Ethics (book)

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By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.

Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata (Ethics Geometrically Demonstrated) (published in 1677) is a philosophical treatise written by Baruch Spinoza.

Part I : Concerning God[edit]

Full text online
By eternity, I mean existence itself, in so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow solely from the definition of that which is eternal.
The more reality or being a thing has, the greater the number of its attributes.
Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner.
Nothing exists from whose nature some effect does not follow.
Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods.
Men judge of things according to their mental disposition, and rather imagine than understand.
  • By that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.
    • Definition 1
  • A body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited by another thought, but a body is not limited by thought, nor a thought by body.
    • Definition 2
  • By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite — that is, a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.
    Explanation — I say absolutely infinite, not infinite after its kind: for, of a thing infinite only after its kind, infinite attributes may be denied; but that which is absolutely infinite, contains in its essence whatever expresses reality, and involves no negation.
    • Definition 6
  • That thing is called free, which exists solely by the necessity of its own nature, and of which the action is determined by itself alone. On the other hand, that thing is necessary, or rather constrained, which is determined by something external to itself to a fixed and definite method of existence or action.
    • Definition 7
  • By eternity, I mean existence itself, in so far as it is conceived necessarily to follow solely from the definition of that which is eternal.
    Explanation — Existence of this kind is conceived as an eternal truth, like the essence of a thing, and, therefore, cannot be explained by means of continuance or time, though continuance may be conceived without a beginning or end.
    • Definition 8
  • The more reality or being a thing has, the greater the number of its attributes.
    • Prop. 9
  • God, or substance, consisting of infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality, necessarily exists.
    • Prop. 11
  • Nature abhors a vacuum.
    • Prop. 15: note
  • Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived.
    • Prop. 15
  • God and all attributes of God are eternal.
    • Prop. 19
  • Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner.
    • Prop. 25
  • Nothing in the universe is contingent, but all things are conditioned to exist and operate in a particular manner by the necessity of the divine nature.
    • Prop. 29
  • Things could not have been brought into being by God in any manner or in any order different from that which has in fact obtained.
    • Prop. 33
  • Nothing exists from whose nature some effect does not follow.
    • Prop. 36
  • I have explained the nature and properties of God. I have shown that he necessarily exists that he is one: that he is and acts solely by the necessity of his own nature; that he is the free cause of all things and how he is so; that all things are in God and so depend on him, that without him they could neither exist nor be conceived; lastly, that all things are predetermined by God, not through his free will or absolute fiat, but from the very nature of God or infinite power.
    • Appendix
  • I assume as a starting point ...that all men are born ignorant of the causes of things, that all have the desire to seek for what is useful to them, and that they are conscious of such desire. Herefrom it follows, first, that men think themselves free inasmuch as they are conscious of their volitions and desires, and never even dream, in their ignorance, of the causes which have disposed them so to wish and desire.
    • Appendix
  • Secondly, that men do all things for an end, namely, for that which is useful to them, and which they seek. Thus it comes to pass that they only look for a knowledge of the final causes of events, and when these are learned, they are content, as having no cause for further doubt. If they cannot learn such causes from external sources, they are compelled to turn to considering themselves, and reflecting what end would have induced them personally to bring about the given event, and thus they necessarily judge other natures by their own.
    • Appendix
  • Further, as they find in themselves and outside themselves many means which assist them not a little in their search for what is useful, for instance, eyes for seeing, teeth for chewing, herbs and animals for yielding food, the sun for giving light, the sea for breeding fish, etc., they come to look on the whole of nature as a means for obtaining such conveniences.
    • Appendix
  • Now as they are aware, that they found these conveniences and did not make them, they think they have cause for believing, that some other being has made them for their use. As they look upon things as means, they cannot believe them to be self created; but, judging from the means which they are accustomed to prepare for themselves, they are bound to believe in some ruler or rulers of the universe endowed with human freedom, who have arranged and adapted everything for human use.
    • Appendix
  • They are bound to estimate the nature of such rulers (having no information on the subject) in accordance with their own nature, and therefore they assert that the gods ordained everything for the use of man, in order to bind man to themselves and obtain from him the highest honor.
    • Appendix
  • Hence also it follows, that everyone thought out for himself, according to his abilities, a different way of worshiping God, so that God might love him more than his fellows, and direct the whole course of nature for the satisfaction of his blind cupidity and insatiable avarice.
    • Appendix
  • Thus the prejudice developed into superstition, and took deep root in the human mind; and for this reason everyone strove most zealously to understand and explain the final causes of things; but in their endeavor to show that nature does nothing in vain, i.e., nothing which is useless to man, they only seem to have demonstrated that nature, the gods, and men are all mad together.
    • Appendix
  • ...among the many helps of nature they were bound to find some hindrances, such as storms, earthquakes, diseases, etc.: so they declared that such things happen, because the gods are angry at some wrong done to them by men, or at some fault committed in their worship. Experience day by day protested and showed by infinite examples, that good and evil fortunes fall to the lot of pious and impious alike; still they would not abandon their inveterate prejudice, for it was more easy for them to class such contradictions among other unknown things of whose use they were ignorant, and thus to retain their actual and innate condition of ignorance, than to destroy the whole fabric of their reasoning and start afresh.
    • Appendix
  • ...nature has no particular goal in view, and final causes are mere human figments. ...everything in nature proceeds from a sort of necessity, and with the utmost perfection.
    • Appendix
  • I will add a few remarks, in order to overthrow this doctrine of a final cause utterly. That which is really a cause it considers as an effect, and vice versa: it makes that which is by nature first to be last, and that which is highest and most perfect to be most imperfect. Passing over the questions of cause and priority as self-evident, it is plain that the effect is most perfect which is produced immediately by God; the effect which requires for its production several intermediate causes is, in that respect, more imperfect. But if those things which were made immediately by God were made to enable him to attain his end, then the things which come after, for the sake of which the first were made, are necessarily the most excellent of all. Further, this doctrine does away with the perfection of God: for, if God acts for an object, he necessarily desires something which he lacks.
    • Appendix
  • Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
    • Appendix
  • After men persuaded themselves, that everything which is created is created for their sake, they were bound to consider as the chief quality in everything that which is most useful to themselves, and to account those things the best of all which have the most beneficial effect on mankind.
    • Appendix
  • ...men judge of things according to their mental disposition, and rather imagine than understand...
    • Appendix
  • We have now perceived, that all the explanations commonly given of nature are mere modes of imagining, and do not indicate the true nature of anything, but only the constitution of the imagination; and, although they have names, as though they were entities existing externally to the imagination, I call them imaginary rather than real; and, therefore, all arguments against us drawn from such abstractions are easily rebutted.
    • Appendix
  • To those who ask why God did not so create all men, that they should be governed only by reason, I give no answer but this: because matter was not lacking to him for the creation of every degree of perfection from highest to lowest; or, more strictly, because the laws of his nature are so vast, as to suffice for the production of everything conceivable by an infinite intelligence.
    • Appendix

Part II : On the Nature and Origin of the Mind[edit]

In God there is necessarily the idea not only of his essence, but also of all things which necessarily follow from his essence.
Whatsoever can be perceived by the infinite intellect as constituting the essence of substance, belongs altogether only to one substance: consequently, substance thinking and substance extended are one and the same substance…
He, who knows how to distinguish between true and false, must have an adequate idea of true and false.
It is not in the nature of reason to regard things as contingent but as necessary.
Full text online
  • Thought is an attribute of God, or God is a thinking thing.
    • Prop. 1
  • Extension is an attribute of God, or God is an extended thing.
    • Prop. 2
  • In God there is necessarily the idea not only of his essence, but also of all things which necessarily follow from his essence.
    • Prop. 3
  • The multitude understand by the power of God the free will of God, and the right over all things that exist, which latter are accordingly generally considered as contingent. For it is said that God has the power to destroy all things, and to reduce them to nothing. But... God acts by the same necessity, as that by which he understands himself. ...so also does it follow by the same necessity that God performs infinite acts in infinite ways. ...God's power is identical with God's essence in action; therefore it is as impossible for us to conceive of God as not acting, as to conceive of him as non-existent. ...the power which is commonly attributed to God is not only human (as showing that God is conceived by the multitude as a man, or in the likeness of a man), but involves the negation of power. ...No one will be able to follow my meaning, unless he is scrupulously careful not to confound the power of God with the human power and right of kings.
    • Prop. 3: Note
  • The idea of God, from which an infinite number of things follow in infinite ways, can only be one.
    • Prop. 4
  • By reality and perfection I mean the same thing.
    • Prop. 6
  • The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.
    • Prop. 7
  • Hence God's power of thinking is equal to his realized power of action — that is, whatsoever follows from the infinite nature of God in the world of extension (formaliter), follows without exception in the same order and connection from the idea of God in the world of thought (objective).
    • Prop. 7: Corollary
  • Whatsoever can be perceived by the infinite intellect as constituting the essence of substance, belongs altogether only to one substance: consequently, substance thinking and substance extended are one and the same substance, comprehended now through one attribute, now through another. So, also, a mode of extension and the idea of that mode are one and the same thing, though expressed in two ways. This truth seems to have been dimly recognized by those Jews who maintained that God, God's intellect, and the things understood by God are identical. ...Thus, whether we conceive of nature under the attribute of thought, or under any other attribute, we shall find the same order, or one and the same chain of causes — that is, the same things follow in either case. ...Wherefore of things as they are of themselves, God is really the cause, inasmuch as he consists of infinite attributes.
    • Prop. 7: Note
  • The being of substance does not appertain to the essence of man — in other words, substance does not constitute the actual being of man.
    • Prop. 10
  • Substance is in its nature infinite, immutable, indivisible...
    • Prop. 10: Note
  • Hence it follows, that man is constituted by certain modifications of the attributes of God.
    • Prop. 10: Corollary
  • Everyone must surely admit, that nothing can be or be conceived without God. All men agree that God is the one and only cause of all things, both of their essence and of their existence; that is, God is not only the cause of all things that in respect to their being made (secundum fieri), but also in respect to their being (secundum esse). ...individual things cannot be or be conceived without God, yet God does not appertain to their essence. I said that "I considered as belonging to the essence of a thing, that, which being given, the thing is necessarily given also, and which being removed, the thing is necessarily removed also; or that without which the thing, and which itself without the thing, can neither be nor be conceived."
