Part 4 out of 5
its time for existence is separated from the present by a longer
interval ; so too by the remembrance of what we conceive to have
not long passed away we are affected more intensely, than if we
conceive that it has long passed away.
Proof.-In so far as we conceive a thing as close at hand, or
not long passed away, we conceive that which excludes the
presence of the object less, than if its period of future
existence were more distant from the present, or if it had long
passed away (this is obvious) therefore (by the foregoing Prop.)
we are, so far, more intensely affected towards it. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-From the remarks made in Def. vi. of this part it
follows that, if objects are separated from the present by a
longer period than we can define in conception, though their
dates of occurrence be widely separated one from the other, they
all affect us equally faintly.
PROP. XI. An emotion towards that which we conceive as necessary
is, when other conditions are equal, more intense than an emotion
towards that which possible, or contingent, or non-necessary.
Proof.-In so far as we conceive a thing to be necessary, we,
to that extent, affirm its existence ; on the other hand we deny
a thing's existence, in so far as we conceive it not to be
necessary I. xxxiii. note. i.) ; wherefore (IV. ix.) an emotion
towards that which is necessary is, other conditions being equal,
more intense than an emotion that which is non-necessary. Q.E.D.
PROP. XII. An emotion towards a thing, which we know not to
exist at the present time, and which we conceive as possible, is
more intense, other conditions being equal, than an emotion
towards a thing contingent.
Proof.-In so far as we conceive a thing as contingent, we are
affected by the conception of some further thing, which would
assert the existence of the former (IV. Def. iii.) ; but, on the
other hand, we (by hypothesis) conceive certain things, which
exclude its present existence. But, in so far as we conceive a
thing to be possible in the future, we there by conceive things
which assert its existence (IV. iv.), that is (III. xviii.),
things which promote hope or fear : wherefore an emotion towards
something possible is more vehement. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-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.
Proof.-Emotion towards a thing, which we conceive to exist,
is more intense than it would be, if we conceived the thing as
future (IV. ix. Coroll.), and is much more vehement, than if the
future time be conceived as far distant from the present (IV.
x.). Therefore an emotion towards a thing, whose period of
existence we conceive to be far distant from the present, is far
fainter, than if we conceive the thing as present ; it is,
nevertheless, more intense, than if we conceived the thing as
contingent, wherefore an emotion towards a thing, which we regard
as contingent, will be far fainter, than if we conceived the
thing to be present with us. Q.E.D.
PROP. XIII. Emotion towards a thing contingent, which we know
not to exist in the present, is, other conditions being equal,
fainter than an emotion towards a thing past.
Proof.-In so far as we conceive a thing as contingent, we are
not affected by the image of any other thing, which asserts the
existence of the said thing (IV. Def. iii.), but, on the other
hand (by hypothesis), we conceive certain things excluding its
present existence. But, in so far as we conceive it in relation
to time past, we are assumed to conceive something, which recalls
the thing to memory, or excites the image thereof (II. xviii. and
note), which is so far the same as regarding it as present (II.
xvii. Coroll.). Therefore (IV. ix.) an emotion towards a thing
contingent, which we know does not exist in the present, is
fainter, other conditions being equal, than an emotion towards a
thing past. Q.E.D.
PROP. XIV. 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.
Proof.-An emotion is an idea, whereby the mind affirms of its
body a greater or less force of existing than before (by the
general Definition of the Emotions) ; therefore it has no
positive quality, which can be destroyed by the presence of what
is true ; consequently the knowledge of good and evil cannot, by
virtue of being true, restrain any emotion. But, in so far as
such knowledge is an emotion (IV. viii.) if it have more strength
for restraining emotion, it will to that extent be able to
restrain the given emotion. Q.E.D.
PROP. XV. 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.
Proof.-From the true knowledge of good and evil, in so far as
it is an emotion, necessarily arises desire (Def. of the
Emotions, i.), the strength of which is proportioned to the
strength of the emotion wherefrom it arises (III. xxxvii.). But,
inasmuch as this desire arises (by hypothesis) from the fact of
our truly understanding anything, it follows that it is also
present with us, in so far as we are active (III. i.), and must
therefore be understood through our essence only (III. Def. ii.)
; consequently (III. vii.) its force and increase can be defined
solely by human power. Again, 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
(IV. iii.) ; 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. XVI. 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.
Proof.-Emotion towards a thing, which we conceive as future,
is fainter than emotion towards a thing that is present (IV. ix.
Coroll.). But desire, which arises from the true knowledge of
good and evil, though it be concerned with things which are good
at the moment, can be quenched or controlled by any headstrong
desire (by the last Prop., the proof whereof is of universal
application). Wherefore desire arising from such knowledge, when
concerned with the future, can be more easily controlled or
quenched, &c. Q.E.D.
PROP. XVII. 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.
Proof.-This Prop. is proved in the same way as the last Prop.
from IV. xii. Coroll.
Note.-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 :12-
"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. XVIII. Desire arising from pleasure is, other conditions
being equal, stronger than desire arising from pain.
Proof.-Desire is the essence of a man (Def. of the Emotions,
i.), that is, the endeavour whereby a man endeavours to persist
in his own being. Wherefore desire arising from pleasure is, by
the fact of pleasure being felt, increased or helped ; on the
contrary, desire arising from pain is, by the fact of pain being
felt, diminished or hindered ; hence the force of desire arising
from pleasure must be defined by human power together with the
power of an external cause, whereas desire arising from pain must
be defined by human power only. Thus the former is the stronger
of the two. Q.E.D.
Note.-In these few remarks 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
in detailed geometrical fashion, it is advisable to sketch them
briefly in advance, so that everyone may more readily grasp my
As reason makes no demands contrary to nature, it demands,
that every man should love himself, should seek that which is
useful to him-I mean, that which is really useful to him, should
desire everything which really brings man to greater perfection,
and should, each for himself, endeavour as far as he can to
preserve his own being. This is as necessarily true, as that a
whole is greater than its part. (Cf. III. iv.)
Again, as virtue is nothing else but action in accordance
with the laws of one's own nature (IV. Def. viii.), and as no one
endeavours to preserve his own being, except in accordance with
the laws of his own nature, it follows, first, that the
foundation of virtue is the endeavour to preserve one's own
being, and that 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, for the sake of which we should desire it ; thirdly and
lastly, that suicides are weak-minded, and are overcome by
external causes repugnant to their nature. Further, it follows
from Postulate iv., Part II., that 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. Again, if we consider our mind, we see that 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, and are, therefore, to
be desired. Of such none can be discerned more excellent, than
those which are in entire agreement with our nature. For if, for
example, two individuals of entirely the same nature are united,
they form a combination twice as powerful as either of them
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, endeavour 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 honourable in their
Such are the dictates of reason, which I purposed thus
briefly to indicate, before beginning to prove them in greater
detail. 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.
Therefore, after briefly showing that the contrary is the
case, I go on to prove it by the same method, as that whereby I
have hitherto proceeded.
PROP. XIX. Every man, by the laws of his nature, necessarily
desires or shrinks from that which he deems to be good or bad.
Proof.-The knowledge of good and evil is (IV. viii.) the
emotion of pleasure or pain, in so far as we are conscious
thereof ; therefore, every man necessarily desires what he thinks
good, and shrinks from what he thinks bad. Now this appetite is
nothing else but man's nature or essence (Cf. the Definition of
Appetite, III. ix. note, and Def. of the Emotions, i.).
Therefore, every man, solely by the laws of his nature, desires
the one, and shrinks from the other, &c. Q.E.D.
PROP. XX. The more every man endeavours, 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.
Proof.-Virtue is human power, which is defined solely by
man's essence (IV. Def. viii.), that is, which is defined solely
by the endeavour made by man to persist in his own being.
Wherefore, the more a man endeavours, and is able to preserve his
own being, the more is he endowed with virtue, and, consequently
(III.iv. and vi.), in so far as a man neglects to preserve his
own being, he is wanting in power. Q.E.D.
Note.-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 : which
latter may be done in a variety of ways. 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 (III. x.) But that a man, from the
necessity of his own nature, should endeavour to become
non-existent, is as impossible as that something should be made
out of nothing, as everyone will see for himself, after a little
PROP. XXI. 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.
Proof.-The proof of this proposition, or rather the
proposition itself, is self-evident, and is also plain from the
definition of desire. For the desire of living, acting, &c.,
blessedly or rightly, is (Def. of the Emotions, i.) the essence
of man-that is (III. vii.), the endeavour made by everyone to
preserve his own being. Therefore, no one can desire, &c.
PROP. XXII. No virtue can be conceived as prior to this
endeavour to preserve one's own being.
Proof.-The effort for self-preservation is the essence of a
thing (III. vii.) ; therefore, if any virtue could be conceived
as prior thereto, the essence of a thing would have to be
conceived as prior to itself, which is obviously absurd.
Therefore no virtue, &c. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-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. XXIII. 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.
Proof.-In so far as a man is determined to an action through
having inadequate ideas, he is passive (III. i.), that is (III.
Deff. i., and iii.), he does something, which cannot be perceived
solely through his essence, that is (by IV. Def. viii.), 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. XXIV. 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
Proof.-To act absolutely in obedience to virtue is nothing
else but to act according to the laws of one's own nature. But
we only act, in so far as we understand (III. iii.) : therefore
to act in obedience to virtue is in us nothing else but to act,
to live, or to preserve one's being in obedience to reason, and
that on the basis of seeking what is useful for us (IV. xxii.
PROP. XXV. No one wishes to preserve his being for the sake of
Proof.-The endeavour, wherewith everything endeavours to
persist in its being, is defined solely by the essence of the
thing itself (III. vii.) ; from this alone, and not from the
essence of anything else, it necessarily follows (III. vi.) that
everyone endeavours to preserve his being. Moreover, this
proposition is plain from IV. xxii. Coroll., for if a man should
endeavour to preserve his being for the sake of anything else,
the last-named thing would obviously be the basis of virtue,
which, by the foregoing corollary, is absurd. Therefore no one,
PROP. XXVI. Whatsoever we endeavour 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.
