Jacques Maritain Center : History of Philosophy / by William Turner


Life. Baruch (Benedict) Spinoza was born in 1632 at Amsterdam where his parents, who were Portuguese Jews, had sought refuge from religious persecution. He received his early education in the Jewish academy at Amsterdam; later, he studied natural science under the tuition of a free-thinking physician named Van den Ende, and was initiated into the mysteries of Talmudic literature and philosophy by the Rabbi Morteira. In 1656 he was solemnly excommunicated by the Synagogue on account of his heterodox views and obliged to leave his native city. After a few years spent at Rhynsburg and Voorburg, he repaired, in 1669, to The Hague, where he earned his livelihood by polishing lenses. In 1673 he declined the offer of a professorship at Heidelberg, preferring the quiet and independence of the humble life which he had elected to lead. He chose poverty for his lot, and when he died, in 1677, his worldly possessions were barely sufficient to pay a few trivial debts which he had contracted during his illness.

Sources. The principal philosophical works of Spinoza are De intellectus Emendatione, Ethica Ordine Geometrica Demonstrata Tractatus Politicus, Tractatus Theologico-politicus, Principia Philosophiae Cartesianae (in geometrical form), Cogitata Metaphysica, and a Short Treatise on God and Man (written in Dutch). The best edition of Spinoza's works is that of Van Vloten and Land (The Hague, 1882-1883, in 2 vols; reprinted, 1895, in 3 vols.), Pollock's Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy (London, 1880), and Principal Caird's Spinoza (Blackwood's Philosophical Classics, Edinburgh and Philadelphia, 1888), are excellent introductions to the philosophy of Spinoza.{1} The Ethica was translated by White (London, 1883) and by Elwes (London, 1883-1884).


Spinoza's Idea of Philosophy. It will be impossible to arrive at a definite idea of Spinoza's system or to reconcile the widely divergent interpretations of his philosophy, unless we first inquire into the motive which actuated him in his philosophical speculations, and try to discover the point of view from which he looked out on the world of life and thought. In the treatise De Intellectus Emendatione he gives us a kind of mental autobiography and tells us that his aim in philosophy is to seek the knowledge which makes men happy. His thought, therefore, is not set in motion by a problem of causality; nor is he interested in the question of the value of knowledge; but he is troubled at the unrest, of which the whole world is full, and he approaches the problems of philosophy in the ethical rather than in the scientific spirit, with the hope of leading his reader to look upon things in that aspect of them which shall conduce to greater spiritual and moral perfection. This is the significance of the title Ethica, by which he designated his great metaphysical treatise.

To this ethical aim of his philosophy Spinoza subordinated everything else, even logical consistency and systematic coherency, causing to converge in one channel of thought Cartesianism, the pantheism of Bruno and Maimonides, and the mysticism of the Neo-Platonists and the cabalistic philosophers.

Starting Point; Definitions. Spinoza's method is even more formally and technically mathematical than that of Descartes. The Ethica starts with definitions and axioms, and proceeds, by a process of syllogistic proof, to the establishment of propositions and corollaries.

Spinoza defines substance as follows (def. III):

Per substantiam intelligo id quod in se est et per se concipitur: hoc est id cujus conceptus non indiget conceptu alterius rei a quo formari debeat.

And here, whatever view we may take as to the preponderance of Descartes' influence on Spinoza's mind, we cannot fail to observe that Spinoza's definition is but an interpretation of the ambiguous words in which Descartes defined substance: "Res quae ita existit, ut nulla alia re indigeat ad existendum."

Spinoza next proceeds to define attribute: "Per attributum intelligo id quod intellectus de substantia percipit tamquam ejusdem essentiam constituens" (def. IV). In the following definition (def. V) he describes mode: "Per modum intelligo substantiae affectiones, sive id quod in alio est, per quod etiam concipitur."

Substance. Substance, attribute, and mode are the cardinal ideas in Spinoza's system of thought. Having defined them, therefore, he proceeds to show from the definitions:

(a) That substance is one, infinite (prop. VIII), and indivisible (prop. XII).

