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Spinoza and human freedom Lindley, Richard Charles 1973

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C I  SPINOZA AND HUMAN FREEDOM  by RICHARD CHARLES LINDLEY B.A., University o f Oxford, 1971  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n the Department of PHILOSOPHY  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1973  In presenting  t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l fulfilment of the requirements for  an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t freely available for reference  and study.  I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may by his representatives.  be granted by the Head of my Department or  It i s understood that copying or publication  of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada  ABSTRACT  This thesis provides a c r i t i c a l account o f Spinoza's philosophy o f human freedom as presented i n his ETHICS.  Rather than being a scholarly work on  Spinoza, t h i s essay uses Spinoza as a vehicle f o r shedding l i g h t on problems regarding the nature o f human freedom, and i t s a t t a i n a b i l i t y and d e s i r a b i l i t y .  A f t e r the introduction, the thesis begins with an introductory sketch of Spinoza's metaphysics.  This sketch i s designed to acquaint the reader  with Spinoza's terminology, and to l a y out the framework into which h i s philosophy o f freedom was squeezed.  Chapter Two and Three present Spinoza's theories of human bondage and human freedom, which, i t i s maintained, are i n many respects, j u s t one theory. These chapters take the form, almost o f a commentary on Parts Four and Five of ETHICS.  The c r i t i c i s m s of Spinoza which are introduced here are, on the  whole, s p e c i f i c c r i t i c i s m s o f arguments used by him, rather than broad criticisms  o f h i s whole enterprise.  The l a s t chapter discusses a recent attack on the d e s i r a b i l i t y and r a t i o n a l i t y o f pursuing a Spinozist path to freedom. attack on Spinozism about freedom as such.  The attack i s a general  I t i s argued that the attack does  contain v a l i d c r i t i c i s m s of Spinozism as expounded by Spinoza i n ETHICS. However, a truncated form o f Spinoza's p r e s c r i p t i o n f o r freedom i s defended, a l b e i t rather t e n t a t i v e l y , from this attack.  i.  //'  TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ABSTRACT  i  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT INTRODUCTION  1  CHAPTER ONE:  SPINOZA'S METAPHYSICS - A SKETCH  5  1.  SPINOZA'S ONTOLOGY  5  2.  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION. CONTEXT  ITS HISTORICAL  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION. ITSELF  THE THEORY  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION.  THE THEORY  3.  4.  14  22  AT WORK CHAPTER TWO:  THE BONDAGE OF HUMAN BEINGS  36  5.  THE SOURCE OF SPINOZA'S DETERMINISM  36  6.  THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW  41  7.  THE SPECIAL TREATMENT OF HUMAN BEINGS  42  8.  THE NATURE OF HUMAN BONDAGE  44  9.  ESSENCES AND INNER DRIVES  46  10.  THE AFFECTS.  51  11.  ADEQUACY  CHAPTER THREE:  PART ONE  THE FREEDOM OF HUMAN BEINGS  56 66  12.  INTELLECT AND REASON  66  13.  SELF-PRESERVATION •  70  14.  FREEDOM THROUGH ADEQUATE IDEAS  82  15.  THE AFFECTS. PART TWO  91  CHAPTER FOUR:  BIBLIOGRAPHY  28  REASON, EMOTIONS AND HUMANITY  100  16.  TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD WE ABANDON OUR EMOTIONS .  100  17.  REACTIVITY  105 123  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT  There are many people without whose help I would have not been able to write this thesis.  I am grateful to them a l l .  In particular I am indebted  to my supervisor, Jonathan Bennett, for his encouragement and invaluable suggestions; to Peter Remnant for his very useful c r i t i c i s m s ; to Bonnie Johnson, Leonard Angel and Steve Johnson; and f i n a l l y to Andrew Levine, without whose method this thesis would s t i l l be somewhere i n i t s embryonic form.  August 1973.  SPINOZA AND HUMAN FREEDOM  INTRODUCTION  The great Seventeenth Century Rationalist philosophers, Descartes, Leibniz and Spinoza, were a l l devoted system-builders.  They were epistem-  ological optimists, and firmly believed, as the name 'Rationalist' suggests, that the basis for this optimism lay i n reason i t s e l f . struct a deductively interrelated metaphysical edifice.  Each t r i e d to conThis makes i t very  d i f f i c u l t to discuss just one aspect of the work of any of these philosophers. The problem i s even more acute on account of the use of an unfamiliar terminology i n many of t h e i r writings.  Wittgentein said that philosophy, far from  changing anything, leaves everything as i t i s . In the face of apparently w i l d and implausible claims about the world made by Rationalists, one must be p a r t i c u l a r l y careful to make sure that the author was not making a familiar claim about the world, using unfamiliar language. There i s thus a more pressing need for cross-references to other parts of the author's work than i s required i n studies of English-speaking philosophers.  Of the great Rationalists Spinoza made the most remorseless attempt to erect a unified metaphysical system. His major work, ETHICS, was written i n 'geometrical order'.  This device was adopted mainly for i t s heuristic value,  but has actually deterred many from even reading Spinoza's philosophy.  When  a reader, who i s used to interpreting prose i s confronted with ETHICS, set out i n geometrical order, with d e f i n i t i o n s , axioms and propositions, he can easily be overawed, and even more easily discouraged.  The different aspects  of Spinoza's philosophy seem to be even more inextricably connected than those of his two Rationalist r i v a l s .  2.  In view of these f a c t s , i t might appear bold, or just foolhardy, to attempt a r e l a t i v e l y short work on Spinoza's theory o f human freedom.  This  suspicion could e a s i l y be reinforced by the f a c t that the sections on human bondage and freedom occur i n ETHICS at the end of what i s supposed to be a giant deduction, embracing a vast metaphysic, the discussion o f which would l i e w e l l beyond the scope of an essay such as t h i s .  There are two things I  would l i k e to say i n this connection to j u s t i f y my study; one i s about Spinoza, and the other i s about my approach to h i s philosophy.  Spinoza pursued philosophy with the prime aim o f discovering a way o f l i f e which would accord anyone who followed i t , true and l a s t i n g happiness, leaving aside f o r now what that state might be. work i s no coincidence.  Thus the t i t l e of h i s major  One can perhaps get one o f the best i n s i g h t s into  Spinoza's interests from looking at the beginning o f the fragment DE INTELLECTUS EMENDATIONE. A f t e r experience has taught me that a l l the usual surroundings of s o c i a l l i f e are v a i n and f u t i l e ; seeing that none o f the objects o f my fears contained i n themselves anything e i t h e r good or bad, except i n so f a r as the mind i s affected by them, I f i n a l l y resolved to inquire whether there might be some r e a l good having power to communicate i t s e l f , which would a f f e c t the mind s i n g l y , to the exclusion o f a l l e l s e ; whether, i n f a c t , there might be anything o f which the discovery and attainment would enable me to enjoy continuous, supreme, and unending happiness. Wild:  SPINOZA SELECTIONS, p . l .  