Proof.-The effort for self-preservation is nothing else but
the essence of the thing in question (III. vii.), which, in so
far as it exists such as it is, is conceived to have force for
continuing in existence (III. vi.) and doing such things as
necessarily follow from its given nature (see the Def. of
Appetite, III. ix. note). But the essence of reason is nought
else but our mind, in so far as it clearly and distinctly
understands (see the definition in II. xl. note. ii.) ; therefore
(II. xl.) whatsoever we endeavour in obedience to reason is
nothing else but to understand. Again, since this effort of the
mind wherewith the mind endeavours, in so far as it reasons, to
preserve its own being is nothing else but understanding ; this
effort at understanding is (IV. xxii. Coroll.) the first and
single basis of virtue, nor shall we endeavour to understand
things for the sake of any ulterior object (IV. xxv.) ; on the
other hand, the mind, in so far as it reasons, will not be able
to conceive any good for itself, save such things as are
conducive to understanding.
PROP. XXVII. We know nothing to be certainly good or evil, save
such things as really conduce to understanding, or such as are
able to hinder us from understanding.
Proof.-The mind, in so far as it reasons, desires nothing
beyond understanding, and judges nothing to be useful to itself,
save such things as conduce to understanding (by the foregoing
Prop.). But the mind (II. xli., xliii. and note) cannot possess
certainty concerning anything, except in so far as it has
adequate ideas, or (what by II. xl. note, is the same thing) in
so far as it reasons. Therefore we know nothing to be good or
evil save such things as really conduce, &c. Q.E.D.
PROP. XXVIII. The mind's highest good is the knowledge of God,
and the mind's highest virtue is to know God.
Proof.-The mind is not capable of understanding anything
higher than God, that is (I. Def. vi.), than a Being absolutely
infinite, and without which (I. xv.) nothing can either be or be
conceived ; therefore (IV. xxvi. and xxvii.), the mind's highest
utility or (IV. Def. i.) 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. Now, as we
have already shown, the highest that the mind can understand is
God ; therefore the highest virtue of the mind is to understand
or to know God. Q.E.D.
PROP. XXIX. 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.
Proof.-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 (I. xxviii.), whose nature (II.
vi.) must be understood through the same nature as that, through
which human nature is conceived. Therefore our power of
activity, however it be conceived, can be determined and
consequently helped or hindered by the power of any other
individual thing, which has something in common with us, but not
by the power of anything, of which the nature is entirely
different from our own ; and since we call good or evil that
which is the cause of pleasure or pain (IV. viii.), that is (III.
xi. note), which increases or diminishes, helps or hinders, our
power of activity ; therefore, that which is entirely different
from our nature can neither be to us good nor bad. Q.E.D.
PROP. XXX. 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.
Proof.-We call a thing bad when it is the cause of pain (IV.
viii.), that is (by the Def., which see in III. xi. note), when
it diminishes or checks our power of action. Therefore, if
anything were bad for us through that quality which it has in
common with our nature, it would be able itself to diminish or
check that which it has in common with our nature, which (III.
iv.) is absurd. Wherefore nothing can be bad for us through that
quality which it has in common with us, but, on the other hand,
in so far as it is bad for us, that is (as we have just shown),
in so far as it can diminish or check our power of action, it is
contrary to our nature.
PROP. XXXI. In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature,
it is necessarily good.
Proof.-In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature, it
cannot be bad for it. It will therefore necessarily be either
good or indifferent. If it be assumed that it be neither good
nor bad, nothing will follow from its nature (IV. Def. i.), which
tends to the preservation of our nature, that is (by the
hypothesis), which tends to the preservation of the thing itself
; but this (III. vi.) is absurd ; therefore, in so far as a thing
is in harmony with our nature, it is necessarily good. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-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 versā, 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 (IV. xxix.) ; 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. Nothing, therefore, can
be good, except in so far as it is in harmony with our nature ;
and hence a thing is useful, in proportion as it is in harmony
with our nature, and vice versā. Q.E.D.
PROP. XXXII. In so far as men are a prey to passion, they
cannot, in that respect, be said to be naturally in harmony.
Proof.-Things, which are said to be in harmony naturally, are
understood to agree in power (III. vii.), not in want of power or
negation, and consequently not in passion (III. iii. note) ;
wherefore men, in so far as they are a prey to their passions,
cannot be said to be naturally in harmony. Q.E.D.
Note.-This is also self-evident ; for, if we say that white
and black only agree in the fact that neither is red, we
absolutely affirm that the do not agree in any respect. So, if
we say that a man and a stone only agree in the fact that both
are finite-wanting in power, not existing by the necessity of
their own nature, or, lastly, indefinitely surpassed by the power
of external causes-we should certainly affirm that a man and a
stone are in no respect alike ; therefore, things which agree
only in negation, or in qualities which neither possess, really
agree in no respect.
PROP. XXXIII. 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
Proof.-The nature or essence of the emotions cannot be
explained solely through our essence or nature (III. Deff. i.,
ii.), but it must be defined by
the power, that is (III. vii.), by the nature of external causes
comparison with our own ; hence it follows, that there are as
many kinds of
each emotion as there are external objects whereby we are
(III. lvi.), and that men may be differently affected by one and
object (III. li.), and to this extent differ in nature ; lastly,
that one and
the same man may be differently affected towards the same object,
therefore be variable and inconstant. Q.E.D.
PROP. XXXIV. In so far as men are assailed by emotions which are
passions, they can be contrary one to another.
Proof.-A man, for instance Peter, can be the cause of Paul's
feeling pain, because he (Peter) possesses something similar to
that which Paul hates (III. xvi.), or because Peter has sole
possession of a thing which Paul also loves (III. xxxii. and
note), or for other causes (of which the chief are enumerated in
III. lv. note) ; it may therefore happen that Paul should hate
Peter (Def. of Emotions, vii.), consequently it may easily happen
also, that Peter should hate Paul in return, and that each should
endeavour to do the other an injury, (III. xxxix.), that is (IV.
xxx.), that they should be contrary one to another. But the
emotion of pain is always a passion or passive state (III. lix.)
; hence men, in so far as they are assailed by emotions which are
passions, can be contrary one to another. Q.E.D.
Note.-I said that Paul may hate Peter, because he conceives
that Peter possesses something which he (Paul) also loves ; from
this it seems, at first sight, to follow, that these two men,
through both loving the same thing, and, consequently, through
agreement of their respective natures, stand in one another's way
; if this were so, Props. xxx. and xxxi. of this part would be
untrue. But if we give the matter our unbiased attention, we
shall see that the discrepancy vanishes. For the two men are not
in one another's way in virtue of the agreement of their natures,
that is, through both loving the same thing, but in virtue of one
differing from the other. For, in so far as each loves the same
thing, the love of each is fostered thereby (III. xxxi.), that is
(Def. of the Emotions, vi.) the pleasure of each is fostered
thereby. Wherefore it is far from being the case, that they are
at variance through both loving the same thing, and through the
agreement in their natures. The cause for their opposition lies,
as I have said, solely in the fact that they are assumed to
differ. For we assume that Peter has the idea of the loved
object as already in his possession, while Paul has the idea of
the loved object as lost. Hence the one man will be affected
with pleasure, the other will be affected with pain, and thus
they will be at variance one with another. We can easily show in
like manner, that all other causes of hatred depend solely on
differences, and not on the agreement between men's natures.
PROP. XXXV. In so far only as men live in obedience to reason,
do they always necessarily agree in nature.
Proof.-In so far as men are assailed by emotions that are
passions, they can be different in nature (IV. xxxiii.), and at
variance one with another. But men are only said to be active,
in so far as they act in obedience to reason (III. iii.) ;
therefore, what so ever follows from human nature in so far as it
is defined by reason must (III. Def. ii.) be understood solely
through human nature as its proximate cause. But, since every
man by the laws of his nature desires that which he deems good,
and endeavours to remove that which he deems bad (IV. xix.) ; and
further, since that which we, in accordance with reason, deem
good or bad, necessarily is good or bad (II. xli.) ; it follows
that men, in so far as they live in obedience to reason,
necessarily do only such things as are necessarily good for human
nature, and consequently for each individual man (IV. xxxi.
Coroll.) ; in other words, such things as are in harmony with
each man's nature. Therefore, men in so far as they live in
obedience to reason, necessarily live always in harmony one with
Corollary I.-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 (IV. xxxi. Coroll.) ; that is, obviously, man.
But man acts absolutely according to the laws of his nature, when
he lives in obedience to reason (III. Def. ii.), and to this
extent only is always necessarily in harmony with the nature of
another man (by the last Prop.) ; wherefore among individual
things nothing is more useful to man, than a man who lives in
obedience to reason. Q.E.D.
Corollary II.-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 endeavours to preserve himself,
the more is he endowed with virtue (IV. xx.), or, what is the
same thing (IV. Def. viii.), 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. But men are most in natural harmony, when
they live in obedience to reason (by the last Prop.) ; therefore
(by the foregoing Coroll.) men will be most useful one to
another, when each seeks most that which is useful to him.
Note.-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 : not
to say how much more excellent and worthy of our knowledge it is,
to study the actions of men than the actions of beasts. But I
will treat of this more at length elsewhere.
PROP. XXXVI. The highest good of those who follow virtue is
common to all, and therefore all can equally rejoice therein.
Proof.-To act virtuously is to act in obedience with reason
(IV. xxiv.), and whatsoever we endeavour to do in obedience to
reason is to understand (IV. xxvi.) ; therefore (IV. xxviii.) the
highest good for those who follow after virtue is to know God ;
that is (II. xlvii. and note) a good which is common to all and
can be possessed. by all men equally, in so far as they are of
the same nature. Q.E.D.
Note.-Someone may ask how it would be, if the highest good of
those who follow after virtue were not common to all? Would it
not then follow, as above (IV. xxxiv.), that men living in
obedience to reason, that is (IV. xxxv.), men in so far as they
agree in nature, would be at variance one with another? To such
an inquiry, I make answer, that it follows not accidentally but
from the very nature of reason, that main's highest good is
common to all, inasmuch as it is deduced from the very essence of
man, in so far as defined by reason ; and that a man could
neither be, nor be conceived without the power of taking pleasure
in this highest good. For it belongs to the essence of the human
mind (II. xlvii.), to have an adequate knowledge of the eternal
and infinite essence of God.
PROP. XXXVII. The good which every man, who follows after
virtue, desires for himself he will also desire for other men,
and so much the more, in proportion as he has a greater knowledge
Proof.-Men, in so far as they live in obedience to reason,
are most useful to their fellow men (IV. xxxv ; Coroll. i.) ;
therefore (IV. xix.), we shall in obedience to reason necessarily
endeavour to bring about that men should live in obedience to
reason. But the good which every man, in so far as he is guided
by reason, or, in other words, follows after virtue, desires for
himself, is to understand (IV. xxvi.) ; wherefore the good, which
each follower of virtue seeks for himself, he will desire also
for others. Again, desire, in so far as it is referred to the
mind, is the very essence of the mind (Def. of the Emotions, i.)