(b) That the one substance is God (prop. XIV). Now, God is defined (def. VI) as "Ens absolute infinitum, hoc est substantia constans infinitis attributis quorum unumquodque aeternam et infinitam essentiam exprimit." God is, then, an infinity of infinities; and, although an attribute, such as thought, or a mode, such as space, may be infinite, God alone is infinite in the infinity of his infinite attributes: they are infinite in one respect; he is infinite in all respects.

The Existence of God is a necessary truth. In proof of this Spinoza advances the argument that God is substance, and substance must exist (prop. VII); for, not depending on anything else for its existence, it must cause itself, and therefore its essence must contain existence. In the second place, Spinoza (prop. XI) advances in proof of the existence of God an argument of which the following is the major premise: "Id necessario existit cujus nulla ratio vel causa datur quin impedit quominus existat." He then proceeds to argue that neither in the Divine Nature nor outside it is there any cause which could prevent the existence of God. The argument, as is evident, is guilty of the fallacy of passing from the order of ideas to the order of existence and merely proves the self-evident truth that if God exists, existence is a necessary attribute of the Divinity. Thirdly, Spinoza advances the following proof of the existence of God:

Posse non existere impotentia est, et, contra, posse existere potentia est (ut per se notum). Si itaque id quod jam necessario existit non nisi entia finita sunt, sunt ergo entia finita potentiora Ente absolute infinito. Atqui hoc (ut per se notum) absurdum est. Ergo vel nihil existit, vel Ens absolute infinitum necessario etiam existit. Atqui nos vel in nobis vel in alio quod necessario existit existimus. Ergo Ens absolute infinitum, hoc est (per def. VI) Deus, necessario existit.

In a scholion appended to this argument Spinoza, after calling attention to the apparently a posteriori form of the proof, remarks that in reality we do not argue from the existence of the finite to that of the infinite, that the conviction that God exists is based, not on the reality of the finite, but rather on the unreality, that is, on the imperfection, of all finite being. For, the more perfect a substance is, the more reality it possesses.

God is the Only Substance (prop. XIV). Whatever is, is in God (prop. XV). It follows (prop. XVIII) that God is the immanent, not the transient, cause of all finite existence. It remains, therefore, for us to find in His unity that from which the differences of things are derived. This Spinoza attempts to do by means of the doctrine of attributes and modes.

Attributes of the Divine Substance. The first determination of the infinite is by means of the attributes thought and extension. God is, indeed, an infinity of attributes; thought and extension are merely the two attributes under which the human mind is capable of representing Him. Instead, therefore, of Descartes' doctrine of the antithesis of the substance of mind to the substance of matter, we have the doctrine of one substance conceived under the antithetical attributes, thought and extension. For thought is merely one way of looking at God, and extension another; so that when I say Deus est res cogitans and Deus est res extensa, I am speaking of one and the same reality conceived in two different ways. The attributes, therefore, are not ways in which God determines Himself, but rather ways in which we determine Him,{2} and consequently the first attempt to find in the one the reason of the difference of the many is a failure. Indeed, Spinoza, if he were consistent, should have ended where he began, namely, at the definition of the one substance, and never have even attempted to derive the many from the one. Not deterred, however, by his first failure, Spinoza in his doctrine of modes renews the attempt to find a derivation of the finite from the infinite.

Modes of the Divine Substance. The attributes were never, it seems, intended to mean finite being; for the character of independence (per se concipi) belongs to attribute, as it does to substance; but the mode, which can neither exist nor be conceived without substance (def. V), is surely finite, and here, if anywhere, we shall find the derivation of the finite from the infinite. For modes are, apparently, the countless parts into which the divine substance is sundered, the numberless billows which the ocean of eternal being casts up from its unfathomed depths.

It is only in so far as God is determined to particular modes of being that He can be said to cause them. My body is caused by God inasmuch as it is a determination of Him; so, too, is my soul; so also are the various objects in the world around me. When, therefore, I ask, Are these modes identical with God? Am I God? I must answer that I am not God, for He is infinite and I am determined to this particular mode; but take away the determination of my mode of being, and I am God. In this sense we are diminished Gods. There are, therefore, two ways of viewing concrete finite things: first, as they are determined in time and space; and secondly, sub specie aeternitatis, that is, prescinding from all determination and looking at things merely as flowing necessarily from the divine substance.