This 'unending happiness' i s the f i n a l achievement of someone who understands and acts on ETHICS - at l e a s t according to Spinoza.  What the e a r l i e r  sections o f ETHICS, which supposedly e n t a i l the theory of freedom, a c t u a l l y do, apart from anything e l s e , i s to j u s t i f y Spinoza's i n s i g h t f u l views about  3.  freedom.  I t i s not simply that these l a t t e r views stem from the former.  One  should not assume that the theory of freedom arose for Spinoza out of an independently conceived metaphysics.  I t i s quite possible for a modern  reader to accept much of the theory of freedom whilst rejecting a l o t of the metaphysical doctrines of the e a r l i e r parts of ETHICS.  Spinoza's giant edifice i s not as monolithic as i t at f i r s t appears, or as i t was intended to be.  I t i s supported by several towers, which have t h e i r  own foundations, some more shaky than others.  In short one does not, despite  appearances which were deliberately generated by Spinoza, have to accept or reject his philosophy i n i t s entirety.  There are two d i s t i n c t , though overlapping approaches to the history of philosophy, which r e f l e c t differences of emphasis.  The f i r s t approach i s the more purely h i s t o r i c a l .  I t involves finding  out as much as possible about the ideas of the author i n question. One would t y p i c a l l y try to connect up a l l the ideas of the philosopher with each other and with those of other thinkers, and then to put him or her on the historicophilosophical map.  One's prime concern would be with what the author actually  said, irrespective of i t s philosophical importance.  I t i s a prerequisite for  this scholarly approach that one be able and prepared to go back to m u l t i f a r i ous o r i g i n a l documents, including the lesser works of the author, and the works of his contemporaries and philosophical ancestors.  The other approach concentrates on a philosophical problem, and uses an h i s t o r i c a l figure to shed l i g h t on the discussion.  Here one's prime concern  is with the philosopher's work as an attempt to answer a problem or problems  4.  with which one i s independently interested.  Whilst stressing the differences between these approaches to history of philosophy, I want to emphasize that the two concerns are not fundamentally opposed.  Indeed one could hardly use a philosopher to shed l i g h t on a  philosophical problem without finding out what he said.  S i m i l a r l y , one who  sought to understand what a philosopher was r e a l l y saying, could not succeed without having a grasp of the problems which the philosopher was trying to solve.  For the purposes of this essay I s h a l l be adopting the second approach. I enter the discussion not primarily as a Spinoza scholar, but as a philosopher concerned with problems about the nature and p o s s i b i l i t y of human freedom, who believes that Spinoza said much of these matters which i s p a r t i c u l a r l y thoughtprovoking, penetrating, and surprisingly i n s i g h t f u l .  Notwithstanding my primary interest i n the problems with which Spinoza's ethical writings deal, I now confess that a study of Spinoza's philosophy of freedom ought to include at least some consideration of his metaphysical views. In order to understand the l a t t e r sections of ETHICS one must have some f a m i l i a r i t y and understanding of the e a r l i e r ones, apart from anything else, to familiarise oneself with the terminology.  After writing a f a m i l i a r i s i n g sketch we s h a l l investigate and c r i t i c i z e Spinoza's ideas about human bondage and freedom.  F i n a l l y a modified Spinozist  view about human freedom w i l l be defended against one l i n e of attack from the Twentieth Century.  CHAPTER ONE  SPINOZA'S METAPHYSICS - A SKETCH  In a work of this magnitude i t w i l l be impossible to expound f u l l y Spinoza's extremely elaborate and obscure metaphysics, l e t alone to provide a c r i t i c a l account of i t . In this Chapter I s h a l l attempt nothing so bold. What I s h a l l t r y to do i s to set the scene, so to speak, f o r my discussion of Spinoza's  account of human freedom by presenting a sketch of the sort of  world view which accompanied, and, i n Spinoza's view, led to h i s theory of freedom.  1.  SPINOZA'S ONTOLOGY  Rationalism i s i n i t s nature given to extremes.  As Rationalists permit  themselves to use only reason for the establishment of their metaphysics, they make the most of i t by constructing systems which follow one l i n e of reasoning to i t s l o g i c a l conclusion.  To the extent that a philosopher wavers  from this he ceases to be r a t i o n a l i s t i c .  Descartes, for example, who was the  least consistently r a t i o n a l i s t i c of the three great Rationalists was the one who pursued the most lines of reasoning the shortest distance along the way to their l o g i c a l conclusions.  Leibniz took his l i n e of reasoning to the  extreme of believing that r e a l i t y consisted ultimately of an i n f i n i t y of nonextended 'monads'; Spinoza took his to the opposite extreme, and held that r e a l i t y consisted ultimately of a single i n f i n i t e l y extended 'substance' - he was a monist.  6. It i s i n t e r e s t i n g that Leibniz's monadism and Spinoza's monism should have followed from t h e i r respective d e f i n i t i o n s o f 'substance'.  Spinoza's b a s i c way o f d i v i d i n g up r e a l i t y was into the substantial and the modal.  Thus at the very beginning o f ETHICS we f i n d the following:  By substance, I understand that which i s i n i t s e l f and i s conceived through i t s e l f ; i n other words, that, the conception o f which does not need the conception o f another thing from which i t must be formed. By mode, I understand the affections o f substance, or that which i s i n another thing through which also i t i s conceived. Everything which i s , i s e i t h e r i n i t s e l f or i n another. That which cannot be conceived through another must be conceived through i t s e l f . E.I.  DEF. I I I . § V., § AXIOMS I . , § I I .  The common-sense view o f what i s r e a l l y r e a l , i f there be such a view at a l l , i s that there are a l o t o f substances, such as tables and c h a i r s , animals, plants, people, b i c y c l e s , e t c . , and that connected with these fundamentally r e a l substances, are t h e i r states, a f f e c t i o n s , or modes. ample, l e t us consider a blush.  To take a human ex-  Should we include i n our d e s c r i p t i o n o f what  i s r e a l l y r e a l i n the world, blushes?  The l i n e o f reasoning which i n c l i n e s  us to say 'No' i n answer to t h i s question begins with the recognition that one could give a complete l i s t o f the contents o f the world, without making any reference to blushes at a l l .  