    • Prop. 10: Corollary Note
  • The first element, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is the idea of some particular thing actually existing.
    • Prop. 11
  • Hence it follows that the human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God; thus when we may say, that the human mind perceives this or that, we make the assertion that God has this or that idea, not in so far as he is infinite, but in so far as he is displayed through the nature of the human mind, or in so far as he constitutes the essence of the human mind, but also in so far as he, simultaneously with the human mind, has the further idea of another thing, we assert that the human mind perceives a thing in part or inadequately.
    • Prop. 11: Corollary
  • The object of the idea constituting the human mind is the body, in other words a certain mode of extension which actually exists, and nothing else.
    • Prop. 13
  • We thus comprehend, not only that the human mind is united to the body, but also the nature of the union between mind and body. However, no one will be able to grasp this adequately or distinctly, unless he first has adequate knowledge of the nature of our body. The propositions that we have advanced hitherto have been entirely general, applying not more to men than to other individual things, all of which, though in different degrees, are animated. For of everything there is necessarily an idea in God, of which God is the cause, in the same way as there is an idea of the human body; thus whatever we have asserted of the idea of the human body must necessarily be asserted of the idea of everything else. ...I will only say generally, that in proportion as any given body is more fitted than others for doing many actions or receiving many impressions at once, so also is the mind, of which it is the object, more fitted than others for forming many simultaneous perceptions; and the more the actions of one body depend on itself alone, and the fewer other bodies concur with it in action, the more fitted is the mind of which it is the object, for distinct comprehension. ...I must premise a few propositions concerning the nature of bodies. [Physics Axioms, Lemmas and Postulates follow.]
    • Prop. 13: Note
  • The human mind is capable of perceiving a great number of things, and is so in proportion as its body is capable of receiving a great number of impressions
    • Prop. 14
  • The idea, which constitutes the actual being of the human mind, is not simple, but compounded of a great number of ideas. ...The idea constituting the actual being of the human mind is the idea of the body, which is composed of a great number of individual parts. But there is necessarily in God the idea of each individual part whereof the body is composed; therefore the idea of the human body is composed of these numerous ideas of its component parts.
    • Prop. 15
  • If the human body is affected in a manner which involves the nature if any external body, the human mind will regard the said external body as actually existing, or as present to itself, until the human body be affected in such a way, as to exclude the existence or the presence of the said external body.
    • Prop. 17
  • The mind is able to regard as present external bodies, by which the human body has once been affected, even though they no longer be in existence or present.
    • Prop. 17: Corollary
  • The human mind has no knowledge of the human body, and does not know it to exist, save through the ideas of the modifications whereby the body is affected.
    • Prop. 19
  • The idea or knowledge of the human mind is also in God, following in God in the same manner, as the idea or knowledge of the human body. ...Thought is an attribute of God; thus there must necessarily be in God the idea both of thought itself and of all its modifications, consequently also of the human mind.
    • Prop. 20
  • Mind and body are one and the same individual which is conceived now under the attribute of thought, and now under the attribute of extension.
    • Prop. 21
  • The human mind perceives not only the modifications of the body, but also the idea of such modifications.
    • Prop. 22
  • The human mind does not involve an adequate knowledge of the parts of the human body.
    • Prop. 24
  • The human mind does not perceive any external body as actually existing, except through the ideas of the modifications of its own body.
    • Prop. 26
  • In so far as the human mind imagines an external body, it has not an adequate knowledge thereof.
    • Prop. 26: Corollary
  • The ideas of the modifications of the human body, in so far as they have reference only to the human mind, are not clear and distinct, but confused.
    • Prop. 28
  • All particular things are contingent and perishable. For we have no adequate idea of their duration, and this is what we must understand by the contingency and perishableness of things. For except in this sense, nothing is contingent.
    • Prop. 31: Corollary
  • All ideas, in so far as they are referred to God, are true. ... All ideas which are in God agree in every respect with their objects, therefore they are all true.
    • Prop. 32
  • Every idea, which in us is absolute or adequate and perfect, is true. ...When we say that an idea in us is adequate and perfect, we say, in other words, that the idea is adequate and perfect in God, in so far as he constitutes the essence of mind; consequently we say that such an idea is true.
    • Prop. 34
  • Falsity consists in the privation of knowledge, which inadequate, fragmentary, or confused ideas involve.
    • Prop. 35
  • That which is common to all, and is equally in a part and in the whole, does not constitute the essence of any particular thing.
    • Prop. 37
  • Those things, which are common to all, and are equally in a part and in the whole, cannot be conceived except adequately.
    • Prop. 38
  • Hence it follows that there are certain ideas or notions common to all men; for all bodies agree in certain respects, which must be adequately or clearly and distinctly perceived by all.
    • Prop. 38: Corollary
  • That which is common to and a property of the human body and such other bodies that are wont to affect the human body, and which is present equally in each part of either, or in the whole, will be represented by an adequate idea in the mind.
    • Prop. 39
  • Hence it follows that the mind is fitted to perceive adequately more things, in proportion to its body has more in common with other bodies.
    • Prop. 39: Corollary
  • Whatsoever ideas in the mind follow from ideas which are therein adequate, are also themselves adequate.
    • Prop. 40
  • We should see what notions are common to all men, and what notions are clear and distinct to those who are unshackled by by prejudice, and we should detect those that are ill-founded. ...From similar causes arise those notions which we call general... They arise, to wit, from the fact that so many images, for instance, of men, are formed simultaneously in the human mind, that the powers of the imagination break down, not indeed utterly, but to the extent that the mind losing count of small differences between individuals and their definite number, and only distinctly imagining that, in which all the individuals, in so far as the body is affected by them, agree... this the mind expresses by the name man, and this it predicates of an infinite number of individuals. We must, however, bear in mind, that these general notions are not formed by all men in the same way, but vary in each individual according as the point varies, whereby the body has been most affected and which the mind most easily remembers. ... It is thus not to be wondered at, that among philosophers who attempt to explain things in nature merely by the images formed of them, so many controversies should have arisen.
    • Prop. 40: Note 1
  • From all that has been said above it is clear, that we, in many cases, perceive and form our general notions: (1) From particular things represented to our intellect fragmentarily, confusedly, and without order through our senses; I have settled to call such perceptions by the name of knowledge from the mere suggestions of experience. (2) From symbols, e.g., from the fact of having read or heard certain words we remember things and form certain ideas concerning them, similar to those through which we imagine things. I shall call both these ways of regarding things knowledge of the first kind, opinion, or imagination. (3) From the fact that we have notions common to all men, and adequate ideas of the properties of things; this I call reason and knowledge of the second kind. Besides these two kinds of knowledge, there is, as I will hereafter show, a third kind of knowledge which we will call intuition. This kind of knowledge proceeds from the absolute essence of certain attributes of God to the adequate knowledge of the essence of things.
    • Prop. 40: Note 2
  • Knowledge of the first kind is the only source of falsity, knowledge of the second and third kind is necessarily true.
    • Prop. 41
  • Knowledge of the second and third kinds, not knowledge of the first kind, teaches us to distinguish the true from the false.
    • Prop. 42
  • He, who knows how to distinguish between true and false, must have an adequate idea of true and false. That is, he must know the true and the false by the second or third kind of knowledge.
    • Prop. 42: proof
    • Variant translation: He who would distinguish the true from the false must have an adequate idea of what is true and false.
  • He, who has a true idea, simultaneously knows that he has a true idea, and cannot doubt of the truth of the thing perceived.
    • Prop. 43
  • To have a true idea is only an expression for knowing a thing perfectly, or as well as possible. No one, indeed, can doubt this, unless he thinks that an idea is something lifeless, like a picture on a panel, and not a mode of thinking — namely, the very act of understanding. ...Even as light displays both itself and darkness, so is truth a standard both of itself and of falsity. ...our mind, in so far as it perceives things truly, is part of the infinite intellect of God; therefore, the clear and distinct ideas of the mind are as necessarily true as the ideas of God.
    • Prop. 43: Note
  • It is not in the nature of reason to regard things as contingent but as necessary.
    • Prop. 44
  • It is the nature of reason to perceive things under a certain form of eternity (sub quâdum æternitatis specie). ...It is the nature of reason to regard things, not as contingent, but as necessary. Reason perceives this necessity of things truly — that is, as it is in itself. But this necessity of things is the very necessity of the eternal nature of God; therefore, it is in the nature of reason to regard things under this form of eternity. We may add that the bases of reason are the notions, which answer to things common to all, and which do not answer to the essence of any particular thing: which must therefore be conceived without any relation to time, under a certain form of eternity.
    • Prop. 44: Corollary 2
  • Every idea of every body, or of every particular thing actually existing, necessarily involves the eternal and infinite essence of God.
    • Prop. 45
  • By existence I do not here mean duration — that is, existence in so far as it is conceived abstractly, and as a certain form of quantity. I am speaking of the very nature of existence, which is assigned to particular things, because they follow in infinite numbers and in infinite ways from the eternal necessity of God's nature. I am speaking, I repeat, of the very existence of particular things, in so far as they are in God. For although each particular thing be conditioned by another conditional thing to exist in a particular way, yet the force by which each particular thing perseveres in existing follows from the eternal necessity of God's nature.
    • Prop. 45: Note
  • The human mind has an adequate knowledge of the eternal and infinite essence of God. ...The human mind has ideas from which it perceives itself and its own body and external bodies as actually existing; therefore it has adequate knowledge of the eternal and infinite essence of God.
    • Prop. 47
  • Hence we see, that the infinite essence and the eternity of God are known to all. Now as all things are in God, and conceived through God, we can from this knowledge infer many things, which we may adequately know, and we may form that third kind of knowledge... Men have not so clear a knowledge of God as they have of general notions, because they are unable to imagine God as they do bodies, and also because they have associated the name God with images of things that they are in the habit of seeing, as indeed they can hardly avoid doing, being, as they are, men, and continually affected by external bodies. ...Very many controversies have arisen from the fact, that men do not rightly explain their meaning, or do not rightly interpret the meaning of others. For, as a matter of fact, as they flatly contradict themselves, they assume now one side, now another, of the argument, so as to oppose the opinions, which they consider mistaken and absurd in their opponents.
