea. For the Assyrian king is described as

carrying out a purpose of God indeed, but a purpose

extending far beyond the thought in the mortal mind.

To put it in Spinoza's words, the Eternal has a ' certain

idea not merely so far as He constitutes the nature of

the human mind ' of Sargon, 'but so that together with

the human mind He has the idea of another thing, and

therefore we say that the human mind perceives the

matter in part or inadequately.'

And if it be said, as truly it must be said, that no
finite mode of infinite thought is isolated, and that God
as constituting the essence of each human mind involves
at the same time all other minds and everything that is,
this is no objection to the Master's distinction. For
though the mind of Socrates be only a point in the
Infinite, the idea of Socrates concerning himself coincides
with that point, and does not go beyond it. He fits into
and is content with the infinitesimal place appointed
him in the Infinite Whole. But not so Sargon ; for in
his lust of conquest he strains beyond his due place, and
though he fulfils a divine purpose, he has no adequate
idea of it. He is thinking of himself while God is
thinking of infinite things.

Socrates then, according to Spinoza, has a mind which Socrates
acts, or is in the sense of past times an adequate cause. Sargon
Sargon, on the other hand, has a mind which is passive,



96



ETHICS OF SPINOZA



Because the
one has an
adequate
idea of
his place,
and is an
adequate
cause of
his work ;

while the
reverse is
the case
with
Sargon.



Abbrevia-
tion.



or driven by passion, and is an inadequate cause. The
common-sense of this is that Socrates, having an adequate
idea, that is, God's idea, concerning himself and his
mission, acts purely from an inward impulse that is
doubtless the resultant of an infinity and eternity of
forces, but which is free from any compulsion outside
the conscious Socrates ; while Sargon suffers the passions
of ambition and greed, and is driven into deeds of
violence and blood by motives from without. Thus also,
Socrates is in the old-fashioned sense an ' adequate
cause' because his work can be clearly and distinctly
understood from his own nature alone — that is, of
course, his own nature as a limited mode of infinite
Thought. But Sargon is an inadequate cause, because
his work can be understood only through the interaction
between his own passions and a complex of brute force
and political cunning. Thus neither the idea nor the life
of Sargon has any obvious symmetry as a proportional
part of the Infinite, but is merely a ragged fragment,
only to be harmonised with the Whole by a far-reaching
conception of the relation of all parts thereto.

We may now hasten over a number of steps in
Spinoza's advance toward his final aim, the true freedom
of man. Because, though to the mind of the Master
each proposition and proof was essential, they need not
be in evidence for our special purpose. Thus Nature in
maturing the embryo of a particular organism, does in-
deed recapitulate all the steps taken by Natura Naturans
in the evolution of the organic world up to the grade
assigned to the new individual life. But the process is
abbreviated, so that many of the steps are barely indi-



THE NATURE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 97

cated, or even only implied. Yet the general trend is
visible enough for ordinary physiological students. If I
venture to treat somewhat similarly the elaborate argu-
ment of this Part iil, it is because my aim is the practical
realisation of individual religion on Spinoza's lines of
thought.

Everything that exists endeavours to continue its Seif-pre-
existence. With reference to the mind this endeavour is
called ' Will ' (voluntas) and with reference to the body,
1 appetite ' ; 1 but in either case ' it is nothing other than
the essence itself of the man, from the nature of which
essence those things that favour its preservation neces-
sarily follow, and thus the man is impelled to do those
things.' Desire, or greed, is appetite come to full con-
sciousness. From this instinct of self-preservation it and results
results that the notion of annihilation either of body or instinct.
mind is unnatural; and that whatever increases the
active — as distinguished from the passive — capacities of
the body, increases or diminishes also the mind's capacity
for thought.

Here comes in the idea of Joy, which is a transition Joy, Sorrow
of the mind from a less to a greater perfection, whereas
Grief is the transition of the mind to a lesser perfection.
Joy, when it affects both mind and body, may be called
pleasurable excitement or merriment (titillatio vel
hilaritas). But when Grief (or misery) affects mind and
body it is called melancholy (depression) or pain. More
particularly pleasure or pain is predicated when one part
of the man is affected more than the rest of him. We
might instance the ' pleasures of the table ' on the one

1 Not to be limited to the desire for food, etc.



98 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

hand, or toothache on the other. What desire is has
already been indicated. And from these three, Joy,
Grief, and Desire, arise or are compounded all affections
of the mind.
Prop. xii. < So far as it can, the mind inclines to think of these
General things which increase and help the body's power of

issues from

the above action.' * On the other hand, when the mind is haunted
by the idea of those things which diminish or repress the

Prop. xiii. body's power of action, it endeavours to bethink itself of
something else adapted to shut out of view the existence
of those unpleasant ideas. And here, according to the

Nature of Master, we reach the significance of love and hatred. For

love and . . . .

hate. love is nothing else than joy coincident with the idea of

an external cause. And hatred is nothing other than

grief — or, say, uneasiness and discomfort 2 — coincident

with the idea of an external cause. We see, then, that

he who loves will inevitably desire to have the object of

his love present, and to preserve it ; while, on the other

hand, he who hates, must desire to remove and destroy

the object of his hate.

