Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

Spinoza Ethics Part 3

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Unformatted text preview: repents of a deed or exults [see 34] in it, depending on how he has been brought up. 28. Pride is thinking too highly of oneself, out of self-love. Explanation: So pride differs from overestimation in that the latter is related to an external object whereas pride is related to the man himself, who thinks more highly of himself than he should. Also, just as overestimation is an effect or property of love, so pride is an effect or property of self-love. So pride can also be defined as love of oneself, or self-satisfaction, which leads a man to think more highly of himself than he should (see the note on 26). This affect has no opposite. For no-one thinks less highly of himself than he should out of hate ·for himself·. Indeed, no-one is led to think less highly of himself than he should by imagining that he can’t do this or that. For when a man imagines that he can’t do x necessarily imagines x; and this imagining makes him genuinely unable to do x. For so long as he imagines that he can’t do x, he is not caused to do it, so it is impossible for him to do it. ·Thus, his thoughts about what he can’t do don’t make him think less highly of himself than he should because he actually can’t do those things·. 88 But if we attend to mere opinions that a man may have about himself - ·specifically, beliefs about himself that are not actually true· - we can see how a man might think less highly of himself than he should. ·Here are three examples of that·. ŸA man contemplates his own weakness, with unpleasure, and imagines that he is looked down on by everyone though in fact that their attitude to him is nothing like that. ŸA man thinks less highly of himself than he should because of some belief he has about himself in the future - for example, he ·wrongly· thinks he will never become certain of anything, or will never want or do anything that is right and honourable. ŸWe can infer that someone thinks less highly of himself than he should when we see that his exaggerated fear of failure stops him for risking things that others equal to him would risk. So this affect - which I shall call ‘despondency’ - can be seen as the opposite of pride. For as pride is born of self-satisfaction, so despondency is born of humility. We can therefore define it as follows. 29. Despondency is thinking less highly of oneself than one should, out of unpleasure. Explanation: We often treat humility and pride as opposites; but that is when we are attending less to the nature of the two affects than to the behaviour they lead to. For Ÿwe usually call someone ‘proud’ if he: exults too much at being esteemed (see the note on 30), who talks all the time about his own virtues and the faults of others, who wants to be given precedence over everyone else, or goes about with the pomp and style of dress usually adopted by those who are far above him in station. And Ÿwe call someone humble if: he quite often blushes, confesses his own faults and recounts the virtues of others, gives precedence to everyone else, or walks with his head bowed and shabbily dressed. These affects - humility and despondency - are very rare. For basic human nature strains against them as hard as it can (see 13 and 54). Those who are thought to be the most despondent and humble are usually the most ambitious and envious. 30. Love of esteem is pleasure accompanied by the idea of some action of ours that we imagine that others praise. 31. Shame is unpleasure accompanied by the idea of some action of ours that we imagine that others blame. Explanation: On these see the note on 30. Notice that shame is not the same as sense of shame. For shame is the unpleasure that follows a deed one is ashamed of; whereas sense of shame is the fear of shame that hinders a man from doing something dishonourable. Sense of shame is usually taken to be the opposite of shamelessness, but the latter is not really an affect, as I shall show in the proper place [which in fact Spinoza never does]. But, as I have already pointed out, the names of the affects are guided more by usage than by their natures. That brings me to the end of what I had to say about the affects of pleasure and unpleasure. I turn now to the affects that I relate to desire. 32. Longing is a desire - an appetite - to possess something, a desire encouraged by the memory of that thing and at the same time hindered by the memory of other things that exclude its existence. Explanation: As I have often said already, our recollecting a thing disposes us to regard it with the same affect as if it were present. But while we are awake, this disposition - this effort - is generally hindered by images of things that exclude the existence of the thing we 89 recollect. So when we remember a thing that gives us some kind of pleasure, we try to regard it as present with the same affect of pleasure - an effort which is of course immediately hindered by the memory of things that exclude the thing’s existence. So longing is really an unpleasure that is opposite to the pleasure that arises from the absence of a thing we hate (see the note on 47...
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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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