Suppose that Tom i s blushing.  To say, awkward  though i t may sound, that Tom has a blush on h i s face, i s not to make any existence claims f o r some thing on Tom's face, as to say that Tom had a f l y on his  face would be.  In the former case one i s merely describing Tom.  In this  7.  sense the blush i s a state, affection, or mode of Tom, without him.  and cannot be conceived  I f Tom ceased to be, so would his blush, just as one would have  expected the Cheshire cat's grin to have disappeared with the cat.  This view of the relation between substances and modes i s quite handy for everyday purposes.  Substances e x i s t , so to speak, i n their own r i g h t , and  modes have merely a secondary, or quasi-existence, as the states or affections of substances.  We can 'muddle through' our daily routine with these concepts.  The d i f f i c u l t i e s arise as soon as we s t a r t to lean at a l l heavily on the concept of 'substance'.  Both Leibniz and Spinoza believed that 'substance' was  the term by which to characterize the fundamental unit of r e a l i t y .  Our notion  of 'substantial' i s roughly equivalent to 'not adjectival on anything'. Spinoza and Leibniz both accepted t h i s , but pushed t h e i r respective equivalents of 'not adjectival on anything' to their l o g i c a l extremities.  Leibniz believed that to be not adjectival on anything entailed being absolutely simple, that i s i n d i v i s i b l e .  For i f anything i s d i v i s i b l e i t i s  possible to describe the world without reference to the thing, t a l k i n g only about the parts.  As a Rationalist he was not content with there being some-  thing merely physically i n d i v i s i b l e as the basis of the r e a l i t y of d i v i s i b l e things.  Rather he sought something which was conceptually i n d i v i s i b l e , and  believed that there must be such things, as there are obviously non-simple things, which are, necessarily, aggregates of simple things.  As anything  extended i s at least conceptually d i v i s i b l e , Leibniz held that the r e a l l y real things were non-extended, and that a l l extended things were ultimately adjecti v a l on these non-extended 'monads', or simple substances.  He believed that  there were i n f i n i t e l y many monads. This seems to be one extreme result of  8.  trying to push the notion of 'substance' to a l o g i c a l conclusion.  Spinoza defined 'substance' as 'that which i s i n i t s e l f and i s conceived through i t s e l f .  'Being i n i t s e l f means something l i k e 'existing completely  independently of everything else'.  So i f something i s i n i t s e l f i t s existence  necessarily could not be threatened by anything outside i t s e l f .  As long as  there i s something outside or other than a substance candidate, the candidate i s not a substance, for i t would be l o g i c a l l y possible for this external thing to destroy the candidate.  God or Nature i s the only being which can pass these  extremely rigorous tests for substantiality. the Universe - a l l that there i s .  God or Nature i s equivalent to  This alone has nothing other than i t , and  thus alone i s ' i n i t s e l f .  The t r i c k for both Leibniz and Spinoza lay i n stretching, i n the one case 'simple', and i n the other 'being i n i t s e l f to their l o g i c a l conclusions, that i s , pushing a l i n e of reasoning as far as i t w i l l go.  Spinoza believed that substance was 'absolutely i n f i n i t e ' , a Spinozist notion which i s contrasted with ' i n f i n i t e i n i t s own kind'. Space i s i n f i n i t e i n i t s own kind, since there i s nothing spatial beyond (the whole of) space. On the other hand i t i s not absolutely i n f i n i t e , because there are things other than the whole of space, which ' l i m i t ' i t , such as thoughts.  As Spinoza believed that there i s only one substance, and God i s defined as: Being absolutely i n f i n i t e , that i s to say, substance consisting of i n f i n i t e attributes, each one of which expresses eternal and i n f i n i t e essence. E.I. DEF.  VI.  9.  God and Substance must be identical. a pantheist.  So one could characterize Spinoza as  In a sense he believed that God i s i n everything a l l the time,  more s p e c i f i c a l l y that God i s the whole of r e a l i t y , that i s , Nature.  The  doctrine which i s l a i d out i n Part One of ETHICS, however, seems to have much more i n common with atheism than with any kind of theism whatsoever; i t i s only towards the end of his magnum opus that Spinoza's latent mystical s t r a i n i s rendered e x p l i c i t .  Nevertheless, as far as Part One of ETHICS i s  concerned i t i s to a l l intents and purposes irrelevant whether or not we construe Spinoza as a pantheist or an atheist.  One thing he i s absolutely  clear on, though, i s that the universe was not created by something or somebody outside i t , and most emphatically, that i t was not created by someone i n whose image human beings have been fashioned.  Probably the most fundamental d i s t i n c t i o n between things i n Spinoza i s that between the absolutely i n f i n i t e and the rest. d i s t i n c t i o n between substance and the rest.  This coincides with the  I stress the notion of absolute  i n f i n i t y , because i t i s this that distinguishes substance from 'attributes' which do share with substance the property of being conceived through themselves.  Bearing i n mind the l o g i c a l connexion between 'substance* and  'absolute  non-adjectivalness', we can construe Spinoza as maintaining that i n a subjectpredicate sentence anything which qualifies for the characterization 'substance' must appear on the 'subject' side of the sentence. We cannot predicate 'substance' of anything.  After substance i n the hierarchy of r e a l i t y , come the 'attributes'.  He  10.  defines 'attribute' as follows: By attribute, I understand that which the i n t e l l e c t perceives of substance, as ( i f ) constituting i t s essence. E.I. DEF. IV.  There i s some controversy regarding Spinoza's use of each of the terms 'substance', 'attribute' and 'mode'. I t i s , however, at i t s height i n connexion with the second of these. This i s f o r a number of reasons, not least of which i s that Spinoza does not use the term consistently, or should we say that he altered i t s meaning.  In a l e t t e r to De Vries he writes:  By substance I mean that which i s i n i t s e l f and i s conceived through i t s e l f , that i s , whose conception does not involve the conception of some other thing. I mean the same by attribute with respect to the i n t e l l e c t , which attributes such and such a nature to substance. SPINOZA.: LETTER IX. This suggests strongly that substance and attribute are i d e n t i c a l .  However,  i n other places he talks of substance as 'consisting of i n f i n i t e attributes', which suggests that substance i s the sum t o t a l of the attributes.  The two  examples of attributes which Spinoza gives are thought and extension.  