Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

Finally we can conceive love hope love of esteem and

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Unformatted text preview: nd this combination of love and wonder - this veneration we call ‘devotion’. In this way we can also conceive hate, hope, confidence, and other affects to be combined with wonder, and so we can explain affects other than the ones there are standard labels for. So it is clear that the names of the affects owe more to the ordinary usage ·of words· than to an accurate knowledge ·of the affects. If that weren’t so, we would have names for more kinds of affects than we actually do·. The opposite of wonder is disdain. The cause of this attitude is generally the following. We are caused to wonder at, love or fear something by seeing that others do so, or by seeing that the thing is like other things that we admire, love, fear, etc. (by 15 and its corollary and 27); but then we come into the thing’s presence, or we consider it more accurately, and have to admit that there is nothing about it that could cause wonder, love, fear, etc. In that case, our mind is caused by the thing’s presence to think more about what it doesn’t have than about what it does, ·thereby treating the thing itself as negligible·. Usually an object’s presence makes the mind think chiefly of the properties it does have. Just as devotion stems from wonder at a thing we love, and veneration from wonder at ·someone’s· prudence, so mockery stems from disdain for a thing we hate or fear, and contempt comes from disdain for ·someone’s· folly. Finally, we can conceive love, hope, love of esteem, and other affects combined with disdain; those combinations yield other affects - ones for which we don’t have any one-word labels. 79 53: When the mind considers itself and its power of acting it has pleasure, which is greater in proportion to how distinctly the mind imagines itself and its power of acting. A man knows himself only through states of his body and the ideas of them (by II19 and II23). So when it happens that the mind can consider itself, it is thereby supposed to pass to a greater perfection, that is (by the note on 11), to have pleasure, and the more so the more distinctly it can imagine its power of acting. Corollary: This pleasure is encouraged when the man imagines himself to be praised by others. The more he imagines himself to be praised by others, the greater the pleasure he thinks he gives to others, a pleasure accompanied by his idea of himself (by the note on 29). And so (by 27) he himself has a greater pleasure, accompanied by the idea of himself. 54: A mind tries to imagine only those things that affirm its power of acting. A mind’s effort - its power - is its very essence (by 7); but it is self-evident that a mind’s essence affirms only what the mind is and can do, not what it isn’t and can’t do. So it tries to imagine only what affirms its power of acting. 55: When a mind imagines its own lack of power, this brings it unpleasure. . . . . It is of the nature of the mind to imagine only things that affirm its power of acting (by 54). So when we say that a mind in considering itself imagines its lack of power, we are saying its effort to imagine something that affirms its power of acting is hindered, which (by the note on 11) is to say that it has unpleasure. Corollary: This unpleasure is encouraged if we imagine ourselves to be blamed by others. This is demonstrated in the same way as the corollary to 53. Note on 55: This unpleasure, accompanied by the idea of our own weakness is called ‘humility’. But when we get pleasure from considering ourselves, this is called ‘self-love’ or ‘self-satisfaction’. And because this is renewed as often as a man considers what he is capable of - considers his power of acting - it comes about that everyone is anxious to tell of his own exploits and to show off his powers of body and of mind; which makes men annoying to one another. From this it follows also that men are by nature envious (see the notes on 24 and 32) that is, that they are glad of their equals’ weakness and displeased by their equals’ strengths. For whenever anyone imagines his own actions, he has pleasure (by 53), and the pleasure is greater in proportion to how much perfection his actions express and to how clearly he imagines them - that is (by the first note on II40) to how thoroughly he can distinguish his own actions from other people’s, and regard them as special. So everyone will have the greatest gladness from considering himself, when he considers something in himself which he denies concerning others. But if he thinks of what he affirms of himself in terms of the universal idea of man or animal, he will not be so greatly gladdened. (·We don’t congratulate ourselves on having the use of language, or on being able to walk·.) And if he imagines that his own actions are weaker that those of others, he will have unpleasure (by 28), and will try to get rid of it either by misinterpreting his equals’ actions or by magnifying his own as much as he can. It 80 is clear, therefore, that men are Ÿnaturally inclined to hate and envy. Not only naturally, but also Ÿby their...
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This note was uploaded on 03/12/2013 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Mendetta during the Spring '13 term at SUNY Stony Brook.

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