Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

And so there are also just as many kinds of affect

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Unformatted text preview: upbringing; for the main incentives that parents use to spur their children on to excellence are honour and envy. You may be doubtful about this on the grounds that not infrequently we admire and venerate men’s capacities. To remove this doubt I shall add the following corollary. Corollary: No-one envies another’s virtue unless he is an equal. Envy is hatred (see the note on 24), that is (by the note on 13), an unpleasure, that is (by the note on 11) a state by which a man’s power of acting - his effort - is hindered. But a man (by the note on 9) doesn’t try or want to do anything that can’t follow from his given nature. So no-one wants to have attributed to him any power of acting that is special to someone else’s nature and alien to his own. Hence, his desire is not hindered - that is (by the note on 11), he cannot have unpleasure - from considering a power in someone unlike himself. So he cannot envy such a person either. But he can envy his equal, who is supposed to be of the same nature as he. Note on this corollary: In the note on 52 I spoke of our venerating a man because we wonder at his prudence, strength of character, etc. As the word ‘wonder’ makes clear, this is a case where we imagine these virtues to be special to that man, and not as common to our nature. So we shan’t envy him these virtues any more than we envy trees their height, or lions their strength. 56: There are as many kinds of pleasure, unpleasure, and desire as there are kinds of objects by which we are affected. And so there are also just as many kinds of affect composed of these (like vacillation of mind) or derived from them (like love, hate, hope, fear, etc.). Pleasure and unpleasure - and consequently the affects composed of them or derived from them - are passions (by the note on 11). ·Having a passion involves being passive, being acted on·. But we are necessarily acted on (by 1) when we have inadequate ideas; and only when we have them (by 3) are we acted on. That is to say (see the note on II40) we are acted on only when we imagine, that is (see II17 and the note on it) when we have an affect that involves both the nature of our body and the nature of an external body. So a full account of the nature of each passion must bring in the nature of the ·external· object by which the person having the passion is affected. For example, the pleasure arising from object A involves the nature of A, that arising from object B involves the nature of B; so these two affects of pleasure are by nature different, because they arise from causes that are unalike. So also the affect of unpleasure arising from one object is different in nature from the unpleasure stemming from another cause. The same holds for love, hate, hope, fear, vacillation of mind, etc. Therefore, there are as many kinds of pleasure, unpleasure, love, hate, etc., as there are kinds of objects by which we are affected. As for desire: A man’s desire ·to do x· is that aspect of his essence or nature that causes him - given the rest of his constitution - t o act in a certain way, ·specifically, to try to do x· (see the note on 9). Therefore, as external causes give varying kinds of pleasure, unpleasure, love, hate, etc. to a man, thus varying his 81 constitution, so his desires must vary, with one desire being as unlike another as the affects leading to one are unlike those that lead to the other. Therefore, there are as many kinds of desire as there are kinds of pleasure, unpleasure, love, etc., and consequently (through what I have already shown) as there are kinds of objects by which we are affected. Note on 56: Noteworthy among these kinds of affects - which (by 56) must be very numerous - are gluttony, drunkenness, lust, greed, and ambition, which are only kinds of love or desire differentiated by the ·external· objects to which they are related. For by ‘gluttony’, ‘drunkenness’, ‘lust’, ‘greed’, and ‘ambition’ we understand simply an immoderate love or desire for eating, drinking, sexual union, wealth, and esteem. When affects are thus classified in terms of the objects to which they are related, they don’t have opposites ·that are also affects·. For moderation which we usually oppose to gluttony, sobriety which we usually oppose to drunkenness, and chastity which we usually oppose to lust, are not affects or passions; but indicate the power of the mind, a power that moderates these affects. I cannot explain the other kinds of affects here - for there are as many as there are kinds of objects. And anyway, there is no need to. For my purpose, which is to determine the powers of the affects and the power of the mind over them, it is enough to have a general definition of each affect. All we need is to understand the common properties of the affects and of the mind, so that we can work out what sort of power, and how great a power, the mind has to moderate and restrain the affects. So though there is a great difference between this or that affect of love, hate or...
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