Caution And here I venture to interpose a caution against any

premature hasty impulse to condemn such an idea of love and hate as

cone usions. jtq aterialistic, shallow, or mercenary. For we are dealing

1 This is true even if the mind is altogether wrong in its selection,
e.y. in dram-drinking. The body's poAver of action is certainly not
helped thereby. But the first elation makes the drunkard think so.
And then the power of association, as mentioned presently, comes in.

2 Although Spinoza was always very exact in his use of language, the
exactness sometimes consisted in harmony with his own definitions.
And his notion of 'joy, grief, and desire' is certainly not precisely
equivalent to our conversational sense of these words. Hence if we
are to express his meaning it is necessary at times to supplement those
words by others.



THE NATUEE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 99

with thought only. Even when the body is mentioned, it
is the body as an idea, and not as a molecular organism.
Thus materialism is out of the question. And if we are
repelled by the analysis of all the grandeur of human
passion into its ultimate elements, it is as though we
should be shocked by the fact that the splendours of the
autumn woods are but a fantasia on three primary tints.
Spinoza, who cheerfully and unostentatiously sacrificed
for truth and right all that materialists and mercenary
men hold dear, had no temptation to belittle the ideal
aspects of human passion. But he knew by intuition
that all his sublimest contemplations were as consistent
with their simplest elements as the divine Whole is with
its humblest parts.

In evolving the higher and more complex aspects of Association
Joy, Grief, and Desire, association of ideas plays a large
part, and also what are in common speech called J acci-
dental ' causes. Thus, if the body has once realised sen- Prop. adv.
sations from two objects, and if the mind at a later time
thinks of one of those objects, it will immediately re-
member the other. It follows that things may become
by mere accident the causes of Joy, Grief, or Desire. Prop. xv.
That is, anything in itself quite neutral, may by associa-
tion in impression and memory with an effective cause of
Joy or Grief become itself a cause of either, because the
thought of it calls up its linked idea. 1

1 The curious antipathy of the late George Borrow to Dr. Martineau
affords an apt if somewhat ludicrous illustration. For it is said to
have been caused entirely by the accident that the boy Martineau,
through no wish of his own, was compelled to hoist the boy Borrow on
his shoulders for punishment in their schooldays. Martineau was an
accidental and a neutral object in the recollection. But the association
with the true cause of woe was fatal.



100 ETHICS OF SPINOZA

Vacillation. We get a more complicated case of association, when
an object which usually affects us with grief or annoy-
ance is felt to be similar to another which usually
Prop, mi., affects us with joy. It seems inevitable that in such a
case the object will be regarded both with dislike and
with favour, either simultaneously or alternately. Our
generation perhaps might find an illustration of this in
the double effect produced in the minds of the first
Catholic observers of the ritual of the Buddhists. For
not only in the monastic institutions of that religion, but
in many of its ceremonies there was much that reminded
them of their home religion. While therefore they were
accustomed to regard all idolatries with grief, they could
not deny the similarity to what had from their childhood
affected them with joy. There resulted a confusion of
feeling according as they were inclined to consider Bud-
dhistic institutions a degraded inheritance from early
missions, or as a blasphemous parody produced by the
powers of darkness.
Hope, fear, The action of the simple elements — Joy, Grief, and
aLTex? ' Desire — is farther complicated by man's relations to the
penence. ^^ an( ^ future. For we are so constituted that we can
recall the past and anticipate the future so as to give
either of them the influence of a present object. But
Prop, xviii. such memory and anticipation are peculiarly liable to the
uncertainty, alternation, or vacillation of effect shown
above to belong to some actually present objects. Thus
hope is defined as an unsteady joy arising from the
thought of something past or future, while we are still
in doubt as to the issue. Fear, on the contrary, is an
unsteady grief, also arising from the thought of some



