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Spinoza’s arguments for intellectual freedom Lange, Michael 1976

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SPINOZA *S ARGUMENTS FOR INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM by MICHAEL LANGE 8.A., University of British Columbia, 1972 • A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in The Department of Philosophy We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1976 <§) Michael Lange, 1976 In presenting this thesis in partial fuIfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by his representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of "T&£c^pky The University of British Columbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date fepk&^b&J-ABSTRACT In this essay I shall give a c r i t i c a l account of Spinoza's arguments for intellectual freedom as they occur in chapter twenty of the TRACTATUS THEOLOGICO^POLITICUS. His arguments exhibit certain ambiguities issuing from his appeal to the rational and prudent on the one hand and to several practical implications following from presumed facts about human nature on the other. These ambiguities w i l l be discussed. This discussion w i l l lead to Spinoza's doctrine of natural right upon which he constructs his p o l i t i c a l philosophy. One: THE HISTORICAL SETTING Here I shall give a brief outline of the p o l i t i c a l climate of Spinoza's time. My purpose is to show that Spinoza's ideas were at once advanced for his age while intended at the same time to solve some ©f the pressing problems he observed. Not u n t i l after his death were the - i i -c i v i l liberties Spinoza considered important adopted as basic premises of government. Two: SPINOZAfS NOTION OF INALIENABLE NATURAL RIGHT AND HIS DOCTRINE OF NATURAL RIGHT This section i s concerned with the question of whether Spinoza's idea ©f an inalienable natural right conforms with his general doctrine ©f natural right. I shall argue that i t does not and that i t probably has a more solid foundation in Spinoza's ethical rather than in his p o l i t i c a l theory. Three: SUPPRESSION IS LITERALLY INEFFECTIVE In this section I present and discuss Spinoza's proposition that suppression of thought and speech i s l i t e r a l l y ineffective because i t i s impossible to deprive men of the freedom to say what they think. I shall base my argument against Spinoza on the premise that there i s nothing inherent in human nature which leads us to conclude that suppression i s ineffective. I shall also try to Illustrate that his notion of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought may be a viable p o l i t i c a l tool - i l l -in the creation of a p o l i t i c a l and moral climate within a body p o l i t i c encouraging the general acceptance ©f freedom of thought on principle. Finally I shall argue that Spinoza has to move away from considerations of human nature and deal with the rational and prudent when proposing that certain speech-acts may rightfully be re-strained. Four: SUPPRESSION HAS UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS Here Spinoza describes some of the i l l effects of suppression. These effects, he argues, w i l l be f e l t by the oppressed as well as by the government. He says that suppression i s a two-sided e v i l . On the one hand the suppressed w i l l cause trouble for the government, on the other, those who enjoy the advantages, such as they are, of a suppressive government w i l l become involved in internal power struggles and these in turn may lead to national unrest. Thus Spinoza concludes that the government cannot secure any advantage by resorting to suppression. It follows that only two factors may cause a government to resort to suppression as a means of maintaining control; one, ignorance of human nature and two, an inherent weakness in the government rendering i t unable to confront rationally a powerful lobby of dissenters. - iv -Five: LEGITIMATE RESTAINTS OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH Recognizing that some speech-acts may reasonably be considered detrimental to the state, Spinoza feels that freedom of speech cannot be granted f u l l y . He discusses which speech-acts and beliefs he considers to be detrimental to the state and how to deal with them. I shall argue that Spinoza i s too vague on this subject and that in the light of his discussion here and the power-right relation of the sovereign, i t i s not always possible for him to determine when a speech-act is detrimental to society and when i t i s not. I shall argue that, consequently, his division between social and antisocial is not made sufficiently clear but remains rather a matter of contention. V -ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I should like to thank Dr. Rowan, who supervised the writing of this thesis , for his patient and encouraging help and the freedom I have had in finding my own way through the material dealt with here. I also thank Dr. Remnant and Dr. Winkler for their important c r i t i c a l comments. I am grateful to Maja Lange and Bronwyn Lange for typing and to Guy St. Clair-Sobell for proof-reading. - v i -Table of Contents INTRODUCTION 1 I HISTORICAL SETTING 4 II SPINOZA'S NOTION OF INALIENABLE NATURAL RIGHT AND HIS DOCTRINE OF NATURAL RIGHT 12 III SUPPRESSION IS LITERALLY INEFFECTIVE 33 IV SUPPRESSION HAS UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS. 52 V LEGITIMATE RESTRAINTS ©N FREEDOM OF SPEECH 75 CONCLUSION 84 BIBLIOGRAPHY 87 - 1 -SPINOZA'S ARGUMENTS FOR INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM INTRODUCTION In chapter twenty of the Tractatus Theologlco-Boliticus Spinoza presents his arguments for freedom of thought and speech. Henceforth I shall refer to the Tractetus Theologlco- Politicus as 'TT-P'. Spinoza draws several conclusions from the aforementioned arguments. The most striking of these is that " i t i s impossible to deprive men of the freedom to say what they (1) think." In support of this assertion Spinoza concentrates on a number of fundamental thoughts. First he makes use of the notion of an inalienable natural right t© substantiate his argument for freedom of thought. Further argumentation proceeds from 'experience', that i s , from the study of • history and of human nature. He concludes that men w i l l not and cannot tolerate having their freedom of thought denied. TT) TT-P, page 261, chapter XX Freedom of thought, once established, then leads to freedom of speech as a natural consequence. Here Spinoza uses a conspicuous device. His argument for free speech i s based upon the premise that men have an ungovernable weakness, namely that they are unable to hold their tongues. In this context, then, i t appears that Spinoza believes that a sufficient argument for freedom of speech does not proceed from rational and moral considerations alone. He must have thought that those considerations would not have sufficient impact i n the p o l i t i c a l arena. He argues, therefore, that attempting to suppress free speech i s tantamount to interfering with a fact of nature, a normal human activity beyond the control of man's volition. Given these premises Spinoza not only implies that suppression has negative effects, he states i t e x p l i c i t l y . He describes these effects as ranging from mere annoyance to the possible creation of martyrs. A l l effects of suppression, he holds, are detrimental to the fabric of the state. Spinoza then introduces rational and moral considerations into his discussion. However, he does so only when confronted with the need to substantiate his argument that some speech-acts can and indeed must be suppressed by government, and that this may be done without compromising freedom of speech. - 3 -Here he seeks to remind us that the state may on occasion he viewed as moral guardian and that this role i s fundamental to i t s proper functioning. However, with this argument an obvious d i f f i c u l t y arises. How can men be expected to show restraint in their speech i f they have neither the capacity nor the w i l l to obey? I shall attempt later t© explain this apparent discrepancy i n Spinoza's thinking. I believe that this may be achieved by keeping in mind that Spinoza constructs his various arguments by selecting features of man which are appropriate to his immediate purpose. Spinoza's general doctrine of natural right is linked to his argument for freedom of thought and speech when he introduces to the"former;the notion of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought. I believe that this general doctrine of natural right does not harmonize completely with the notion of an inalienable natural right t© free thought. The reason for this disharmony may be found in Spinoza's p o l i t i c a l phil®sophy. I shall attempt to give an alternative account of natural right, one which emphasises i t s rational and moral aspects rather than, as in Spinoza's writings, those of power and might. ONE THE HISTORICAL SETTING Spinoza's philosophy evolved at a time when l i t e r a l intellectuals lived in constant fear of those who held p o l i t i c a l and religious power. Men were s t i l l persecuted and even executed in Europe for their religious, p o l i t i c a l and philosophical convictions. For example, Barneveldt, statesman and leader of the Remonstrants was executed in 1619 by:the Synod of Dortrecht for his views. Spinoza also experienced persecution. On at least one occasion his l i f e was threatened. Eventually, in 1674, some of, his works were banned by the Orange Party. Two years earlier his friend Jan de Witt was brutally murdered^ by a mob when v i s i t i n g a brother in prison. This tragedy did have an effect on Spinoza's writings? The passionate style of chapter twenty of the TT-P is clearly a result of these experiences. These events were the outcome of a p o l i t i c a l climate and time, Spinoza's own p o l i t i c a l thinking may be under-stood as a response to this climate. He acknowledges his own intellectual relationship to the contemporary d r i f t of human affairs and, accordingly, often employs the phrase "reason as well as experience shows...". What is meant here is that, ideally, abstract reasoning should lead to the same conclusions as experience. It i s in this light that we may understand his argument for freedom of thought on the grounds of an inalienable natural right. This freedom may be regarded as a requirement of reason as well as the result of observing human nature or of experience. A brief examination of Spinoza's p o l i t i c a l environment w i l l therefore provide a setting for his p o l i t i c a l arguments. In the seventeenth century, when Spinoza formulated his p o l i t i c a l doctrine, fanaticism was especially prevalent. A declining age of fai t h resisted the advance of the age of reason and there was s t i l l l i t t l e evidence that the latter was to come. Spinoza's family was driven from Portugal by the Inquisition. In the Netherlands they found some measure of security and freedom, for at this time the Dutch Republic was held to be a sanctuary for persecuted religious faiths: i t enjoyed a p o l i t i c a l system conducive to liberalism, and was founded upon the belief that stable c i v i l government did not need the support of a uniform religious power. Spinoza gave his f u l l support to this principle and argued on i t s behalf in the TT-P. Consequently the Dutch Republic did not seek to unify the various religious interests under one religious power. This made the peaceful coexistence of different religious faiths possible. Unfortunately the situation did not obtain for long and Spinoza was to witness the decline of this form of government. The Dutch government proved too weak against the growing power of the Calvinists. The latter claimed divine authority, which they believed themselves to possess, to be superior to the authority of c i v i l government. They then endeavoured to gain acceptance of this claim by persecuting those who challenged i t ; dissenters were considered heretics. Eventually the Princes of Grange replaced republicans such as Gffenbarneveldt and Jan de Witt by allying them-selves with the Calvinists. Thus, men who considered persecution an acceptable means of gaining total religious and p o l i t i c a l power assumed control. Spinoza, always an advocate of uncompromising religious and philosophical toleration, maintained that no external authority had either the right or the need to suppress expressions of fai t h and philosophical conviotion. He "believed that such interference offended the fundamental natural right of the individual. He thought that a govern-ment that does not respect this right must of necessity earn a reputation for oppression. His view i s expressed in the following observation: This i s why government i s regarded as oppressive i f i t tries to control men's minds, and why a sovereign is thought to wrong i t s subjects, and to usurp their right, i f i t seeks to t e l l them what they should embrace as true and reject as false, and prescribe beliefs which should inspire their minds with devotion to God; for in such matters an individual cannot alienate his right even i f he wishes... (TT-P. page 227, chapter XX) Now the manner of Spinoza's approach may be elucidated by comparison with that of Hobbes. The latter, under similar conditions in England, held a position that differed from Spinoza's on some fundamental issues. In England a weak James I,in an attempt to impose religious uniformity, averred the motto "no Bishop no King", He did not fe e l secure on the throne without the support of the power of the church. The church, he knew, had the means to mould popular opinion. However, notwithstanding the fears and designs of James I, the trend proved to be towards separation of religious and c i v i l powers. The chief cause for this may be found in the Reformation. With the Reformation the number of denominations increased and as a result the p o l i t i c a l u t i l i t y of the church decreased. If a ruler succeeded in gaining the support of one denomination he was certain to antagonize another. Thus c i v i l powers were forced to become more self-reliant. The position ©f the monarchies was further compromised by the loss of the principle of the divine right of kings. Kings could no longer demand unquestioning acceptance of their claim to authority through divine right. After Luther everyone had aocess to God's word and could therefore fe e l as intimate with God as kings and bishops had hitherto been held to be. Moreover, i f Luther, a mere commoner, had revelations, then why not anyone? There is evidence that Hobbes was opposed to this development. He only saw the problems of religious liberation during i t s f i r s t awkward stages of development. In his BEHEMOTH Hobbes makes the following remark: For after the bible was translated into English every man, nay every boy and wench that could read English, thought that they spoke with God Almighty, and understood what he said - every man became a judge of religion and an interpreter of the Scriptures to himself. This sentiment i s , to say the least; clouded by suspicion of the new religious independence that the translation of the bible engendered. Spinoza, a supporter of religious freedom would have reacted differently. Yet Hobbes1 position was not a result merely of suspicion of religious autodidacts. He also saw a real and imminent danger arising. This danger, carried on the wave of the Reformation, was expressed most pointedly by the notorious Buffe-coate during the debates at Putney, 1647. Far from attempting to help remedy the widespread p o l i t i c a l i n -s t a b i l i t y that prevailed near the end of the Thirty Year War, Buffe-coate contended that: Whatever hopes or obligations I should be bound onto, i f afterwards God should reveal himself, I would break them speedily, i f l i t were a hundred a day.