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a free decision of the mind, are dreaming with their eyes open.
3: A mind’s actions arise from adequate ideas alone; its passions depend on
inadequate ideas alone.
. . . . Insofar as a mind has inadequate ideas (by 1) it is acted on. Therefore, the
actions of a mind follow from adequate ideas alone; hence, a mind is acted on only
because it has inadequate ideas.
Note on 3: We see, then, that a mind’s passions - ·its passive states· - all come from its
having something that involves a negation - that is, its being a part of Nature that cannot
be perceived clearly and distinctly through itself without bringing in other things ·that act
upon it·. . . .
4: No thing can be destroyed except through an external cause.
This proposition is self-evident. For the definition of any thing affirms the thing’s
essence and doesn’t deny it; that is, it posits the thing’s essence and doesn’t take it 60
away. So if we attend only to the thing itself and not to any external causes, we
shan’t be able to find in it anything that could destroy it.
5: If one thing can destroy another, those two things are of a contrary nature - that
is, they cannot be in the same subject.
If they could agree with one another or be in the same subject at once, then that
subject could contain something that could destroy it, which (by 4) is absurd.
6: Each thing, as far as it can by its own power, tries to stay in existence.
Particular things are modes by which [= ‘ways in which’] God’s attributes are
expressed in a certain and determinate way (by the corollary to I25) - that is (by I34)
things that express in a certain and determinate way God’s power, by which God
exists and acts. And no thing has in itself anything by which it can be destroyed or
which can take its existence away (by 4). On the contrary, every thing is opposed to
everything that can take its existence away (by 5). Therefore every thing tries, as far
as it can through its own resources, to stay in existence.
[Very often, starting with the next proposition, Spinoza writes speaks of ‘effort’ and of
what a thing ‘tries’ to do. In his Latin these are expressed by the noun conatus and the
related verb conatur. That link can be preserved in English by ‘striving’ and ‘strive’, but
‘effort’ and ‘try’ read better. Still, the link should not be forgotten.]
7: The effort by which each thing tries to stay in existence is nothing but the actual
essence of the thing.
From the essence of each thing some things necessarily follow (by I36), and things
can produce only what follows necessarily from their nature (by I29 ). So the power
of each thing - that is, the effort by which it (either alone or with others) does
anything or tries to do anything - that is (by 6) the power or effort by which it tries
to stay in existence - is nothing but the actual essence of the thing itself.
8: The effort by which each thing tries to stay in existence involves no finite time,
but an indefinite time.
If the effort by which a thing tries to stay in existence involved a limited time which
fixed how long the thing would last, then that very power by which the thing exists
would also imply that it couldn’t exist after that limited time, and it would have to
be destroyed. But (by 4) this is absurd. So the effort by which a thing exists involves
no definite time. On the contrary, since (by 4) it will always continue to exist
through the same power by which it now exists, unless it is destroyed by an external
cause, this effort involves indefinite time.
9: Having clear and distinct ideas and also having confused ones, a mind tries for an
indefinite length of time to stay in existence and it is conscious of this effort that it
The essence of the mind is constituted by adequate and by inadequate ideas (as I
have shown in 3). So (by 7) it tries to stay in existence both as a possessor of
inadequate ideas and as a possessor of adequate ones; and it does this (by 8) for an 61
indefinite length of time. But since the mind (by II23) is necessarily conscious of
itself through ideas of the body’s states, it (by 7) is conscious of its effort.
Note on 9: When this effort is related only to the mind, it is called ‘will’, but when it is
related to mind and body together it is called ‘appetite’. This appetite, therefore, is
nothing but the very essence of the man, from whose nature there necessarily follow the
things that promote his survival. And so the man is caused to do those things.
Between appetite and desire there is no difference, except that men are usually said to
have ‘desires’ when they are conscious of their appetite. So ‘desire’ can be defined as
‘appetite together with consciousness of it’.
From all this, then, it is clear that we don’t try for or will or want or desire anything
because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge something to be good because
we try for it, will it, want it, and desire it.
10: An idea that excludes the existence...
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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.
- Spring '13