(a) We are now in a position to ask, Is Spinoza a pantheist? for the answer to this question will depend on the answer to this other question, Does Spinoza hold that finite things, as such, exist at all, that the modes have any existence apart from the substance, that they determine the substance in the sense of a real determination? Spinoza{3} expressly teaches that nothing proceeds from the infinite except the infinite. Are the modes then infinite, since they come from the infinite? He answers that the modes come from God inasmuch as (quatenus) God is modified by finite modes, and may, therefore, be finite. This, however, is merely a subterfuge. The real answer is given when, on the ground that all determination is negation, all limit is not-being, Spinoza finally denies that the mode is real. The senses, it is true, present the world to us as consisting of finite beings really determined and distinct from one another and from the infinite; yet, if we view things sub specie aeternitatis and reflect that all determination is negation, then all distinction and all finiteness disappear, and we find that we have returned to the starting point, to the assertion, namely, that God is one and all is God. We may, indeed, distinguish between natura naturans, which is substance absolutely devoid of determination -- the indivisible one -- and natura naturata, which is substance infinitely modified and determined to an infinity of modes of being. But the distinction dissolves when we reflect that determination is negation, and that consequently the sum of all determinations is equal to nothing. We may therefore maintain the formula: substance = God = nature.{4}

It is clear, now, that the mode is as unreal as the attribute, and that substance evades all attempts at differentiation and determination. We can see how things lead up to substance, but we cannot see how they are derived from it. The substance, which is the central concept in Spinoza's system of thought, has been compared to the lion's den, whither many tracks lead, but whence none can be seen to return.

(b) The self-maintaining impulse. Spinoza once more renews the attempt to derive the finite from the infinite, when{5} he describes the finite as only partly negative (ex parte negatia). There is, then, in the finite a positive element which, when we come to examine it, we find to be a self-maintaining impulse, an effort (conatus), by which it seeks to preserve its existence. in Ethica, III, 6, this impulse is said to be the essence of finite being. But here, once more, when we ask how this positive element is related to the substance, Spinoza is obliged to answer that it is a determination of God.{6} We are, therefore, thrown back on the monism with which we started: there is no being but God.

(c) Description of the infinite. Abandoning now all attempt at deriving the many from the one, let us inquire with Spinoza into the nature of the one substance. We must not expect to define it; for to define is to determine. We may, however, describe it by predicating terms of it analogously, as the schoolmen would say. It is, for example, a cause, not in the sense in which fire is a cause of heat, but rather in the sense in which the blackboard may be said to be the cause of the figures which limit, or determine, portions of its surface. The one substance may be said to be eternal, in the sense that its essence involves existence, or, to use Spinoza's peculiar phraseology, in the sense that it is the cause of itself. But what surprises us most in Spinoza's description of the one substance, is the assertion that it possesses neither intellect nor will, these being determinations belonging to natura naturata.{7} It is evident, therefore, that the infinite is a geometrical rather than a dynamic infinite, that there is in it no principle of freedom or finality, that all things proceed from it by necessary and immutable law, just as the properties of a triangle (to use Spinoza's favorite illustration) proceed from the nature of the triangle. God is not a self-determining, self-integrating spirit, but an inert, impersonal substance.

Philosophy of the Finite. The first determinations of substance are, as we have seen, mind and matter, or substance conceived as thinking and substance conceived as extended. These attributes, although antithetical and therefore exclusive of interaction, are arranged in a certain parallelism, so that every mode of substance has its thought aspect and its extension aspect. For example, the idea of a circle, and the circle itself are the thought aspect and the extension aspect of one and the same mode of substance. To this parallelism we shall return later on. Before taking up the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of matter it is necessary to speak of the infinite modes.

(a) The infinite modes are introduced in order to fill up the gap between God and finite modes: as modes, they are finite; as infinite modes, they belong to the sphere of the infinite. These infinite modes{8} are either modifications of the absolute nature of some attribute or modifications of an attribute already modified, but so modified as to be eternal and infinite. When asked for examples, Spinoza{9} answers that to the first class belongs infinite intellect as an infinite mode of thought, and motion and rest as infinite modifications of extension; while to the second class belongs the form of the whole universe (facies totius universi) which, though it varies in an infinity of ways, is always the same.