•• (The Clark Papers. Camden Society, vol. I, page 273,) What Buffe-coate says here, in effect, i s that revelation carries more authority than c i v i l law and justice. He thought i t right to disregard the latter in the light ©f revelation. On this point neither Hobbes nor Spinoza could agree with him. Spinoza and Hobbes part company, however, in their suggestions for dealing with such a sentiment. Hobbes1 answer was to impose stringent centralized controls. For those who are not " p o l i t i c a l animals by nature" he advocates a "law and order sovereign" who upholds covenants with the swords(IEVIATHAN, 17). - 10 -H©bbes» sovereign controls religious doctrine and education, and determines whioh doctrines are to be tqpight (LEVIATHAN^ 18). Accordingly, Hobbes would have advocated the use of force to discourage the opinion that revelation i s more binding than c i v i l responsibility. Hobbes held that the Law has a right to intervene in matters ©f ©pinion and belief. Spinoza's attitude towards reason and revelation i s as follows: He argues that revelation and reason are logically independent, that i s to say, revelation i s such that i t does not contravene reason. He further claims that reason leads to obedience to the law. Consequently, while Hobbes sees danger in Buffe-o©ate's statements, Spinoza considers them merely inoorrect, Hobbes believed that many problems before society were caused by an excess ©f liberty. Individualism had als© proceeded t©o far in his opinion. He believed that the only way ©f averting the threat that individualism posed for the state would be to vest matters of mind and s p i r i t in the sovereign. Questions of f a i t h and belief were t© be settled by the sovereign and not by the individual. This arrangement was to be the wellspring of p o l i t i c a l s t a b i l i t y and social cohesion. Spinoza prescribed the opposite remedy. Instead of advocating the curtailment of the individual's mental freedom he sought greater freedom. He f e l t that there was too l i t t l e toleration. His treatment of the supposition - 11 -that individual freedom would destroy social cohesion rests upon a theory of reason leading him to rejeot Hobbes* view that i t i s a matter of indifference whether men follow their own reason ©r the reason imposed by an external authority so long as they do follow reason. Spinoza's theory, then, suggests that men cannot be forced to think rationally neither can they be made t© follow the reason of another in matters of f a i t h and belief. In matters of mind and s p i r i t men must be free. T© Spinoza the preservation of social oohesion depended upon such freedom since any application of force divides rather than unites men. On the whole, Spinoza's ideas were advanced for his time. He wished to establish a rational basis for c i v i l l i b e r t i e s . His notion of an Inalienable natural right was a step towards this goal. In his model constitutions, though they have l i t t l e practical application now, he advocates the principle of participation, balance of power and effective representation. His aim was to create conditions where no man was able to further his own interests at the expense of another,; and although he was inclined to favour democracy, he believed that such conditions could be achieved under any form of government. - 18 -TWO SPINOZA'S NOTION OF INALIENABLE NATURAL RIGHT AND HIS DOCTRINE OF NATURAL RIGHT Spinoza's arguments for freedom of thought and speech as proposed in chapter twenty of the TT-P are related t© what I would term his general p o l i t i c a l theory expounded in proceeding chapters of the TT-P. In his general p o l i t i c a l theory notions relevant to his argument for freedom of speech and thought are developed. The most important of these coneepts are 'natural right', •power', 'transfer' and 'legitimacy' of sovereign action. Spinoza's doctrine of natural right and power i s central to his p o l i t i c a l philosophy. He derives his concept of - 13 -natural right from a hypothetical 'state of nature'. The individual in this state of nature does not delegate to anyone authority over his natural right. In the state of nature, therefore, an individual may aot in whatever way he deems f i t , given his physical and mental capacities. He i s not "bound by any agreements with other men. He may be bound by moral scruples but only i f , as an individ-ual, he chooses to observe certain moral rules of his own free w i l l and not because of any moral convention. The qualification that a man may behave in any way he likes, provided that he has the physical and mental capacities to enforce his actions, introduces the notion of power. Power, in the state of nature, depends upon what is possible for an individual to do. Here power i s a personal attribute like cleverness, dullness, weakness or strength. If , for example, in the state of nature I have the power to enslave or k i l l another I may do so since universally accepted moral values do not exist in that state. Spinoza makes this point when he says: And this i s precisely the doctrine of Paul (Romans 4, 15) who admits no sin before the existence of law, i.e. as long as men are regarded as l i v i n g under the 'sway of nature'. (TT-P. page 127) Natural right, therefore, i s not restrained by anything except power; that i s , an individual's natural right is equal to his power. Natural right and power are co-- 14 -extensive in the state of nature. Within the context of natural right in the state of nature Spinoza recognizes n© difference between "men and other things in nature, ©r between men endowed with reason and others to whom reason i s unknown, or between the foolish, the mad, the sane: f©r whatever anything does by the laws of i t s own nature i t does with perfect natural right, simply because i t has been determined by nature to act, and i t can do nothing else". (TT-P. page 125) And further: Hence, as long as men are regarded as l i v i n g under the sway of nature al©ne, he who s t i l l i s blind to reason, or has s t i l l to acquire a virtuous disposition, lives wholly by the laws of appetite with as perfect a right as he wh© guides his l i f e by the laws of reason. (TT-P. page 125) Natural right in the state of nature forbids neither " s t r i f e nor hatred, nor anger, nor deceit" (TT-P. page 127). Natural right i s subject only to natural law in the state of nature. Natural law, however, merely determines what i s or i s not possible. So i t i s , for example, impossible to "get a table to eat grass" (TT-P. page 156) because a table can exist only by the natural law of tables and cannot behave like a cow. A man's actions may therefore be explained in terms of natural right, natural law, ©r simply i n terms ©f his power. In application a l l three are equivalent. - 15 -Thus, a notion of equality may he said to be implicit i n Spinoza's notion of natural right. However, i t i s rather weak and perfunctory. The claim, for example, that a l l men have the same natural or human rights is not substantiated at this point since Spinoza's notion of natural right depends upon individual power. This means that the individual may take away the natural rights of others, provided that he has the power to do so, with no principle or agreement to hinder him; but right based on power cannot lead to a notion of equality founded upon human rights. This 'archetypal' natural right, therefore, has no moral connotations. Neither does anyone in the state of nature have the means of claiming his natural right unless he himself has the power to guard i t . Since now this natural right becomes the foundation of the state by means of individuals transferring their natural right to the sovereign, the sovereign actually inherits power. That i s to say, when Spinoza considers the mechanics whereby men transfer to the sovereign whatever power they possess, bestowed upon them by nature in the state of nature, i t i s the sovereign wh© appears to gain unmitigated power, i t does not, at least not i n i t i a l l y , also accept responsibilities, Thus individuals - 16 cede their power to the sovereign and hence, by definition, their rights also. Right and power are coextensive and remain so in the I n i t i a l c i v i l state where they are now possessed exclusively by the sovereign. Spinoza says: But since everyone's natural right is determined solely by his power i t follows that in so far as he transfers his power to another - whether voluntarily or by compulsion does not matter - he necessarily surrenders to the other his right as well; and that the man who has supreme power to coerce a l l , and to restrain them by threat of a^supreme penalty which i s universally feared, he also has supreme right as long as he preserves the power to do as he wishes,;. (TT-P. page 135) This means that the sovereign can by right do as i t likes, " . . . i t is true that he has the right to treat as enemies a l l who are not in complete agreement with him on every point... admittedly he has the right to rule with the utmost violence". (TT-P. page 229) But the ruler must consider the good of the state, ^..Sbecause he cannot do such things without great danger to the state, we may even deny that he has the f u l l power to do..." (such things). According to the foregoing nation, when men enter into the c i v i l state, no change occurs in natural right as i t exists in the state of nature; for in the c i v i l state, c i v i l laws continue to be based upon what may be called the sovereign's impunity, in other words, what i t can get away with. Therefore, the sovereignty i s not an - 17 institution concerned with the development and maintenance of c i v i l laws along moral and rational lines. Hence, according to Spinoza, moral and rational principles are subject to expedience, that i s , they w i l l be employed only i f the sovereign believes that they w i l l maximize i t s power. Spinoza's concept of transfer of authority does not appear to be related to a social contract. The transfer operates with the passage of a portion of power from the individual to the sovereign. Thus individuals, now subjects, become duly subjected to the power of sovereignty. This i s rather puzzling in view of the fact that Spinoza did have sound reasons for advocating the creation of a c i v i l state in the f i r s t place. He says: S t i l l , nobody can doubt that i t i s much more advantageous for men to live by the laws and sure dictates of sound reason... i t s aims are the true interests of man... men need mutual help... to live safe and well men must necessarily join together... they therefore arranged that the right to do everything which each had by nature should be held collectively... should be determined by the powers and w i l l of a l l together... man should resolve to bridle his appetite when i t i s suggesting anything harmful to another... to defend his neighbour's rights as i f they were his own..., etc. (TT-P. page 129) These remarks describe clearly the advantages that lead - 18 -men to enter into a union of their own creation called the c i v i l state. There is no question in Spinoza's mind that the c i v i l state i s a purposeful and intentional institution. The passage just quoted indioates that rational and moral considerations bear upon the creation of the c i v i l state from the very outset. But should we not also expect from the foregoing that men must take precautions to insure that their creation w i l l f u l f i l l i t s purpose? It should follow that men w i l l surrender their right and power to the sovereign conditionally and understand, at least in general, what those conditions must be. Spinoza's view of the true aim of ihe state here suggests that the transfer w i l l be effected in conjunction with the establishment of certain rules consistent with what men believe to be moral, rational and the purpose of the state. It i s therefore d i f f i c u l t to see how Spinoza's thoughts on the blanket transfer of right and power relate to his remarks on the purpose of the social contract. It appears that Spinoza was reluctant to elaborate on the concept of a social contract. He dealt with the matter thus: "Contracts have no binding force but u t i l i t y , and i f that u t i l i t y disappears, a l l contracts become void". (TT-?, page 131) The point here seems to be just one in whioh the sovereign receives power by means of a transfer. This power, so long as i t is retained, may be applied at w i l l regardless of a contract or a purpose held by those who transfer their power. But now Spinoza has to deal with the question of security for the subjects, - 19 -i.e. what assurance do they have that the sovereign w i l l act rationally and morally or, at least, with the approval ©f i t s subjects. Here Spinoza maintains that the sovereign's power w i l l increase or decrease in direct proportion to it s subjects' approval of its actions. Subjects "need not fear risk of complete submission to the government because i t can do only what i t has the power to do". (TT-P, page 133) The effect of Spinoza's construal appears to be that rational and moral considerations are subject to whatever i s p o l i t i c a l l y expedient. I believe that Spinoza reached these conclusions with respect to natural right because he departed from such high a level of abstraction. Had he viewed the proposition of the natural right transfer more concretely he would perhaps have tempered his approach. In more r e a l i s t i c terms the natural right transfer can be explained thus: When men, upon entering the c i v i l state, transfer their natural right, they do so with certain expectations. One of these i s that their lot w i l l be improved and that the sovereign can be trusted to conduct matters satisfactorily, at least so far as the majority of its subjects is concerned. On this condition the individual w i l l then place his services, that i s , his power, at the disposal of the sovereign. He w i l l , for example, make up the state's armed forces in order to represent the sovereignty when threatened by external danger. Thus the sovereign's power ultimately depends upon the - so -subject's willingness to serve. The sovereign therefore has absolute power only so long as i t can counsel i t s subjects to assist i t in the designs of state. This notion emphasises the cooperative nature of the foundation of the state. Here the sovereign is viewed as the incorporation of a l l citizens within the state and not as possessing the natural right to force obedience by any means so long as i t has the power to succeed. In anyevent, the rational and prudent i s not represented in Spinoza's natural right doctrine. The question of how Spinoza's idea of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought f i t s into or evolves out of his general p o l i t i c a l philosophy now arises. What could be said about inalienable natural right to freedom of thought i f i t were indeed founded upon his doctrine of natural right? One would have to say that this right i s a power ©f the individual which, i n accordance with the facts of the nature of the human organism, cannot be taken from him by another individual% nor can i t be tranferred to the sovereign. In this way the notion of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought could be made consistent with Spinoza's transferable natural right. It would resemble transferable natural right except that natural law would protect the faculty of thought from outside interference. In this sense, then, freedom of thought would be l i t e r a l l y inalienable. 