    • Prop. 47: Note
  • In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity.
    • Prop. 48
  • There is in the mind no volition or affirmation and negation, save that which an idea, inasmuch as it is an idea, involves.
    • Prop. 49
  • Will and Intellect are one and the same thing.
    • Prop. 49: Corollary
    • Variant translation: Will and understanding are one and the same.
  • It remains to point out the advantage of a knowledge of this doctrine as bearing on conduct, and this may be easily gathered from what has been said. The doctrine is good, (1) Inasmuch as it teaches us solely according to the decree of God, and to be partakers of the Divine nature, and so much the more, as we perform more perfect actions and more and more understand God. Such a doctrine not only completely tranquilizes our spirit, but also shows us where our highest happiness or blessedness is, namely, solely in the knowledge of God, whereby we are led to act only as love and piety shall bid us. We may thus clearly understand, how far astray from a true estimate of virtue are those who expect to be decorated by God with high rewards for their virtue, and their best actions, as for having endured the direct slavery; as if virtue and the service of God were not in itself happiness and perfect freedom. (2) Inasmuch as it teaches us, how we ought to conduct ourselves with respect to the gifts of fortune, or matters which are not in our power, and do not follow from our nature. For it shows us that we should await and endure fortune's smiles or frowns with an equal mind, seeing that all things follow from the eternal decree of God by the same necessity... (3) This doctrine raises social life, inasmuch as it teaches us to hate no man, neither to despise, to deride, to envy, or to be angry with any. Further, as it tells us that each should be content with his own, and helpful to his neighbor, not from any womanish pity, favor, or superstition, but solely from the guide of reason, according as the time and occasion demand... (4) Lastly, this doctrine confers no small advantage on the commonwealth; for it teaches how citizens should be governed and lead, not so as to become slaves, but so that they may freely do whatsoever things are best.
    • Prop. 49: Note

Part III : On the Origin and Nature of the Emotions[edit]

Full text online
Hatred which is completely vanquished by love passes into love: and love is thereupon greater than if hatred had not preceded it...
Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear.
  • They seem to have conceived man in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom. For they believe that man disturbs rather than follows the course of nature, and that he has absolute power in his actions, and is not determined by anything else than himself. They attribute the cause of human weakness and inconstancy not to the ordinary power of nature, but to some defect or other in human nature, wherefore they deplore, ridicule, despise, or what is most common of all, abuse it: and he that can carp in the most eloquent or acute manner at the weakness of the human mind is held by his fellows as almost divine. ...For the present I wish to revert to those, who would rather abuse or deride human emotions than understand them. Such persons will doubtless think it strange that I should attempt to treat of human vice and folly geometrically, and should wish to set forth with rigid reasoning those matters which they cry out against as repugnant to reason, frivolous, absurd, and dreadful. However, such is my plan. Nothing comes to pass in nature, which can be set down to a flaw therein; for nature is always the same, and everywhere one and the same in her efficacy and power of action: that is, nature's laws and ordinances, whereby all things come to pass and change from one form to another, are everywhere and always the same; so that there should be one and the same method of understanding the nature of all things whatsoever, namely, through nature's universal laws and rules. Thus the passions of hatred, anger, envy, and so on, considered in themselves, follow from this same efficacy of nature; they answer to certain definite causes, through which they are understood, and possess certain properties as worthy of being known as the properties of anything else, whereof the contemplation in itself affords us delight.
    • Preface
  • Our mind is in certain cases active, and in certain cases passive. In so far as it has adequate ideas it is necessarily active, and in so far as it has inadequate ideas it is necessarily inactive.
    • Prop. 1
  • Hence it follows that the mind is more or less liable to be acted upon, in proportion as it possesses inadequate ideas, and, contrariwise, it is more or less active in proportion as it possesses adequate ideas.
    • Prop. 1: Corollary
  • Body cannot determine mind to think, neither can mind determine body to motion or rest or any state different from these, if such there be.
    • Prop. 2
  • ...no one has hitherto laid down the limits to the powers of the body, that is, no one has as yet been taught by experience what the body can accomplish solely by the laws of nature, in so far as she is regarded as extension. No one hitherto has gained such an accurate knowledge of the bodily mechanism, that he can explain all its functions... no one knows how or by what means the mind moves the body, nor how many various degrees of motion it can impart to the body, nor how quickly it can move it. Thus when men say that this or that physical action has its origin in the mind, which latter has dominion over the body, they are using words without meaning, or are confessing in specious phraseology that they are ignorant of the cause of the said action, and do not wonder at it. ...I ask such objectors, whether experience does not also teach, that if the body be inactive the mind is simultaneously unfitted for thinking? ...the mind is not at all times equally fit for thinking on a given subject, but as according as the body is more or less fitted for being stimulated by the image of this or that object, so also is the mind more or less fitted for contemplating the said object. ...I would further call attention to the mechanism of the human body, which far surpasses in complexity all that has been put together by human art... from nature, under whatever attribute she be considered, infinite results follow. ...I submit that the world would be much happier, if men were as fully able to keep silence as they are able to speak. Experience abundantly shows that men can govern anything more easily than their tongues, and restrain anything more easily than their appetites; whence it comes about that many believe, that we are only free in respect to objects which we moderately desire, for such can easily be controlled by the thought of something else frequently remembered, but that we are by no means free in respect to what we seek with violent emotion, for our desire cannot then be allayed with remembrance of anything else. However, unless such persons had proved by experience that we do many things which we afterwords repent of, and again that we often, when assailed by contrary emotions, see the better and follow the worse, there would be nothing to prevent their believing that we are free in all things. ...men believe that themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby these actions are determined; and further, it is plain that the dictates of the mind are but another name for the appetites, and therefore vary according to the varying states of the body. Everyone shapes his actions according to his emotion, those who are assailed by conflicting emotions know not what they wish; those who are not attacked by any emotion are readily swayed this way or that. All these considerations show that a mental decision and a bodily appetite, or determined state, are simultaneous, or rather are one and the same thing, which we call decision, when it is regarded under and explained through the attribute of thought, and a conditioned state, when it is regarded under the attribute of extension, and deduced from the laws of motion and rest... we cannot act by the decision of the mind, unless we have a remembrance of having done so. ...Again, it is not within the free power of the mind to remember or forget a thing at will. ...the decisions of the mind arise in the mind by the same necessity, as the ideas of things actually existing. ...those who believe, that they speak or keep in silence or act in any way from the free decision of their mind, but do dream with their eyes open.
    • Prop. 2: Note
  • Surely human affairs would be far happier if the power in men to be silent were the same as that to speak. But experience more than sufficiently teaches that men govern nothing with more difficulty than their tongues.
    • Variant translation of Prop. 2: Note
  • The activities of the mind arise solely from adequate ideas; the passive states of the mind depend solely on inadequate ideas.
    • Prop. 3
  • Nothing can be destroyed, except by a cause external to itself. ...the definition of anything affirms the essence of that thing... it postulates the essence of the thing, but does not take it away. So long therefore as we regard only the thing itself, without taking into account any external causes, we shall not be able to find in it anything which could destroy it.
    • Prop. 4
  • Things are naturally contrary, that is, cannot exist in the same object, in so far as one is capable of destroying the other.
    • Prop. 5
  • Everything, in so far as it is in itself, endeavors to persist in its own being.
    • Prop. 6
  • The endeavor, wherewith everything endeavors to persist in its own being, is nothing else but the actual essence of the thing in question.
    • Prop. 7
  • The endeavor, whereby a thing endeavors to persist in its being, involves no finite time, but an indefinite time. ...since it will by the same power whereby it already exists that it will always continue to exist, unless it is destroyed by some external cause, this endeavor involves an indefinite time.
    • Prop. 8
  • The mind, in so far as it has clear and distinct ideas, endeavors to persist in its being for an indefinite period, and of this endeavor it is conscious.
    • Prop. 9
  • This endeavor, when referred solely to the mind, is called will, when referred to the mind and body in conjunction it is called appetite; it is, in fact, nothing else but man's essence, from the nature of which necessarily follow all those results which tend to its preservation; and which man has thus been determined to perform. Further, between appetite and desire there is no difference, except that the term desire is generally applied to men, in so far as they are conscious of their appetite, and may accordingly thus be defined: Desire is appetite with consciousness thereof. It is thus plain from what has been said, that in no case do we strive for, wish for, long for, or desire anything, because we deem it to be good, but on the other hand we deem a thing to be good, because we strive for it, wish for it, long for it,or desire it.
    • Prop. 9: Note
  • An idea which excludes the existence of our body, cannot be postulated in our mind, but is contrary thereto. ...the first and chief endeavor of our mind is the endeavor to affirm the existence of our body: thus an idea, which negatives the existence of our body, is contrary to our mind, etc.
    • Prop. 10
  • Whatsoever increases or diminishes, helps or hinders the power of activity in our body, the idea thereof increases or diminishes, helps or hinders the power of thought in our mind.
    • Prop. 11
  • Thus we see, the mind can undergo many changes, and can pass sometimes to a state of greater perfection, sometimes to a state of lesser perfection. These passive states of transition explain to us the emotions of pleasure and pain. By pleasure therefore in the following propositions I shall signify a passive state wherein the mind passes to greater perfection. By pain I shall signify a passive state whereby the mind passes to a lesser perfection. Further, the emotion of pleasure in reference to the body and mind together I shall call stimulation (titillatio) or merriment (hilaritus), the emotion of pain in the same relation I shall call suffering or melancholy. But we must bear in mind, that stimulation and suffering are attributed to man, when one part of his nature is more affected than the rest, merriment and melancholy, when all parts are alike affected. What I mean by desire I have explained in Proposition 9 of this part; beyond these three I recognize no other primary emotion; I will show as I proceed, that all other emotions arise from these three.