So he  believed that both thought and extension express i n f i n i t e and eternal essence, and, i t appears, that thought plus extension plus the other attributes whatever they might be, add up to God or substance.  Perhaps the best clue as to  what Spinoza probably meant most of the time, throughout ETHICS at any rate, comes from his d i s t i n c t i o n between 'absolutely i n f i n i t e ' and ' i n f i n i t e i n suo genere'. He says that the attributes are i n f i n i t e i n suo genere.  The  best way of interpreting this i s to conceive of attributes as being the 'summa genera' on the predicative side. except of course substance.  Everything can be predicated of the attributes,  However, only mental predicates can be predicated  11.  of the attribute of thought, and only physical ones of that of extension. This i s the best way of construing the notion that the attributes are i n f i n i t e merely ' i n suo genere'.  They are the fundamental categories i n which  substance expresses i t s e l f , and i t i s only through these categories that substance can be described, since to characterize i t i n any other way would i n volve predicating i t of something, which i s impossible. This provides an explanation of Spinoza's saying words to the effect that substance i s nothing over and above i t s attributes.  The t h i r d member of Spinoza's ontological t r i l o g y i s the mode. A mode i s an 'affection' of substance, or 'that which i s i n another thing through which also i t i s conceived'. Thus, to revert to our common-sense example, modes stand to substance, for Spinoza, as blushes, grins, etc., stand, f o r us, to people.  Spinoza i s maintaining i n ETHICS that a l l the things i n the world  are modes. Modes are 'in' substance, and through i t are conceived. To say this i s to deny the independent r e a l i t y of such 'substantial' things as people, tables, chairs and the l i k e .  These things are a l l just 'expressions' of sub-  stance, and have their existence solely as such.  There i s another important d i s t i n c t i o n , however, which cuts across the substance-mode boundary, and this i s the d i s t i n c t i o n between i n f i n i t e and finite.  Substance consists of: ... i n f i n i t e attributes, each one of which expresses eternal and i n f i n i t e essence ... E.i.ll.  but among the modes there are i n f i n i t e and f i n i t e modes. The i n f i n i t e modes are not, of course, absolutely i n f i n i t e , but merely i n f i n i t e i n their own kinds, and:  12.  That thing i s c a l l e d f i n i t e i n i t s own kind ( i n suo genere) which can be l i m i t e d by another thing o f the same nature. For example, a body i s c a l l e d f i n i t e , because we always conceive another which i s greater. So a thought i s l i m i t e d by another thought; ... E.i.D.3. Modes such as ordinary bodies, and thoughts more p u z z l i n g l y , are s a i d to be f i n i t e , because they can be l i m i t e d by another thing o f the same category.  I  take this to mean i n the case o f bodies that no matter what body we conceive we could always conceive o f another body, which would be e i t h e r l a r g e r than i t , or i f not that, at l e a s t outside i t , and which would therefore ' l i m i t ' i t i n the relevant sense.  Between the a t t r i b u t e s , which j o i n t l y constitute substance, and these f i n i t e modes are the s o - c a l l e d i n f i n i t e modes.  The two o f the a l l e g e d l y i n -  f i n i t e numbers o f a t t r i b u t e s which constitute substance, o f which we, f i n i t e modes as we are, can conceive, are Thought and Extension.  According to Spinoza  these a t t r i b u t e s are expressed i n a number o f ways, giving r i s e to the f i n i t e modes, which are the expressions.  There are c e r t a i n rules f o r the expression  of these a t t r i b u t e s , which i n the case o f the a t t r i b u t e of extension, we would c a l l the basic laws o f science.  One such r u l e i s that everything extended  must be e i t h e r i n motion or at r e s t .  In Spinoza's terminology Motion and Rest  i s an i n f i n i t e and eternal mode o f the a t t r i b u t e o f extension.  Not only t h i s ,  but i t i s an immediate i n f i n i t e and eternal mode, because i t follows d i r e c t l y from the a t t r i b u t e o f extension.  There are other i n f i n i t e modes, which are  rather mysterious - the s o - c a l l e d mediate i n f i n i t e modes, which one f o r the a t t r i b u t e o f extension i s 'the face o f the whole universe'.  Spinoza gives  examples o f these two types o f mode i n the following l e t t e r to Schuller:  13.  L a s t l y , the examples f o r which you ask are; o f the f i r s t kind, i n Thought, absolutely i n f i n i t e understanding, but i n Extension, motion and r e s t ; o f the second kind, the face o f the whole Universe which although i t varies i n i n f i n i t e modes, y e t remains always the same; ... LETTER LXIV to G.H. Schuller. Spinoza does not say much to c l a r i f y h i s notion o f 'the face o f the whole Universe'.  Stuart Hampshire goes some way to explaining i t i n h i s book on  Spinoza. We may ..., i f we go on ad i n f i n i t u m , conceive the whole o f nature as one i n d i v i d u a l , the parts of which (that i s to say a l l bodies) change i n i n f i n i t e ways without any change o f the whole i n d i v i d u a l . ( E . i i . LEM. VII. Note) This highest-order i n d i v i d u a l Spinoza c a l l s 'the face o f the whole Universe' ...; i n the hierarchy o f h i s system o f modes, i t has the t i t l e o f 'a mediate i n f i n i t e and e t e r n a l mode' under the a t t r i b u t e o f extension. I t i s 'mediate' because i t i s l o g i c a l l y dependent on the immediate mode o f motion and r e s t , which i s the primary, or l o g i c a l l y p r i o r , feature o f extension; i t i s ' i n f i n i t e ' and 'eternal' because the f a c t that Nature as a whole, conceived as a s p a t i a l system, remains thus s e l f i d e n t i c a l follows d i r e c t l y from the conception o f motion-and-rest as the necessary feature o f the extended world. STUART HAMPSHIRE:  SPINOZA p.74.  I think that 'the face o f the whole Universe' r e f e r s to the whole o f physics.  Probably Spinoza believed that a l l the laws o f physics followed  from the b a s i c laws of motion.  There i s a further element i n 'the face of  the whole Universe' which i s worth mentioning b r i e f l y .  Spinoza believed  that the unchangeableness o f the whole Universe followed from the laws o f motion and rest. is relative.  This i s connected with the view that a l l motion and rest  I think that one o f the reasons why Spinoza believed that the  universe i s wholly unchangeable i s that he believed that a l l change was  14. r e l a t i v e to something other than the thing that i s said to change.  It i s  easy to i n f e r erroneously from this b e l i e f , that the universe as a whole cannot change.  There i s no doubt that a l o t of work needs to be done to  c l a r i f y the r e l a t i o n s between the i n f i n i t e modes, p a r t i c u l a r l y the mediate ones, and a t t r i b u t e s , and f i n i t e modes, but I cannot here undertake this probably arduous task.  