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Ethics — Part 2   By: (1632-1677)

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Benedict de Spinoza, THE ETHICS (Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata)

Translated by R. H. M. Elwes


PREFACE I now pass on to explaining the results, which must necessarily follow from the essence of God, or of the eternal and infinite being; not, indeed, all of them (for we proved in Part i., Prop. xvi., that an infinite number must follow in an infinite number of ways), but only those which are able to lead us, as it were by the hand, to the knowledge of the human mind and its highest blessedness.

DEFINITIONS I. By 'body' I mean a mode which expresses in a certain determinate manner the essence of God, in so far as he is considered as an extended thing. (See Pt. i., Prop. xxv. Cor.)

II. I consider as belonging to the essence of a thing that, which being given, the thing is necessarily given also, and, which being removed, the thing is necessarily removed also; in other words, that without which the thing, and which itself without the thing, can neither be nor be conceived.

III. By 'idea,' I mean the mental conception which is formed by the mind as a thinking thing.

>>>>>Explanation I say 'conception' rather than perception, because the word perception seems to imply that the mind is passive in respect to the object; whereas conception seems to express an activity of the mind.

IV. By 'an adequate idea,' I mean an idea which, in so far as it is considered in itself, without relation to the object, has all the properties or intrinsic marks of a true idea.

>>>>>Explanation I say 'intrinsic,' in order to exclude that mark which is extrinsic, namely, the agreement between the idea and its object (ideatum).

V. 'Duration' is the indefinite continuance of existing.

>>>>>Explanation I say 'indefinite,' because it cannot be determined through the existence itself of the existing thing, or by its efficient cause, which necessarily gives the existence of the thing, but does not take it away.

VI. 'Reality' and 'perfection' I use as synonymous terms.

VII. By 'particular things,' I mean things which are finite and have a conditioned existence; but if several individual things concur in one action, so as to be all simultaneously the effect of one cause, I consider them all, so far, as one particular thing.

AXIOMS I. The essence of man does not involve necessary existence, that is, it may, in the order of nature, come to pass that this or that man does or does not exist.

II. Man thinks.

III. Modes of thinking, such as love, desire, or any other of the passions, do not take place, unless there be in the same individual an idea of the thing loved, desired, &c. But the idea can exist without the presence of any other mode of thinking.

IV. We perceive that a certain body is affected in many ways.

V. We feel and perceive no particular things, save bodies and modes of thought.

N.B. The Postulates are given after the conclusion of Prop. xiii.

PROPOSITIONS I. Thought is an attribute of God, or God is a thinking thing.

>>>>>Proof Particular thoughts, or this and that thought, are modes which, in a certain conditioned manner, express the nature of God (Pt. i., Prop. xxv., Cor.). God therefore possesses the attribute (Pt. i., Def. v.) of which the concept is involved in all particular thoughts, which latter are conceived thereby. Thought, therefore, is one of the infinite attributes of God, which express God's eternal and infinite essence (Pt. i., Def. vi.). In other words, God is a thinking thing. Q.E.D.

Note This proposition is also evident from the fact, that we are able to conceive an infinite thinking being. For, in proportion as a thinking being is conceived as thinking more thoughts, so is it conceived as containing more reality or perfection. Therefore a being, which can think an infinite number of things in an infinite number of ways, is, necessarily, in respect of thinking, infinite... Continue reading book >>

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