    • Prop. 11: Note
  • The mind, as far as it can, endeavors to conceive those things, which increase or help the power of activity in the body.
    • Prop. 12
  • When the mind conceives things which diminish or hinder the body's power of activity, it endeavors, as far as possible, to remember things which exclude the existence of the first-named things [that are diminishing the power of activity].
    • Prop. 13
  • Hence it follows, that the mind shrinks from conceiving those things, which diminish or constrain the power of itself or of the body.
    • Prop. 13: Corollary
  • From what has been said we can clearly understand the nature of Love and Hate. Love is nothing else but pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause: Hate is nothing else but pain accompanied by the idea of an external cause. We further see, that he who loves necessarily endeavors to have, and to keep present to him, the object of his love; while he who hates endeavors to remove and destroy the object of his hatred.
    • Prop. 13: Note
  • If the mind has once been affected by two emotions at the same time, it will, whenever it is afterwords affected by one of the two, be also affected by the other.
    • Prop. 14
  • Anything can, accidentally, be the cause of pleasure, pain, or desire.
    • Prop. 15
  • Simply from the fact that we have regarded a thing with the emotion of pleasure or pain, though that thing be not the efficient cause of the emotion, we can either love or hate it.
    • Prop. 15: Corollary
  • Hence we understand how it may happen, that we love or hate a thing without any cause for our emotion being known to us; merely, as the phrase is, from sympathy or antipathy. We should refer to the same category those objects, which affect us pleasurably or painfully, simply because they resemble other things which affect us in the same way.
    • Prop. 15: Note
  • Simply from the fact that we conceive, that an object has some point of resemblance to another object which is wont to affect the mind pleasurably or painfully, although the point of resemblance is not the efficient cause of the said emotions, we shall still regard the first-named object with love or hate.
    • Prop. 16
  • If we conceive that a thing, which is wont to affect us painfully, has any point of resemblance to another thing which is wont to affect us with an equally strong emotion of pleasure, we shall hate the first-named thing, and at the same time we shall love it.
    • Prop. 17
  • This disposition of mind, which arises from two contrary emotions, is called vacillation; it stands to the emotions in the same relation as doubt does to the imagination; vacillation and doubt do not differ one from the other, except as greater differs from less. ...one and the same object may be the cause of many and conflicting emotions.
    • Prop. 17: Note
  • A man is as much affected pleasurably or painfully by the image of a thing past or future as by the image of a thing present.
    • Prop. 18
  • Hope is nothing else but an inconstant pleasure, arising from the image of something future or past, whereof we do not yet know the issue. Fear, on the other hand, is an inconstant pain also arising from the image of something concerning which we are in doubt. If the element of doubt be removed from these emotions, hope becomes Confidence and fear becomes Despair. In other words, Pleasure or Pain arising from the image of something concerning which we have hoped or feared. Again, Joy is Pleasure arising from the image of something past whereof we doubted the issue. Disappointment is the Pain opposed to Joy.
    • Prop. 18: Note 2
  • He who conceives that the object of his love is destroyed will feel pain; if he conceives that it is preserved he will feel pleasure.
    • Prop. 19
  • He who conceives that the object of his hate is destroyed will feel pleasure.
    • Prop. 20
  • He who conceives, that the object of his love is affected pleasurably or painfully, will himself be affected pleasurably or painfully; and the one or the other emotion will be greater or less in the lover according as it is greater or lesser in the thing loved.
    • Prop. 21
  • If we conceive that anything pleasurably affects some object of our love, we shall be affected with love towards that thing. Contrariwise, if we conceive that it affects an object of our love painfully, we shall be affected with hatred towards it.
    • Prop. 22
  • Prop. 21 explains to us the nature of Pity, which we may define as pain arising from another's hurt. What term we can use for pleasure arising for another's gain, I know not. We call the love towards him who confers a benefit on another, Approval; and the hatred towards him who injures another, we will call Indignation. ...we not only feel pity for a thing which we have loved, but also for a thing which we have hitherto regarded without emotion, provided that we deem that it resembles ourselves... Thus we bestow approval on one who has benefited anything resembling ourselves, and, contrariwise, are indignant with him who has done it an injury.
    • Prop. 22: Note
  • He who conceives, that an object of his hatred is painfully affected, will feel pleasure. Contrariwise, if he thinks that the said object is pleasurably affected, he will feel pain. Each of these emotions will be greater or less, according to its contrary is greater or less in the object of hatred.
    • Prop. 23
  • This pleasure [associated with an object of hatred being painfully affected] can scarcely be felt unalloyed, and without any mental conflict. ...in so far as a man conceives that something similar to himself is affected by pain, he will himself be affected in like manner; and he will have the contrary emotion in contrary circumstances. But here we are regarding hatred only.
    • Prop. 23: Note
  • If we conceive that anyone pleasurably affects an object of our hate, we shall feel hatred towards him also. If we conceive that he painfully affects the said object, we shall feel love towards him.
    • Prop. 24
  • These and similar emotions of hatred are attributable to envy, which, accordingly, is nothing else but hatred, in so far as it is disposing a man to rejoice in another's hurt, and to grieve at another's advantage.
    • Prop. 24: Note
  • We endeavor to affirm, concerning ourselves, and concerning what we love, everything that we conceive to affect pleasurably ourselves, or the loved object. Contrariwise, we endeavor to negative everything, which we conceive to affect painfully ourselves or the loved object.
    • Prop. 25
  • We endeavor to affirm, concerning that which we hate, everything which we conceive to affect it painfully; and contrariwise, we endeavor to deny, concerning it, everything which we conceive to affect it pleasurably.
    • Prop. 26
  • Thus we see that it may readily happen, that a man may easily think too highly of himself, or a loved object, and contrariwise, too meanly of a hated object. This feeling is called pride, in reference to the man who thinks too highly of himself, and is a species of madness, wherein a man dreams with his eyes open, thinking that he can accomplish all things which fall within the scope of his conception, and thereupon accounting them real, and exulting in them, so long as he is unable to conceive anything which excludes their existence, and determines his own power of action. Pride, therefore, is pleasure springing from a man thinking too highly of himself. Again, the pleasure which arises from a man thinking too highly of himself is called over-esteem. Whereas the pleasure which arises from thinking too little of a man is called disdain.
    • Prop. 26: Note
  • Pride is therefore pleasure arising from a man's thinking too highly of himself.
    • Variant Translation of Prop. 26: Note
  • By the very fact that we conceive a thing, which is like ourselves, and which we have not regarded with any emotion, to be affected with any emotion, we are ourselves affected with like emotion (affectus). ...from the fact of conceiving a thing like ourselves to be affected with any emotion, we are ourselves affected with like emotion. If, however, we hate the said thing like ourselves, we shall, to that extent, be affected by a contrary, and not similar, emotion.
    • Prop. 27
  • This imitation of emotions, when it is referred to pain, is called compassion; when it is referred to desire, it is called emulation, which is nothing else but the desire of anything, engendered in us by the fact that we conceive that others have the like desire.
    • Prop. 27: Note 1
  • If we conceive that anyone, whom we have hitherto regarded with no emotion, pleasurably affects something similar to ourselves, we shall be affected with love towards him. If, on the other hand, we conceive that he painfully affects the same, we shall be affected with hatred towards him.
    • Prop. 27: Corollary 1
  • We cannot hate a thing which we pity, because its misery affects us painfully.
    • Prop. 27: Corollary 2
  • We seek to free from misery, as far as we can, a thing which we pity.
    • Prop. 27: Corollary 3
  • This will or appetite for doing good, which arises from pity of the thing whereon we would confer a benefit, is called benevolence, and is nothing else than desire arising from compassion.
    • Prop. 27: Note 2
  • We endeavor to bring about whatsoever we conceive to conduce to pleasure; but we endeavor to remove or destroy whatsoever we conceive to be truly repugnant thereto, or to conduce to pain.
    • Prop. 28
  • So long as a man imagines that he cannot do this or that, so long is he determined not to do it: and consequently, so long it is impossible to him that he should do it.
    • Prop. 28: Explanation
  • We shall also endeavor to do whatsoever we conceive men to regard with pleasure, and contrariwise we shall shrink from doing that which we conceive men to shrink from.
    • Prop. 29
  • This endeavor to do a thing or leave it undone, solely in order to please men, we call ambition, especially when we so endeavor to please the vulgar, that we do or omit certain things to our own or another's hurt: in other cases it is generally called kindliness. Furthermore I give the name praise to the pleasure, with which we conceive the action of another, whereby he has endeavored to please us; but of blame to the pain wherewith we feel aversion to his action.
    • Prop. 29: Note
  • If anyone has done something which he conceives as affecting other men pleasurably, he will be affected by pleasure, accompanied by the idea of himself as cause; in other words, he will regard himself with pleasure. On the other hand, if he has done anything which he conceives as affecting others painfully, he will regard himself with pain.
    • Prop. 30
  • ...as the terms love and hatred are used in reference to external objects, we will employ other names for the emotions now under discussion: pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause we will style Honor, and the emotion contrary thereto we will style Shame: I mean in such cases as where pleasure or pain arises from a man's belief, that he is being praised or blamed: otherwise pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause is called self-complacency, and its contrary pain is called repentance. Again, as it may happen that the pleasure, wherewith a man conceives that he affects others, may exist solely in his own imagination, and as everyone endeavors to conceive concerning himself that which he conceives will affect him with pleasure, it may easily come to pass that a vain man may be proud and may imagine that he is pleasing to all, when in reality he may be an annoyance to all.
    • Prop. 30: Note
  • It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.
    • Variant Translation of Prop. 30: Note
  • If we conceive that anyone loves, desires, or hates anything which we ourselves love, desire, or hate, we shall thereupon regard the thing in question with more steadfast love, etc. On the contrary, if we think that anyone shrinks from something that we love, we shall undergo vacillation of the soul.
    • Prop. 31
  • ...it follows that everyone endeavors, as far as possible, to cause others to love what he himself loves, and to hate what he himself hates...