; now the essence of the mind consists in knowledge (II. xi.),
which involves the knowledge of God (II. xlvii.), and without it
(I. xv.), can neither be, nor be conceived ; therefore, in
proportion as the mind's essence involves a greater knowledge of
God, so also will be greater the desire of the follower of
virtue, that other men should possess that which he seeks as good
for himself. Q.E.D.
Another Proof.-The good, which a man desires for himself and
loves, he will love more constantly, if he sees that others love
it also (III. xxxi.) ; he will therefore endeavour that others
should love it also ; and as the good in question is common to
all, and therefore all can rejoice therein, he will endeavour,
for the same reason, to bring about that all should rejoice
therein, and this he will do the more (III. xxxvii.), in
proportion as his own enjoyment of the good is greater.
Note I.-He who, guided by emotion only, endeavours to cause
others to love what he loves himself, and to make the rest of the
world live according to his own fancy, acts solely by impulse,
and is, therefore, hateful, especially, to those who take delight
in something different, and accordingly study and, by similar
impulse, endeavour, to make men live in accordance with what
pleases themselves. Again, as the highest good sought by men
under the guidance of emotion is often such, that it can only be
possessed by a single individual, it follows that those who love
it are not consistent in their intentions, but, while they
delight to sing its praises, fear to be believed. But he, who
endeavours to lead men by reason, does not act by impulse but
courteously and kindly, and his intention is always consistent.
Again, whatsoever we desire and do, whereof we are the cause in
so far as we possess the idea of God, or know God, I set down to
Religion. The desire of well-doing, which is engendered by a
life according to reason, I call piety. Further, the desire,
whereby a man living according to reason is bound to associate
others with himself in friendship, I call honour13 ; by
honourable I mean that which is praised by men living according
to reason, and by base I mean that which is repugnant to the
gaining of friendship. I have also shown in addition what are
the foundations of a state ; and the difference between true
virtue and infirmity may be readily gathered from what I have
said ; namely, that true virtue is nothing else but living in
accordance with reason ; while infirmity is nothing else but
man's allowing himself to be led by things which are external to
himself, and to be by them determined to act in a manner demanded
by the general disposition of things rather than by his own
nature considered solely in itself.
Such are the matters which I engaged to prove in Prop. xviii.
of this Part, whereby it is plain that the law against the
slaughtering of animals is founded rather on vain superstition
and womanish pity than on sound reason. The rational quest of
what is useful to us further teaches us the necessity of
associating ourselves with our fellow men, but not with beasts,
or things, whose nature is different from our own ; we have the
same rights in respect to them as they have in respect to us.
Nay, as everyone's right is defined by his virtue, or power, men
have far greater rights over beasts than beasts have over men.
Still I do not deny that beasts feel : what I deny is, that we
may not consult our own advantage and use them as we please,
treating them in the way which best suits us ; for their nature
is not like ours, and their emotions are naturally different from
human emotions (III. lvii. note). It remains for me to explain
what I mean by just and unjust, sin and merit. On these points
see the following note.
Note II.-In the Appendix to Part I. I undertook to explain
praise and blame, merit and sin, justice and injustice.
Concerning praise and blame I have spoken in III. xxix. note
: the time has now come to treat of the remaining terms. But I
must first say a few words concerning man in the state of nature
and in society.
Every man exists by sovereign natural right, and,
consequently, by sovereign natural right performs those actions
which follow from the necessity of his own nature ; therefore by
sovereign natural right every man judges what is good and what is
bad, takes care of his own advantage according to his own
disposition (IV. xix. and IV. xx.), avenges the wrongs done to
him (III. xl. Coroll. ii.), and endeavours to preserve that which
he loves and to destroy that which he hates (III. xxviii.). Now,
if men lived under the guidance of reason, everyone would remain
in possession of this his right, without any injury being done to
his neighbour (IV. xxxv. Coroll. i.). But seeing that they are a
prey to their emotions, which far surpass human power or virtue
(IV. vi.), they are often drawn in different directions, and
being at variance one with another (IV. xxxiii. xxxiv.), stand in
need of mutual help (IV. xxxv. note). Wherefore, in order that
men may live together in harmony, and may aid one another, it is
necessary that they should forego their natural right, and, for
the sake of security, refrain from all actions which can injure
their fellow-men. The way in which this end can be obtained, so
that men who are necessarily a prey to their emotions (IV. iv.
Coroll.), inconstant, and diverse, should be able to render each
other mutually secure, and feel mutual trust, is evident from IV.
vii. and III. xxxix. It is there shown, that an emotion can only
be restrained by an emotion stronger than, and contrary to
itself, and that men avoid inflicting injury through fear of
incurring a greater injury themselves.
On this law society can be established, so long as it keeps
in its own hand the right, possessed by everyone, of avenging
injury, and pronouncing on good and evil ; and provided it also
possesses the power to lay down a general rule of conduct, and to
pass laws sanctioned, not by reason, which is powerless in
restraining emotion, but by threats (IV. xvii. note). Such a
society established with laws and the power of preserving itself
is called a State, while those who live under its protection are
called citizens. We may readily understand that there is in the
state of nature nothing, which by universal consent is pronounced
good or bad ; for in the state of nature everyone thinks solely
of his own advantage, and according to his disposition, with
reference only to his individual advantage, decides what is good
or bad, being bound by no law to anyone besides himself.
In the state of nature, therefore, sin is inconceivable ; it
can only exist in a state, where good and evil are pronounced on
by common consent, and where everyone is bound to obey the State
authority. Sin, then, is nothing else but disobedience, which is
therefore punished by the right of the State only. Obedience, on
the other hand, is set down as merit, inasmuch as a man is
thought worthy of merit, if he takes delight in the advantages
which a State provides.
Again, in the state of nature, no one is by common consent
master of anything, nor is there anything in nature, which can be
said to belong to one man rather than another : all things are
common to all. Hence, in the state of nature, we can conceive no
wish to render to every man his own, or to deprive a man of that
which belongs to him ; in other words, there is nothing in the
state of nature answering to justice and injustice. Such ideas
are only possible in a social state, when it is decreed by common
consent what belongs to one man and what to another.
From all these considerations it is evident, that justice and
injustice, sin and merit, are extrinsic ideas, and not attributes
which display the nature of the mind. But I have said enough.
PROP. XXXVIII. Whatsoever disposes the human body, so as to
render it capable of being affected in an increased number of
ways, or of affecting external bodies in an increased number of
ways, is useful to man ; and is so, in proportion as the body is
thereby rendered more capable of being affected or affecting
other bodies in an increased number of ways ; contrariwise,
whatsoever renders the body less capable in this respect is
hurtful to man.
Proof.-Whatsoever thus increases the capabilities of the body
increases also the mind's capability of perception (II. xiv.) ;
therefore, whatsoever thus disposes the body and thus renders it
capable, is necessarily good or useful (IV. xxvi. xxvii.) ; and
is so in proportion to the extent to which it can render the body
capable ; contrariwise (II. xiv., IV. xxvi. xxvii.), it is
hurtful, if it renders the body in this respect less capable.
PROP. XXXIX. Whatsoever brings about the preservation of the
proportion of motion and rest, which the parts of the human body
mutually possess, is good ; contrariwise, whatsoever causes a
change in such proportion is bad.
Proof.-The human body needs many other bodies for its
preservation (II. Post. iv.). But that which constitutes the
specific reality (forma) of a human body is, that its parts
communicate their several motions one to another in a certain
fixed proportion (Def. before Lemma iv. after II. xiii.).
Therefore, whatsoever brings about the preservation of the
proportion between motion and rest, which the parts of the human
body mutually possess, preserves the specific reality of the
human body, and consequently renders the human body capable of
being affected in many ways and of affecting external bodies in
many ways ; consequently it is good (by the last Prop.). Again,
whatsoever brings about a change in the aforesaid proportion
causes the human body to assume another specific character, in
other words (see Preface to this Part towards the end, though the
point is indeed self-evident), to be destroyed, and consequently
totally incapable of being affected in an increased numbers of
ways ; therefore it is bad. Q.E.D.
Note.-The extent to which such causes can injure or be of
service to the mind will be explained in the Fifth Part. But I
would here remark that I consider that a body undergoes death,
when the proportion of motion and rest which obtained mutually
among its several parts is changed. For I do not venture to deny
that a human body, while keeping the circulation of the blood and
other properties, wherein the life of a body is thought to
consist, may none the less be changed into another nature totally
different from its own. There is no reason, which compels me to
maintain that a body does not die, unless it becomes a corpse ;
nay, experience would seem to point to the opposite conclusion.
It sometimes happens, that a man undergoes such changes, that I
should hardly call him the same. As I have heard tell of a
certain Spanish poet, who had been seized with sickness, and
though he recovered therefrom yet remained so oblivious of his
past life, that he would not believe the plays and tragedies he
had written to be his own : indeed, he might have been taken for
a grown-up child, if he had also forgotten his native tongue. If
this instance seems incredible, what shall we say of infants? A
man of ripe age deems their nature so unlike his own, that he can
only be persuaded that he too has been an infant by the analogy
of other men. However, I prefer to leave such questions
undiscussed, lest I should give ground to the superstitious for
raising new issues.
PROP. XL. Whatsoever conduces to man's social life, or causes
men to live together in harmony, is useful, whereas whatsoever
brings discord into a State is bad.
Proof.-For whatsoever causes men to live together in harmony
also causes them to live according to reason (IV. xxxv.), and is
therefore (IV. xxvi. xxvii.) good, and (for the same reason)
whatsoever brings about discord is bad. Q.E.D.
PROP. XLI. Pleasure in itself is not bad but good :
contrariwise, pain in itself is bad.
Proof.-Pleasure (III. xi. and note) is emotion, whereby the
body's power of activity is increased or helped ; pain is
emotion, whereby the body's power of activity is diminished or
checked ; therefore (IV. xxxviii.) pleasure in itself is good,
PROP. XLII. Mirth cannot be excessive, but is always good ;
contrariwise, Melancholy is always bad.