21 -Spinoza establishes the notion of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought by asserting that: . . . i t i s impossible for thought to be completely subject to another's control because no man can give up to another his natural right to reason freely and to form his own judgement about every-thing, nor can he be compelled to do so. (TT-P. page 227) Spinoza does not wish to leave a doubt that he categorically denies the poss i b i l i t y of depriving men of the freedom to think and he repeats that: ...n© man, then, can surrender his freedom to judge and think as he pleases, and everyone i s master of his own thoughts by perfect natural right... (TT-P. page 229) He holds, therefore, that freedom of thought is safeguarded by the material impossibility of forcefully altering a man's system of beliefs. This aspect ©f inalienable natural right corresponds to his general doctrine of natural right which i s an account of the logical origin of the state. S t i l l , the question of whether i t i s correct to olaim that freedom of thought is inalienable remains. Evidently i t is not, for i f i t were, freedom of thought would enjoy the same status as, for example, the freedom to continue breathing. Yet i t does not. There i s no need to argue that men should have the freedom to breathe but there i s , apparently, 22 -a need to argue for freedom of thought. Even Spinoza exhibits some caution when suggesting that freedom of thought i s inalienable: "admittedly a man's judgement can be influenced i n many ways, some of them hardly credible... yet in spite of a l l that p o l i t i c a l s k i l l has been able to achieve i t has never been quite successful..." (TT-P. page 227). That thought may not really be better safeguarded in Spinoza's system than anything else proceeding from natural right can be illustrated i a another way. He says that the sovereign may do anything i t wishes so long as i t has the necessary power. By dint of its power the sovereign i s capable ©f ooeroing and tricking men into i t s service. And i f i t holds this pewer i t may also, for example, coerce, persuade ©r trick men into altering their ©pinions and beliefs to suit i t s purpose. Or, and this i s more plausible, i t may deny i t s subjects access to the ideas and information by which real freedom of thought i s fostered, Spinoza does not seem to see a problem with the transfer of natural right to the sovereign. He suggests that the sovereign w i l l lose i t s popularity i f i t goes too far; and with the loss of popularity i t w i l l also lose i t s power conferred upon i t by the public. But loss of power goes hand in hand with loss of right and this right, one must assumef reverts to the people. Such, i t appears, i s the power-right mechanism operative in Spinoza's p o l i t i c s . 83 -Spinoza adopts a different approach to the subject ©f thought: i t is inalienable. This means that i t i s not part of the power-right relationship that exists between sovereign and subject. The individual does not and cannot give up his right to freedom of thought. Therefore, should the sovereign attempt to claim for i t s e l f the right to interfere with this freedom, i t over-steps i t s authority. Spinoza's assertion that the original contract does n©t include a transfer of the right to free thought might give his argument a basis for a theory ©f social contract. However, i t i s not l i k e l y that this argument can be applied, since the whole point of Spinoza•& power-right equivalence i s that there are, i n i t i a l l y , no rational and moral restraints on the sovereign. Consequently, the notion of legitimacy with i t s moral and contractual implications is n©t dealt with in Spinoza's p o l i t i c a l system. Therefore, the relationship between his notion of an inalienable natural right and his general p o l i t i c a l philosophy remains obscure. Yet, according to chapter twenty of the TT-P, i t i s clear that Spinoza does feel that discussion and the free a v a i l a b i l i t y of information are v i t a l to freedom ©f thought, at least i f we agree that thought and speech are n©t two wholly separate faculties. Dr. Winkler suggested to me that the two assertions, namely, "no one can surrender his natural right to think..." 24 -and "men's judgement can be influenced in may ways..." are consistent i f one looks upon them as follows: I t i s agreed that thought can be influenced but the eseential consideration here i s that the power or natural right to think can not be transferred, that i s , i t cannot be placed under the effective command of the sovereign. But, although this i s true, I believe that Dr. Winkler applied a crucial distinction not t© be found in Spinoza. This distinction l i e s i n the meaning ©f the phrase 'effective command'. My understanding is that the sovereign has the power and the right to command it s subjects to think X. It is obvious, however, that the sovereign cannot effectively command its subjects to abandon their own beliefs. Yet, according to Spinoza** theory of natural right, the sovereign has not only the power and thus the right to command i t s subjects, i t also has the right, given the power, to coerce subjects and to compel them to accept the sovereign's beliefs by some other illegitimate and immoral means. So even i f the subject cannot place his thoughts under the direct and effective command of the sovereign, the latter can, by natural right, use other means to effectively deprive men of their freedom of thought. Whether i t i s true that, as Spinoza says, " i n spite of a l l that p o l i t i c a l s k i l l has been able to achieve i n this f i e l d , i t has never been quite successful", i s another matter. The point i s that freedom of thought may not, by nature, be so well protected as to assert that i t i s i n fact inalienable. - 25 In the light of the above discussion i t appears to me that Spinoza's categorical demand for freedom of thought cannot be incorporated wholly within his doctrine of natural right. Inalienable natural right to freedom of thought implies that i t must be demanded on rational and moral grounds. His doctrine of natural right does not allow such an interpretation. Spinoza i s seen t© waver on this point. He argues that, contained within the make-up of human nature there i s demonstrable evidence that freedom of thought cannot be alienated. He does not appear, however, to be entirely comfortable with that argument. Here again Spinoza's phrase "reason as well as experience shows" comes to mind. But in this case reason seems to show that freedom of thought must be demanded categorically, regardless of whether i t i s possible ( in some instances ) to interfere with free thought; while experience does not yield convincing evidence that nature has adequately protected freedom of thought and a l l that is required to realize i t . Thus Spinoza maintains that his doctrine of natural right, and to some extent the inalienable natural right to freedom of thought, are based on experience. He appears to imply here that human nature and human behaviour materially corroborate a theory of natural right and an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought. Thus i f natural right, as opposed to man's rational nature, is part of human nature, - 26 -then natural right i s a legitimate part of the description of the state of nature. I think, however, that the concept ef natural right cannot be traced back to a state of nature since i t is founded in that which distinguishes man from beast, namely his rationality. But rationality evolves in the social context. Therefore, whereas the concept of paver may reasonably be traced baok to a state of nature, the concept of natural right demands a different account. I believe that an argument can be developed which, although associating the idea of power with the state of nature, rejects this association with respect to natural right. Let us suppose, for example, that someone has discovered a state of nature that he wishes to study. He w i l l carefully observe events about him. He i s sufficiently gifted to be able to give a causal account of everything that he observes. On the basis of certain recurring phenomena he i s then able to formulate laws that allow him, f i r s t of a l l , to predict a sequence of events from certain circumstances. More important, he w i l l be able to theorize that there are certain forces or powers causing each event, i x hypothesis, the observer goes about the business of ordinary everyday empirical research. So far our observer has discovered forces or powers underlying certain events. The question now is whether he i s also able to find something in this state of nature that allows him to infer not only that there are certain - 27 powers, but also that there i s something which may "be called natural right. Or, to put i t another way, do any of his observations imply the existence of natural right in the state of nature? We must remember that there are no societies in the state of nature, not even any which, in an anthropological sense, may be called 'primitive*. There are just individuals. Some appear to repel each other while others seem to experience a force of attraction towards one another in accordance with the theory. I wish to argue that the observer of this state of nature is not justified in claiming that there i s a natural right, along with power, in that state because such a claim can result only from a perspective not held by the hypothetical observer. To alter this perspective, we must consider the following steps. On the one hand, our observer is proceeding along a *scientific* course. In so doing, he does not personally involve himself with his subject matter. He i s engaged merely in an act of understanding. That i s , he i s acquiring a way of looking at the state of nature, of making sense of i t . He does not, however, actually create order in that state of nature. Now, this perspective allows him to hypothesize certain forces and powers operative in that state. 28 -When, on the other hand, we begin to apeak of natural right we can no longer retain the perspective of an impartial observer. Natural right i s not just another fact about the state of nature or the world in which we live . That means that our interest in natural right i s not simply an interest in the world, i t i s , rather, an interest in our relationship to the world more specifically, to our fellow humans. (We would not be so foolish as to argue our natural right to existence when confronted by a lion). We do not have only an interest when we begin to speak of natural right, we also have an intention. Our intention i s to bring about order, to create order in a world of which we are a part. The kind of order we seek allows coexistence, for example, or, in less enlightened cases, for one group of men to dominate another. In either case, order i s what is desired. Hence there i s no natural right in the state of nature because, according to my construction here, there is no order among the individuals who live in that state. And, conversely, there is no intention to create order owing to a lack of concern towards one's fellow beings. Another consideration is that the notion of power does not effect any change in the state of nature. The notion of natural right when held by men, however, does change aspects of their relationship to one another. It is interesting to note in this connection that Spinoza's - 29 -transfer of power or right from the individuals to the sovereign involves no qualitative change. The only effect Spinoza's transfer of right and power appears to have is that i t enables the sovereign to behave in the same way individuals do in the state of nature, the difference being that i t can do so on a grander scale, by employing the man-power trans-ferred to carry out i t s w i l l . The individual in the state of nature has only his own muscle-power to rely upon. Since apparently there is no basis for the notion of natural right in the state of nature, we may now ask whether this implies that the notion cannot be traced to any characteristics found in human nature. I believe that i t can be. Rationality and moral oognition would seem to lead to a notion of natural right. At a level removed from rationality and moral cognition, the idea of natural right may arise, perhaps out of man being, or becoming, self-conscious. A« he attains self-consciousness, he w i l l recognize that he has more natural rights. At one time, perhaps, slaves were content to be slaves. The idea of freedom of the individual and of equality may have appeared absurd to them, even undesirable. I believe that this has changed. The reason may be that societies have developed in man a different kind of seIf-awareness. I have argued that natural right