    • Prop. 31: Corollary
  • This endeavor to bring it about, that our own likes and dislikes should meet with universal approval, is really ambition; wherefore we see that everyone by nature desires (appetere), that the rest of mankind should live according to his own individual disposition: when such a desire is equally present in all, everyone stands in everyone else's way, and in wishing to be loved or praised by all, all become mutually hateful.
    • Prop. 31: Note
  • If we conceive that anyone takes delight in something, which only one person can possess, we shall endeavor to bring it about that the man in question shall not gain possession thereof.
    • Prop. 32
  • We thus see that man's nature is so generally constituted, that he takes pity on those who fare ill, and envies those who fare well with an amount of hatred proportioned to his own love for the goods in their possession. Further, we see that from the same property of human nature, whence it follows that men are merciful, it follows also that they are envious and ambitious. ...Lastly, if we make an appeal to Experience... We find that children, whose body is continually, as it were, in equilibrium, laugh or cry simply because they see others laughing or crying; moreover, they desire forthwith to imitate whatever they see others doing, and to possess themselves whatever they conceive as delighting others: inasmuch as the images of things are, as we have said, modifications of the human body, or modes wherein the human body is affected and disposed by external causes to act in this or that manner.
    • Prop. 32: Note
  • When we love a thing similar to ourselves, we endeavor, as far as we can, to bring about that it should love us in return.
    • Prop. 33
  • The greater emotion with which we conceive a loved object to be affected toward us, the greater will be our complacency.
    • Prop. 34
  • If anyone conceives, that an object of his love joins itself to another with closer bonds of friendship than he himself has attained to, he will be affected with hatred towards the loved object and with envy towards his rival.
    • Prop. 35
  • This hatred towards an object of love joined with envy is called Jealousy...
    • Prop. 35: Note
  • He who remembers a thing, in which he has once taken delight, desires to possess it under the same circumstances as when he first took delight therein.
    • Prop. 36
  • Desire arising through pain or pleasure, hatred or love, is greater in proportion as the emotion is greater.
    • Prop. 37
  • If a man had begun to hate an object of his love, so that love is thoroughly destroyed, he will, causes being equal, regard it with more hatred than if he had never loved it, and his hatred will be in proportion to the strength of his former love.
    • Prop. 38
  • He who hates anyone will endeavor to do him an injury, unless he fears that a greater injury will thereby accrue to himself; on the other hand, he who loves anyone will, by the same law, seek to benefit him.
    • Prop. 39
  • The emotion, which induces a man to turn from that which he wishes, or to wish for that which he turns from, is called timidity, which may accordingly be defined as the fear whereby a man is induced to avoid an evil which he regards as future by encountering a lesser evil. But if the evil which he fears be shame, timidity becomes bashfulness. Lastly, if the desire to avoid a future evil be checked by the fear of another evil, so that the man knows not which to choose, fear becomes consternation, especially if both the evils feared be very great.
    • Prop. 39: Note
  • He who conceives himself to be hated by another, and believes that he has given no cause for the hatred. will hate the other in return.
    • Prop. 40
  • He who conceives, that one whom he loves hates him, will be a prey to conflicting hatred and love.
    • Prop. 40: Corollary 1
  • If a man conceives that one, whom he has hitherto regarded without emotion, has done him any injury from motives of hatred, he will forthwith seek to repay the injury in kind.
    • Prop. 40: Corollary 2
  • The endeavor to injure one whom we hate is called Anger; the endeavor to repay in kind injury done to ourselves is called Revenge.
    • Prop. 40: Note
  • If anyone conceives that he is loved by another, and believes that he has given no cause for such love, he will love that other in return.
    • Prop. 41
  • This reciprocal love, and consequently the desire to benefit him who loves us, and who endeavors to benefit us, is called gratitude or thankfulness. ...men are much more prone to take vengeance than to return benefits.
    • Prop. 41: Note
  • He who imagines, that he is loved by one whom he hates, will be a prey to conflicting hatred and love.
    • Prop. 41: Corollary
  • If hatred be the prevailing emotion, he will endeavor to injure him who loves him; this emotion is called cruelty, especially if the victim be believed to have given no ordinary cause for hatred.
    • Prop. 41: Corollary Note
  • He who has conferred a benefit on anyone from motives of love or honor will feel pain, if he sees that the benefit is received without gratitude.
    • Prop. 42
  • Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can on the other hand be destroyed by love.
    • Prop. 43
  • Hatred which is completely vanquished by love passes into love: and love is thereupon greater than if hatred had not preceded it.
    • Prop. 44
  • If a man conceives, that anyone similar to himself hates anything also similar to himself, which he loves, he will hate that person.
    • Prop. 45
  • If a man has been affected pleasurably or painfully by anyone, of a class or nation different than his own, and if the pleasure or pain has been accompanied by the idea of the said stranger as cause, under the general category of the class or nation: the man will feel love or hatred, not only to the individual stranger, but also to the whole class or nation whereto he belongs.
    • Prop. 46
  • Joy arising from the fact, that anything we hate has been destroyed, or suffers from injury, is never unaccompanied by a certain pain in us.
    • Prop. 47
  • Love or hatred towards, for instance Peter, is destroyed if the pleasure involved in the former, or the pain involved in the latter emotion, be associated with the idea of another cause: and will be diminished in proportion as we conceive Peter not to have been the sole cause of either emotion.
    • Prop. 48
  • Love or hatred towards a thing, which we conceive to be free, must, other things being similar, be greater than if it were felt towards a thing acting by necessity.
    • Prop. 49
  • Anything whatever can be, accidentally, a cause of hope or fear.
    • Prop. 50
  • Different men may be differently affected by the same object, and the same men may be differently affected at different times by the same object.
    • Prop. 51
  • We thus see that it is possible, that what one man loves another may hate, and that what one man fears another may not fear; or again, that one and the same man may love what he once hated, or may be bold where he was once timid, and so on. Again, as everyone judges according to his emotions what is good, what bad, what better, and what worse, it follows that men's judgments may vary no less than their emotions, hence when we compare some with others, we distinguish them solely by the diversity of their emotions, and style some intrepid, others timid, others by some other epithet. For instance, I shall call a man intrepid, if he despises an evil which I am accustomed to fear; if... he is not restrained by the fear of an evil which is sufficient to restrain me, I shall call him daring. Again, a man will appear timid to me, if he fears an evil which I am accustomed to despise; and if I further take into consideration that his desire is restrained by a fear of an evil, which is not sufficient to restrain me, I shall say that he is cowardly; and in like manner will everyone pass judgment. ...from this inconsistency in the nature of human judgment, inasmuch as a man often judges of things solely by his emotions, and inasmuch as the things which he believes cause pleasure or pain, and therefore endeavors to promote or prevent, are often purely imaginary... we may readily conceive that a man may be at one time affected with pleasure, and at another with pain, accompanied by himself as cause. Thus we can easily understand what are Repentance and Self-complacency ...Repentance is pain, accompanied by the idea of oneself as cause; Self-complacency is pleasure accompanied by the idea of oneself as cause, and these emotions are most intense because men believe themselves to be free.
    • Prop. 51: Note
  • An object which we have formerly seen in conjunction with others, and which we do not conceive to have any property that is not common to many, will not be regarded by us for so long, as an object which we conceive to have some property peculiar to itself.
    • Prop. 52
  • This mental modification, or imagination of a particular thing, in so far as it is alone in the mind, is called Wonder; but if it be excited by an object of fear, it is called Consternation, because wonder at an object keeps a man so engrossed in the simple contemplation thereof, that he has no power to think of anything else whereby he might avoid the evil. If, however, the object of wonder be a man's prudence, industry, or anything of that sort, inasmuch as the man is thereby regarded as far surpassing ourselves, wonder is called Veneration; otherwise, if a man's anger, envy, etc., be what we wonder at, the emotion is called Horror. Again, if it be the prudence, industry, or what not, of a man we love, that we wonder at, our love on this account will be greater, and when joined to wonder or veneration is called Devotion. ...To wonder is opposed Contempt... to think rather of those qualities which are not in it, than of those which are in it. ...As devotion springs from wonder at a thing which we love, so does Derision spring from contempt of a thing which we hate or fear, and Scorn from contempt of folly, as veneration at wonder at prudence.
    • Prop. 52: Note
  • When the mind regards itself and its own power of activity, it feels pleasure: and that pleasure is greater in proportion to the distinctness wherewith it conceives itself and its own power of activity.
    • Prop. 53
  • This pleasure is fostered more and more, in proportion as a man conceives himself to be praised by others. For the more he conceives himself to be praised by others, the more he will imagine them to be affected with pleasure, accompanied by the idea of himself; thus he is himself affected with greater pleasure, accompanied by the idea of himself.
    • Prop. 53: Corollary
  • The mind endeavors to conceive only such things as assert its power of activity. ...The endeavor or power of the mind is the actual essence thereof; but the essence of the mind obviously only affirms that which the mind is and can do; not that which it neither is nor can do.
    • Prop. 54
  • It therefore comes to pass that everyone is fond of relating his own exploits and displaying the strength both of his body and his mind, and that men are on this account a nuisance one to the other.
    • Prop. 54: note
  • When the mind contemplates its own weakness, it feels pain thereat.
    • Prop. 55
  • The pain is more and more fostered, if a man conceives that he is blamed by others...
    • Prop. 55: Corollary
  • This pain, accompanied by the idea of our own weakness, is called humility; the pleasure, which springs from the contemplation of ourselves, is called self-love or self-complacency. And inasmuch as this feeling is renewed as often as a man contemplates his own virtues, or his own power of activity, it follows that everyone is fond of narrating his own exploits, and displaying the force both of his body and his mind, and also that, for this reason, men are troublesome to one another. Again, it follows that men are naturally envious, rejoicing in the shortcomings of their equals, and feeling pain at their virtues. For whenever a man conceives his own actions, he is affected with pleasure, in proportion as his actions display more perfection, and he conceives them more distinctly--that is, in proportion as he can distinguish them from others, and regard them as something special. Therefore, a man will take pleasure in contemplating himself, when he contemplates some quality which he denies to others. But if that which he affirms of himself be attributable to the idea of man or animals in general, he will not be so greatly pleased: he will, on the contrary, feel pain, if he conceives that his own actions fall short when compared with those of others. This pain he will endeavor to remove, by putting a wrong construction on the actions of his equals, or by, as far as he can, embellishing his own. It is thus apparent that men are naturally prone to hatred and envy, which latter is fostered by their education. For parents are accustomed to incite their children to virtue solely by the spur of honor and envy, but perhaps, some will scruple to assent to what I have said, because we not seldom admire men's virtues, and venerate their possessors. In order to remove such doubts I append the following corollary.