Proof.-Mirth (see its Def. in III. xi. note) is pleasure,
which, in so far as it is referred to the body, consists in all
parts of the body being affected equally : that is (III. xi.),
the body's power of activity is increased or aided in such a
manner, that the several parts maintain their former proportion
of motion and rest ; therefore Mirth is always good (IV. xxxix.),
and cannot be excessive. But Melancholy (see its Def. in the
same note to III. xi.) is pain, which, in so far as it is
referred to the body, consists in the absolute decrease or
hindrance of the body's power of activity ; therefore (IV.
xxxviii.) it is always bad. Q.E.D.
PROP. XLIII. Stimulation may be excessive and bad ; on the other
hand, grief may be good, in so far as stimulation or pleasure is
Proof.-Localized pleasure or stimulation (titillatio) is
pleasure, which, in so far as it is referred to the body,
consists in one or some of its parts being affected more than the
rest (see its Definition, III. xi. note) ; the power of this
emotion may be sufficient to overcome other actions of the body
(IV. vi.), and may remain obstinately fixed therein, thus
rendering it incapable of being affected in a variety of other
ways : therefore (IV. xxxviii.) it may be bad. Again, grief,
which is pain, cannot as such be good (IV. xli.). But, as its
force and increase is defined by the power of an external cause
compared with our own (IV. v.), we can conceive infinite degrees
and modes of strength in this emotion (IV. iii.) ; we can,
therefore, conceive it as capable of restraining stimulation, and
preventing its becoming excessive, and hindering the body's
capabilities ; thus, to this extent, it will be good. Q.E.D.
PROP. XLIV. Love and desire may be excessive.
Proof.-Love is pleasure, accompanied by the idea of an
external cause (Def. of Emotions, vi.) ; therefore stimulation,
accompanied by the idea of an external cause is love (III. xi.
note) ; hence love maybe excessive. Again, the strength of
desire varies in proportion to the emotion from which it arises
(III. xxxvii.). Now emotion may overcome all the rest of men's
actions (IV. vi.) ; so, therefore, can desire, which arises from
the same emotion, overcome all other desires, and become
excessive, as we showed in the last proposition concerning
Note.-Mirth, which I have stated to be good, can be conceived
more easily than it can be observed. For the emotions, whereby
we are daily assailed, are generally referred to some part of the
body which is affected more than the rest ; hence the emotions
are generally excessive, and so fix the mind in the contemplation
of one object, that it is unable to think of others ; and
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. XLV. Hatred can never be good.
Proof.-When we hate a man, we endeavour to destroy him (III.
xxxix.), that is (IV. xxxvii.), we endeavour to do something that
is bad. Therefore, &c. Q.E.D.
N.B. Here, and in what follows, I mean by hatred only hatred
Corollary I.-Envy, derision, contempt, anger, revenge, and
other emotions attributable to hatred, or arising therefrom, are
bad ; this is evident from III. xxxix. and IV. xxxvii.
Corollary II.-Whatsoever we desire from motives of hatred is
base, and in a State unjust. This also is evident from III.
xxxix., and from the definitions of baseness and injustice in IV.
Note.-Between derision (which I have in Coroll. I. stated to
be bad) and laughter I recognize a great difference. For
laughter, as also jocularity, is merely pleasure ; therefore, so
long as it be not excessive, it is in itself good (IV. xli.).
Assuredly nothing forbids man to enjoy himself, save grim and
gloomy superstition. For why is it more lawful to satiate one's
hunger and thirst than to drive away one's melancholy? I reason,
and have convinced myself as follows : No deity, nor anyone else,
save the envious, takes pleasure in my infirmity and discomfort,
nor sets down to my virtue the tears, sobs, fear, and the like,
which axe signs of infirmity of spirit ; on the contrary, the
greater the pleasure wherewith we are affected, the greater the
perfection whereto we pass ; in other words, the more must we
necessarily partake of the divine nature. Therefore, to make use
of what comes in our way, and to enjoy it as much as possible
(not to the point of satiety, for that would not be enjoyment) is
the part of a wise man. I say it is the part of a wise man to
refresh and recreate himself with moderate and pleasant food and
drink, and also with perfumes, with the soft beauty of growing
plants, with dress, with music, with many sports, with theatres,
and the like, such as every man may make use of without injury to
his neighbour. For the human body is composed of very numerous
parts, of diverse nature, which continually stand in need of
fresh and varied nourishment, so that the whole body may be
equally capable of performing all the actions, which follow from
the necessity of its own nature ; and, consequently, so that the
mind may also be equally capable of understanding many things
simultaneously. This way of life, then, agrees best with our
principles, and also with general practice ; therefore, if there
be any question of another plan, the plan we have mentioned is
the best, and in every way to be commended. There is no need for
me to set forth the matter more clearly or in more detail.
PROP. XLVI. He, who lives under the guidance of reason,
endeavours, as far as possible, to render back love, or kindness,
for other men's hatred, anger, contempt, &c., towards him.
Proof.-All emotions of hatred are bad (IV. xlv. Coroll. i.) ;
therefore he who lives under the guidance of reason will
endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid being assailed by such
emotions (IV. xix.) ; consequently, he will also endeavour to
prevent others being so assailed (IV. xxxvii.). But hatred is
increased by being reciprocated, and can be quenched by love
(III. xliii.), so that hatred may pass into love (III. xliv.) ;
therefore he who lives under the guidance of reason will
endeavour to repay hatred with love, that is, with kindness.
Note.-He who chooses to avenge wrongs with hatred is
assuredly wretched. But he, who strives to conquer hatred with
love, fights his battle in joy and confidence ; he withstands
many as easily as one, and has very little need of fortune's aid.
Those whom he vanquishes yield joyfully, not through failure, but
through increase in their powers ; all these consequences follow
so plainly from the mere definitions of love and understanding,
that I have no need to prove them in detail.
PROP. XLVII. Emotions of hope and fear cannot be in themselves
Proof.-Emotions of hope and fear cannot exist without pain.
For fear is pain (Def. of the Emotions, xiii.), and hope (Def. of
the Emotions, Explanation xii. and xiii.) cannot exist without
fear ; therefore (IV. xli.) these emotions cannot be good in
themselves, but only in so far as they can restrain excessive
pleasure (IV. xliii.). Q.E.D.
Note.-We may add, that these emotions show defective
knowledge and an absence of power in the mind ; for the same
reason confidence, despair, joy, and disappointment are signs of
a want of mental power. For although confidence and joy are
pleasurable emotions, they nevertheless imply a preceding pain,
namely, hope and fear. Wherefore the more we endeavour to be
guided by reason, the less do we depend on hope ; we endeavour to
free ourselves from fear, and, as far as we can, to dominate
fortune, directing our actions by the sure counsels of wisdom.
PROP. XLVIII. The emotions of over-esteem and disparagement are
Proof.-These emotions (see Def. of the Emotions, xxi. xxii.)
are repugnant to reason ; and are therefore (IV. xxvi. xxvii.)
PROP. XLIX. Over-esteem is apt to render its object proud.
Proof.-If we see that any one rates us too highly, for love's
sake, we are apt to become elated (III. xli.), or to be
pleasurably affected (Def. of the Emotions, xxx.) ; the good
which we hear of ourselves we readily believe (III. xxv.) ; and
therefore, for love's sake, rate ourselves too highly ; in other
words, we are apt to become proud. Q.E.D.
PROP. L. Pity, in a man who lives under the guidance of reason,
is in itself bad and useless.
Proof.-Pity (Def. of the Emotions, xviii.) is a pain, and
therefore (IV. xli.) is in itself bad. The good effect which
follows, namely, our endeavour to free the object of our pity
from misery, is an action which we desire to do solely at the
dictation of reason (IV. xxxvii.) ; only at the dictation of
reason are we able to perform any action, which we know for
certain to be good (IV. xxvii.) ; thus, in a man who lives under
the guidance of reason, pity in itself is useless and bad.
Note.-He who rightly realizes, that all things follow from
the necessity of the divine nature, and come to pass in
accordance with the eternal laws and rules of nature, will not
find anything worthy of hatred, derision, or contempt, nor will
he bestow pity on anything, but to the utmost extent of human
virtue he will endeavour to do well, as the saying is, and to
rejoice. We may add, that he, who is easily touched with
compassion, and is moved by another's sorrow or tears, often does
something which he afterwards regrets ; partly because we can
never be sure that an action caused by emotion is good, partly
because we are easily deceived by false tears. I am in this
place expressly speaking of a man living under the guidance of
reason. He who is moved to help others neither by reason nor by
compassion, is rightly styled inhuman, for (III. xxvii.) he seems
unlike a man.
PROP. LI. Approval is not repugnant to reason, but can agree
therewith and arise therefrom.
Proof.-Approval is love towards one who has done good to
another (Def. of the Emotions, xix.) ; therefore it may be
referred to the mind, in so far as the latter is active (III.
lix.), that is (III. iii.), in so far as it understands ;
therefore, it is in agreement with reason, &c. Q.E.D.
Another Proof.-He, who lives under the guidance of reason,
desires for others the good which he seeks for himself (IV.
xxxvii.) ; wherefore from seeing someone doing good to his fellow
his own endeavour to do good is aided ; in other words, he will
feel pleasure (III. xi. note) accompanied by the idea of the
benefactor. Therefore he approves of him. Q.E.D.
Note.-Indignation as we defined it (Def. of the Emotions,
xx.) is necessarily evil (IV. xlv.) ; we may, however, remark
that, when the sovereign power for the sake of preserving peace
punishes a citizen who has injured another, it should not be said
to be indignant with the criminal, for it is not incited by
hatred to ruin him, it is led by a sense of duty to punish him.
PROP. LII. Self-approval may arise from reason, and that which
arises from reason is the highest possible.
Proof.-Self-approval is pleasure arising from a man's
contemplation of himself and his own power of action (Def. of the
Emotions, xxv.). But a man's true power of action or virtue is
reason herself (III. iii.), as the said man clearly and
distinctly contemplates her (II. xl. xliii.) ; therefore
self-approval arises from reason. Again, when a man is
contemplating himself, he only perceived clearly and distinctly
or adequately, such things as follow from his power of action
(III. Def. ii.), that is (III. iii.), from his power of
understanding ; therefore in such contemplation alone does the
highest possible self-approval arise. Q.E.D.
Note.-Self-approval is in reality the highest object for
which we can hope. For (as we showed in IV. xxv.) no one
endeavours to preserve his being for the sake of any ulterior
object, and, as this approval is more and more fostered and
strengthened by praise (III. liii. Coroll.), and on the contrary
(III. lv. Coroll.) is more and more disturbed by blame, fame
becomes the most powerful of incitements to action, and life
under disgrace is almost unendurable.