is not a principle - 30 that can reasonably be traced back to some archetypal condition such as a state of nature. Instead I suggest, that i t has its origin in man's view of his relation to other men and, therefore, in man's idea about what i s reasonable, rational, moral and last but not least, what is right. As such, natural right, when transferred to the sovereign, carries with i t the expectation that the sovereign w i l l administer the power thus bestowed upon i t accordingly. This means that sovereignty is an institution with the moral obligation to protect and preserve the rights of its subjects. This interpretation of the purpose of the sovereignty leads directly to Spinoza's view that the sovereign w i l l lose power in the degree to which i t f a i l s to act in the best Interest of the state. Spinoza is committed to the view that the sovereign has as much right as i t has power. Another feature of natural right which i s not dealt with by Spinoza i s that i t operates much in the sense of a regulative principle. For to say that men have natural rights i s to say, in a modern sense, that there are some rights fundamental to man which must be respected by c i v i l law. Thus i f c i v i l law f a i l s to respect them, men have a natural right to demand a remedy. In this way natural right tends to regulate the relationship between sovereign and subject to bring about the greatest common - 31 -good. It reminds the sovereign that there are some rights fundamental to the welfare of man. This i s an ongoing process. It i s , for example, possible that at some future time men w i l l have increased or changed their s e l f -awareness in some respect. This may result in their being able to argue righ t f u l l y for some corresponding changes in the legal structure, enabling them to pursue the different mode of l i f e such a change in self-awareness would create. The notion of natural right that I have attempted to develop differs from Spinoza's in i t s relationship t© the idea of an inalienable natural right to freedom ©f thought. My notion of natural right allows one to relate natural right directly to the inalienable version. Here the word 'inalienable* implies that an inalienable natural right i s an even more imperative demand than a simple natural right. One may paraphrase this by saying that when a natural right i s inalienable, i t i s absolutely essential on moral and rational grounds and for the good of society that such a right i s not denied. Thus the question of whether an inalienable natural right such as freedom of thought can in fact be suppressed i s irrelevant. This i s as i t should be because, as I have pointed out, i f i t could hot be denied in fact, there would be no point in arguing for i t . Spinoza demonstrates his awareness of this point when 32 he introduces the discussion on the effects of suppression by saying "hut let us assume that such freedom can he suppressed.,.". To do Spinoza justice i t must be repeated that he did imply, i f only vaguely, that thought can not in fact be suppressed. His major contention i s that attempting to suppress freedom of thought has undesirable effects which no government can afford to Ignore. - 33 -THREE SUPPRESSION IS LITERALLY INEFFECTIVE (1) Spinoza argues that i t is not possible to control people's thoughts effectively ©r to suppress their freedom to think what they wish. One of the reasons Spinoza gives for this assertion i s that indiviuduals cannot surrender their natural right to such freedoms . . . i t i s impossible for thought to be completely subject to another's control, because no one can give up t© another his natural right to reason freely and to form his own judgement about every-thing, nor can he be compelled t© do so. (TT-P. page 287) (1) TT-P. chapter twenty, on free thought and speech. - 54 -Here Spinoza establishes the notion of an inalienable natural right on the basis of what I have called his 'general p o l i t i c a l theory 1 i n the previous section. He asserts that i t i s impossible t© transfer the natural rig&t t© one's own thought to an external authority and that i t i s also impossible to ©bey commands from that authority to think or believe X. Spinoza then turns to the question of thought-control. He maintains that i t i s d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible, to control thought. (He does not, however, clearly commit himself by stating that i t is impossible, although I believe that such a suggestion is implied). F i r s t of a l l Spinoza introduces the notion of an Inalienable natural right" into his p o l i t i c a l philosophy. In section two of this paper I have suggested that this concept is not merely an incidental addition to Spinoza's ideas, but that i t follows from serious philosophical considerations. (See quote, page 33) Inalienable natural right, as Spinoza employs i t , seems to support the belief that thought cannot be controlled. It suggests at the same time that i t should not be controlled. Yet Spinoza does not pursue the implications arising from the latter assertion. Perhaps this i s so because i t would appear to be inconsistent with the statement that thought-control is not possible. In any case, the formulation of this inalienable natural right - 35 -may be regarded as a 'requirement ©f reason*. The power ©f thought i s not and indeed cannot be part of a trans-action whereby authority i s transferred from subjects to sovereign. In fact, Spinoza implies that men are *forced*, by the characteristics inherent in their own nature, t© adhere to their freedom of thought even i f they should wish to surrender that freedom. Why is i t that Spinoza believes that thought enjoys such a special position? One of the reasons is that, in Spinoza's ©pinion, attempts to control men's thoughts on any p o l i t i c a l l y significant scale have f a i l e d . In accordance with this belief Spinoza says: Admittedly a man's judgement can be influenced in many ways, some of them hardly credible, so much so, in fact, that though not directly under another's command, i t may depend entirely on his words... yet in spite of a l l that p o l i t i c a l s k i l l has been able to achieve in this f i e l d , i t has never been completely successful; men have always found that individuals were f u l l ©f their own ideas and that opinions varied as much as tastes. (TT-P. page 227) Spinoza does allow that i t may well be possible in isolated instances that men submit themselves to others to the extent that they become veritable puppets ©r dupes. Generally speaking, however, Spinoza believes that h i s t o r i c a l evidence shows that men's thinking cannot be regimented under an external authority. He does not mean to say that - 36 -this i s so "because men value their own opinions more than those of others. Neither does he imply that men generally adhere to some intellectual principle or rule whereby they w i l l reject attempts at thought-control. He merely says that men are so constituted that their minds generate their own ideas regardless of whether they are told or by some means forced to accept o f f i c i a l doctrine. Hence, owing to the tenacity of human nature, attempts at thought-control must needs f a i l . Evidence in support of the assertion that men's thoughts cannot be controlled or suppressed i s , according to Spinoza, to be found in history. He says : "Yet in spite of a l l that p o l i t i c a l s k i l l has been able to achieve in this f i e l d " (of thought-control) " i t has never been completely successful". Spinoza's argument here seems to be somewhat vague, even contradictory. It i s d i f f i c u l t to see under what circumstances and to what degree a sovereign's attempts to control thought may be successful or at what point the Individual w i l l begin to react against such attempts. Even i f we agree that governments have never been completely successful in their efforts to control thought, this observation makes a poor argument for freedom of thought. The only reason governments are called upon to refrain from attempting to control thought i s that they w i l l not be very successful anyhow. The extent to which this is true i s not entirely made clear in Spinoza's writings. Governments are not asked to adhere to some moral and rational principle but simply to see the i n u t i l i t y of such controls. This line of argument may in fact have i t s merits i f i t is seen to be true. However, even Spinoza admits that people have been known to be turned into "puppets and dupes", a circumstance which would appear to render an argument against such controls based entirely on i n u t i l i t y somewhat irrelevant, Spinoza's vagueness with respect to thought-control arises from and i s in keeping with his theory of transfer of power as outlined in his general p o l i t i c a l philosophy. He says that i f the sovereign uses i t s power against public oonsent and approval such action w i l l eventually cost i t i t s power. That i s , i f no one obeys i t s orders the sovereign has no power to enforce them. Therefore, i f no man w i l l follow i t s orders t© think or believe X, the sovereign's orders with regard to implementing X are beyond i t s power. Note that the question of legitimacy does not enter Spinoza's argument unless one conjectures about the implications of the notion of inalienable natural right. An examination ©f Spinoza's ideas concerning the limits of sovereign power reveals a flaw in his system. What would happen, for example, i f the sovereign had convinced enough people so that they could intimidate or even cause harm to others? It may s t i l l be true that - 38 -those who have remained unconvinced would continue to dis-obey the sovereign and, as a consequence, would suffer hardship. Yet they could not appeal to the sovereign on moral or rational grounds because Spinoza did not, in his general p o l i t i c a l philosophy, allow for such an appeal. The only recourse open to those treated unjustly by the powers of state would be to engage in a power struggle with the authorities. Spinoza's argument here has the same limitations as his transfer of power argument in his general p o l i t i c a l philosophy. Spinoza fs assertion may also be viewed from a somewhat different perspective. He may be understood to be making a point concerning the legitimacy of interfering with man's freedom of thought. He may be saying that i t i s t o t a l l y illegitimate to engage in such interference, the reason being that the power of thought never has been and never can be (within limits) transferred to the sovereign. But basically Spinoza does not concern himself with legitimacy. In the state of nature the power-right equivalence i s operat-ive, and this equivalence remains unaltered when the individual transfers power to the sovereign. The sovereign, therefore, does neb have to consider questions of legitimacy over and above the question of power. The concept of legitimacy requires that there be moral considerations for which Spinoza does not allow. - 39 -It follows that Spinoza cannot argue for the inalienable natural right to free thought from the point ©f view of his theory of power transfer. The moral implications of this right are inescapable, Spinoza's coneept of an inalienable natural right to freedom of thought may therefore be considered a new addition to his p o l i t i c a l theory, one that has not been thoroughly thought out in a l l i t s implications. As a next step in his argument Spinoza approaches freedom of speech. He makes a fundamental distinction between thought and speech. He says: If no man then, can surrender his freedom to judge and think as he pleases, and every-one is master of his own thought by perfect natural right, the attempt to make men speak only as the sovereign prescribes no matter how opposed their ideas may be, must always meet with very l i t t l e success in a state; for evea men ©f great experience cannot hold their tongues, far less the mass of people. It i s common human f a i l i n g to confide plans to others even when secrecy is needed. (TT-P. page £29) Freedom of speech i s not defended here by means of a moral or rational principle. It i s simply on account ©f the f r a i l t y of human nature that free speech must needs be granted. Here, as in his argument for free thought, one i s inclined to ask whether i t i s univers-- 40 -ally true that men cannot hold their tongues. Can this f a i l i n g indeed "be called a fact of human nature? There is no doubt that men can be forced to hold their tongues in many different ways or that their utterances can be prevented from reaching the general public. One only needs to deny a person the right t© publish in order to effectively s t i l l his tongue. How could Spinoza's argument b© brought to bear in such a case? Ultimately, free speech must also be defended on rational and moral grounds. Men's habit of uttering what i s on their minds can only guarantee a token freedom and ways and means of dealing with this 'weakness' are ever being devised. It i s interesting to note that Spinoza does not extend the notion of inalienability to speech also. One reason i s , of course, that speeoh i s not inalienable in the same way that thought i s . As Dr; Winkler remarked, "you can cut out their tongues and they lose the power of speech, but cut out their brains and they die". But speech, according to Spinoza, i s unlike thought in a different way as well. Whereas he believes, apparently, that no interference with thought i s necessary or possible and that attempting to do so conflicts with natural right, he holds that the situation with regard to speech di f f e r s . He may have failed to give the status of inalienable natural right to freedom of speech not so much because speech - 41 -can be controlled, but because It must be controlled to some extent. Spinoza holds that there are some speech-acts which can in fact be detrimental to the state. He says: Yet i t must be admitted that words can be treasonable as well as deeds; and so, though i t i s impossible to deprive subjects of this freedom entirely, i t w i l l be quite disastrous to grant i t to them in f u l l , (TT-P. page 229) Consequently Spinoza must have thought that the status of inalienable natural right could not reasonably be conferred on a freedom which can only be granted within certain lim i t s . This rationale can be seen more clearly when one considers the d i f f i c u l t i e s a notion such as 'conditional inalienable natural right 1 would engender. Another d i f f i c u l t y now presents i t s e l f , that i s , what argument can be made to safe-guard freedom of speech from misuse by an insecure or un-principled government? At this point Spinoza turns away from human nature and i t s f r a i l t i e s and brings forward rational and moral considerations. In so doing, he also realizes that his premise that people cannot hold their tongues could have only limited application, for he now acknowledges that men can and must show rational as well as moral discrimination in their speech-acts; moreover, they must be able to exercise self-restraint. Since man i s now viewed from a rational and moral perspective, the relation-ship between government and subject is seen accordingly. - 42 -Of the responsibilities of government he says: ...