    • Prop. 55: Note
  • No one envies the virtue of anyone who is not his equal.
    • Prop. 55: Corollary
  • When, therefore, we said we venerate a man, through wonder at his prudence, fortitude, etc., we do so, because we conceive those qualities to be peculiar to him, and not as common to our nature; we, therefore, no more envy their possessor, than we envy trees for being tall, or lions for being courageous.
    • Prop. 55: Corollary Note
  • There are many kinds of pleasure, of pain, of desire, and of every emotion compounded of these, such as vacillations of spirit, or derived from these, such as love, hatred, hope, fear, etc., as there are kinds of objects whereby we are affected.
    • Prop. 56
  • Among the kinds of emotions... the chief are luxury, drunkenness, lust, avarice, and ambition, being merely species of love or desire, displaying the nature of those emotions in a manner varying according to the object, with which they are concerned. For by luxury, drunkenness, lust, avarice, ambition, etc., we simply mean the immoderate love of feasting, drinking, venery, riches, and fame. Furthermore, these emotions, in so far as we distinguish them from others merely by the objects wherewith they are concerned, have no contraries. For temperance, sobriety, and chastity, which we are wont to oppose to luxury, drunkenness, and lust, are not emotions or passive states, but indicate a power of the mind which moderates the last-named emotions. ...It is sufficient for our purpose, namely, to determine the strength of the emotions, and the mind's power over them, to have a general definition of each emotion. ...to understand the general properties of the emotions and the mind, to enable us to determine the quality and extent of the mind's power in moderating and checking the emotions.
    • Prop. 56: Note
  • Any emotion of a given individual differs from the emotion of another individual, only in so far as the essence of the one individual differs from the essence of the other.
    • Prop. 57
  • Hence it follows, that the emotions of the animals which are called irrational only differ from man's emotions, to the extent that brute nature differs from human nature. ...Thus, although each individual lives content and rejoices in that mature belonging to him wherein he has his being, yet the life. wherein each is content and rejoices, is nothing else but the idea, or soul, of the said individual, and hence the joy of one differs in nature from the joy of another, to the extent that the essence of one differs from the essence of another. ...Thus far I have treated of the emotions attributable to man, in so far as he is passive. It remains to add a few words on those attributable to him in so far as he is active.
    • Prop. 57: Note
  • Besides pleasure and desire, which are passivities or passions, there are other emotions derived from pleasure and desire, which are attributable to us in so far as we are active. ...desire is also attributable to us in so far as we understand, or in so far as we are active.
    • Prop. 58
  • Among all the emotions attributable to the mind as active, there are none which cannot be referred to as pleasure or pain.
    • Prop. 59
  • All actions following from emotion, which are attributable to the mind in virtue of its understanding, I set down to strength of character (fortitudo), which I divide into courage (animositas) and high-mindedness (generositas). By courage I mean the desire whereby every man strives to preserve his own being in accordance solely with the dictates of reason. By high-mindedness I mean the desire whereby every man endeavors, solely under the dictates of reason, to aid other men and to unite them to himself in friendship. Those actions, therefore, which have regard solely to the good of the agent I set down to courage, those which aim at the good of others I set down to high-mindedness. I think I have thus explained, and displayed through their primary causes the principal emotions and vacillations of spirit, which arise from the combination of the three primary emotions, to wit, desire, pleasure, and pain. ...we are in many ways driven about by external causes, and that like waves of the sea driven by contrary winds we toss to and fro unwitting of the issue and of our fate. But... I have set forth only the chief conflicting emotions, not all that might be given. ...the emotions may be compounded one with another in so many ways, and so many variations may arise therefrom, as to exceed all possibility of computation. However, for my purpose, it is enough to have enumerated the most important... It remains to remark concerning love, that it very often happens that while we are enjoying a thing which we longed for, the body, from the act of enjoyment, acquires a new disposition... the new disposition of the body will feel repugnance to the desire or attempt... This revulsion of feeling is called satiety or weariness. Lastly, the definitions of the emotions require to be supplemented in a few points... [Definitions of the Emotions follows}
    • Prop. 59: Note
  • I refer those actions which work out the good of the agent to courage, and those which work out the good of others to nobility. Therefore temperance, sobriety, and presence of mind in danger, etc., are species of courage; but modesty, clemency, etc., are species of nobility.
    • Alternate Translation
  • Hope is an inconstant pleasure, arising from the idea of something past or future, whereof we to a certain extent doubt the issue.
    • Definition 12
  • Fear is an inconstant pain arising from the idea of something past or future, whereof we to a certain extent doubt the issue
    • Definition 13
  • From these definitions it follows, that there is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope. For he, who depends on hope and doubts concerning the issue of anything, is assumed to conceive something, which excludes the existence of the said thing in the future; therefore he, to this extent, feels pain; consequently, while dependent on hope, he fears for the issue. Contrariwise he, who fears, in other words doubts, concerning the issue of something which he hates, also conceives something which excludes the existence of the thing in question; to this extent he feels pleasure, and consequently to this extent he hopes that it will turn out as he desires.
    • Definition 13: Explanation
  • Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear.
    • Variant Translation of Definition 13: Explanation

Part IV : Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions[edit]

Human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage…
Full text online
One and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent.
There is no individual thing in nature, than which there is not another more powerful and strong. Whatsoever thing be given, there is something stronger whereby it can be destroyed.
Imaginations do not vanish at the presence of the truth, in virtue of its being true, but because other imaginations, stronger than the first, supervene and exclude the present existence of that which we imagined…
It is impossible, that man should not be a part of Nature, or that he should be capable of undergoing no changes, save such as can be understood through his nature only as their adequate cause.
The power and increase of every passion, and its persistence in existing are not defined by the power, whereby we ourselves endeavor to persist in existing, but by the power of an external cause compared with our own.
The knowledge of good and evil is nothing else but the emotions of pleasure or pain, in so far as we are conscious thereof.
It is necessary to know the power and the infirmity of our nature, before we can determine what reason can do in restraining the emotions, and what is beyond her power.
Reason makes no demands contrary to nature, it demands, that every man should love himself, should seek that which is useful to him... everything which really brings man to greater perfection
In proportion as a thing is in harmony with our nature, so is it more useful or better for us, and vice versa, in proportion as a thing is more useful for us, so is it more in harmony with our nature.
There is no individual thing in nature, which is more useful to man, than a man who lives in obedience to reason.
In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature, it is necessarily good.
Let misanthropes praise to their utmost the life of untutored rusticity, let them heap contempt on men and praises on beasts; when all is said, they will find that men can provide for their wants much more easily by mutual help, and that only by uniting their forces can they escape from the dangers that on every side beset them…
The highest good of those who follow virtue is common to all, and therefore all can equally rejoice therein.
Hatred can never be good.
Minds are not conquered by force, but by love and high-mindedness.
It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship.
A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.
In so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true...
  • Human infirmity in moderating and checking the emotions I name bondage: for, when a man is a prey to his emotions, he is not his own master, but lies at the mercy of fortune: so much so, that he is often compelled, while seeing that which is better for him, to follow that which is worse. Why this is so, and what is good or evil in the emotions, I propose to show... Nature does not work with an end in view. For the eternal and infinite Being, which we call God or Nature, acts by the same necessity as that whereby it exists. ...a cause which is called final is nothing else but human desire, in so far as it is considered as the origin or cause of anything. ...Perfection and imperfection... are in reality merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from a comparison among one another... by reality and perfection I mean the same thing. For we are wont to refer all the individual things in nature to one genus, which is called the highest genus, namely, to the category of Being, whereto absolutely all individuals in nature belong. ...As for the terms good and bad, they indicate no positive quality in things regarded in themselves, but are merely modes of thinking, or notions which we form from the comparison of things with one another. Thus one and the same thing can be at the same time good, bad, and indifferent. For instance music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf. ...In what follows, then, I shall mean by, "good" that, which we certainly know to be a means of approaching more nearly to the type of human nature, which we have set before ourselves; by "bad," that which we certainly know to be a hindrance to us in approaching the said type. ...when I say that a man passes from a lesser to a greater perfection... what I mean is, that we conceive the thing's power of action, in so far as this is understood by its nature, to be increased or diminished. ...Lastly, by perfection in general I shall, as I have said, mean reality—in other words, each thing's essence, in so far as it exists, and operates in a particular manner, and without paying any regard to its duration. For no given thing can be said to be more perfect, because it has passed a longer time in existence. The duration of things cannot be determined by their essence, for the essence of things involves no fixed and definite period of existence...
    • Preface
  • There is no individual thing in nature, than which there is not another more powerful and strong. Whatsoever thing be given, there is something stronger whereby it can be destroyed.
    • Axiom
  • Prop. I. No positive quality possessed by a false idea is removed by the presence of what is true, in virtue of its being true.
    • Prop. 1
  • When we mistakenly fear an evil, the fear vanishes when we hear the true tidings; but the contrary also happens, namely, that we fear an evil which will certainly come, and our fear vanishes when we hear false tidings; thus imaginations do not vanish at the presence of the truth, in virtue of its being true, but because other imaginations, stronger than the first, supervene and exclude the present existence of that which we imagined...
    • Prop. 1: Note
  • We are said to be passive, when something arises in us, whereof we are only a partial cause... We are passive therefore, in so far as we are a part of Nature, which cannot be conceived by itself without other parts.
    • Prop. 2: Proof
  • The force whereby a man persists in existing is limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes.
    • Prop. 3
  • It is impossible, that man should not be a part of Nature, or that he should be capable of undergoing no changes, save such as can be understood through his nature only as their adequate cause.