So to summarize, i n Spinoza's ontology there i s one substance, God or Nature, which i s absolutely independent, and can never be predicated of anything.  This substance consists o f i n f i n i t e a t t r i b u t e s , each one of which  expresses i n f i n i t e and eternal essence, and i s i n f i n i t e i n suo genere. a t t r i b u t e s are the summa genera on the p r e d i c a t i v e side.  The  F i n a l l y there are  the modes, the i n f i n i t e o f which follow l o g i c a l l y from t h e i r own  attribute,  and share most of the features o f a t t r i b u t e s , except that they cannot be conceived through themselves alone;  the f i n i t e modes are such things as  thoughts, f e e l i n g s , i n d i v i d u a l minds, bodies and people. completely dependent e n t i t i e s .  These l a s t are  I s h a l l say a l i t t l e more about the  r e l a t i o n between modes, attributes and substance i n the next section.  2.  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION.  ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT.  Spinoza as perhaps the most r a t i o n a l i s t i c R a t i o n a l i s t of a l l , was f i r m b e l i e v e r i n a p r i n c i p l e o f s u f f i c i e n t reason.  a  He d i d not share with  Leibniz the b e l i e f that everything that happens must happen f o r a reason because God i s the supremely r a t i o n a l person.  He took i t as being j u s t an  obvious p r i n c i p l e that r e l i e s on nothing else f o r i t s truth.  This p r i n c i p l e  that everything has an explanation i s one of the bastions of Rationalism. Although the most eminent E m p i r i c i s t once wrote:  "I never asserted so absurd  15.  a p r o p o s i t i o n as that any thing might a r i s e without a cause", one o f the marks which d i s t i n g u i s h R a t i o n a l i s t s from Empiricists i s the R a t i o n a l i s t s ' b e l i e f that there i s a s u f f i c i e n t reason f o r everything.  When Hume says that he  wouldn't hold such an absurd b e l i e f as that something might a r i s e without a cause, he has something d i f f e r e n t i n mind from Spinoza when HE says, expressing h i s causal maxim: In nature there i s nothing contingent, but a l l things are determined from the necessity o f the divine nature to e x i s t and act i n a c e r t a i n manner. E.i.22.  Although Hume might have b e l i e v e d that everything has a cause, despite knocking down arguments i n favour o f the p r o p o s i t i o n , he c e r t a i n l y r e j e c t e d the claim that i n nature there i s nothing contingent.  His c r i t e r i a f o r some-  thing being a cause o f something else e x p l i c i t l y r u l e out the p o s s i b i l i t y o f cause and e f f e c t being l o g i c a l l y  connected.  ... as a l l d i s t i n c t ideas are separable from each other, and as the ideas o f cause and e f f e c t are evidently d i s t i n c t , ' t w i l l be easy f o r us to conceive any object to be non-existent this moment, and existent the next, without conjoining to i t the d i s t i n c t idea o f a cause o r productive principle. HUME:  TREATISE I. I I . i i i .  This passage seems t o contain a non-sequitur which arises out o f an ambiguity, f o r when Hume says that the ideas o f cause and e f f e c t are evidently d i s t i n c t he i s t a l k i n g about the concept o f cause and that o f e f f e c t , but when he writes that any object may e x i s t at one moment, having been non-existent the previous one, without there being a relevant productive p r i n c i p l e , he i s maintaining that causes are d i s t i n c t from e f f e c t s , not j u s t that the concepts are separable concepts.  What I mean by the l a t t e r remark i s that Hume believed that i t i s  quite p o s s i b l e to conceive o f any given e f f e c t without conceiving o f i t s cause.  16. There i s no necessary connexion between a cause and i t s e f f e c t .  This i s be-  cause the cause and the e f f e c t are f o r Hume j u s t 'brute f a c t s ' .  The ideas of  causes and e f f e c t are sensory states which occur at separate times, and d i f f e r ent times are d i s t i n c t , inasmuch as what happens at one time i s l o g i c a l l y independent o f what happens at any other time.  Let us now compare t h i s with Spinoza on cause and e f f e c t . From a given determinate cause an e f f e c t n e c e s s a r i l y follows; and, on the other hand, i f no determinate cause be given, i t i s impossible that an e f f e c t can follow. The knowledge o f an e f f e c t depends upon and involves the knowledge o f the cause. E.I. A . l £ 3.  These two axioms suggest that the r e l a t i o n between cause and e f f e c t i s f a r from contingent.  Spinoza as a R a t i o n a l i s t believed not j u s t that every-  thing has an explanation i n some weak sense, such as being caused i n a Humean sense.  He believed that everything could u l t i m a t e l y be understood, and his  notion o f understanding incorporates gaining knowledge o f that through which the thing to be understood has to be conceived. Those things which have nothing mutually i n common with one another cannot through one another be mutually understood, that i s to say, the conception of the one does not involve the conception o f the other. E.i.A.5. He uses this axiom i n his proof o f E . i . 3 . I f two things have nothing i n common with one another, one cannot be the cause o f the other. I f they have no tiling mutually i n common with one another, they cannot (Ax.5) through one another be mutually understood, and therefore (Ax.4) one  17.  cannot be the cause of the other. E.i.3. § i t s Dem. To give a Spinozist cause of something one must give the thing through which the problematic item has to be conceived.  This involves as a necessary con-  d i t i o n giving something which entails the existence of the item i n question. Only thus w i l l one be able to understand why the thing exists.  But the  Rationalist mind i s not s a t i s f i e d with just t h i s , for the question w i l l i n evitably arise, or at least could always arise, about the thing which i s the cause of the f i r s t 'effect'.  I f one had a Humean theory of causation, where  the causal relation i s transitive and i r r e f l e x i v e , this chain of causes could never be completed, f o r one could never reach anything which was self-explanatory, or self-caused.  This consequence of i r r e f l e x i v e theories of causation,  namely that there cannot be an ultimate or self-explanatory explanation of why things happen i n the way they do puts strong pressure on a Rationalist to produce some alternative.  There i s another feature o f Humean theories of causation which cannot be acceptable to a Rationalist mind, and that i s to do with the causal r e l a t i o n itself.  Humean causes do not provide the right kind of explanation for a  Rationalist, since i t i s always l o g i c a l l y possible, and i s thus possible as far as the understanding i s concerned, that given a cause any of a number of effects might follow.  