PROP. LIII. Humility is not a virtue, or does not arise from
Proof.-Humility is pain arising from a man's contemplation of
his own infirmities (Def. of the Emotions, xxvi.). But, in so
far as a man knows himself by true reason, he is assumed to
understand his essence, that is, his power (III. vii.).
Wherefore, if a man in self-contemplation perceives any infirmity
in himself, it is not by virtue of his understanding himself, but
(III. lv.) by virtue of his power of activity being checked.
But, if we assume that a man perceives his own infirmity by
virtue of understanding something stronger than himself, by the
knowledge of which he determines his own power of activity, this
is the same as saying that we conceive that a man understands
himself distinctly (IV. xxvi.), because14 his power of activity
is aided. Wherefore humility, or the pain which arises from a
man's contemplation of his own infirmity, does not arise from the
contemplation or reason, and is not a virtue but a passion.
PROP. LIV. Repentance is not a virtue, or does not arise from
reason ; but he who repents of an action is doubly wretched or
Proof.-The first part of this proposition is proved like the
foregoing one. The second part is proved from the mere
definition of the emotion in question (Def. of the Emotions,
xxvii.). For the man allows himself to be overcome, first, by
evil desires ; secondly, by pain.
Note.-As men seldom live under the guidance of reason, these
two emotions, namely, Humility and Repentance, as also Hope and
Fear, bring more good than harm ; hence, as we must sin, we had
better sin in that direction. For, if all men who are a prey to
emotion were all equally proud, they would shrink from nothing,
and would fear nothing ; how then could they be joined and linked
together in bonds of union? The crowd plays the tyrant, when it
is not in fear ; hence we need not wonder that the prophets, who
consulted the good, not of a few, but of all, so strenuously
commended Humility, Repentance, and Reverence. Indeed those who
are a prey to these emotions may be led much more easily than
others to live under the guidance of reason, that is, to become
free and to enjoy the life of the blessed.
PROP. LV. Extreme pride or dejection indicates extreme ignorance
Proof.-This is evident from Def. of the Emotions, xxviii. and
PROP. LVI. Extreme pride or dejection indicates extreme
infirmity of spirit.
Proof.-The first foundation of virtue is self-preservation
(IV. xxii. Coroll.) under the guidance of reason (IV. xxiv.).
He, therefore, who is ignorant of himself, is ignorant of the
foundation of all virtues, and consequently of all virtues.
Again, to act virtuously is merely to act under the guidance of
reason (IV. xxiv.) : now he, that acts under the guidance of
reason, must necessarily know that he so acts (II. xliii.).
Therefore he who is in extreme ignorance of himself, and
consequently of all virtues, acts least in obedience to virtue ;
in other words (IV. Def. viii.), is most infirm of spirit. Thus
extreme pride or dejection indicates extreme infirmity of spirit.
Corollary.-Hence it most clearly follows, that the proud and
the dejected specially fall a prey to the emotions.
Note.-Yet dejection can be more easily corrected than pride ;
for the latter being a pleasurable emotion, and the former a
painful emotion, the pleasurable is stronger than the painful
PROP. LVII. The proud man delights in the company of flatterers
and parasites, but hates the company of the high-minded.
Proof.-Pride is pleasure arising from a man's over estimation
of himself (Def. of the Emotions, xxviii. and vi.) ; this
estimation the proud man will endeavour to foster by all the
means in his power (III. xiii. note) ; he will therefore delight
in the company of flatterers and parasites (whose character is
too well known to need definition here), and will avoid the
company of high-minded men, who value him according to his
Note.-It would be too long a task to enumerate here all the
evil results of pride, inasmuch as the proud are a prey to all
the emotions, though to none of them less than to love and pity.
I cannot, however, pass over in silence the fact, that a man may
be called proud from his underestimation of other people ; and,
therefore, pride in this sense may be defined as pleasure arising
from the false opinion, whereby a man may consider himself
superior to his fellows. The dejection, which is the opposite
quality to this sort of pride, may be defined as pain arising
from the false opinion, whereby a man may think himself inferior
to his fellows. Such being the ease, we can easily see that a
proud man is necessarily envious (III. xli. note), and only takes
pleasure in the company, who fool his weak mind to the top of his
bent, and make him insane instead of merely foolish.
Though dejection is the emotion contrary to pride, yet is the
dejected man very near akin to the proud man. For, inasmuch as
his pain arises from a comparison between his own infirmity and
other men's power or virtue, it will be removed, or, in other
words, he will feel pleasure, if his imagination be occupied in
contemplating other men's faults ; whence arises the proverb,
"The unhappy are comforted by finding fellow-sufferers."
Contrariwise, he will be the more pained in proportion as he
thinks himself inferior to others ; hence none are so prone to
envy as the dejected, they are specially keen in observing men's
actions, with a view to fault-finding rather than correction, in
order to reserve their praises for dejection, and to glory
therein, though all the time with a dejected air. These effects
follow as necessarily from the said emotion, as it follows from
the nature of a triangle, that the three angles are equal to two
right angles. I have already said that I call these and similar
emotions bad, solely in respect to what is useful to man. The
laws of nature have regard to nature's general order, whereof man
is but a part. I mention this, in passing, lest any should think
that I have wished to set forth the faults and irrational deeds
of men rather than the nature and properties of things. For, as
I said in the preface to the third Part, I regard human emotions
and their properties as on the same footing with other natural
phenomena. Assuredly human emotions indicate the power and
ingenuity, of nature, if not of human nature, quite as fully as
other things which we admire, and which we delight to
contemplate. But I pass on to note those qualities in the
emotions, which bring advantage to man, or inflict injury upon
PROP. LVIII. Honour (gloria) is not repugnant to reason, but may
Proof.-This is evident from Def. of the Emotions, xxx., and
also from the definition of an honourable man (IV. xxxvii. note.
Note-Empty honour, as it is styled, is self- approval,
fostered only by the good opinion of the populace ; when this
good opinion ceases there ceases also the self-approval, in other
words, the highest object of each man's love (IV. lii. note) ;
consequently, he whose honour 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 honour, then, is really empty, being
The points to note concerning shame may easily be inferred
from what was said on the subject of mercy and repentance. I
will only add that shame, like compassion, though not a virtue,
is yet good, in so far as it shows, that the feeler of shame is
really imbued with the desire to live honourably ; in the same
way as suffering is good, as showing that the injured part is not
mortified. Therefore, though a man who feels shame is sorrowful,
he is yet more perfect than he, who is shameless, and has no
desire to live honourably.
Such are the points which I undertook to remark upon
concerning the emotions of pleasure and pain ; as for the
desires, they are good or bad according as they spring from good
or evil emotions. But all, in so far as they are engendered in
us by emotions wherein the mind is passive, are blind (as is
evident from what was said in IV. xliv. note), and would be
useless, if men could easily, be induced to live by the guidance
of reason only, as I will now briefly, show.
PROP. LIX. To all the actions, whereto we are determined by
emotion wherein the mind is passive ; we can be determined
without emotion by reason.
Proof.-To act rationally, is nothing else (III. iii. and Def.
ii.) but to perform those actions, which follow from the
necessity, of our nature considered in itself alone. But pain is
bad, in so far as it diminishes or checks the power of action
(IV. xli.) ; wherefore we cannot by pain be determined to any
action, which we should be unable to perform under the guidance
of reason. Again, pleasure is bad only in so far as it hinders a
man's capability for action (IV. xli. xliii.) ; therefore to this
extent we could not be determined by it to any action, which we
could not perform under the guidance of reason. Lastly,
pleasure, in so far as it is good, is in harmony with reason (for
it consists in the fact that a man's capability for action is
increased or aided) ; nor is the mind passive therein, except in
so far as a man's power of action is not increased to the extent
of affording him an adequate conception of himself and his
actions (III. iii., and note).
Wherefore, if a man who is pleasurably affected be brought to
such a state of perfection, that he gains an adequate conception
of himself and his own actions, he will be equally, nay more,
capable of those actions, to which he is determined by emotion
wherein the mind is passive. But all emotions are attributable
to pleasure, to pain, or to desire (Def. of the Emotions, iv.
explanation) ; and desire (Def. of the Emotions, i.) is nothing
else but the attempt to act ; therefore, to all actions, &c.
Another Proof.-A given action is called bad, in so far as it
arises from one being affected by hatred or any evil emotion.
But no action, considered in itself alone, is either good or bad
(as we pointed out in the preface to Pt. IV.), one and the same
action being sometimes good, sometimes bad ; wherefore to the
action which is sometimes bad, or arises from some evil emotion,
we may be led by reason (IV. xix.). Q.E.D.
Note.-An example will put this point in a clearer light. The
action of striking, in so far as it is considered physically, and
in so far as we merely look to the fact that a man raises his
arm, clenches his fist, and moves his whole arm violently
downwards, is a virtue or excellence which is conceived as proper
to the structure of the human body. If, then, a man, moved by
anger or hatred, is led to clench his fist or to move his arm,
this result takes place (as we showed in Pt. II.), because one
and the same action can be associated with various mental images
of things ; therefore we may be determined to the performance of
one and the same action by confused ideas, or by clear and
distinct ideas. Hence it is evident that every desire which
springs from emotion, wherein the mind is passive, would become
useless, if men could be guided by reason. Let us now see why
desire which arises from emotion, wherein the mind is passive, is
called by us blind.
PROP. LX. Desire arising from a pleasure or pain, that is not
attributable to the whole body, but only to one or certain parts
thereof, is without utility in respect to a man as a whole.
Proof.-Let it be assumed, for instance, that A, a part of a
body, is so strengthened by some external cause, that it prevails
over the remaining parts (IV. vi.). This part will not endeavour
to do away with its own powers, in order that the other parts of
the body may perform its office ; for this it would be necessary
for it to have a force or power of doing away with its own
powers, which (III. vi.) is absurd. The said part, and,
consequently, the mind also, will endeavour to preserve its
condition. Wherefore desire arising from a pleasure of the kind
aforesaid has no utility in reference to a man as a whole. If it
be assumed, on the other hand, that the part, A, be checked so
that the remaining parts prevail, it may be proved in the same
manner that desire arising from pain has no utility in respect to
a man as a whole. Q.E.D.
