Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

That supposes that we previously had no affect

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Unformatted text preview: ne should is called ‘scorn’. [Oddly, English has no one idiomatic word that does what ‘overestimation’ is being made to do here.] 27: If we imagine a thing like us, towards which we have previously had no affect, to have some affect, this gives us a similar affect. Images of things are states of the human body whose ideas represent external bodies as present to us (by the note on II17), that is (by II16), whose ideas involve the nature of our body and the present nature of the external body. So if the external body is like our body, then our idea of the external body will involve a state of our body like the state of the external body. Consequently, if we imagine someone like us to have some affect, this imagining will express a state of our body that is like the affect in question. And so, by imagining a thing that is like us to have an affect, we have a similar affect ourselves. ·That supposes that we previously had no affect towards the thing or person in question·. If we ·already· hate a thing that is like us, then (by 23) we shall have an affect contrary to its affect, not like it. Note on 27: This imitation of the affects when related to unpleasure is called ‘pity’ (on which, see the note on 21); when related to desire it is called ‘emulation’. So emulation is just the desire we have for a thing because we imagine others like us to want it also. First corollary: If we imagine that someone towards whom we have had no affect gives pleasure to a thing like us, we shall have love towards him. On the other hand, if we imagine him to give it unpleasure, we shall have hate towards him. This is demonstrated from 27 in the same way that 22 is demonstrated from 21. Second corollary: Pity is a form of unpleasure, but when we pity something our unpleasure can’t make us hate the thing we pity. If we could hate it because of our unpleasure, then (by 23) we would have pleasure in its unpleasure; but it has been stipulated that what we have is unpleasure. 68 Third corollary: We try our utmost to free a thing we pity from its suffering. Something (x) that gives unpleasure to something that we pity gives it to us also (by 27). And so (by 13) we shall try to think of whatever can take away x’s existence; that is (by the note on 9), we shall want to destroy it, that is. shall be caused to destroy it. And so we try to free the thing we pity from its suffering. Note on the third corollary: This will or appetite to do good, born of our pity for the thing we want to help. is called ‘benevolence’. So benevolence is just a desire born of pity. As for love and hate towards him who has done good or done harm to a thing we imagine to be like us, see the note on 21. 28: We try to further the occurrence of whatever we imagine will lead to pleasure, and to avert or destroy what we imagine will lead to unpleasure. We try our utmost to imagine anything that we imagine will lead to pleasure (by 12), that is (by II17), we try our utmost to regard such things as present, that is, as actually existing. But the mind’s effort or power of thinking is equal to and of the same nature as the body’s effort or power of acting (as clearly follows from the corollaries to II7 and II11). Therefore, we try absolutely - ·not just try mentally or try physically, but all-out in-every-way try· - to bring it about that it exists. . . . This was the first point. [The demonstration of the ‘second point’ makes it a special case of the ‘first point’. By 20 the destruction of what we think will lead to unpleasure brings us pleasure; so the endeavour to destroy such things is itself part of the endeavour to achieve what we think will bring pleasure.] 29: We shall try to do whatever we imagine men to look on with pleasure, and shall be averse to doing what we imagine men are averse to. [Spinoza adds a footnote saying: Here and in what follows you should understand men towards whom we do not have any affect.] When we imagine men to love (hate) something, we love (hate) it too (by 27), that is (by the note on 13), we come to have pleasure (unpleasure) in the thing’s presence. And so (by 28) we shall try to do whatever we imagine men to love, or to look on with pleasure, etc.. Note on 29: This effort to do (or omit doing) something solely to please men is called ‘ambition’, especially when we try so eagerly to please the mob that our actions (or failures to act) bring harm to ourselves or to others. In other cases, the effort is usually called human kindness’. When someone acts in an attempt to please us, the pleasure we have in thinking of his action I call ‘praise’. On the other hand, the unpleasure with which we are averse to his action I call ‘blame’. 69 30: If someone has done something that he imagines brings pleasure to others, he will have pleasure accompanied by the idea of himself as cause, that is, he will regard himself with pleasure. If on the other hand he has done something that he imagines brings unpleasure to others, he will regard himself with unpleasure. Someone who imagines that he brings pleasure (unpleasure) to others...
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