Hume d i d not seek, when looking for the cause of something, for an ultimate or l o g i c a l l y perfect explanation of wiry that thing occurred, and I think that he was right i n so not doing.  Spinoza, however, would certainly have disagreed  with this markedly empiricist view, and this i s at least partly because he had  18.  a markedly d i f f e r e n t view o f the nature o f explanation from Hume.  I don't  think that his b e l i e f that there are s u f f i c i e n t reasons f o r everything had to lead him to the b e l i e f that a l l events i n the world are l o g i c a l l y  connected  i n that they are a l l part o f one giant causal nexus; f o r Leibniz believed that there was an ultimate explanation f o r everything that happens, but he shared Hume's scepticism about there being a l o g i c a l connexion between events. In Monadology Section 7 Leibniz suggests very strongly that there i s no causal i n t e r r a c t i o n i n the monadic realm, b a s i c a l l y because o f the contingency o f events.  From t h i s i t i s c l e a r that he had a notion o f cause which i s much  stronger than Humes, and that f o r this reason, given f a i r l y obvious f a c t s about the world he admitted that there i s no genuine causal i n t e r a c t i o n .  In  the d r a f t o f a l e t t e r to Arnauld he a c t u a l l y talks o f cause and e f f e c t as being merely an i d e a l r e l a t i o n between phenomena.  In t h i s sense o f cause  there are o f course causal interactions between things, but f o r Leibniz these 'causes' are not genuine causes since they do not provide a s u f f i c i e n t reason f o r the occurrence o f the ' e f f e c t ' .  Causation as an i d e a l r e l a t i o n i s i n  f a c t very s i m i l a r to Hume's notion o f causation.  How can t h i s view o f  events and the denial o f genuine causal interactions be squared with Leibniz's Rationalism?  Leibniz believed that underlying everything there i s the supreme a l l - w i s e , benevolent, all-powerful, anthropomorphically-conceived God. Everything that happens i n the world i s i n a sense contingent, as r e s t i n g on the w i l l o f God. But the nature o f God i s such that the only world He, being a l l wise, benevolent, and all-powerful, would create, i s the best o f a l l possible worlds. Furthermore, He, being the supremely r a t i o n a l being always acts r a t i o n a l l y , and thus had to (at l e a s t i n Leibniz's eyes) have a r a t i o n a l motive f o r doing  19.  anything.  Thus the 'true cause' of anything happening, and of anything that  happens i s , according to Leibniz, God's reason for bringing about the particular thing.  Leibniz's God i s such that given His nature and certain facts,  i t follows that A rather than B w i l l occur.  He denies that there i s any  entailment r e l a t i o n linking cause and effect i n the vulgar notion of causation. He i s certainly not denying that there are ultimate explanations for the occurrence of things. He i s simply denying that they can be given i n terms of ( e f f i c i e n t or logical) causality.  Descartes was r e a l l y very confused about cause and effect.  He adhered to  some form of the 'transfer' theory of causation. Thus, for him, i f A caused B then A must have transferred some of i t s e l f to something to produce B. For instance, i f a f i r e i s the cause of a kettle's heating up, then, on Descartes' view the f i r e must have transferred some o f i t s heat to the k e t t l e , thus bringing i t about that the kettle i s heated up.  The transfer theory i s un-  acceptable as an account of causation, even leaving theological issues out of the picture, but i t faces insuperable problems regarding the existence and o r i g i n of God.  Like Hume's theory of causation the transfer theory has causat-  ion as an i r r e f l e x i v e relation.  With this theory problems arise for any  Rationalist who seeks an explanation for everything, as Descartes does. Nothing exists concerning which the question may not be raised: - what i s the cause of i t s existence? For the question may be asked even concerning God. DESCARTES: REPLY TO OBJECTIONS I I , HALDANE § ROSS VOL. II p.55. Since Descartes, unlike Leibniz and l i k e Spinoza, rejected explanations i n terms of f i n a l causes, he was presented with a problem i n the form of a dilemma. He would have either to abandon the Rationalist dogma that everything has a cause, or to admit that there was something, other than God, who transferred  20. some of His power to another source to create God, for i t would surely be absurd to say that God brought about His own existence, as this would have involved Him doing something before He existed, a feat which a Rationalist ought to believe i s beyond even the a b i l i t y of the Gods.  In fact i t would  involve the contradiction of God being separate from Himself.  Descartes not  surprisingly f a i l s to provide an adequate reply to this objection which was brought to his attention by Arnauld.  He replied to Arnauld that i t i s useful  to talk of God i n language which suggests that He i s the e f f i c i e n t cause of His  own existence, but that this i s not s t r i c t l y true.  I t i s necessary to  talk as i f i t were, because otherwise, f r a i l souls that we are, we wouldn't understand why God exists.  I think one could hardly be blamed for s t i l l not  knowing why, even after reading Descartes' reply.  A l i t t l e l a t e r on i n this  reply to Amauld he even writes calamatously: ... thus although we do not enquire for an e f f i c i e n t cause with respect to a thing's essence, nevertheless we can do so with respect to i t s existence; but i n God essence and existence are not distinguished; hence we may enquire about the e f f i c i e n t cause of God. H. § R. VOL. I I . p.113.  At this point the reader might well wonder what a l l this had to do with Spinoza, especially i n a work that does not profess to be a study of the views of his near contemporaries.  My j u s t i f i c a t i o n for discussing b r i e f l y Descartes'  views on causation i s that Spinoza's theory can be seen as an attempt to overcome some of the d i f f i c u l t i e s encountered by the Cartesian theory.  I t i s per-  haps a l i t t l e easier to understand Spinoza's motivation for developing his rather bizarre theory i f we see i t i n this l i g h t .  Spinoza was very much i n -  fluenced by the writing of Descartes, and he has on occasion been called the philosopher who had the courage to take Cartesianism to i t s l o g i c a l conclusion.  Others, such as Leon Roth have argued a contrary thesis on t h i s matter, namely that the mature philosophy o f Spinoza i s a reaction against Cartesianism. What i s indisputable i s that Spinoza, who was steeped i n Descartes  at an e a r l y  age, was at l e a s t as aware of the shortcomings o f the f i r s t great R a t i o n a l i s t ' s work as was any o f his contemporaries.  Spinoza, who believed that the vehicle f o r explanation was cause, was committed to the view that everything that e x i s t s has a cause, f o r to deny this would be to admit that there i s something i n the universe which i s inexp l i c a b l e - a b e l i e f which i s anathema to any R a t i o n a l i s t .  