This final attempt at mediation between the infinite and the finite is, like all Spinoza's previous attempts in the same direction, a failure. For the modes must, in ultimate analysis, be either finite or infinite. The doctrine of infinite modes is, however, interesting by reason of its striking resemblance to the Neo-Platonic doctrine of the Logos, which was just such an illogical introduction of a something intermediate between the one and the many. Indeed, Spinoza himself was aware of the resemblance.{10} The doctrine is also of interest as showing once more how Spinoza's speculative intuition realized the necessity of introducing into his system some principle productive of differentiation and plurality, -- a principle which, however, the logic of his system would not and could not admit.

From each of the infinite modes proceeds an infinity of finite modes; from infinite intellect proceed all finite minds, and from infinite extension proceed all finite bodies. We come, therefore, to the philosophy of body and mind.

(b) Philosophy of body. Extension is infinite (1) because it is an attribute of God, and (2) because its development could be impeded neither by a mode of thought nor by a mode of extension; and whatever is finite is so because it is in some way impeded in its development. Extension is not only infinite, it is also one and continuous, because (and whatever problem Spinoza happens to be discussing, he always takes us back to this point) substance is one and continuous. There is, therefore, no substantial, but merely a modal divisibility of extension.{11}

Extension is essentially active, not inert, as Descartes taught; for it is, as we have seen, an attribute of substance, and substance, although incapable of self-differentiation, is essentially and eternally active. Every extended mode of substance is, therefore, preceded by and followed by an infinite series of movements. Thus, for the mechanism of Descartes, Spinoza substitutes a dynamism of a peculiar kind, namely, a dynamism based on the eternal activity of the infinite substance, not on the activity of matter itself.{12}

Particular bodies are systems of movements. The molecules of the living body, for instance, are constantly changing; yet the body remains the same because the same relation continues to exist between the molecules -- the set of movemenfs remains the same. But the living body is itself part of a larger system of movements, -- of the terrestrial planet, for instance, -- and this in turn forms part of a still larger system; so that the isolated individuality of any one body is an illusion of the imagination: a comprehensive view, that is an adequate knowledge of any particular body, reveals it to be but part of the universal system of movements.

But whence comes the order in this cosmic system of movements? Whence the adaptation of organ to function and of individual to environment? Spinoza has already answered in general terms that in the geometrical process of the finite from the infinite there is no place for the concept of finality. So, too, in the philosophy of body, he teaches that the extension modes of substance proceed from substance as extended not as thinking. There can, therefore, be no intended adaptation. The processes of the cosmos proceed by an unconscious geometry, in the same way as the spider spins its web without any knowledge of the proportion and symmetry of figures. It is only by imagination that we distinguish objects, fancy them to be individual, group them in figures, and arrange them so as to produce beauty of form or color. This arrangement was not intended in the processes themselves; so that, if we see beauty and adaptation in the geometrical processes of nature, it is due to the illusions arising from the inadequacy of our knowledge.

(c) Philosophy of mind. Spinoza's psychology is partly foreshadowed in his doctrine of substance. Thought, as an infinite attribute of the infinite substance is eternal and necessary; it is the thought of God by God. Minds (created minds, as we commonly call them) and ideas are modes of substance under the aspect of thought, just as bodies are modes of substance under the aspect of extension. The order and connection of ideas is already determined by the order and connection of extension modes: idem est ordo idearum et ordo rerum.{13} To every thought mode corresponds an extension mode, and this parallelism, being universal, implies that everything thinks. Indeed, Spinoza openly teaches that animals, plants, and even inanimate objects think; for the essence of a thing is the self-maintaining impulse, and an impulse is a tendency (conatus), and tendency implies thought. Plant thought, however, and animal thought Spinoza confesses to be thought of a very rudimentary kind.

