Spinoza, Ethics, Part 3

Therefore though each individual lives content with

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Unformatted text preview: desire - for example, between your love for your children and your love for your wife - we don’t need to know these differences, or to go any further into the nature and origin of the affects. 57: Each affect of each individual differs from the affect of another as much as the essence of the one from the essence of the other. This proposition is evident from IIA1'' ·on page 33·. Still, I shall demonstrate it from the definitions of the three basic affects. All the affects are related to desire, pleasure, or unpleasure, as the definitions I have given of them show. But desire is the very nature or essence of the individual who has the desire (see the definition of desire in the note on 9). So the desires of two individuals differ from one another as much as do their the natures or essences. As for pleasure and unpleasure: [The remainder of the demonstration is hard to grasp. The basic idea seems to be that pleasure and unpleasure can variously help or hinder the individual’s effort to stay in existence, which means that they can variously encourage or impede his desires; from which Spinoza infers that the variousness of the desires is passed along to the other affects, making them various in the same way.] Note on 57: From this it follows that Ÿthe affects of Ÿanimals that are said not to have reason differ from Ÿmen’s affects as much as their nature differs from human nature. Both the horse and the man are driven by a lust to procreate; but the one is driven by an equine lust, the other by a human lust. So also the lusts and appetites of insects, fish, and birds must vary. Therefore, though each individual lives content with its own nature, . . . . ·that is not significantly something that all individuals have in common, For· the life with which 82 each individual is content, and his contentment with it, are simply the idea - ·the mental aspect·, the soul - of that individual. So the gladness of one differs from the gladness of another as much as the essence of the one differs from the essence of the other. (·I spoke of animals that are said to lack reason, not of animals that lack minds altogether·. Now that we know how minds fit into the over-all scheme of things, we can’t possibly doubt that the lower animals have feelings.) Finally, I note in passing that from 57 it follows that the gladness by which a drunkard is led differs greatly from the gladness a philosopher possesses. That is enough about the affects that men have Ÿpassively. I shall now add a few words about affects that men have when they Ÿact. 58: Apart from the pleasure and desire that are passions, there are other affects of pleasure and desire that we have because we act. When the mind conceives itself and its power of acting, it has pleasure (by 53). But the mind necessarily considers itself when it conceives a true idea - that is (by II43), an adequate idea. Now, the mind does conceive some adequate ideas (by the second note on II40). Therefore, it also has pleasure when conceiving adequate ideas, that is (by 1) in acting. Next, the mind tries to stay in existence, both when having clear and distinct ideas and when having confused ideas (by 9). But by ‘effort’ we understand desire (by the note on 9 ). Therefore, desire also is something we have when we understand, that is (by 1), when we act. 59: Affects that a mind has in acting are all related to pleasure or desire. All the affects are related to desire, pleasure, or unpleasure, as the definitions I have given of them show. But by ‘unpleasure’ we understand a lessening or hindering of a mind’s power of acting (by 11 and the note on it). So to the extent that a mind has unpleasure its power of understanding - that is (by 1), its power of acting - is lessened or hindered. So no affects of unpleasure can be related to a mind because of its activity; only affects of pleasure and desire can do that. Note on 59: All actions that follow from affects that a mind has because it understands I classify as examples of strength of character, which I divide into resoluteness and nobility. By ‘resoluteness’ I understand the desire by which everyone tries, solely from the dictate of reason, to stay in existence. By ‘nobility’ I understand the desire by which everyone tries, solely from the dictate of reason, to help other men and make them his friends. So I classify under ‘resoluteness’ actions that aim only at the agent’s advantage; actions aiming at someone else’s advantage I count as ‘nobility’. Thus, moderation, sobriety, calmness in the face of danger, etc., are kinds of resoluteness, whereas courtesy, mercy, etc., are kinds of nobility. I think I have now explained and shown through their first causes the main affects and vacillations of mind arising from combinations of the three basic affects - desire, pleasure, and unpleasure. What I have said makes it clear that we are driven about in many ways by external causes, and that we toss about like waves on the sea driven by contrary winds, not knowing our outcome and fate. 83 I have shown o...
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