THE NATURE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 101

uncertain event. Farther, by the removal of uncertainty,
hope becomes confidence, or fear may become despair.
The Master then proceeds to work out in detail the power
of sympathy, the effect of which is inverse in cases of
love and hate, the realisation of the pleasure of the loved
object giving pleasure to the lover, while realisation of
the grief or pain of the hated object pleases the hater.
In passing I may remark that such statements are to be
accepted like abstract propositions in Political Economy,
as true in the absence of modifying influences, which,
however, as a matter of fact, are always present. Most
significant on this point is the theorem (xxvii.) which
declares that if we see any creature similar to ourselves, Power of
but otherwise indifferent to us, to be affected in any way, awakened
we imagine ourselves to be similarly affected. The to our.
doctrine of the ' enthusiasm of humanity ' and organisa- se
tion for the prevention of cruelty to animals afford
sufficient illustration. For even in the case of animals,
it is just in proportion as we conceive their consciousness
to be like our own that we are affected by their sufferings.
I suppose no lover of ' sport ' would impale a live mouse
on a hook, as he impales a worm.

From this follow a number of conclusions so obvious Complica-
tions of
that the Master would scarcely have stated them in social feel-
ing,
detail, had he not set his mind upon carrying out con-
sistently the forms of mathematical demonstration. It is
sufficient here to note that every step in the exposition Props, six.
goes to show how very complicated an interplay of feel-
ing, both self-regarding and altruistic, must arise among
social beings out of those simple elements, Joy, Grief, and
Desire. Thus if any one to whom we are otherwise



102



ETHICS OF SPINOZA



Envy and
Jealousy.



Props,
xxxii. to
xxxv.



Hate re-
strained by
self -regard,



Props,
xliii., xliv.



Love ex-
tended by
association
of ideas.



indifferent docs good to another being like ourselves, we
shall begin to favour the benefactor. But if any one
harms another like ourselves, we shall hate the wrongdoer.
If we pity anything, the fact that its misery causes us
pain will not alienate us. It is clear that we naturally
desire to promote everything that causes joy, and to
remove or destroy anything that lessens joy. This, of
course, involves the enthusiasm of humanity, and the joy
we cause is reflected upon ourselves. On the other hand,
the evil that we do to others is necessarily also returned
on our own heads.

At the same time, we are taught that love in some of
its forms is anything but altruistic. For if we love any
being like ourselves, we want love in return, and the
more we get of that love the prouder we shall be. But if
we suspect that a third person is interfering with our
monopoly, we shall hate the intruder. Our feeling may
be that of Envy or Jealousy according to circumstances.

But if love is often mingled with self-regard, hatred also
is restrained thereby. For ' if one hates another he will
try to do that other a mischief, unless he fears that
thereby he will incur a greater mischief to himself.'
Hatred, while redoubled by hate, may be destroyed by
love, and so may be transformed into love ; a love all the
more fervid because of the transformation. The reflex
influence of lovable or hateful actions may extend to
whole classes or races of men. For, l if we have been
affected with joy or grief by any one who belongs to a
class or nation different from our own, and if our joy or
grief is accompanied with the idea of this person as its
cause, under the common name of his class or nation,
wc shall not love or hate merely him, but the whole



THE NATURE OF MENTAL AFFECTIONS 103

of the class or nation to which he belongs.' l In Prop. xivi.
illustration of this we may note how much the affec- Modem
tions of natural kinship between ourselves and the
United States have been quickened by the beneficence
of the late Mr. Peabody and the living Mr. Carnegie.
And though less generally known, the work of the
late Rev. Robert M'Call among the poor in Paris, a work
so remarkable that on his decease he was honoured with
what was practically a public funeral, while men in
high office tendered their respectful regrets, was not with-
out its influence in promoting the good feeling of the
French people towards us.

On the other hand, even hatred may be half-neutral- Ha te as-
suaged by
ised by sympathy. For ' the joy caused to us by the sympathy.

thought that an object of our hate has been destroyed or

afflicted with any evil, is not unaffected by mental grief.'

Here again a notable illustration may be found in the Prop, xlvii.

mourning of the Japanese victors when a Russian admiral

was drowned by the sinking of his battleship during the

siege of Port Arthur. The order of abstinence from all

luxuries for a day was no mere affectation, but evidence

of a sorrow really felt.

1 Love and Hatred toward any object, for example, The simple

toward Peter, are destroyed if the Joy and Grief which affections

they respectively involve be associated with the idea compli-

of another cause ; and they are respectively diminished terference 1

in proportion as we imagine that Peter has not been ^^thau

their sole cause.' * Of this an example may be found in jjjS^

the revulsion of popular feeling toward the memory of Prop.xivm.

Charles I. when the continuance of the Commonwealth


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Online LibraryJ. Allanson (James Allanson) PictonSpinoza; a handbook to the Ethics → online text (page 8 of 21)