(the state's) purpose is not to subject men to tyranny, or to restrain them through fear, but rather to free everyone from fear so that they may live in a l l possible security, i.e. may preserve their natural right to act in the best possible way without harming them-selves or their neighbours. (TT-P. page 231) Thus the moral obligation of the government i s defined. The government may restrain speech-acts i f i t can do so without disregard to i t s fundamental purpose. Indeed, the government must restrain those speech-acts which w i l l interfere with this purpose. Spinoza continues in the same vein when he delineates the rights and duties of the subject: ...this means that while a subject necessarily violates his sovereign's right by acting contrary to i t s decrees, there is no violation whatsoever in his thinking and judging, and therefore also saying, that a decree is i l l advised; so long as he does no more than express or communicate his opinion, and only defend i t out of honest rational conviction, and not out of anger, hatred or a desire to introduce any change in the state ©n his own authority. (TT-P. page 231) This outline of the subject's relationship to government demands of men the a b i l i t y to rise above thei r human f r a i l t i e s and to do what is right. S t i l l , this i s not - 43 -at odds with Spinoza's earlier argument for free speech, considering that the two arguments, one involving men's f r a i l t y and the other calling for self-restraint, deal with two different aspects of man, both of which given the requisite circumstances, may play a part in p o l i t i c a l l i f e . Let us suppose, for example, that a government wishes to suppress the circulation of rumours about the improper behaviour of some of i t s agents. Tie government may then discover that men, even men with experience, are unable to hold their tongues. Thus, i f authorities are properly aware of this t r a i t of human nature, they might proceed more prudently for fear of indiscreetly spreading detrimental information. Consideration of the rational side of man brings Spinoza to his second conclusion in chapter twenty of the TT-P. namely: ...that this freedom (of thought and speech) can be granted to everyone without infringing the right and authority of the sovereign; and that everyone can keep i t without infringing that right so long as he does not use i t as a license to introduce anything into the state as law, ©r to do anything contrary to the accepted laws. (TT-P. page 241) This conclusion implies that there is a question ©f legitimacy. Human nature and whatever power the sovereign does or does not possess are not involved here. Spinoza - 44 says that the government may he expected to he open to any constructive criticism and that, by the same token, the subject also must act in good faith, This conclusion is therefore based on considerations which go beyond the soope of Spinoza's arguments for free thought and speech and also beyond his general p o l i t i c a l theory. Some questions s t i l l remain unanswered with regard to Spinoza's f i r s t conclusion in which he affirms that i t i s impossible to deprive men of the freedom to say what they think. We need to examine whether Spinoza's argument can support that conclusion, although i t is already clear that there is room for doubt. Yet i t may be that an appropriate interpretation of the term 'deprive* has not thus far been considered. The key to Spinoza's meaning of deprivation is deprivation on a p o l i t i c a l l y significant scale. As was shown, he granted that ",.,a man's judgment can be influenced in many ways,,,some of them hardly credible.. (TT-P, page E£7), I noted previously that this means that i t i s quite possible for one individual to force his beliefs and opinions ©n another. In this sense one man can deprive another of hia freedom of thought. But politicians are not so much concerned with one or two Individuals as with the public at large. It may be more to t bs point t© assert that i t is impossible to deprive the publio of i t s freedom to say what i t thinks. That would not alter the sense and intent of Spinoza's argument. It i s even — 4:5 ** possible to leave the individual completely out of consider-ation by maintaining that i t i s of no consequence i f one or a small number of individuals are i n fact deprived by the government of their freedom of thought and speech, sinoe there -will be others to carry the torch. Acc®rding to this view then, l i t t l e can be gained of a p o l i t i c a l nature by suppression, because freedom w i l l ultimately prevail. The above interpretation of the statement that ' i t is Impossible to deprive men..,1 does not, in my opinion, render Spinoza's contention more plausible. I do not think that we have a feature here of human nature qua 'the public 1 that safeguards i t from suppression. It may be true that ultimately suppressive dictatorships cannot prevail. The evidence, however, is not yet at hand and the long wait for i t may well exhaust the p o l i t i c a l theorist. I do not believe that the p o l i t i c a l theorist can base his arguments upon evidence which takes generations to manifest. To demonstrate that suppressive dictatorships cannot survive longer than, say, ten generations, i s a proper task for historians and not for politkal philosophers. The vision of the latter ought to encompass their own generation and perhaps the next. Spinoza says that thought cannot be controlled because'opinions vary as much as tastes'. Tet i t i s doubt-46 f u l whether this demonstrates that opinions cannot, on a large scale, be manipulated to further certain p o l i t i c a l interests. For example, well-organised governments often have created and s t i l l do successfully foster the notion that some other country i s an enemy of the state, thus preparing the public for war efforts. It is also doubtful whether human nature alone can supply grounds for a satisfactory argument for certain fundamental freedoms, such as freedom from interference with opinions, by means other than those of rational argument. We require protection based on rational and moral principles which w i l l serve as guidelines in case of doubt and moments of weakness. Another question in Spinoza's argument for free speech and thought concerns an interesting hypothesis of what conditions would be l i k e : ,,,could thought be controlled as easily as speech a l l governments would rule in safety and none would be oppressive; for everyone would live as his rulers wanted and his judge-ment of true and false, good and bad, f a i r and unfair would be determined entirely by their w i l l , (TT-P. page 227) According to Spinoza's line of thought here, a government 47 -would cease to be oppressive once i t had secured control of its subjects" thought. Spinoza does not specify the means by which government could obtain such control. In any case, i t follows that a government so successful in controlling thought that i t could rule i t s subjects as i f they were without w i l l would not be oppressive. We may also note that Spinoza does not proscribe the use of force and effective manipulation simply because he considers thought-control to be an impossibility. But what i f i t were possible? Would we not wish to refer to some other insights into the human enterprise allowing us to discriminate between a l i b e r a l government and one which is in power by virtue of i t s success in controlling thought? Let us imagine a situation where a government has 'control 1 over i t s subjects' thought, yet i s not oppressive. In this instance what may appear to an observer as the exercise of 'thought-control' i s simply agreement between subjects and government. Such a harmonious, albeit unlikely state of affairs could only be the result ©f mutual trust and respect. This situation, in turn, must follow from agreements reached through discussion and be accepted by both sides as rational and binding. In this event i t would seem that a government has power inthe sense of 'influence' without actually acting oppressively. We may disregard the dystopian situation in which a l l of the 48 -subjects have been rendered incapable of forming an opinion of their own. The difference between these two situations would be obvious to even an uninvolved observer. This, however, i s not what Spinoza meant when he said that governments would not be oppressive i f thought could be controlled with ease; his meaning of the word •control* clearly implies manipulation, whereas rational agreement is the very antithesis ©f manipulation. The state founded upon such rational agreement proceeds from the free exchange of ideas consistent with freedom of thought leading to agreement between subjects and govern-ment. This case illustrates the basic conditions of a free state: there i s no thought-control nor i s there a need for i t . I now wish to consider a more curious type of interference with free thought. Let us assume that a government has achieved some success in this direction: the people do not consider i t an oppressive one because the measures were introduced so subtly that no one noticed i f anything had been imposed upon or taken away from him. How could this be? To explain this kind of development l e t us f i r s t look at speech-control. Speech is effectively controlled i f men are prevented from saying what they think. Supposing free speech to be a normal expectation, - 49 -however, men w i l l certainly begin to notice any govern-ment interference and in the event w i l l thereby consider themselves victimised. Their government w i l l then be seen to be oppressive. Now consider a government that is able to prevent men from having certain thoughts, Let us further imagine that i t could do so by expunging from the consciousness of men, as they slept, certain ideas and beliefs. (Obviously this hypothetical style of thought erasure is not at a l l comparable to the conscious and personal rejection of ideas for in this case a person would retain the aware-ness ©f his own ideological revision). So here we have a situation in which the government oannot be accused ©f being oppressive because there is no awareness that an act of oppression has taken place. If a government were able to do this i t s subjects might even consider i t to be l i b e r a l . Nevertheless, such a government would be oppressive. A distinction must be made between appearanoes and what is taking place in fact. It may well be that a l l those subject to the power of such a government do not realise that they are being oppressed. They do not, there-fore, experience any deprivation. But someone outside the power of government would conoelvably see the situation i n a different light. We may press this argument to the point where such a government would be able to turn i t s - 50 -subjects into wi l l i n g slaves, I wish to reiterate my point; i t i s incorrect to maintain that oppression i s a concept operating only in situations of direct opposition and the conflict of w i l l s . Oppress ion carries with i t connotations of infringement upon human dignity, I main-tain, therefore, that a government which has achieved control "by means so subtle that i t s subjects are not aware of the act nevertheless continues to be an oppressive government when seen through the eyes of an outside observer. Finally, Spinoza may be saying that a government ceases to be oppressive in the sense that once i t has achieved control of thought i t may then safely return to a li b e r a l attitude. This would imply, however, that the government in questi on would then have to abolish whatever measures were used formerly to achieve control over i t s subjects* thought. But then free minds would once again actively engage in forming beliefs, ©pinions and ideas and controversy would again arise. Thus the government in i t s desire to maintain control would ©nee again have to enact oppressive measures. I believe that these examples serve to il l u s t r a t e that governments would not cease to be oppressive i f thought were easily controlled. One might now wish to - 51 -raise the question, what i f not a government, but God so ordered our thoughts that we a l l lived in harmony and happiness? Would this mean that God, by means of thought-control, would be oppressing us? There would be scarcely any c r i t e r i a by which to gauge such a state of affairs i f a l l mankind were to undergo the same change at the same time. (I shal l not go into the question of whether we would retain a memory of our previous state since this example can be stacked appropriately). As far as the present is concerned, a state comprises only part of mankind and therefore events which take place within that state can come to the attention ©f people l i v i n g under different circumstances. Consequently we s t i l l have a situation where men are unable to exercise universal power. But even i f i t came to be that men did hold such power i t would be desirable to have ready moral arguments to prevent them from using their power to the detriment of their fellow man. - 52 -FOUR SUPPRESSION HAS UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS As outlined in the previous section of this essay, Spinoza concludes i n his chapter on freedom of thought and speech in the TT-P that "men cannot be deprived of the freedom to say what they think". It is clear, however, that some individuals who hold a position of power believe otherwise. Consequently there continue to be attempts to suppress man's freedom of thought and speech. Spinoza maintains that attempted suppression carries with i t such disastrous consequences that the effect w i l l be to undermine - 55 -the purpose o f i n t r o d u c i n g i t i n the f i r s t p l a c e . His poin t of view w i t h respect t o t h i s matter gives r i s e t o the f o l l o w i n g d i s c u s s i o n . Spinoza begins w i t h en assumption "...but l e t us assume tha t such freedom can be suppressed and thet men can be so thoroughly coerced t h a t they dare not whisper a word which i s not p r e s c r i b e d by the sovereign". (TT-P, chapter XX, pge 235) This i s a curious way of i n t r o d u c i n g h i s d i s c u s s i o n . One may w e l l ask what