SPINOZA’S ETHICS CONCLUSION SPINOZA ON THE EMOTIONS (AND HUMANS) Spinoza on the emotions (and humans) • “The being of substance does not pertain to the essence of man; i.e. substance does not constitute the form of man.” ( Ethics , Part II, Prop. 10) • This means that humans are never completely independent of each other and of their surrounding. We are all completely natural beings, both in body and in mind, and essentially linked to each other and to everything else through God or Nature, like different cells or organs in one body, or different ideas in one mind. Spinoza on the emotions (and humans) • As modes, we are never the cause of ourselves or of our wills, desires, and emotions. Like waves in the sea we are constantly moved and affected by external forces that are outside our immediate control: • “The force whereby a man persists in existing is limited, and infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes.” ( Ethics , Part IV, Prop. 3) • “It is impossible for a man not to be part of Nature and not to undergo changes other than those which can be understood solely through his own nature and of which he is the adequate cause.” ( Ethics , Part IV, Prop. 4) Spinoza on the emotions (and humans) • “… [Some] will doubtless find it surprising that I should attempt to treat of the faults and follies of mankind in the geometric manner, and that I should propose to bring logical reasoning to bear on what they proclaim is opposed to reason [i.e., the emotions] and is vain, absurd, and horrifying. • “But my argument is this: in Nature nothing happens which can be attributed to its defectiveness , for Nature is always the same, and its force and power of acting is everywhere one and the same; that is, the laws and rules of Nature according to which all things happen and change from one form to another are everywhere and always the same.” ( Ethics , Part III, Preface) Spinoza on the emotions (and humans) • Therefore, “our approach to the understanding of the nature of things of every kind should likewise be one and the same; namely, through the universal laws and rules of Nature. • “the emotions of hatred, anger, envy, etc., considered in themselves, follow from the same necessity and force of Nature as all other particular things . • “So these emotions are assignable to definite causes through which they can be understood , and have definite properties, equally deserving of our investigation as the properties of any other thing, whose mere contemplation affords us pleasure…” ( Ethics , Part III, Preface)
What is freedom?
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- Spring '07