The human mind is, like every other mind, a mode of the divine substance. But what kind of mode? It is defined, in the first place, as the idea of the body.{14} We commonly say that man is composed of body and soul. In reality man is substance, determined to that particular mode of extension which we call body, and to that particular mode of thought which is the idea of body, and which we call soul. Body and soul are, therefore one and the same thing conceived under the aspects of extension and of thought, respectively. It will be observed, however, that although Spinoza reduces the soul to an idea, he is far from maintaining with the phenomenalist that the soul has no substantial reality; for he maintains that the soul is a mode of the great reality which is the one substance. It will be observed also that since the soul is the idea of the body, or in other words the consciousness of the organic states of the body, the conclusion that we must be aware of everything which takes place in the body, and that consequently every man must be an adept in physiology, appears at first sight inevitable. Spinoza, wishing to ward against this reductio ad absurdum of his definition, teaches that "the human mind does not involve an adequate knowledge of the parts of the body,"{15} and that "the ideas of the affections of the body, in so far as they are related only to the human mind, are not clear and distinct, but confused."{16}

The human mind is defined, in the second place, as the idea of an idea (idea ideae or idea mentis).{17} In other words, mind, after having been defined as consciousness, is now defined as self-consciousness. The second definition is supplementary of the first, and, like the first, defines mind with distinct reference to body. For, when we say that mind is the idea of an idea, we mean the idea of the idea of the body. Self-consciousness is consciousness of self as revealed by bodily states,{18} or the reflex consciousness of our perceptions of those states.

Having defined mind, we next turn to the study of knowledge, which is the characteristic attitude of the mind towards things. In the first exercise of the mind, our knowledge is inadequate, fragmentary, and confused. The reason of this imperfection is the fact that at first our point of view is purely individual, the point of view of one who, being himself part of the world of reality, apprehends merely those portions of reality with which he comes in contact. The inadequacy of this kind of knowledge is increased by the tendency of the mind to form fictitious universals, such as "being," "man," etc., which are not a sign of the mind's strength, but rather of its weakness; that is to say, of its inability to keep impressions apart from each other when they reach a certain limit in number and complexity.{19}

From this imperfect and inadequate knowledge man must pass to perfect and adequate knowledge, by abandoning the individual and partial point of view and by rising above himself and finite conditions; for perfect and adequate knowledge is untroubled by finite conditions and by the peculiarities of individual temperament.{20} In this development from inadequate to adequate knowledge, Spinoza distinguishes two stages:

(alpha) Reason (ratio) is the knowledge of the laws or principles which are common to all bodies, and which determine, not their accidental, but their essential relations.{21} This kind of knowledge is acquired not immediately, but by deduction. Arguing from effect to cause, we arrive at a knowledge of the permanent and essential properties of things and of their unalterable laws and natures, -- a knowledge which is superior to the imperfect individualistic knowledge, inasmuch as the latter reveals to us merely the illusory surface qualities of things. Studied from the point of view of reason, things assume a certain permanency, and consequently rational knowledge may be said to be a knowledge of things sub quadam specie aeternitatis.

Rational knowledge is, however, necessarily incomplete. It enables us to arrive at generic and specific concepts, -- partial unifications, -- but it cannot lift us up to that point where knowledge is completely unified and all things are viewed sub specie aeternitatis. This point we reach by means of

(beta) Intuitive knowledge (scientia intuitiva). In this stage of development the mind, being farthest removed from the individual point of view, no longer proceeds inferentially from one part of reality to another, but taking a comprehensive intuitive view of all reality, apprehends all things in the light of the first principle (substance) and, looking at all things sub specie aeternitatis, sees all in God and God in all. From this point of view, space, time, difference are seen to disappear and to be swallowed up in the immensity of God. He who has reached this point "evolves all his ideas from that which represents the origin and source of all nature, so that that idea appears to be the source of all others"; he has arrived at the culminating point in the development of human knowledge.{22}

We may remark in this theory of development of knowledge: (1) that whereas Descartes was content with making clearness and distinctness of perception a criterion of truth, Spinoza requires that, in addition to clearness and distinctness, our knowledge possess also adequacy, or comprehensiveness; (2) that Spinoza maintains the power of the human mind to comprehend infinite substance, that is to know God adequately; (3) that error exists only where knowledge is confused and inadequate; that consequently the mind never errs if it views things sub specie aeternitatis, and that since it is the will which determines whether a man shall or shall not attain intuitive knowledge, will and not intellect is the source of error; (4) that the three stages of development of knowledge may be described as sense-knowledge, scientific knowledge, and philosophical knowledge. We must, however, always remember that Spinoza sets the practical above the theoretical, and that he considers the third to be the most perfect kind of knowledge, not because it implies greater speculative insight into the nature of things, but because it sets the soul at rest and, like the ecstatic knowledge of which the mystics speak, enables us to despise the unrest and worry caused by the untoward events of life. This consideration brings us to the study of the ethical problems, on which all Spinoza's philosophy converges.