Given any notion o f causation where the r e l a t i o n o f cause and e f f e c t i s i r r e f l e x i v e , such as Hume's or that o f Descartes, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to maintain the R a t i o n a l i s t dogma that everything has an explanation, i f by t h i s one means that i t i s i n p r i n c i p l e possible to answer a l l "why" questions about the universe.  This i s because everything that i s given as an explanatory  cause, i t s e l f stands i n need o f explanation, and not j u s t that, but explanat i o n by something e l s e , not already explained, and so on ad i n f i n i t u m .  One route taken by philosophers i s to put God at the end o f the causal chain, and to admit that God's existence i s uncaused, and that God can, through His i n f i n i t e power set o f f the e n t i r e chain of causation.  Of course  this i s to admit that there i s at l e a s t one mystery about the universe which cannot, i n p r i n c i p l e be solved by r a t i o n a l inquiry. In order to preserve his C h r i s t i a n creator-God Descartes was prepared  to concede, i n a very humble  manner, that the human i n t e l l e c t , being merely f i n i t e , j u s t couldn't r e a l l y grasp some o f the mysteries o f God, and that t h i s was why explanations about  22. the i n f i n i t e nature o f God seemed to defy reason, or at least much o f Cartesian philosophy.  Spinoza was completely uncompromising on t h i s matter, and  was c e r t a i n l y prepared to s t i c k by reason even i f the p r i c e was to abandon the Judaeo-Christian God.  In f a c t he d i d not consider that t h i s abandonment  was r e a l l y a p r i c e to pay at a l l , since he rejected t h i s kind o f a God f o r a number o f reasons, j u s t one o f which was that such a God seemed to him to be counter to reason.  Along with the Judaeo-Christian God Spinoza abandoned  the Cartesian i r r e f l e x i v e r e l a t i o n o f cause and e f f e c t as h i s v e h i c l e f o r explanation.  3.  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION.  THE THEORY ITSELF.  The very f i r s t d e f i n i t i o n i n ETHICS i s as follows: By cause o f i t s e l f , I understand that whose essence involves existence; or that, whose nature cannot be conceived unless e x i s t i n g . E.I.  DEF. 1.  What Spinoza means by 'cause o f i t s e l f  i s r e a l l y 'something whose existence  i s e n t a i l e d , i n a l o g i c a l sense, by i t s very nature'.  Just as a t r i a n g l e  cannot be conceived with more or less than three s i d e s , so something that i s a 'cause o f i t s e l f  cannot be conceived as not e x i s t i n g .  In more f a m i l i a r  language, a t r i a n g l e n e c e s s a r i l y has three sides, and i n the same sense o f 'necessarily', a self-caused thing n e c e s s a r i l y e x i s t s .  The existence o f a  self-caused thing needs no more explanation than the three-sidedness o f a triangle.  Spinoza uses this notion o f cause o f i t s e l f i n one o f h i s more lamentable demonstrations, i n t h i s case regarding the existence o f Substance.  23. It pertains to the nature of substance to exist. There i s nothing by which substance can be produced (Corol. Prop. 6). I t w i l l therefore be the cause of i t s e l f , that i s to say (Def. 1), i t s essence necessarily involves existence, or i n other words i t pertains to i t s nature to exist. E.i.7 § i t s Dem. The conclusion of this demonstration, that the essence of substance involves existence, i s used by Spinoza i n his ontological argument for God's existence i n E.i.12.  What i s wrong with the demonstration above quoted i s that i t does  not follow from the proposition that there i s nothing by which substance can be produced that i t i s the cause of i t s e l f i n the required sense. A l l that i t shows i s that i f substance exists i t s existence i s attributable solely to i t s own nature.  Apart from this there i s another mistake made by Spinoza i n  connexion with the reflexive 'self-caused' which should be mentioned now.  Spinoza moved from the proposition that something's existence i s not restricted by space and time, to the proposition that the thing's existence i s a l o g i c a l necessity. He uses this move i n his proof of the existence of substance, which i s equated with the universe.  His reasoning i s as follows:  The universe as a whole cannot enter into any causal relation with anything else, since, necessarily, i t i s a l l that there i s .  As nothing could have  any causal commerce with the universe, the universe's existence must be i n dependent of everything else, and therefore i t must be self-caused, and so, from E.i.7. Dem.,  must necessarily exist.  This i s simply a confusion between  'unbounded by space and time' and ' l o g i c a l l y necessary'.  The mistake crops  up again when Spinoza i s discussing the ' i n f i n i t e and eternal laws of the universe', where he goes through the following steps:  As there i s nothing  which can have any effect on the universe, so nothing can affect i t s governing  24. p r i n c i p l e s , or laws.  Therefore these laws are i n f i n i t e and e t e r n a l .  fore they n e c e s s a r i l y ( l o g i c a l l y ) hold.  There-  I s h a l l leave this matter here,  w h i l s t acknowledging that quite a l o t more could be s a i d about i t .  The problem about asking a series o f "why?" questions i s s i m i l a r to that of the s e r i e s o f questions put to Locke's unfortunate Indian. The Indian ... who, saying that the world was supported by a great elephant, was asked what the elephant rested on; to which h i s answer was a great t o r t o i s e : but being pressed to know what gave support to the broad-backed t o r t o i s e , r e p l i e d something, he knew not what. LOCKE:  ESSAY BK. I I . CH.23.  In important respects E m p i r i c i s t s are l i k e the Indian, i n p a r t i c u l a r with respect to p r o v i d i n g 'ultimate' explanations o f why things are the way they are.  F i r s t o f a l l an E m p i r i c i s t cannot explain why a p a r t i c u l a r causal  r e l a t i o n holds, except by introducing another cause - the cause o f the f i r s t causal r e l a t i o n ' s holding. causal r e l a t i o n , and so on.  The same question can now be asked about the new Secondly, the E m p i r i c i s t causal r e l a t i o n i t s e l f  i s simply a p a r t i c u l a r kind o f r e g u l a r i t y , which i n e v i t a b l y leaves a dangling question, which i t cannot answer 'Why i s there any r e g u l a r i t y ? '  By t h i s  question I mean 'Why i s i t that c e r t a i n events always occur only a f t e r c e r t a i n other events?'  I t seems that at some stage, given an obsessive asker o f "Why?"  questions, that an E m p i r i c i s t would be driven to saying something l i k e  'That's  j u s t the way things are, and that's the end o f the matter'.  Spinoza believed that there i s a l o g i c a l end to the s e r i e s of "Why?" questions, and that this end comes when one reaches substance, whose nature provides the answer to the question concerning i t s existence.  Of any thing  25.  