Note.-As pleasure is generally (IV. xliv. note) attributed to
one part of the body, we generally desire to preserve our being
with out taking into consideration our health as a whole : to
which it may be added, that the desires which have most hold over
us (IV. ix.) take account of the present and not of the future.
PROP. LXI. Desire which springs from reason cannot be excessive.
Proof.-Desire (Def. of the Emotions, i.) considered
absolutely is the actual essence of man, in so far as it is
conceived as in any way determined to a particular activity by
some given modification of itself. Hence desire, which arises
from reason, that is (III. iii.), which is engendered in us in so
far as we act, is the actual essence or nature of man, in so far
as it is conceived as determined to such activities as are
adequately conceived through man's essence only (III. Def. ii.).
Now, if such desire could be excessive, human nature considered
in itself alone would be able to exceed itself, or would be able
to do more than it can, a manifest contradiction. Therefore,
such desire cannot be excessive. Q.E.D.
PROP. LXII. In so far as the mind conceives a thing under the
dictates of reason, it is affected equally, whether the idea be
of a thing future, past, or present.
Proof.-Whatsoever the mind conceives under the guidance of
reason, it conceives under the form of eternity or necessity (II.
xliv. Coroll. ii.), and is therefore affected with the same
certitude (II. xliii. and note). Wherefore, whether the thing be
present, past, or future, the mind conceives it under the same
necessity and is affected with the same certitude ; and whether
the idea be of something present, past, or future, it will in all
cases be equally true (II. xli.) ; that is, it will always
possess the same properties of an adequate idea (II. Def. iv.) ;
therefore, in so far as the mind conceives things under the
dictates of reason, it is affected in the same manner, whether
the idea be of a thing future, past, or present. Q.E.D.
Note.-If we could possess an adequate knowledge of the
duration of things, and could determine by reason their periods
of existence, we should contemplate things future with the same
emotion as things present ; and the mind would desire as though
it were present the good which it conceived as future ;
consequently it would necessarily neglect a lesser good in the
present for the sake of a greater good in the future, and would
in no wise desire that which is good in the present but a source
of evil in the future, as we shall presently show. However, we
can have but a very inadequate knowledge of the duration of
things (II. xxxi.) ; and the periods of their existence (II.
xliv. note.) we can only determine by imagination, which is not
so powerfully affected by the future as by the present. Hence
such true knowledge of good and evil as we possess is merely
abstract or general, and the judgment which we pass on the order
of things and the connection of causes, with a view to
determining what is good or bad for us in the present, is rather
imaginary than real. Therefore it is nothing wonderful, if the
desire arising from such knowledge of good and evil, in so far as
it looks on into the future, be more readily checked than the
desire of things which are agreeable at the present time. (Cf.
PROP. LXIII. He who is led by fear, and does good in order to
escape evil, is not led by reason.
Proof.-All the emotions which are attributable to the mind as
active, or in other words to reason, are emotions of pleasure and
desire (III. lix.) ; therefore, he who is led by fear, and does
good in order to escape evil, is not led by reason.
Note.-Superstitions persons, who know better how to rail at
vice than how to teach virtue, and who strive not to guide men by
reason, but so to restrain them that they would rather escape
evil than love virtue, have no other aim but to make others as
wretched as themselves ; wherefore it is nothing wonderful, if
they be generally troublesome and odious to their fellow-men.
Corollary.-Under desire which springs from reason, we seek
good directly, and shun evil indirectly.
Proof.-Desire which springs from reason can only spring from
a pleasurable emotion, wherein the mind is not passive (III.
lix.), in other words, from a pleasure which cannot be excessive
(IV. lxi.), and not from pain ; wherefore this desire springs
from the knowledge of good, not of evil (IV. viii.) ; hence under
the guidance of reason we seek good directly and only by
implication shun evil. Q.E.D.
Note.-This Corollary may be illustrated by the example of a
sick and a healthy man. The sick man through fear of death eats
what he naturally shrinks from, but the healthy man takes
pleasure in his food, and thus gets a better enjoyment out of
life, than if he were in fear of death, and desired directly to
avoid it. So a judge, who condemns a criminal to death, not from
hatred or anger but from love of the public well-being, is guided
solely by reason.
PROP. LXIV. The knowledge of evil is an inadequate knowledge.
Proof.-The knowledge of evil (IV. viii.) is pain, in so far
as we are conscious thereof. Now pain is the transition to a
lesser perfection (Def. of the Emotions, iii.) and therefore
cannot be understood through man's nature (III. vi., and vii.) ;
therefore it is a passive state (III. Def. ii.) which (III. iii.)
depends on inadequate ideas ; consequently the knowledge thereof
(II. xxix.), namely, the knowledge of evil, is inadequate.
Corollary.-Hence it follows that, if the human mind possessed
only adequate ideas, it would form no conception of evil.
PROP. LXV. Under the guidance of reason we should pursue the
greater of two goods and the lesser of two evils.
Proof.-A good which prevents our enjoyment of a greater good
is in reality an evil ; for we apply the terms good and bad to
things, in so far as we compare them one with another (see
preface to this Part) ; therefore, evil is in reality a lesser
good ; hence under the guidance of reason we seek or pursue only
the greater good and the lesser evil. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-We may, under the guidance of reason, pursue the
lesser evil as though it were the greater good, and we may shun
the lesser good, which would be the cause of the greater evil.
For the evil, which is here called the lesser, is really good,
and the lesser good is really evil, wherefore we may seek the
former and shun the latter. Q.E.D.
PROP. LXVI. We may, under the guidance of reason, seek a greater
good in the future in preference to a lesser good in the present,
and we may seek a lesser evil in the present in preference to a
greater evil in the future.15
Proof.-If the mind could have an adequate knowledge of things
future, it would be affected towards what is future in the same
way as towards what is present (IV. lxii.) ; wherefore, looking
merely to reason, as in this proposition we are assumed to do,
there is no difference, whether the greater good or evil be
assumed as present, or assumed as future ; hence (IV. lxv.) we
may seek a greater good in the future in preference to a lesser
good in the present, &c. Q.E.D.
Corollary.-We may, under the guidance of reason, seek a
lesser evil in the present, because it is the cause of a greater
good in the future, and we may shun a lesser good in the present,
because it is the cause of a greater evil in the future. This
Corollary is related to the foregoing Proposition as the
Corollary to IV. lxv. is related to the said IV. lxv.
Note.-If these statements be compared with what we have
pointed out concerning the strength of the emotions in this Part
up to Prop. xviii., we shall readily see the difference between a
man, who is led solely by emotion or opinion, and a man, who is
led by reason. The former, whether will or no, performs actions
whereof he is utterly ignorant ; the latter is his own master and
only performs such actions, as he knows are of primary importance
in life, and therefore chiefly desires ; wherefore I call the
former a slave, and the latter a free man, concerning whose
disposition and manner of life it will be well to make a few
PROP. LXVII. A free man thinks of death least of all things ;
and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life.
Proof.-A free man is one who lives under the guidance of
reason, who is not led by fear (IV. lxiii.), but who directly
desires that which is good (IV. lxiii. Coroll.), in other words
(IV. xxiv.), who strives to act, to live, and to preserve his
being on the basis of seeking his own true advantage ; wherefore
such an one thinks of nothing less than of death, but his wisdom
is a meditation of life. Q.E.D.
PROP. LXVIII. If men were born free, they would, so long as they
remained free, form no conception of good and evil.
Proof.-I call free him who is led solely by reason ; he,
therefore, who is born free, and who remains free, has only
adequate ideas ; therefore (IV. lxiv. Coroll.) he has no
conception of evil, or consequently (good and evil being
correlative) of good. Q.E.D.
Note.-It is evident, from IV. iv., that the hypothesis of
this Proposition is false and inconceivable, except in so far as
we look solely to the nature of man, or rather to God ; not in so
far as the latter is infinite, but only in so far as he is the
cause of man's existence.
This, and other matters which we have already proved, seem to
have been signifieded by Moses in the history of the first man.
For in that narrative no other power of God is conceived, save
that whereby he created man, that is the power wherewith he
provided solely for man's advantage ; it is stated that God
forbade man, being free, to eat of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, and that, as soon as man should have eaten of it,
he would straightway fear death rather than desire to live.
Further, it is written that when man had found a wife, who was in
entire harmony with his nature, he knew that there could be
nothing in nature which could be more useful to him ; but that
after he believed the beasts to be like himself, he straightway
began to imitate their emotions (III. xxvii.), and to lose his
freedom ; this freedom was afterwards recovered by the
patriarchs, led by the spirit of Christ ; that is, by the idea of
God, whereon alone it depends, that man may be free, and desire
for others the good which he desires for himself, as we have
shown above (IV. xxxvii.).
PROP. LXIX. The virtue of a free man is seen to be as great,
when it declines dangers, as when it overcomes them.
Proof.-Emotion can only be checked or removed by an emotion
contrary to itself, and possessing more power in restraining
emotion (IV. vii.). But blind daring and fear are emotions,
which can be conceived as equally great (IV. v. and iii.) :
hence, no less virtue or firmness is required in checking daring
than in checking fear (III. lix. note) ; in other words (Def. of
the Emotions, xl. and xli.), the free man shows as much virtue,
when he declines dangers, as when he strives to overcome them.
Corollary.-The free man is as courageous in timely retreat as
in combat ; or, a free man shows equal courage or presence of
mind, whether he elect to give battle or to retreat.
Note.-What courage (animositas) is, and what I mean thereby,
I explained in III. lix. note. By danger I mean everything,
which can give rise to any evil, such as pain, hatred, discord,
PROP. LXX. The free man, who lives among the ignorant, strives,
as far as he can, to avoid receiving favours from them.
Proof.-Everyone judges what is good according to his
disposition (III. xxxix. note) ; wherefore an ignorant man, who
has conferred a benefit on another, puts his own estimate upon
it, and, if it appears to be estimated less highly by the
receiver, will feel pain (III. xlii.). But the free man only
desires to join other men to him in friendship (IV. xxxvii.), not
repaying their benefits with others reckoned as of like value,
but guiding himself and others by the free decision of reason,
and doing only such things as he knows to be of primary
importance. Therefore the free man, lest be should become
hateful to the ignorant, or follow their desires rather than
reason, will endeavour, as far as he can, to avoid receiving
Note.-I say, as far as he can. For though men be ignorant,
yet are they men, and in cases of necessity could afford us human
aid, the most excellent of all things : therefore it is often
necessary to accept favours from them, and consequently to repay
such favours in kind ; we must, therefore, exercise caution in
declining favours, lest we should have the appearance of
despising those who bestow them, or of being, from avaricious
motives, unwilling to requite them, and so give ground for
offence by the very fact of striving to avoid it. Thus, in
declining favours, we must look to the requirements of utility
PROP. LXXI. Only free men are thoroughly grateful one to
Proof.-Only free men are thoroughly useful one to another,
and associated among themselves by the closest necessity of
friendship (IV. xxxv., and Coroll. i.), only such men endeavour,
with mutual zeal of love, to confer benefits on each other (IV.
xxxvii.), and, therefore, only they are thoroughly grateful one
to another. Q.E.D.
