Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

11 the idea of anything that increases or lessens

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Unformatted text preview: of our body cannot be in our mind, but is contrary to it. Whatever can destroy our body can’t be in it (by 5), and so the idea of this thing can’t . . . . (by II11 and II13) be in our mind. On the contrary, since (by II11 and II13) the first thing that constitutes the essence of a mind is the idea of an actually existing body, the first and principal tendency of the effort of our mind (by 7) is to affirm the existence of our body. And so an idea that denies the existence of our body is contrary to our mind. 11: The idea of anything that increases or lessens, helps or hinders our body’s power of acting also increases or lessens, helps or hinders our mind’s power of thinking. This proposition is evident from II7, and also from II14. Note on 11: We see, then, that the mind can undergo great changes, and pass now to a greater, now to a lesser perfection. These passions, indeed, explain to us the affects of pleasure and unpleasure. [Translators have rendered the Latin words laetitia and tristitia as ‘joy’ and ‘sadness’, as ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’, and in other ways. Spinoza means them to mark the fundamental absolutely general difference between (emotionally) up and down, good and bad, pleasure and its opposite; ‘joy’ is too strong and specific for the former, and ‘sadness’ and ‘pain’ are too specific and strong for the latter. The best choice seems to be ‘unpleasure’ - a good English word, which has been used in translating Freud’s Unlust; his Lust/Unlust dichotomy is not unlike Spinoza’s laetitia/tristitia, and is used for it in a standard German translation of the Ethics.] By ‘pleasure’, therefore, I shall always mean: the passion by which a mind passes to a greater perfection. And by ‘unpleasure’ I shall mean the passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection. When the affect of pleasure is thought of in terms of the mind and body at once, I call it titillatio o r ‘cheerfulness’, and when unpleasure is thought of in that way I call it ‘pain’ or ‘sadness’. [Titillatio means, literally, the action of tickling someone.] But it should be noted that titillatio and pain are ascribed to a man when one part of him is affected more than the rest, whereas cheerfulness and sadness are ascribed to him when all are equally affected. Next, I have explained in the note on 9 what desire is, and these three - pleasure, unpleasure, and desire - are the only primary affects that I acknowledge. For I shall show 62 that the rest arise from these three. But before continuing I want to explain 10 more fully here, so that you can clearly understand how one idea can be contrary to another. In the note on II17 I showed that Ÿthe idea constituting the essence of a mind involves the existence of the ·corresponding· body so long as the body itself exists. Next, from what I showed in the corollary to II7 and the note on it, it follows that Ÿthe present existence of our mind depends only on its involving the actual existence of the body. Finally, I showed that Ÿthe power of a mind by which it imagines things and recollects them also depends on its involving the actual existence of the ·corresponding· body (see II 17 and II18 and the note on it). From these things it follows that a mind’s present existence and its power of imagining are taken away as soon as it stops affirming the present existence of the ·corresponding· body. But (by 4) a mind can’t cause itself to stop affirming the existence of the body, and it can’t be caused to do so by the body’s ceasing to exist. (Why? Because (by II6) the cause of the mind’s affirming the body’s existence is not the body’s starting to exist; so by the same reasoning it isn’t caused to stop affirming the body’s existence by the body’s ceasing to exist.) By II8, the mind could cease to affirm the body’s existence only if caused to do so by another idea that excluded the present existence of our body, and consequently of our mind; such an idea would be contrary to the idea that constitutes our mind’s essence. 12: A mind tries its utmost to imagine the things that increase or aid the ·corresponding· body’s power of acting. So long as Ÿa human body is in a state that involves the nature of an external body, Ÿthe ·corresponding· mind will regard that external body as present (by II17), that is (by the note on II17), it will imagine it; and consequently (by II7) so long as Ÿa human mind does that Ÿthe ·corresponding· human body will be in a state that involves the nature of that external body. Hence, so long as a mind imagines the things that increase or aid our body’s power of acting, the body is in states that do increase or aid its power of acting (see Postulate 1), and consequently (by 11) the mind’s power of thinking is increased or aided. Therefore (by 6 or 9) the mind tries its utmost to imagine those things. 13: When a mind imagines things that lessen or hinder the body’s power of acting, it tries it...
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