The Moral Nature of Man. We have seen that the essence of finite things is the conatus existendi, the self-maintaining impulse. In man, this self-realizing impulse accompanies each of the three stages of knowledge, assuming in each a different complexion. In the plane of confused knowledge it manifests itself as emotions; in the higher plane of rational knowledge it manifests itself as will; and in the highest plane, namely, that of intuitive knowledge, it manifests itself as the intellectual love of God, in which consists the blessed life of immortality.

(a) Let us consider the mind in the state of confused knowledge. Its being is thought: it is a diminished God, a God repressed, as it were, by the modes which limit its thought on every side. Like every other finite being, it strives not only to maintain itself, but also to extend its being by breaking through the modes which hem it in. But, unlike other finite beings, the mind is conscious of this effort. It is conscious also of the modes which affect it through the body, and it knows whether such modes diminish or increase its power of thought. This consciousness is emotion. In the third definition of the third part of the Ethica, emotion is defined:

Per Affectum intelligo Corporis affectiones quibus ipsius Corporis agendi potentia augetur vel minuitur, juvatur vel coercetur, et simul harum affectionum ideas,

and in the eleventh proposition of the same part Spinoza proves that whatever increases or diminishes the body's power of action, increases or diminishes the mind's power of thought. Emotion, then, is the (obscure and inadequate) consciousness of a transition from a less to a greater, or from a greater to a less, power of body or mind.

The fundamental emotion is desire (cupiditas), which is perhaps more properly described as the mental prerequisite of all emotional activity ; for it is the self-maintaining impulse itself. When a mode of the body, such as the sight of a flower, increases the mind's activity, there results the emotion of pleasure, or joy (laetitia); when, on the contrary, a mode of the body, such as the hearing of unwelcome news, diminishes the mind's activity, there results the emotion of sadness (tristitia). Love is the idea of an external thing which is the cause of joy, and hatred is the idea of an external thing which is the cause of sadness. Hope is the fluttering (inconstans) joy, and fear the intermittent sadness arising from the idea of an event which is of doubtful occurrence. When the element of doubt is removed, hope becomes security and fear passes into despair. The emotional state called gaudium is joy arising from the remembrance of a certain event as past, while its opposite, regret (conscientiae morsus), is sadness arising from the remembrance of a certain event which has occurred. Both these states imply a previous doubt as to whether the event to which they refer did or did not occur.{23}

The emotions are associated by contiguity, resemblance, and causation. This portion of Spinoza's Ethica is replete with instances of acute psychological analysis. The greatest defect in his treatment of the emotions is the exclusion of all intellectual emotions, such as zeal, love of God, love of justice, love of country, etc.{24}

The emotional life of man belongs, according to Spinoza, to the condition of bondage. As long as we continue to look on the modes of the finite world as they affect us through the modes of our own bodies, so long are we merely part of nature and subject to nature's inevitable laws. We may imagine that we are free, because we have no clear knowledge of the antecedents of the modes which affect us, but in reality every indistinct consciousness is itself physically determined, and we are no more free to act than the straw which floats down the river is free to turn and float against the current. In this condition of bondage man's moral life has not properly begun at all; for in this condition there is no right or wrong, but only pleasure or pain. Man's moral life begins in the stage of rational knowledge, in which the emotions give place to will.