    • Prop. 4
  • Hence it follows, that man is necessarily always a prey to his passions, that he follows and obeys the general order of nature, and that he accommodates himself thereto, as much as the nature of things demands.
    • Prop. 4: Corollary
  • The power and increase of every passion, and its persistence in existing are not defined by the power, whereby we ourselves endeavor to persist in existing, but by the power of an external cause compared with our own.
    • Prop. 5
  • The force of any passion or emotion can overcome the rest of a man's activities or power, so that the emotion becomes obstinately fixed to him.
    • Prop. 6
  • An emotion can only be controlled or destroyed by another emotion contrary thereto, and with more power for controlling emotion.
    • Prop. 7
  • An emotion, in so far as it is referred to the mind, can only be controlled or destroyed through an idea of a modification of the body contrary to, and stronger than, that which we are undergoing.
    • Prop. 7: Corollary
  • The knowledge of good and evil is nothing else but the emotions of pleasure or pain, in so far as we are conscious thereof.
    • Prop. 8
  • An emotion towards that which we conceive as necessary is, when other conditions are equal, more intense than an emotion towards that which is possible, or contingent, or non-necessary.
    • Prop. 11
  • An emotion towards a thing, which we know not to exist in the present, and which we conceive as contingent, is far fainter, than if we conceive the thing to be present with us.
    • Prop. 12: Corollary
  • A true knowledge of good and evil cannot check any emotion by virtue of being true, but only in so far as it is considered as an emotion.
    • Prop. 14
  • Desire arising from the knowledge of good and bad can be quenched or checked by many of the other desires arising from the emotions whereby we are assailed. ...the desires arising from the emotions whereby we are assailed are stronger, in proportion as the said emotions are more vehement; wherefore their force and increase must be defined solely by the power of external causes, which, when compared with our own power, indefinitely surpass it; hence the desires arising from like emotions may be more vehement, than the desire which arises from a true knowledge of good and evil, and may, consequently, control or quench it.
    • Prop. 15
  • Desire arising from the knowledge of good and evil, in so far as such knowledge regards what is future, may be more easily controlled or quenched, than the desire for what is agreeable at the present moment.
    • Prop. 16
  • Desire arising from the true knowledge of good and evil, in so far as such knowledge is concerned with what is contingent, can be controlled far more easily still, than desire for things that are present.
    • Prop. 17
  • I think I have now shown the reason, why men are moved by opinion more readily than by true reason, why it is that the true knowledge of good and evil stirs up conflicts in the soul, and often yields to every kind of passion. This state of things gave rise to the exclamation of the poet: "The better path I gaze at and approve, The worse—I follow." Ecclesiastes seems to have had the same thought in his mind, when he says, "He who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." I have not written the above with the object of drawing the conclusion, that ignorance is more excellent than knowledge, or that a wise man is on a par with a fool in controlling his emotions, but because it is necessary to know the power and the infirmity of our nature, before we can determine what reason can do in restraining the emotions, and what is beyond her power. I have said, that in the present part I shall merely treat of human infirmity. The power of reason over the emotions I have settled to treat separately.
    • Prop. 17: Note
  • Desire arising from pleasure is, other conditions being equal, stronger than desire arising from pain.
    • Prop. 18
  • I have explained the causes of human infirmity and inconstancy, and shown why men do not abide by the precepts of reason. It now remains for me to show what course is marked out for us by reason, which of the emotions are in harmony with the rules of human reason, and which of them are contrary thereto. But, before I begin to prove my Propositions... it is advisable to sketch them briefly in advance... As reason makes no demands contrary to nature, it demands, that every man should love himself, should seek that which is useful to him... everything which really brings man to greater perfection... first, that the foundation of virtue is the endeavor to preserve one's own being, and... happiness consists in man's power of preserving his own being; secondly, that virtue is to be desired for its own sake, and that there is nothing more excellent or more useful to us... thirdly and lastly, that suicides are weak-minded, and are overcome by external causes repugnant to their nature. Further... we can never arrive at doing without all external things for the preservation of our being or living, so as to have no relations with things which are outside ourselves. ...our intellect would be more imperfect, if mind were alone, and could understand nothing besides itself. There are, then, many things outside ourselves, which are useful to us... none can be discerned more excellent, than those which are in entire agreement with our nature. ...if, for example, two individuals of entirely the same nature are united, they form a combination twice as powerful as either of them singly. Therefore, to man there is nothing more useful than man—nothing, I repeat, more excellent for preserving their being can be wished for by men, than that all should so in all points agree, that the minds and bodies of all should form, as it were, one single mind and one single body, and that all should, with one consent, as far as they are able, endeavor to preserve their being, and all with one consent seek what is useful to them all. Hence, men who are governed by reason—that is, who seek what is useful to them in accordance with reason, desire for themselves nothing, which they do not also desire for the rest of mankind, and, consequently, are just, faithful, and honorable in their conduct. ...I have taken this course, in order, if possible, to gain the attention of those who believe, that the principle that every man is bound to seek what is useful for himself is the foundation of impiety, rather than of piety and virtue.
    • Prop. 18: Note
  • Every man, by the laws of his nature, necessarily desires or shrinks [respectively] from that which he deems to be good or bad.
    • Prop. 19
  • The more every man endeavors, and is able to seek what is useful to him — in other words, to preserve his own being-the more is he endowed with virtue; on the contrary, in proportion as a man neglects to seek what is useful to him, that is, to preserve his own being, he is wanting in power.
    • Prop. 20
  • No one, therefore, neglects seeking his own good, or preserving his own being, unless he be overcome by causes external and foreign to his nature. No one, I say, from the necessity of his own nature, or otherwise than under compulsion from external causes, shrinks from food, or kills himself... A man, for instance, kills himself under the compulsion of another man, who twists round his right hand, wherewith he happened to have taken up a sword, and forces him to turn the blade against his own heart; or, again, he may be compelled, like Seneca, by a tyrant's command, to open his own veins—that is, to escape a greater evil by incurring, a lesser; or, lastly, latent external causes may so disorder his imagination, and so affect his body, that it may assume a nature contrary to its former one, and whereof the idea cannot exist in the mind. But that a man, from the necessity of his own nature, should endeavor to become non-existent, is as impossible as that something should be made out of nothing...
    • Prop. 20: Note
  • No one can desire to be blessed, to act rightly, and to live rightly, without at the same time wishing to be, act, and to live — in other words, to actually exist.
    • Prop. 21
  • No virtue can be conceived as prior to this endeavor to preserve one's own being.
    • Prop. 22
  • The effort for self-preservation is the first and only foundation of virtue. For prior to this principle nothing can be conceived, and without it no virtue can be conceived.
    • Prop. 22: Corollary
  • Man, in so far as he is determined to a particular action because he has inadequate ideas, cannot be absolutely said to act in obedience to virtue; he can only be so described, in so far as he is determined for the action because he understands. ...In so far as a man is determined to an action through having inadequate ideas, he is passive, that is, he does something, which cannot be perceived solely through his essence, that is, which does not follow from his virtue. But, in so far as he is determined for an action because he understands, he is active; that is, he does something, which is perceived through his essence alone, or which adequately follows from his virtue.
    • Prop. 23
  • To act absolutely in obedience to virtue is in us the same thing as to act, to live, or to preserve one's being (these three terms are identical in meaning) in accordance with the dictates of reason on the basis of seeking what is useful to one's self.
    • Prop. 24
  • No one wishes to preserve his being for the sake of anything else.
    • Prop. 25
  • Whatsoever we endeavor in obedience to reason is nothing further than to understand; neither does the mind, in so far as it makes use of reason, judge anything to be useful to it, save such things as are conducive to understanding.
    • Prop. 26
  • We know nothing to be certainly good or evil [respectively], save such things as really conduce to understanding, or such as are able to hinder us from understanding.
    • Prop. 27
  • The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God, and the mind's highest virtue is to know God. ...The mind is not capable of understanding anything higher than God, that is, than a Being absolutely infinite, and without which nothing can either be or be conceived; therefore, the mind's highest utility or good is the knowledge of God. Again, the mind is active, only in so far as it understands, and only to the same extent can it be said absolutely to act virtuously. The mind's absolute virtue is therefore to understand.
    • Prop. 28
  • No individual thing, which is entirely different from our own nature, can help or check our power of activity, and absolutely nothing can do us good or harm, unless it has something in common with our nature. ...The power of every individual thing, and consequently the power of man, whereby he exists and operates, can only be determined by an individual thing, whose nature must be understood through the same nature as that, through which human nature is conceived.
    • Prop. 29
  • A thing cannot be bad for us through the quality which it has in common with our nature, but it is bad for us in so far as it is contrary to our nature.
    • Prop. 30
  • In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature, it is necessarily good.
    • Prop. 31
  • Hence it follows, that, in proportion as a thing is in harmony with our nature, so is it more useful or better for us, and vice versa, in proportion as a thing is more useful for us, so is it more in harmony with our nature. For, in so far as it is not in harmony with our nature, it will necessarily be different therefrom or contrary thereto. If different, it can neither be good nor bad; if contrary, it will be contrary to that which is in harmony with our nature, that is, contrary to what is good-in short, bad.
    • Prop. 31: Corollary
  • In so far as men are a prey to passion, they cannot, in that respect, be said to be naturally in harmony. ...Things, which are said to be in harmony naturally, are understood to agree in power, not in want of power or negation, and consequently not in passion...
    • Prop. 32
  • Men can differ in nature, in so far as they are assailed by those emotions, which are passions, or passive states; and to this extent one and the same man is variable and inconstant.
    • Prop. 33
  • In so far as men are assailed by emotions which are passions, they can be contrary one to another.
    • Prop. 34
  • In so far only as men live in obedience to reason, do they always necessarily agree in nature.
    • Prop. 35
  • There is no individual thing in nature, which is more useful to man, than a man who lives in obedience to reason. For that thing is to man most useful, which is most in harmony with his nature; that is, obviously, man. But man acts absolutely according to the laws of his nature, when he lives in obedience to reason, and to this extent only is always necessarily in harmony with the nature of another man...