poin t there i s i n d i s c u s s i n g the e f f e c t s of t o t a l c o e r c i o n since Spinoza has p r e v i o u s l y argued that such a s i t u a t i o n i s an i m p o s s i b i l i t y because o f the presumed f a c t t h a t men cannot be prevented from saying what they t h i n k . Several reasons may be put forward why Spinoza d i d choose t o to phrase the 8bove assumption i n the manner quoted. The f i r s t i s t hat the b a s i s of h i s argument f o r f r e e speech i s rooted i n the n o t i o n t h a t suppression may perhaps discourage men from p u b l i c a l l y s t a t i n g c e r t a i n things but t h a t i t w i l l not stop them from t h i n k i n g what they dare not u t t e r . This w i l l r e s u l t i n undermining men's i n t e g r i t y . Thus he i s able t o e x p l a i n the e f f e c t s of suppression of speech i n terms of h i s fundamental d i s t i n c t i o n between thought and speech. Another reason i s that Spinoza holds that suppression i s not p o s s i b l e , but t h i s statement must be i n t e r p r e t e d w i t h a c e r t a i n amount of c a u t i o n . He has already admitted t h a t one man can be made the dupe of - 54 -another; t h i s means that suppression (assuming t h a t the above i s a m a n i f e s t a t i o n thereof) i s p o s s i b l e i n i s o l a t e d i n s t a n c e s . This i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the a s s e r t i o n t h a t "suppression i s not p o s s i b l e " leads then t o an in c o n s i s t e n c y between that statement and any d i s c u s s i o n i n v o l v i n g the i l l e f f e c t s of j u s t such suppression. However, t h i s i n c o n s i s t e n c y may r e s u l t i n a more meaningful reading of the phrase under c o n s i d e r a t i o n , by means o f which the i n c o n s i s t e n c y can be resolv e d . When Spinoza says t h a t : . . . i f honesty i s t o be valued above s e r v i l i t y , and i f the sovereign i s to r e t a i n f u l l c o n t r o l without being f o r c e d t o y i e l d t o a g i t a t o r s , i t i s necessary t o a l l o w freedom of judgement... (TT-P, page 239) he i m p l i e s t h a t suppression w i l l erode the power of the sovereign, and e r o s i o n of the sovereign's power w i l l lead t o the c o l l a p s e o f the government. Therefore, the sense i n which the phrase "suppression i s not p o s s i b l e " should be understood, i s t h a t suppression i s not p o s s i b l e IF the government wishes t o r e t a i n i t s power. Spinoza's argument, then, i s that suppression w i l l achieve the opposite of whet was o r i g i n a l l y intended; that i s , i t w i l l r e s u l t i n a l o s s 55 -instead of a reinforcement ©f government control. Nevertheless, there seems to be slight s h i f t here i n Spinoza's meaning of the phrase "suppression is not possible". He did argue that men cannot in the long run be prevented from saying what they think because of their i n a b i l i t y to hold their tongues. This circumstance would appear to result i n an absolute statement that "suppression i s impossible". Spinoza then proceeds to discuss the consequences of effective suppression and a l l of these seem real enough rather than hypothetical. He deals here with the impossibility of suppression in the p o l i t i c a l sense. He cannot, however, resolve this argument by simply discussing the effects of attempted suppression because in so doing he would sacrifice an important conclusion, namely that deceit-fulness w i l l result i f people are effectively prevented from saying what they think. At this point I wish to anticipate one of Spinoza's subsequent arguments concerning the above. It seems to me that he wanted to make a point i n the most general manner possible and that in so doing he introduced some slight inconsistencies. That i s , he did not at the i n i t i a l stages of his argument differentiate between people of different character but advanced an argument that generally applied to a l l men. Later on Spinoza w i l l , however, single out the response of virtuous men to suppression. It w i l l then emerge that he believes that these men w i l l choose the stake rather than how to suppression, whereas other, less virtuous individuals, w i l l become deceitful in order to save their l i v e s . At that point i t appears that i t is the virtuous who are un-able to hold their tongues while men of lesser stature may conform to the argument that suppression breeds deceit-fulness. Having dealt with this issue we may now turn to the numerous effects of suppression as described by Spinoza, To begin with, he strongly argues that suppression w i l l produce a moral decline in the nation. Keeping in mind that i t i s impossible to deny men the freedom to say what they think, he says: , . . l e t us assume that such freedom can be suppressed, and that men can be so thoroughly coerced that they dare not whisper a word which is not prescribed by the sovereign. Will i t ever come to pass that they also think nothing but what i t wills? Assuredly not. Then the inevitable result w i l l be this. Every day men w i l l be saying one thing and thinking another; belief in another's word, a prime necessity in the state, w i l l thus be undermined, nauseating sycophancy and deceitfulness encouraged; and hence w i l l come frauds and a l l the destruction of a l l honest dealing. (TT-P. page 235) What Spinoza is arguing i s not so much that freedom cannot - 57 -be suppressed, but that effective suppression oan lead to the extreme outlined above. If i t ever came to such an extreme condition he would not c a l l the result a ' c i v i l state' but a 'state of nature'. However, the lat t e r i s the very antithesis of the former and no government can afford to allow matters to revert to the state of nature. Actually Spinoza did not need such an extreme example. The cause and effect relationship he uses to illustra t e that suppression w i l l result in a decline of honest dealings would also apply under more moderate circumstances. For example, the government may decide to enact a law against a belief, c a l l i t X. We may assume that X is such that i t would significantly further man's knowledge but i t is not essential to Spinoza's argument that X has any value at a l l . What i s necessary i s that there sre people who wish to have the freedom to disouss X openly, or people for whom X constitutes part of their system of thought. Thus the law may just as well proscribe something which may be thought to have no intrinsic value whatever. Now Spinoza's argument w i l l work as follows: men w i l l not mention their belief in X in public. There w i l l be some, however, for whom this belief represents an important philosophical consideration. (I use the phrase 'philosophical consideration* because I do not think - 58 -that i t is essential to Spinoza's argument that X be deemed a s c i e n t i f i c fact). These people then w i l l conduct their philosophical investigations in secret.and w i l l secretly communicate with others who share their interest. But to those who do not share their views they w i l l have to l i e . Consequently factions w i l l arise i n society harbouring mutual distrust. The need to exercise deception w i l l undermine the moral fibre and the well-being of the body po l i t i c w i l l decline. I f , on the other hand, information of no apparent intrinsic value were suppressed, the chain of events would be similar. Let us assume that such information would feed what Spinoza calls "the passions" in his Ethics. Now those men who are preoocupied in this respect w i l l strive to satisfy their passions in secret. No one w i l l openly discuss the subject. As a consequence these men w i l l not be able to benefit from discussions with those who may have a clearer view of the matter. The point i s , that suppression of information removes i t from the public forum. Such action, however, cannot reach the cause of what is thought to be the problem. Given that those determined to circulate and reoeive contraband information in whatever form have the energy, they may go underground; whereas they might lose their fascination i f the subject were openly discussed. Thus - 59 -suppression of information, regardless of i t s nature, may have an effect opposite to that which was intended. Spinoza's argument concerning the suppression of free speech deals only with an extreme case where, he must have thought, i t was most obvious that the whole of the state would actually be affected and suffer, even revert to the state of nature. I have endeavoured to show that his argument also holds in isolated cases and i t i s not d i f f i c u l t to see how suppression may spread from these to the extreme described by Spinoza. Clearly the government is an interested party since i t has initiated the whole chain of events by introducing suppressive legislation in the f i r s t place. There are two ways in which the government can become entangled in the web of i t s own suppressive measures. F i r s t , i t may not be able to draw the line at suppressing merely the speech-act i t originally wished to prohibit; that i s , in order to make the law against one speech-act effective i t may have to extend suppression to other areas thought to be contributing factors. Although this suggests a line of argument which could elsewhere be examined in f u l l , I sh a l l merely say that, given the above circumstance, matters would obviously deteriorate within that state by virtue of the fact that, according to Spinoza's argument, - 60 -more restrictive laws would produce more deception and fraud. Secondly, government agents may develop a vested interest in the controversy resulting from suppression and may themselves become deceitful. Thus their own character suffers. They w i l l no longer be able to act as disinterested agents of the public. In short, government i t s e l f w i l l become corrupt. Hence, i t may be argued that suppression, even on a deceptively insignificant scale, might cause more damage within a society than those responsible wish to allow. From the above discussion i t can be appreciated that Spinoza's argument has an impressive range. The argument seems to hold true in a l l instances of suppress-ion of freedom of speech. No distinction need be made with respect to the intrinsic value, desirability or popularity of the speech-act in question. So long as freedom of speech i s denied by force, Spinoza's argument can be applied. Thus far Spinoza has discussed the effects of suppression in general. He has considered society as a whole without distinguishing between different types - 61 -of individuals. According to the argument discussed above, everyone i s affected equally. Now however, he takes his discussion a step further and considers the different responses to suppression as determined by the character of the individuals concerned. It appears that those who are most adversely affected are more lik e l y to be of benefit to society than those who are not. He suggests that the former are individuals possessing certain valuable qualities of mind. He says that: ...the more the sovereign tries to deprive men of freedom of speech the more stubbornly i s i t opposed; not indeed by money-grubbers, sycophants and the rest of the shallow crew, whose supreme happiness i s to gloat over the coins in their coffers and to have their bellies well-stuffed, but by those who, because of their culture, integrity and a b i l i t y have some independence of mind. (TT-P. page 237) This rather impassioned passage distinguishes between those who have material interests only and those who think that values of mind and s p i r i t are more important. As may be expected, Spinoza shows a preference for human enterprises which are not essentially concerned with material gain. He aays that those who concentrate on their coffers and bellies are not l i k e l y to be much concerned about freedom of speech (he does not consider the case of publishers who fought Spinoza's battle for — 62 — free speech hut who were nevertheless motivated by self-interest and profit, as Dr. Bowan pointed out). That is to say that they feel no compulsion to oppose the sovereign. However, Spinoza does allow the possibility that these individuals also may be affected. But the point i s , that they w i l l simply change their beliefs and bring them into line with those of the government. In this way they are then able to escape reprisals and to continue to pursue their real interests. Consequently the govern-ment w i l l look to them for support which they are presumably a l l too wil l i n g to give. Hence a general deterioration of values can be anticipated in such a society. Meanwhile, men who respect certain qualities of mind feel the effects of suppression. They cannot, without great sacrifice, denounce beliefs they hold to be true. As a result they w i l l oppose the sovereign. Spinoza's assertion concerning the purpose of the state appears to allow that they are ju s t i f i e d , in this instance, in resisting the government. In any event, these individuals may be considered the ones who are aware of the purpose of the state and who realise, there-fore, that suppression is not in keeping with that purpose. They know that their government's policy not only deprives them personally of their freedom, but that in s© doing i t deviates from i t s true raison d'etre. 63 As a consequence the social and moral core of the state i s undermined. Being cognizant of this, those suppressed w i l l oppose their government with good reason. Spinoza's argument, then, i s that suppression w i l l result in opposition to the government from those i t can least afford to alienate on the one hand, and, by implication, support from those who are least able to render support on the other, with this the government sows the seeds of corruption and of i t s own undoing. Spinoza makes a revealing remark with regard to the passing of suppressive laws. It is interesting because i t indicates what kind of p o l i t i c a l situation pressed Spinoza to urge intellectual freedom. He says: Yet how much better would i t be to curb the furious anger of the mob, instead of passing useless laws which can only be broken by those who love the virtues and the arts, and reduce the state to such straits that i t cannot support men of l i b e r a l views. What greater calamity can be imagined than that good men should be sent into exile as malfactors because they hold unorthodox beliefs and cannot pretend otherwise. (TT-P. page 237 ) In another instance Spinoza describes more f u l l y what - 64 -took place in his time: ...laws which prescribe what everyone must believe and. forbid men to say or write any-thing against this or that