(b) In the second stage of knowledge we possess adequate instead of inadequate ideas. Taking a broader view and contemplating the vast order of the universe and its eternal laws, we see that the objects of our love and aversion are really parts of the complex totality ruled by the inexorable laws of nature, and the vehemence of our passions appears to us, as it really is, no more reasonable than the child's anger at the stone which has hurt it.{25} Reason can no more be moved by pleasure or pain, by love or hatred of any finite cause of our emotions, than it can love or hate a triangle because the latter possesses three angles which are equal to two right angles. Thus the mind, when it has arrived at the plane of rational knowledge, having lifted itself above the cloudland of emotional life, having risen above the storm of passion, is no longer buffeted by every wind of feeling, or constrained by pleasure and pain, -- in a word, it passes from the state of bondage to the state of freedom. There is a rational element in every passion, and when, having acquired an adequate idea of the passion, we recognize that rational element, blind impulse gives way to deliberate pursuit or avoidance. Remark that in the stage of rational knowledge this rational element is not yet located in God, but merely in the common properties of things or in universal law. The perfection of freedom and the final location of all the objects of will in God Himself, is attained by means of intuitive knowledge.

It is somewhat surprising to find that Spinoza describes the moral emancipation of man as a process of intellectual development, without distinct reference to will, which is the proper subject of moral excellence. The explanation is to be found in the fact that Spinoza identifies will with intellect. "Will and understanding," he says, "are one and the same."{26} Intelligence contains in itself that free voluntary activity which we are accustomed to regard as the exclusive function of will; for good or evil means whatever helps or hinders our power of thought.{27}

It is of great importance to note that freedom, as understood by Spinoza, is, even in the sense of free understanding rather than of free will, incompatible with his general concept of the universe, and is maintained only at the expense of logical consistency. If man in the state of confused knowledge is a slave to passion, "because he is part of nature" and is therefore subject to the iron rule of necessity, which governs all things from substance down to the least of the modes of substance, it follows that man cannot become free except by ceasing to be part of nature, and this he can never do. If in the state of bondage there is no germ of freedom, freedom cannot be developed by any development of knowledge. Spinoza cannot consistently avoid determinism. He should never have tried to emancipate man, just as he should never have attempted to derive the manifold from the one.

(c) We come now to the third stage in the moral emancipation of the human mind, namely, to that in which man attains to the intellectual love of God and the blessed immortality. In the fifth part of the Ethica Spinoza teaches that the mind, arriving at the culminating stage of intellectual development (scientia intuitiva) wherein it sees all things in God, "can bring it about that all bodily affections and images of things are referred to the idea of God."{28} When this state is reached all passion ceases, and emotion and volition are absorbed in the knowledge and love of God (amor intellectualis Dei). This intellectual love of God is the highest kind of virtue, and it not only makes man free but also confers immortality. For this love has no relation to the body or to bodily states, and consequently it cannot in any way be affected by the destruction of the body. But here it naturally occurs to us to ask, What has become of the principle that to every mode of thought there corresponds a mode of extension? When the body perishes, what extension mode corresponds to the eternal thought which is bliss and immortality? Spinoza answers that, while the mode of extension which is the human body conditioned by time and space perishes, there remains the essence of the body which is conceived under a form of eternity. At the same time the sensitive and imaginative part of the soul perishes with the actual body, so that the ultimate conclusion is that both body and soul are partly mortal and partly immortal.{29}

We must not overlook the fact that in his Ethica Spinoza speaks of the eternity rather than of the immortality of the soul; and by eternity he does not primarily mean unending duration, but a kind of rational necessity by which a thing forms, once for all, an integral part of the universe, although, of course, what is necessarily a part of the universe cannot cease to exist. Moreover, this eternity or deathlessness is a condition into which the soul enters in this life. "The immortality which is sanctioned by Spinoza's principles is not a quantitative, but a qualitative endowment, -- not existence for indefinite time, but the quality of being above all time."{30} Spinoza does not conceive immortality as originally and equally inherent in all men; he Conceives it as something to be acquired by each man for himself, and as capable of being acquired in different degrees.