Note.-The goodwill, which men who are led by blind desire
have for one another, is generally a bargaining or enticement,
rather than pure goodwill. Moreover, ingratitude is not an
emotion. Yet it is base, inasmuch as it generally shows, that a
man is affected by excessive hatred, anger, pride, avarice, &c.
He who, by reason of his folly, knows not how to return benefits,
is not ungrateful, much less he who is not gained over by the
gifts of a courtesan to serve her lust, or by a thief to conceal
his thefts, or by any similar persons. Contrariwise, such an one
shows a constant mind, inasmuch as he cannot by any gifts be
corrupted, to his own or the general hurt.
PROP. LXXII. The free man never acts fraudulently, but always in
Proof.-If it be asked : What should a man's conduct be in a
case where he could by breaking faith free himself from the
danger of present death? Would not his plan of self-preservation
completely persuade him to deceive? This may be answered by
pointing out that, if reason persuaded him to act thus, it would
persuade all men to act in a similar manner, in which case reason
would persuade men not to agree in good faith to unite their
forces, or to have laws in common, that is, not to have any
general laws, which is absurd.
PROP. LXXIII. The man, who is guided by reason, is more free in
a State, where he lives under a general system of law, than in
solitude, where he is independent.
Proof.-The man, who is guided by reason, does not obey
through fear (IV. lxiii.) : but, in so far as he endeavours to
preserve his being according to the dictates of reason, that is
(IV. lxvi. note), in so far as he endeavours to live in freedom,
he desires to order his life according to the general good (IV.
xxxvii.), and, consequently (as we showed in IV. xxxvii. note.
ii.), to live according to the laws of his country. Therefore
the free man, in order to enjoy greater freedom, desires to
possess the general rights of citizenship. Q.E.D.
Note.-These and similar observations, which we have made on
man's true freedom, may be referred to strength, that is, to
courage and nobility of character (III. lix. note). I do not
think it worth while to prove separately all the properties of
strength ; much less need I show, that he that is strong hates no
man, is angry with no man, envies no man, is indignant with no
man, despises no man, and least of all things is proud. These
propositions, and all that relate to the true way of life and
religion, are easily proved from IV. xxxvii. and IV. xlvi. ;
namely, that hatred should be overcome with love, and that every
man should desire for others the good which he seeks for himself.
We may also repeat what we drew attention to in the note to IV.
l., and in other places ; namely, that the strong man has ever
first in his thoughts, that all things follow from the necessity
of the divine nature ; so that whatsoever he deems to be hurtful
and evil, and whatsoever, accordingly, seems to him impious,
horrible, unjust, and base, assumes that appearance owing to his
own disordered, fragmentary, and confused view of the universe.
Wherefore he strives before all things to conceive things as they
really are, and to remove the hindrances to true knowledge, such
as are hatred, anger, envy, derision, pride, and similar
emotions, which I have mentioned above. Thus he endeavours, as
we said before, as far as in him lies, to do good, and to go on
his way rejoicing. How far human virtue is capable of attaining
to such a condition, and what its powers may be, I will prove in
the following Part.
What have said in this Part concerning the right way of life
has not been arranged, so as to admit of being seen at one view,
but has been set forth piece-meal, according as I thought each
Proposition could most readily be deduced from what preceded it.
I propose, therefore, to rearrange my remarks and to bring them
under leading heads.
I. All our endeavours 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.
II. Desires, which follow from our nature in such a manner,
that they can be understood through it alone, are those which are
referred to the mind, in so far as the latter is conceived to
consist of adequate ideas : the remaining desires are only
referred to the mind, in so far as it conceives things
inadequately, and their force and increase are generally defined
not by the power of man, but by the power of things external to
us : wherefore the former are rightly called actions, the latter
passions, for the former always indicate our power, the latter,
on the other hand, show our infirmity and fragmentary knowledge.
III. Our actions, that is, those desires which are defined
by man's power or reason, are always good. The rest may be
either good or bad.
IV. Thus in life it is before all things useful to perfect
the understanding, or reason, as far as we can, and in this alone
man's highest happiness or blessedness consists, indeed
blessedness is nothing else but the contentment of spirit, which
arises from the intuitive knowledge of God : now, to perfect the
understanding is nothing else but to understand God, God's
attributes, and the actions which follow from the necessity of
his nature. Wherefore of a man, who is led by reason, the
ultimate aim or highest desire, whereby he seeks to govern all
his fellows, is that whereby he is brought to the adequate
conception of himself and of all things within the scope of his
V. Therefore, without intelligence there is not rational
life : and things are only good, in so far as they aid man in his
enjoyment of the intellectual life, which is defined by
intelligence. Contrariwise, whatsoever things hinder man's
perfecting of his reason, and capability to enjoy the rational
life, are alone called evil.
VI. As all things whereof man is the efficient cause are
necessarily good, no evil can befall man except through external
causes ; namely, by virtue of man being a part of universal
nature, whose laws human nature is compelled to obey, and to
conform to in almost infinite ways.
VII. It is impossible, that man should not be a part of
nature, or that he should not follow her general order ; but if
he be thrown among individuals whose nature is in harmony with
his own, his power of action will thereby be aided and fostered,
whereas, if he be thrown among such as are but very little in
harmony with his nature, he will hardly be able to accommodate
himself to them without undergoing a great change himself.
VIII. Whatsoever in nature we deem to be evil, or to be
capable of injuring our faculty for existing and enjoying the
rational life, we may endeavour to remove in whatever way seems
safest to us ; on the other hand, whatsoever we deem to be good
or useful for preserving our being, and enabling us to enjoy the
rational life, we may appropriate to our use and employ as we
think best. Everyone without exception may, by sovereign right
of nature, do whatsoever he thinks will advance his own interest.
IX. Nothing can be in more harmony with the nature of any
given thing than other individuals of the same species ;
therefore (cf. vii.) for man in the preservation of his being and
the enjoyment of the rational life there is nothing more useful
than his fellow-man who is led by reason. Further, as we know
not anything among individual things which is more excellent than
a man led by reason, no man can better display the power of his
skill and disposition, than in so training men, that they come at
last to live under the dominion of their own reason.
X. 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.
XI. Yet minds are not conquered by force, but by love and
XII. 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.
XIII. 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. Thus many from too great impatience of spirit, or from
misguided religious zeal, have preferred to live among brutes
rather than among men ; as boys or youths, who cannot peaceably
endure the chidings of their parents, will enlist as soldiers and
choose the hardships of war and the despotic discipline in
preference to the comforts of home and the admonitions of their
father : suffering any burden to be put upon them, so long as
they may spite their parents.
XIV. Therefore, although men are generally governed in
everything by their own lusts, yet their association in common
brings many more advantages than drawbacks. Wherefore it is
better to bear patiently the wrongs they may do us, and to strive
to promote whatsoever serves to bring about harmony and
XV. Those things, which beget harmony, are such as are
attributable to justice, equity, and honourable living. For men
brook ill not only what is unjust or iniquitous, but also what is
reckoned disgraceful, or that a man should slight the received
customs of their society. For winning love those qualities are
especially necessary which have regard to religion and piety (cf.
IV. xxxvii. notes. i. ii. ; xlvi. note ; and lxxiii. note).
XVI. Further, harmony is often the result of fear : but such
harmony is insecure. Further, fear arises from infirmity of
spirit, and moreover belongs not to the exercise of reason : the
same is true of compassion, though this latter seems to bear a
certain resemblance to piety.
XVII. Men are also gained over by liberality, especially
such as have not the means to buy what is necessary to sustain
life. However, 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.
XVIII. In accepting favours, and in returning gratitude our
duty must be wholly different (cf. IV. lxx. note ; lxxi. note).
XIX. Again, meretricious love, that is, the lust of
generation arising from bodily beauty, and generally every sort
of love, which owns anything save freedom of soul as its cause,
readily passes into hate ; unless indeed, what is worse, it is a
species of madness ; and then it promotes discord rather than
harmony (cf. III. xxxi. Coroll.).
XX. As concerning marriage, it is certain that this is in
harmony with reason, if the desire for physical union be not
engendered solely by bodily beauty, but also by the desire to
beget children and to train them up wisely ; and moreover, if the
love of both, to wit, of the man and of the woman, is not caused
by bodily beauty only, but also by freedom of soul.
XXI. Furthermore, flattery begets harmony ; but only by
means of the vile offence of slavishness or treachery. None are
more readily taken with flattery than the proud, who wish to be
first, but are not.
XXII. There is in abasement a spurious appearance of piety
and religion. Although abasement is the opposite to pride, yet
is he that abases himself most akin to the proud (IV. lvii.
XXIII. Shame also brings about harmony, but only in such
matters as cannot be hid. Further, as shame is a species of
pain, it does not concern the exercise of reason.
XXIV. The remaining emotions of pain towards men are
directly opposed to justice, equity, honour, piety, and religion
; and, although indignation seems to bear a certain resemblance
to equity, yet is life but lawless, where every man may pass
judgment on another's deeds, and vindicate his own or other men's
XXV. Correctness of conduct (modestia), that is, the desire
of pleasing men which is determined by reason, is attributable to
piety (as we said in IV. xxxvii. note. i.). But, if it spring
from emotion, it is ambition, or the desire whereby, men, under
the false cloak of piety, generally stir up discords and
seditions. For he who desires to aid his fellows either in word
or in deed, so that they may together enjoy the highest good, he,
I say, will before all things strive to win them over with love :
not to draw them into admiration, so that a system may be called
after his name, nor to give any cause for envy. Further, in his
conversation he will shrink from talking of men's faults, and
will be careful to speak but sparingly of human infirmity : but
he will dwell at length on human virtue or power, and the way
whereby it may be perfected. Thus will men be stirred not by
fear, nor by aversion, but only by the emotion of joy, to
endeavour, so far as in them lies, to live in obedience to
XXVI. Besides men, we know of no particular thing in nature
in whose mind we may rejoice, and whom we can associate with
ourselves in friendship or any sort of fellowship ; therefore,
whatsoever there be in nature besides man, a regard for our
advantage does not call on us to preserve, but to preserve or
destroy according to its various capabilities, and to adapt to
our use as best we may.