opinion, are often passed to gratify or rather appease the anger of those who cannot abide independent minds, but by their savage influence can easily change the fervour of an unruly people into frenzy, and direct i t against anyone they please... (TT-P. page 237) This eloquently describes the situation Spinoza encountered. The churches, notably the Calvinists, were striving to gain power. They attempted to eliminate a l l beliefs which might interfere with their objectives. This they did by agitating the so-called masses with a view to creating general disorder and to terrorise certain individuals who were in disfavour with the clergy. Then the church lobbied the by now fearful c i v i l authorities, encouraging them to outlaw beliefs that were contrary to church doctrine. The government was only too wil l i n g to comply in the hope that order would be restored. Faced with this situation, Spinoza advised that the government should not give in to the church, but that i t should go about its rightful business and restrain the mob tactics. This was easier said than done because - 65 -conditions had already greatly deteriorated. Eventually the calvinists triumphed and the Republic f e l l . Having takenthis opportunity to remind ourselves of Spinoza's p o l i t i c a l environment, I shall now consider the question of whether he made allowances for c i v i l disobedience. According to my suggestion that Spinoza may have thought that men of principle may rightfully oppose suppression of their freedom of speech, i t stands to reason to ask whether this means that he would have accepted c i v i l disobedience as a legitimate p o l i t i c a l tool. In other sections of his p o l i t i c a l philosophy he seems to shy away from this possibility, presumably that i s so because of the d i f f i c u l t i e s the doctrine of c i v i l disobedience would raise within the framework of his theory of the transfer of natural right. There he contends that the individual must transfer a l l of his right to 'act' contrary to the decree of the sovereign. As we saw, this i s contrasted with thought and speech which the individual, according to spinoza, cannot trans-fer. C i v i l disobedience, however, implies 'action', even i f only in the form of non-action when action is demanded by the authorities as, for example, i n the case of passive resistance to conscription. Spinoza's arguments, when dealing with free thought and speech, revolve around the good of the state. It may be - 66 -supposed, therefore, that he f e l t that men of principle, in opposing suppression, believed that reason was on their side rather than on the government's and that their actions were, ultimately, in the best interest of the state. The question of illegitimate exercise of power is one which may lead to the formulation of the concept of c i v i l disobedience* One can further strengthen this argument by adding that these men were not actually opposing the state, but certain individuals who, as agents of that state, were in error, Spinoza repeats his main theme i n the most uncompromising terms when he says: ,,,ordinary human nature i s such that men find nothing more i r r i t a t i n g than to have the views which they hold to be true branded as criminal, and the beliefs which inspire them to piety towards God and men held up against them as wickedness; this encourages them to denounce the laws, and to go to a l l lengths against the magistrate, in the belief that i t is not disgraceful but highly laudable to s t i r up sedition and attempt the most outrageous crimes in such cause, (TT-P, page 237) This passage suggests that Spinoza has some sympathy for what we might term c i v i l disobedienoe, but i t would be unfounded to state that he embraces such action willingly and with conviotion. In historical terms perhaps only the experience of certain p o l i t i c a l events which occured subsequent to the formulation of most of - 67 -his theories led him to consider the possibility of c i v i l disobedience. In the passage quoted above wherein i t i s implied that the individuals who commit seditious acts believe that they are on the side of right and justice, Spinoza also suggests that they conceive of themselves as exercising certain rights of c i v i l disobedience. It is conceivable that, in accordance with Spinoza's state-ment, they hold the belief that they must oppose the government i n the name of humanity. Needless to say, neither the government, nor Spinoza for that matter, would share their opinion. Their acts would be considered seditious at worst, i l l e g a l at best. However, the fact remains that, according to Spinoza's construction of the argument, the whole situation has been brought about by the government's subjecting these individuals to an inexcusable injustice in the f i r s t place. This makes the government the i n i t i a l offender. The burden of guilt must thus be borne by i t since i t has acted out of weakness and without wisdom thereby bringing about an untenable situation. In this way, then, Spinoza, while he does not justify sedition and crime for the sake of freedom of speech, i s prepared to consider the possibility of such acts as being the inevitable consequence of suppress-ive legislation. - 68 -Spinoza cannot be said to have had an evolved notion of c i v i l disobedience. The subject i s mentioned only briefly and l i t t l e or no consideration i s given to the resulting implications. What is there, for example, to prevent the possibility of people believing that they are suppressed by the state when, in actual fact, they have become dissatisfied and frustrated for personal reasonsr They may, owing to their inner state, hold some p o l i t i c a l theory in keeping with their s e l f - i n f l i c t e d disillusionment. Their freedom of speech may consequently be justly curtailed. This would then encourage them to commit acts of terror-ism in the name of justice and the betterment of mankind or, at least, of that portion of mankind wnich does not f a l l victim to them. To do Spinoza justice we must remember that he has stipulated that the rational objective of the state and it s citizens is to act in such a manner that each may 'preserve their natural right to act in the best possible way without harming himself and his neighbour'. S t i l l , he does say that the government is capable of driving ostensibly good citizens to commit unjust or at least i l l e g a l acts. Given such a general, insufficiently qualified assertion, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to keep terrorism distinct from c i v i l disobedience. Thus, the question of whether Spinoza allowed for c i v i l disobedience must be l e f t open. I believe that i t - 69 -may be said, however, that moved by the events of the day, he tended toward justifying some forms of c i v i l disobedience since he strongly supports men who •because of their culture, integrity and a b i l i t y have some independence of mind*, and who exercise that independence even in the face of great p e r i l . (In this context martyrdom may certainly be viewed as the supreme expression of c i v i l disobedience). In fact, Spinoza states that these men are the re a l mainstay of a healthy society. While terrorism can only be feared, c i v i l dis-obedience may often be viewed as a moral and rational challenge to what a government may regard as legitimate. C i v i l disobedience is by definition not legitimate but i t endeavours by rational, albeit i l l e g a l , means to seek a rational solution to certain problems. Its aims are to point out the possibility that l e g a l i t y need not necessarily be synonymous with legitimacy. The notion 'legal* can be viewed without connotations of what i s rational and moral, but the notion legitimate' often cannot. On the whole, Spinoza's argumentation leads from the general to the specific. Usually, i t i s his general argument which presents the greatest problems and challenges while specific situations are always extremely well defined. An example of his a b i l i t y to sum up the 70 -situation at hand is found in the following passage: Finally, the readiness of the magistrates to settle the disputes of the scholars by legis-lation has been the main source of innumerable divisions in the church; for were men not captiv-ated by the hope of getting the laws and magistrates on their side, of triumphing over their opponents amid the general applause of the mob, and of attaining high office, they would never quarrel with such spite or be driven to frenzy. And this i s the finding of experience as well as reason; for each new day brings instances to show that laws which prescribe what everyone must believe, and forbid men to say or write anything against this or that opinion are often passed to gratify..• (those of influence) (TT-P. page 237) This i s a continuation of the familiar theme. Up to this point he has described the reaction of the individ-ual affected by suppression but now he goes on to discuss another i l l - e f f e c t . Spinoza argues that the deleterious effect of suppression i s two-fold. The government must expect trouble not only from those suppressed but also from those (or rather among those) who support suppression. The practice of government above quoted may bo thought to be merely unwise, however, according to Spinoza's argument for freedom of thought and speech, i t may actually be called wrong. In the above instance the government oversteps i t s authority. The mandate of the government's authority covers acts, but not speech-71 -acts, although Spinoza makes allowances for some exceptions. In the case under discussion the reason for the government's overstepping i t s authority is that i t has already lost the power to resist forceful pressure groups. The above encapsulates Spinoza's main motive for writing the TT-P. First he wished to make a distinction between belief and reason. Only in this way, he must have thought, could individuals begin to learn to think for themselves without having to rely on the church for guidance. Next he advocated the separation of religious and c i v i l authority. He argued that the church had no right to interfere with matters of state. These objectives did nothing to enhance his reputation. As a f i n a l example adduced against suppression Spinoza cites the phenomenon of martyrdom: What, I say, is more disastrous than that men should be branded as public enemies and hauled off to execution for no crime or mis-deed, but simply because they have Independent minds; and that the scaffold, the terror of the wicked, should become a glorious stage for presenting - to the signal disgrace of the sovereign - supreme examples of courage and endurance? For men whose consciences are clear do not fear death or beg for mercy like criminals...what are men taught by their death, only to emulate them, or at least to hold them in reverence. (TT-P. page 839) He thus rules out fear of death as a sure means of keeping men under control. Other men can i n f l i c t pain, but men with clear consciences do not fear pain or death. This argument i s of importance because i t i s a decisive step away from Hobbes' position that the ultimate persuader i n p o l i t i c a l l i f e i s fear of death. I t i s implicit in Spinoza's argument that there i s no ultim-ate weapon with which men can be forced into submission. This significantly limits the power of government which Hobbes thought to be absolute beoause of the universal fear of death, Spinoza, on the other hand, maintains that men are capable of remaining free agents even when their lives are threatened. In other words, ideally man is a rational being and places greater value on rationality and freedom than on his physical welfare when the situation demands a choice. This completes Spinoza's argument concerning the undesirable effects of suppression, I believe that on the whole his assessments are correct. They remain so even though i t may occur that some governments succeed in suppressing their people for a long time. Suppressive governments create a quality of l i f e which would not be acceptable to Spinoza, He concedes that a nation may be forced to be peaceful, but he goes on to say that peace without freedom i s worthless. 73 Spinoza repeatedly gives examples of the way in which people w i l l react i f the government employs suppressive measures. He says that the consequences of suppression are dictated by human nature as given. If a government wishes to oreate and maintain stable con-ditions within the state i t must consider human nature as a constant and i t s wisdom in legislating as a variable. The government cannot hope to change human nature, but i t can and must strive to implement appropriate laws. The government does have the power, by means of legislation, to diminish the number of men who follow their undesirable propensities and to increase the proportion of men of culture. Its laws can encourage either culture or deceit-fulness. It is evident that Spinoza's arguments place a great responsibility on government. If he i s correct, as I believe him to be, i t i s not enough for the govern-ment simply to maintain conditions within the state or to administer the business of government. It is also responsible for the moral and cultural climate that prevails within i t s borders. This does not mean that government i s expected to create those conditions by i t -se l f , but rather that i t has to make i t possible for 74 -those who have the capacity for being active in the cultural sphere to thrive within that state. This, Spinoza holds, is best accomplished by protecting the freedom of the individual and by encouraging freedom of thought and speech, Spinoza also points out to government that readiness to resort to suppression is motivated by fear and weak-ness. He says that a government must be able to resist strong pressure groups for the sake of the good of the state. This i t can only achieve i f ifc has established a reputation for impartiality and non-involvement in disputes other than those which contravene ordinary c i v i l or criminal laws, I believe that this sums up Spinoza's thoughts on the i l l effects of suppression. FIVE LEGITIMATE RESTRAINTS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH I now wish to enlarge on the question of legitimate restraints on freedom of speech. An argument for intellectual freedom would not be complete without some thoughts on this subject. At least this is true i f one thinks i t conceiv-able that some speech-acts and their effects may be detriment-a l to the fabric of c i v i l society, Spinoza's views on the matter rest upon the notions of "sovereign right and power", the "purpose of the state" and the fundamental principles underlying the social contract and