Finally, we may ask whether the immortality of which Spinoza speaks is immortality at all. Is there in this concept of immortality a survival of the individual? On the one hand, Spinoza teaches that imagination and memory perish with the actual body; and with these faculties perish all the recollections, associations, educated nerve-processes, and everything else which serves to perpetuate personal traits and characteristics. On the other hand, Spinoza is careful to guard against the doctrine of absorption of the individual in God; for he teaches{31} that final happiness is a state in which man, in attaining the highest unity with God, attains at the same time the highest consciousness of self, so that in this union the distinction between God and creature is not obliterated, but rather accentuated. The conclusion seems to be that the blessed life is a state in which we shall retain our individuality, but shall have, apparently, no means of recognizing ourselves as the same individuals.{32}

Historical Position. What first arrests our attention in the study of Spinoza's philosophy is the strict geometrical method which he adopted. Starting with the definition of substance, he proceeds to deduce from a single truth a whole system of philosophy. From this definition we follow him to the point where he first attempts to account for the diversity of things, and there his first lapse into inconsistency occurs. In order to account for the diversity of things he is forced to assume something besides the one inert substance, and over and over again he surreptitiously introduces a principle which the logic of his premises can never justify. The truth is that, as has already been said, if Spinoza had been perfectly consistent he should never have attempted to go beyond the definition of substance, which is his starting point, and should also have been the final goal of his system.

In attempting to explain away the inconsistencies of Spinoza's thought, some have overlooked the individualistic elements in his system and represented him merely as a pantheist, while others, looking upon the pantheistic elements as mere formulas, represent him as an empiricist.{33} ,To one he is a "God-intoxicated man"; to another he is a sordid and filthy atheist (sordidus et lutulentus atheus). Both these views are in a certain sense correct, and yet both are wrong. For if we consider merely the speculative elements in Spinoza's philosophy, we must pronounce him to be at once a pantheist and an empiricist, an anomalous being reminding us of the winged hull of Assyrian art, -- a creature of air and a creature of earth. But, as has been pointed out above, Spinoza's aim was practical, rather than theoretical. We must not picture him as concerned merely with the speculative aspect of the problems of philosophy; we must rather picture him as he represents himself, and as we know him from the events of his life, -- a poor, persecuted Jew, rejected by his co-religionists and despised by his Christian neighbors, bearing in patience the sufferings which were his lot in life. For him metaphysics was what it never had been even for Plato, a religion and a refuge. In it he hoped to find that view of the universe which would reconcile him to his own hard fate and enable him to rise to a plane where his enemies could not reach him. We should bear these facts in mind when we criticise Spinoza, and, though they should not render us blind to his errors, which are many and serious, they should enable us to understand his thought, which is often sublime and is always deserving of sympathetic attention.

{1} Consult also Martineau, A Study of Spinoza (London, 1882), Types of Ethical Theory (Oxford, 1886), and articles on Spinoza in the Encyc. Brit., and in the Jounal of Speculative Philosophy, Vols. XI and XVI.

{2} Cf. Epistola XXVI.

{3} Ethica, II, 28, schol.

{4} Cf. op. cit., I, 19, schol.

{5} Op. cit., I, 8, schol.

{6} Op. cit., II, 45; III, 6.

{7} Op. cit., I, 32 and corollary.

{8} Op. cit. I, 21, 22.

{9} Ep. LXVI.

{10} Cf. Short Treatise, 1, 9.

{11} Eth., II, 2, 13.

{12} Op. cit., II, 13, Lemma III.

{13} Op. cit., II, 7.

{14} Op. cit., II 13.

{15} Op. cit., II 23.

{16} Op. cit., II 28.

{17} Op. cit., II 21.

{18} Op. cit., II 23.

{19} Op. cit., II, 49, Schol. I.

{20} Cf. ibid., Schol. II.

{21} Op. cit., II, 39.

{22} Op. cit., II, 47.

{23} Op. cit., II, 12 ff.

{24} Cf. op. cit., II, 27 ff.

{25} Op. cit., V, 4, schol.

{26} Op. cit., II, 49, corollary.

{27} Op. cit., IV, 27.

{28} Op. cit., V, 14.

{29} Op. cit., V, 20 ff.

{30} Caird, Spinoza, p. 291.

{31} Eth., V, 33.

{32} On Spinoza's doctrine of immortality, cf. Mind, April, 1896.

{33} For different interpretations of Spinoza, consult Pollock, Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy, pp. 348 ff.

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