XXVII. The advantage which we derive from things external to
us, besides the experience and knowledge which we acquire from
observing them, and from recombining their elements in different
forms, is principally the preservation of the body ; from this
point of view, those things are most useful which can so feed and
nourish the body, that all its parts may rightly fulfil their
functions. For, in proportion as the body is capable of being
affected in a greater variety of ways, and of affecting external
bodies in a great number of ways, so much the more is the mind
capable of thinking (IV. xxxviii., xxxix.). But there seem to be
very few things of this kind in nature ; wherefore for the due
nourishment of the body we must use many foods of diverse nature.
For the human body is composed of very many parts of different
nature, which stand in continual need of varied nourishment, so
that the whole body may be equally capable of doing everything
that can follow from its own nature, and consequently that the
mind also may be equally capable of forming many perceptions.
XXVIII. Now for providing these nourishments the strength of
each individual would hardly suffice, if men did not lend one
another mutual aid. But money has furnished us with a token for
everything : hence it is with the notion of money, that the mind
of the multitude is chiefly engrossed : nay, it can hardly
conceive any kind of pleasure, which is not accompanied with the
idea of money as cause.
XXIX. This result is the fault only of those, who seek
money, not from poverty or to supply their necessary wants, but
because they have learned the arts of gain, wherewith they bring
themselves to great splendour. Certainly they nourish their
bodies, according to custom, but scantily, believing that they
lose as much of their wealth as they spend on the preservation of
their body. But they who know the true use of money, and who fix
the measure of wealth solely with regard to their actual needs,
live content with little.
XXX. As, therefore, those things are good which assist the
various parts of the body, and enable them to perform their
functions ; and as pleasure consists in an increase of, or aid
to, man's power, in so far as he is composed of mind and body ;
it follows that all those things which bring pleasure are good.
But seeing that things do not work with the object of giving us
pleasure, and that their power of action is not tempered to suit
our advantage, and, lastly, that pleasure is generally referred
to one part of the body more than to the other parts ; therefore
most emotions of pleasure (unless reason and watchfulness be at
hand), and consequently the desires arising therefrom, may become
excessive. Moreover we may add that emotion leads us to pay most
regard to what is agreeable in the present, nor can we estimate
what is future with emotions equally vivid. (IV. xliv. note, and
XXXI. Superstition, on the other hand, seems to account as
good all that brings pain, and as bad all that brings pleasure.
However, as we said above (IV. xlv. note), none but the envious
take delight in my infirmity and trouble. For the greater the
pleasure whereby we are affected, the greater is the perfection
whereto we pass, and consequently the more do we partake of the
divine nature : no pleasure can ever be evil, which is regulated
by a true regard for our advantage. But contrariwise he, who is
led by fear and does good only to avoid evil, is not guided by
XXXII. But human power is extremely limited, and is
infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes ; we have
not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those
things which are without us. Nevertheless, we shall bear with an
equal mind all that happens to us in contravention to the claims
of our own advantage, so long as we are conscious, that we have
done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not
sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely ;
remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we
follow her order. If we have a clear and distinct understanding
of this, that part of our nature which is defined by
intelligence, in other words the better part of ourselves, will
assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence
will endeavour to persist. For, 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 endeavour of the better part of ourselves is
in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.
PART V :
Of the Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom
At length I pass to the remaining portion of my Ethics, which
is concerned with the way leading to freedom. I shall therefore
treat therein of the power of the reason, showing how far the
reason can control the emotions, and what is the nature of Mental
Freedom or Blessedness ; we shall then be able to see, how much
more powerful the wise man is than the ignorant. It is no part
of my design to point out the method and means whereby the
understanding may be perfected, nor to show the skill whereby the
body may be so tended, as to be capable of the due performance of
its functions. The latter question lies in the province of
Medicine, the former in the province of Logic. Here, therefore,
I repeat, I shall treat only of the power of the mind, or of
reason ; and I shall mainly show the extent and nature of its
dominion over the emotions, for their control and moderation.
That we do not possess absolute dominion over them, I have
already shown. Yet the Stoics have thought, that the emotions
depended absolutely on our will, and that we could absolutely
govern them. But these philosophers were compelled, by the
protest of experience, not from their own principles, to confess,
that no slight practice and zeal is needed to control and
moderate them : and this someone endeavoured to illustrate by the
example (if I remember rightly) of two dogs, the one a house-dog
and the other a hunting-dog. For by long training it could be
brought about, that the house-dog should become accustomed to
hunt, and the hunting-dog to cease from running after hares. To
this opinion Descartes not a little inclines. For he maintained,
that the soul or mind is specially united to a particular part of
the brain, namely, to that part called the pineal gland, by the
aid of which the mind is enabled to feel all the movements which
are set going in the body, and also external objects, and which
the mind by a simple act of volition can put in motion in various
ways. He asserted, that this gland is so suspended in the midst
of the brain, that it could be moved by the slightest motion of
the animal spirits : further, that this gland is suspended in the
midst of the brain in as many different manners, as the animal
spirits can impinge thereon ; and, again, that as many different
marks are impressed on the said gland, as there are different
external objects which impel the animal spirits towards it ;
whence it follows, that if the will of the soul suspends the
gland in a position, wherein it has already been suspended once
before by the animal spirits driven in one way or another, the
gland in its turn reacts on the said spirits, driving and
determining them to the condition wherein they were, when
repulsed before by a similar position of the gland. He further
asserted, that every act of mental volition is united in nature
to a certain given motion of the gland. For instance, whenever
anyone desires to look at a remote object, the act of volition
causes the pupil of the eye to dilate, whereas, if the person in
question had only thought of the dilatation of the pupil, the
mere wish to dilate it would not have brought about the result,
inasmuch as the motion of the gland, which serves to impel the
animal spirits towards the optic nerve in a way which would
dilate or contract the pupil, is not associated in nature with
the wish to dilate or contract the pupil, but with the wish to
look at remote or very near objects. Lastly, he maintained that,
although every motion of the aforesaid gland seems to have been
united by nature to one particular thought out of the whole
number of our thoughts from the very beginning of our life, yet
it can nevertheless become through habituation associated with
other thoughts ; this he endeavours to prove in the Passions de
l'āme, I.50. He thence concludes, that there is no soul so weak,
that it cannot, under proper direction, acquire absolute power
over its passions. For passions as defined by him are
"perceptions, or feelings, or disturbances of the soul, which are
referred to the soul as species, and which (mark the expression)
are produced, preserved, and strengthened through some movement
of the spirits." (Passions de l'āme, I.27). But, seeing that we
can join any motion of the gland, or consequently of the spirits,
to any volition, the determination of the will depends entirely
on our own powers ; if, therefore, we determine our will with
sure and firm decisions in the direction to which we wish our
actions to tend, and associate the motions of the passions which
we wish to acquire with the said decisions, we shall acquire an
absolute dominion over our passions. Such is the doctrine of
this illustrious philosopher (in so far as I gather it from his
own words) ; it is one which, had it been less ingenious, I could
hardly believe to have proceeded from so great a man. Indeed, I
am lost in wonder, that a philosopher, who had stoutly asserted,
that he would draw no conclusions which do not follow from
self-evident premisses, and would affirm nothing which he did not
clearly and distinctly perceive, and who had so often taken to
task the scholastics for wishing to explain obscurities through
occult qualities, could maintain a hypothesis, beside which
occult qualities are commonplace. What does he understand, I
ask, by the union of the mind and the body? What clear and
distinct conception has he got of thought in most intimate union
with a certain particle of extended matter? Truly I should like
him to explain this union through its proximate cause. But he
had so distinct a conception of mind being distinct from body,
that he could not assign any particular cause of the union
between the two, or of the mind itself, but was obliged to have
recourse to the cause of the whole universe, that is to God.
Further, I should much like to know, what degree of motion the
mind can impart to this pineal gland, and with what force can it
hold it suspended? For I am in ignorance, whether this gland can
be agitated more slowly or more quickly by the mind than by the
animal spirits, and whether the motions of the passions, which we
have closely united with firm decisions, cannot be again
disjoined therefrom by physical causes ; in which case it would
follow that, although the mind firmly intended to face a given
danger, and had united to this decision the motions of boldness,
yet at the sight of the danger the gland might become suspended
in a way, which would preclude the mind thinking of anything
except running away. In truth, as there is no common standard of
volition and motion, so is there no comparison possible between
the powers of the mind and the power or strength of the body ;
consequently the strength of one cannot in any wise be determined
by the strength of the other. We may also add, that there is no
gland discoverable in the midst of the brain, so placed that it
can thus easily be set in motion in so many ways, and also that
all the nerves are not prolonged so far as the cavities of the
brain. Lastly, I omit all the assertions which he makes
concerning the will and its freedom, inasmuch as I have
abundantly proved that his premisses are false. Therefore, since
the power of the mind, as I have shown above, is defined by the
understanding only, we shall determine solely by the knowledge of
the mind the remedies against the emotions, which I believe all
have had experience of, but do not accurately observe or
distinctly see, and from the same basis we shall deduce all those
conclusions, which have regard to the mind's blessedness.
I. If two contrary actions be started in the same subject, a
change must necessarily take place, either in both, or in one of
the two, and continue until they cease to be contrary.
II. The power of an effect is defined by the power of its cause,
in so far as its essence is explained or defined by the essence
of its cause.
(This axiom is evident from III. vii.)
PROP. I. Even as thoughts and the ideas of things are arranged
and associated in the mind, so are the modifications of body or
the images of things precisely in the same way arranged and
associated in the body.
Proof.-The order and connection of ideas is the same (II.
vii.) as the order and connection of things, and vice versā the
order and connection of things is the same (II. vi. Coroll. and
vii.) as the order and connection of ideas. Wherefore, even as
the order and connection of ideas in the mind takes place
according to the order and association of modifications of the
body (II. xviii.), so vice versā (III. ii.) the order and
connection of modifications of the body takes place in accordance
with the manner, in which thoughts and the ideas of things are
arranged and associated in the mind. Q.E.D.