the thought-action - 76 -distinction. However, because of the unfortunate inter-dependence he establishes between right and power, Spinoza i s unable to c l a r i f y the issue satisfactorily. He says: It i s true that he (the ruler) has the right to treat as enemies a l l who are not i n complete agreement with him on every point; but what I am discussing now i s not his right, but the good of the state. Admittedly he has the right to rule with the utmost violence, and to haul citizens off to execution on the most t r i v i a l pretexts; but everyone w i l l deny that he can do so with the approval of sound reason. Indeed, just because he cannot do such things without great danger to the whole of the state, we may even deny that he has the f u l l power to do them, and hence deny that he has f u l l right to do them either; since, as I have shown, a sovereign's right i s determined by his power. (TT-P. page 829) What then are the legitimate rights of the sovereign with respect to the control of speeoh-acts? The question does not arise in the passage quoted except in the negative; he has as much legitimate right as he can safely embrace. Spinoza states that the sovereign has the 'right' to commit atrocities so long as he has the power. A l l that prevents the sovereign from becoming a tyrant i s the qualification concerning the good of the state. But why should he care about the good of the state? The answer l i e s in Spinoza's doctrine of self-interest. Just as the individual i s interested in self-preservation so the sovereign, or rather the ruler also is thought to be interested in maintaining his power. But, Spinoza argues, he can preserve his power only i f he acts in the best interest of the state, and to endanger the state by committing atrocities i s not in i t s - 77 -best interest. Hence, i f he were to do so anyway, his power would diminish; right, in turn, is maintained through power and with the loss of one the other also vanishes. Even i f this model of sovereign authority were accepted, there would be no way of determining which of the ruler's actions were legitimate and which were not; for the question of legitimacy would depend on how much power a ruler possesses. But since power cannot be a criterion for legitimate right, the question of legitimate restraints on freedom of speech i s not incorporated in Spinoza's theory of sovereign authority. We reca l l that, according to Spinoza's original transfer of natural right and power, sovereign authority was to be based on the power-right equivalence that existed in the state of nature. Consequently the concept of legitimacy did not enter into the creation of the c i v i l state or sovereign authority, Spinoza nevertheless wishes to render legitimate some form of restraint on freedom of speech. He says: Yet i t must be admitted that words can be treasonable as well as deeds; and so, though i t is impossible to deprive subjects of such freedom entirely, i t w i l l be quite disastrous to grant i t to them in f u l l . Hence we now inquire how far i t can and must be granted to everyone i f the peace of the state and the right of the sovereign are to be preserved, (TT-P. page 229) This inquiry has two parts; f i r s t Spinoza explains the right of the sovereign and i t s limitations and then he explains - 78 -the subject's rights. He outlines the former by drawing upon the original contract which was assumed to have been made between subjects and sovereign. He says that the subjects only surrendered their right to act, but not the right to judge and think as they wishs Thus i t was only his right to act as be- pleased that everyone surrendered, and not his right to think and judge. (TT-P. page 231) Spinoza applies this to a situation where a subject might wish to appeal or argue against a law which has been passed. He says that the sovereign has no legitimate right to suppress such criticism because freedom of speech was not surrendered to i t at the time of the making of the contract. But he adds the qualification that the subject can do so only "as long as he does no more than express or communicate his opinion, and only defends i t out of honest rational conviction, and not out of anger, hatred, or a desire to introduce any change in the state on his own authority." (TT-P. page 231) Here, then, he appears to have abandoned the notion that the sovereign's right i s limited only by i t s power. According to the statement quoted, the sovereign's legitimate right i s limited by a contract situation or 79 an agreement among a l l members of the body p o l i t i c . S t i l l , by Spinoza's argument a ruler is not prevented from formulating his own notion of what he considers "honest rational conviction" or "anger" and "hatred". The few things Spinoza does mention about the "contract" do not give any indication that the government i s powerless to interpret those conditions to suit i t s own purpose. Thus the argument does not satisfactorily resolve the question of legitimate restraint of freedom of speech. Spinoza now moves from what appear to be legitimate limitations on the freedom of speech dependent upon the attitude or motives of the speaker, to beliefs ( i t is not clear whether si l e n t l y held or actually communicated) that are seditious and, one must assume, may be legally dealt with. He says: (seditious beliefs are those) which, when accepted, Immediately destroy the covenant whereby everyone surrendered the right to act as he pleased. For instance, i f anyone believes that the sovereign does not have absolute right, or that nobody is bound to keep promises, or that everyone should live as he pleases, or hold similar views which directly contradict said covenant, he i s seditious, not so much, to be sure, because of his judgement and opinion, as because of the action which i t involves; i.e. because merely by thinking this way he breaks the promise he has given either t a c i t l y or expressly to the sovereign. Hence other beliefs which do not involve action like the breaking of the covenant, the venting of anger, or the taking of vengeance are not seditious. (TT-P. page 233) - 80 -Spinoza does not say whether those beliefs may legitimately invoOve prosecution, that i s , whether i t i s right for the sovereign to prohibit them by statute; but because he considers them seditious we assume he deems the sovereign entitled to 'protect* i t s e l f against such beliefs. Note how he argues that these beliefs involve action. He does not mean that transmitting seditious beliefs results i n undesirable aotion on the part of those who accept them. He suggests rather that the holding of such beliefs, even i f they are not overtly acted upon, involves an action* the mere thinking of seditious beliefs represents the •action* of breaking the promise. In this instance, then, the s t r i c t distinction between physical action and thought appears to disintegrate. Apparently the sovereign has authority to prosecute certain beliefs i f they are brought to i t s attention. In any case, Spinoza must, as a con-sequence, also believe that freedom of speech ends here; that i s , no one has the right to challenge the legitimacy of the government. Now i t i s clear that actions which might arise from holding such beliefs must be appropriately dealt with by government. It i s not so clear, however, how the government should treat someone holding but not acting upon a seditious belief. It may be granted that certain beliefs are seditious but how they may be prevented by prohibitive legislation i s quite unclear. Indeed, the government may have to resign i t s e l f to connivance at such speech-acts or beliefs. Is Spinoza*s intention to set forth a moral argument aimed at everyone rather than - 81 -an argument concerning the legitimate rights of the sovereign? This question must he l e f t open since Spinoza does not shed any further light on i t . He says that i t would be disastrous to grant freedom of speech in f u l l . Presumably he had in mind that seditious beliefs had to be curtailed for he explains that some attitudes and beliefs cannot r i g h t f u l l y be held by a subject, but he f a i l s to say what a government should do to ensure that they are not and how the subject i s protected from mis-interpretation of what the government takes to be i t s rights. Thus the argument seems to go f u l l c i r c l e , back to the sovereign right-power ambiguity: the sovereign decides a r b i t r a r i l y what i s legitimate and i t w i l l be vindicated or condemned by maintaining or losing i t s power. In essence Spinoza appears to maintain two conflicting positions.The one i s that the sovereign can and must expeot from i t s subjects some form of moral discrimination. That i s , the sovereign may expect i t s subjects to approach their government with, in his words, "honest rational conviction" and must place the interest of the community before their own thus shunning seditious beliefs and intentions. It seems clear that a government cannot en-force the attitudes i t can reasonably expect from i t s subjects. But a government can encourage those attitudes: on the one hand by acting in such a way as to foster them - 82 -by appropriate policies, and on the other by educational means. Most governments do exert a great deal of effort in encouraging education to make men recognize the requirements of citizenship. Thus sovereignty cannot i n principle be divorced from certain moral implications and Spinoza implicitly acknowledges this when considering the need for subjects to be reasonable in their relations with government. A further point is that i t would be un-thinkable to believe that while the subject is required to exercise reason and good judgement, the government i s exempt from this requirement. By Spinoza's own admission then, sovereignty binds subject and government in a relation-ship that must of necessity be ruled by rational and moral principles, Spinoza's other contention is that moral requirements and rationality along with 'right' are in the service of power. The sovereign has but one aim and that is to preserve power. Here Spinoza denies that the notion of sovereignty has any moral implications. He endeavours to make this appear acceptable by arguing that power could not be preserved i f rationality and morality were disregarded. So moral and rational considerations exhibited by the ruler are merely a means to an end constituting a pragmatic base for the decision-making process. Spinoza seems to f a i l to recognize that practical consequence of this - 83 -position, not to speak of the conceptual d i f f i c u l t i e s that i t raises. The wavering between these two positions presents a fundamental d i f f i c u l t y in Spinoza's p o l i t i c a l theory. - 84 CONCLUSION Spinoza was confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand he had formulated a profound ethical view in his non-political writings. On the other, he believed that arguments of an ethical nature would not be received with great enthusiasm in the world of p o l i t i c a l r e a l i t y . Yet he also knew that the lack of rationality and moral commitment were the very source of the i l l s of society. In view of the fact that the power of the church was undermining the power and authority of the c i v i l govern-ment he believed that a p o l i t i c a l theory which would give the sovereign absolute power was required. Yet Spinoza had d i f f i c u l t y in preserving sovereign right while, at the same time, arguing for reasonable l i m i t -ations of this power. Thus natural right became synonym-- 85 -©us with power, and so i t remained even after the power transfer that created the c i v i l state. As a consequence Spinoza could impose guidelines on the sovereign's actions only by introducing the notion of self-interest thought to be motivating the sovereign. That i s , the sovereign would act in the best interest of the state because such action was fundamental to the preservation of i t s power, and not because i t respected the rights of men. Thus the sovereign did not have to consider the fact that man is essentially a rational being. Now freedom of thought and speech must somehow be incorporated into this scheme. Spinoza goes about this by suggesting that freedom of thought is inalienable since i t is a natural right that l i t e r a l l y cannot be taken away from man. This claim, however, lacks convict-ion as Spinoza also must have realised. He therefore approached freedom of thought by giving i t the status ©f a categorical demand. This notion, while i t leads away from his p o l i t i c a l theory, appears to follow from his ethical theory. Spinoza's arguments concerning the i l l - e f f e c t s of suppression are well taken. His a b i l i t y to capture the s p i r i t and the dynamics of the political climate of his - 86 -time is well demonstrated here. Given the conclusions reached in this essay, Spinoza's assertion that " i t is impossible to deprive men of the freedom to say what they think" may be approached from a slightly different angle. Let us assume that suppression has the effects described. We may then conclude that " i t is impossible to deprive men of the freedom to say what they think, unless one is prepared to seriously damage the state". Alternatively, given that freedom of thought must be demanded categorically and assuming that thought cannot be considered truly free unless speech also enjoys that freedom, one may conclude that "men must not be deprived of the freedom to say what they think". OB the whole, Spinoza presents a considerable number of thought-provoking arguments in support of freedom of thought and speech. However, they are presented in a condensed and germinal state and, as a consequence, they invite misunderstanding and misinterpretation. - 87 -BIBLIOGHAHY Spinoza, Benedict de The P o l i t i c a l works, ed. & t r a n s l . Wernham, A. G. Oxford Press, London, 1958 Hobbes, T. Leviathan, ed. Michael Oakeshott, B a s i l B l a c k w e l l , Oxford, 1960 Ed. R e i s s , H. Kant's P o l i t i c a l w r i t i n g s , t r a n s l . N i s b e t , H.B. Cambridge Press, 1970 ' Rousseau, J . J . The S o c i a l Contract, ed. & t r a n l . Charles Frankel Hafner P u b l i s h i n g Co. New York, 1947 C a s s i e r e r , E. The Myth Of The S t a t e . New Haven Y a l e U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1946 Barry, B. P o l i t i c a l Argument. Routledge & Kegan P a u l , London, 1967 M i l l , J.S. On L i b e r t y , ed. Alburey C a s t e l l , ADpleton-Century-Crofts M e i k l e j o h n , A. P o l i t i c a l Freedom. Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press. New York, 1965 Hampshire, S. Spinoza. Penguin Books, Middlesex 1951 


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