    • Prop. 35: Corollary 1
  • As every man seeks most that which is useful to him, so are men most useful one to another. For the more a man seeks what is useful to him and endeavors to preserve himself, the more is he endowed with virtue... [i.e,] the more is he endowed with power to act according to the laws of his own nature, that is to live in obedience to reason.
    • Prop. 35: Corollary 2
  • What we have just shown is attested by experience so conspicuously, that it is in the mouth of nearly everyone : "Man is to man a God." Yet it rarely happens that men live in obedience to reason, for things are so ordered among them, that they are generally envious and troublesome one to another. Nevertheless they are scarcely able to lead a solitary life, so that the definition of man as a social animal has met with general assent; in fact, men do derive from social life much more convenience than injury. Let satirists then laugh their fill at human affairs, let theologians rail, and let misanthropes praise to their utmost the life of untutored rusticity, let them heap contempt on men and praises on beasts; when all is said, they will find that men can provide for their wants much more easily by mutual help, and that only by uniting their forces can they escape from the dangers that on every side beset them...
    • Prop. 35: Note
  • Man is a social animal.
    • Variant Translation of Prop. 35: Note
  • Men will find that they can prepare with mutual aid far more easily what they need, and avoid far more easily the perils which beset them on all sides, by united force.
    • Variant Translation of Prop. 35: Note
  • The highest good of those who follow virtue is common to all, and therefore all can equally rejoice therein.
    • Prop. 36
  • The good which everyone who follows after virtue seeks for himself he will desire for other men; and the desire on their behalf will be greater in proportion as he has a greater knowledge of God.
    • Prop. 37
  • That which so disposes the human body that it can be affected in many ways, or which renders it capable of affecting external bodies in many ways, is profitable to man, and is more profitable in proportion as by its means the body becomes better fitted to be affected in many ways, and to affect other bodies; on the other hand, that thing is injurious which renders the body less to affect or be affected.
    • Prop. 38
  • Although men, as a rule, are a prey to many emotions — and very few are found who are always assailed by one and the same — yet there are cases, where one and the same emotion remains obstinately fixed. We sometimes see men so absorbed in one object, that, although it be not present, they think they have it before them; when this is the case with a man who is not asleep, we say he is delirious or mad; nor are those persons who are inflamed with love, and who dream all night and all day about nothing but their mistress, or some woman, considered as less mad, for they are made objects of ridicule. But when a miser thinks of nothing but gain or money, or when an ambitious man thinks of nothing but glory, they are not reckoned to be mad, because they are generally harmful, and are thought worthy of being hated. But, in reality, Avarice, Ambition, Lust, &c., are species of madness, though they may not be reckoned among diseases.
    • Prop. 44: note
    • Variant translation: Avarice, ambition, lust, etc., are nothing but species of madness.
  • Hatred can never be good. ... Here, and in what follows, I mean by hatred only hatred towards men.
    • Prop. 45
  • Humility is not a virtue; in other words, it does not spring from virtue. Humility is a sorrow, which springs from this, that a man contemplates his own weakness. But in so far as a man knows himself by true reason is he supposed to understand his essence, that is to say, his power. ...if we suppose that he forms a conception of his own impotence because he understands something to be more powerful than himself, by the knowledge of which he determines his own power of action, in this case we simply conceive that he understands himself distinctly, and his power of action is increased. Therefore humility or the sorrow that arises from a man's contemplating his own impotence, does not proceed from true reflection or reason, and is not a virtue but a passion.
    • Prop. 53
  • He whose honor is rooted in popular approval must, day by day, anxiously strive, act, and scheme in order to retain his reputation. For the populace is variable and inconstant, so that, if a reputation be not kept up, it quickly withers away. Everyone wishes to catch popular applause for himself, and readily represses the fame of others. The object of the strife being estimated as the greatest of all goods, each combatant is seized with a fierce desire to put down his rivals in every possible way, till he who at last comes out victorious is more proud of having done harm to others than of having done good to himself. This sort of honor, then, is really empty, being nothing.
    • Prop. 58: Note
  • He whose honor depends on the opinion of the mob must day by day strive with the greatest anxiety, act and scheme in order to retain his reputation. For the mob is varied and inconstant, and therefore if a reputation is not carefully preserved it dies quickly.
    • Variant translation of Prop. 58: Note
  • He who lives according to the guidance of reason strives as much as possible to repay the hatred, anger, or contempt of others towards himself with love or generosity. ...hatred is increased by reciprocal hatred, and, on the other hand, can be extinguished by love, so that hatred passes into love.
    • Prop. 66
  • A free man thinks of death least of all things; and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.
    • Prop. 67
    • Variant translation: A free man thinks of nothing less than of death; and his wisdom is a meditation not on death but on life.
  • In refusing benefits caution must be used lest we seem to despise or to refuse them for fear of having to repay them in kind.
    • Prop. 70: note
  • All our endeavors or desires so follow from the necessity of our nature, that they can be understood either through it alone, as their proximate cause, or by virtue of our being a part of nature, which cannot be adequately conceived through itself without other individuals.
    • Appendix, 1
  • In so far as men are influenced by envy or any kind of hatred, one towards another, they are at variance, and are therefore to be feared in proportion, as they are more powerful than their fellows.
    Yet minds are not conquered by force, but by love and high-mindedness.
    • Appendix, 10 - 11
  • It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship.
    But for this there is need of skill and watchfulness. For men are diverse (seeing that those who live under the guidance of reason are few), yet are they generally envious and more prone to revenge than to sympathy. No small force of character is therefore required to take everyone as he is, and to restrain one's self from imitating the emotions of others. But those who carp at mankind, and are more skilled in railing at vice than in instilling virtue, and who break rather than strengthen men's dispositions, are hurtful both to themselves and others.
    • Appendix, 12 - 13
  • To give aid to every poor man is far beyond the power and the advantage of any private person. For the riches of any private person are wholly inadequate to meet such a call. Again, an individual man's resources of character are too limited for him to be able to make all men his friends. Hence providing for the poor is a duty, which falls on the State as a whole, and has regard only to the general advantage.
    • Appendix, 17
    • Variant translation: To give aid to every poor man is far beyond the reach and power of every man ... Care of the poor is incumbent on society as a whole.
  • Flattery begets harmony; but only by means of the vile offense of slavishness or treachery. None are more readily taken with flattery than the proud, who wish to be first, but are not.
    • Appendix, 21
  • In so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavor of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.
    • Appendix, 32

Part V: Of the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom[edit]

Full text online
An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.
The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary.
The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.
How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
  • An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof.
    • Prop. 3,
    • Variant translation: Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.
      • As translated in From Death-camp to Existentialism : A Psychiatrist's Path to a New Therapy (1959) by Viktor Emil Frankl, p. 74
  • The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary.
    • Prop. 6
  • Those are most desirous of honor and glory who cry out the loudest of its abuse and the vanity of the world.
    • Prop. 10: note
  • He who clearly and distinctly understands himself and his emotions loves God, and so much the more in proportion as he more understands himself and his emotions.
    • Prop. 15
  • God is without passions, neither is he affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain. ... Strictly speaking, God does not love or hate anyone.
    • Prop. 17 and corollary
  • The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but there remains of it something which is eternal.
    • Prop. 23
  • It is not possible that we should remember that we existed before our body, for our body can bear no trace of such existence, neither can eternity be defined in terms of time, or have any relation to time. But, notwithstanding, we feel and know that we are eternal. For the mind feels those things that it conceives by understanding, no less than those things that it remembers.
    • Prop. 23, note
  • The more we understand particular things, the more do we understand God.
    • Prop. 24
  • Whatsoever the mind understands under the form of eternity, it does not understand by virtue of conceiving the present actual existence of the body, but by virtue of conceiving the essence of the body under the form of eternity.
    • Prop 29
  • He, who possesses a body capable of the greatest number of activities, possesses a mind whereof the greatest part is eternal.
    • Prop. 39
  • Most people seem to believe that they are free, in so far as they may obey their lusts, and that they cede their rights, in so far as they are bound to live according to the commandments of the divine law. They therefore believe that piety, religion, and, generally, all things attributable to firmness of mind, are burdens, which, after death, they hope to lay aside, and to receive the reward for their bondage, that is, for their piety and religion ; it is not only by this hope, but also, and chiefly, by the fear of being horribly punished after death, that they are induced to live according to the divine commandments, so far as their feeble and infirm spirit will carry them.
    If men had not this hope and this fear, but believed that the mind perishes with the body, and that no hope of prolonged life remains for the wretches who are broken down with the burden of piety, they would return to their own inclinations, controlling everything in accordance with their lusts, and desiring to obey fortune rather than themselves. Such a course appears to me not less absurd than if a man, because he does not believe that he can by wholesome food sustain his body for ever, should wish to cram himself with poisons and deadly fare ; or if, because he sees that the mind is not eternal or immortal, he should prefer to be out of his mind altogether, and to live without the use of reason; these ideas are so absurd as to be scarcely worth refuting.
    • Prop. 41, note
  • Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself; neither do we rejoice therein, because we control our lusts, but, contrariwise, because we rejoice therein, we are able to control our lusts.
    • Prop. 42
  • Since human power in controlling the emotions consists solely in the understanding, it follows that no one rejoices in blessedness, because he has controlled his lusts, but, contrariwise, his power of controlling his lusts arises from this blessedness itself.
    • Prop. 42, proof
  • The ignorant man is not only distracted in various ways by external causes without ever gaining the true acquiescence of his spirit, but moreover lives, as it were unwitting of himself, and of God, and of things, and as soon as he ceases to suffer, ceases also to be.
    Whereas the wise man, in so far as he is regarded as such, is scarcely at all disturbed in spirit, but, being conscious of himself, and of God, and of things, by a certain eternal necessity, never ceases to be, but always possesses true acquiescence of his spirit.
    If the way which I have pointed out as leading to this result seems exceedingly hard, it may nevertheless be discovered. Needs must it be hard, since it is so seldom found. How would it be possible, if salvation were ready to our hand, and could without great labour be found, that it should be by almost all men neglected? But all things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.
    • Prop. 42, note

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