i n the world we might ask:  'Why does this exist?' and so on.  Our answer  w i l l be i n terms of other things, about which the same question might be asked.  However, i f we could eventually trace everything back to substance  we would be able to put an end to the series of questions, because substance requires no explanation beyond i t s own nature - given i t s nature, i t s existence i s self-explanatory. Spinoza indeed does trace everything back to substance: From the necessity of the divine nature i n f i n i t e numbers of things i n i n f i n i t e ways (that i s to say, a l l things which can be conceived by the i n f i n i t e i n t e l l e c t ) must follow. Hence i t follows that God i s the e f f i c i e n t cause of a l l things which can f a l l under the infinite intellect. E.i.16 § Corol.  In order to curl the t a i l of the seemingly endless enquiry into why things e x i s t , so that the enquiry doesn't rely on a dangling and unexplained i n f i n i t e chain, Spinoza equates the notion of entailment with that of causation.  In  the proposition just quoted he i s saying simply that, just as God's existence follows from His nature, so the existence of everything that can be conceived follows from His nature as w e l l .  God i s the cause of Himself, and also the  cause of everything that e x i s t s , for a l l things which exist must f a l l under the i n f i n i t e i n t e l l e c t , since ' f a l l i n g under the i n f i n i t e i n t e l l e c t ' means 'being conceivable by an i n f i n i t e i n t e l l e c t ' .  Spinoza has taken the paradigm of a rational explanation - a l o g i c a l argument - to i t s l o g i c a l conclusion.  Every truth i s a necessary truth.  thing that happens has to happen i n precisely the way i t does happen. Things could have been produced by God i n no  Every-  26.  other manner and i n no other order than that i n which they have been produced. E.i.23.  This radical form of determinism stems from Spinoza's entailment theory of causation, which i s required to provide the epistemological foundation sought by his r a t i o n a l i s t mind.  For i f everything follows l o g i c a l l y from the given  nature of God, then, according to Spinoza, i f anything was i n any way d i f f e r ent from the way i t i s , then that from which i t follows, namely God would have to be d i f f e r e n t , but this i s absurd, since God's nature i s self-evidently necessary.  I t would be a straightforward contradiction to give God a nature  different from the one He has, and so i t i s , i n a strong sense, impossible that things should have been produced i n a different manner or order. Spinoza sees a l l the events i n the world as being related as steps i n an argument, or rather he sees the statements describing events as being the statements of steps i n an argument. The argument has only one assumption and this assumption cannot be altered, and everything i n the argument follows from this assumption. Spinoza believed that i f the steps i n the argument were i n any way different, and the argument was to remain v a l i d , the assumption would have to change. But this i s , by hypothesis impossible.  Therefore the steps have to be just  the way they are.  The line of reasoning i s i n v a l i d , for one can derive a conclusion from an assumption i n a number of ways. When one i s trying to prove something from a given premise, there are a number of different ways one can set about proving whatever i t i s .  Furthermore, one could derive a statement or set of  statements from any of a number of premises. The series might remain the same, although the i n i t i a t i n g premise might change, and the premise might change leaving the series the same as i t would have been had the o r i g i n a l  27.  premise remained. When we are engaging i n logical arguments, we are selective i n what we take for our argument from the o r i g i n a l premise - there i s no best order, or only possible order which follows from a given premise.  Spinoza  thought there was, and used this to produce his determinism, which i s the way he expresses his Rationalism about everything having an explanation. As well as not generating the requisite determinism, the entailment theory has other i n t r i n s i c demerits.  One might, with j u s t i f i c a t i o n , accuse Spinoza of trying  to cast out the speck of sawdust i n other theories of causation, only to i g nore the plank i n what he substitutes for them.  The main problem about the entailment theory i s that i t makes the p o s s i b i l i t y of changing incomprehensible, at least i f the theory i s taken literally.  For i f everything that 'happens' i s entailed by the ' i n f i n i t e  and eternal essence of God', then i t doesn't happen at a l l , for happenings occur at times, whereas entailments are eternal, or perhaps atemporal.  At  least Descartes' theory of causal transfers allows for changes i n time, as does Hume's, and this i s more important than being able to accomodate an explanation for the existence of God.  Spinoza was able to push his Rational-  ism so far i n the direction of l o g i c a l explanations for everything that he f a i l e d to recognize the contingency of events i n the world.  Leibniz, although  he didn't take time very seriously, managed to recognize the contingency of happenings.  Spinoza also ignored analysing time, perhaps because of the  obvious embarrassment i t creates f o r his radical causal rationalism.^"  Fortun-  ately he often doesn't take the causal rationalism absolutely l i t e r a l l y , and sometimes he pretends i t i s n ' t there at a l l .  .  By 'causal rationalism' I mean the doctrine that to say 'A i s the cause of B' i s to say 'A l o g i c a l l y entails B'.  28.  4.  SPINOZA'S THEORY OF CAUSATION.  THE THEORY AT WORK  In f a c t Spinoza does attempt to deal with one o f the problems he has created f o r himself with his causal rationalism. i n the following terms.  The problem can be stated  I f everything follows l o g i c a l l y from the i n f i n i t e  and e t e r n a l essence or nature o f substance, then why are there, as there obviously are, t r a n s i e n t and f i n i t e things, the f i n i t e modes?  Spinoza admits  that everything which follows from the absolute nature o f God must be i n f i n i t e . A l l things which follow from the absolute nature of any a t t r i b u t e o f God must f o r ever e x i s t , and must be i n f i n i t e ; that i s to say, through that same a t t r i b u t e they are e t e r n a l and i n f i n i t e . E.i.21. I f we combine t h i s p r o p o s i t i o n with E.i.16., we should get the conclusion that everything there i s i s i n f i n i t e and e t e r n a l . This conclusion is, however, i n obvious d i r e c t c o n t r a d i c t i o n to the S p i n o z i s t doctrine that human beings are j u s t some o f a whole l o t o f f i n i t e modes.  A l s o , E.i.28. i s i n d i r e c t  contradiction to E.i.16. An i n d i v i d u a l thing, or a thing which i s f i n i t e and which has a determinate existence, cannot e x i s t nor be determined to action unless i t be determined to existence and a c t i o n by another cause which i s also f i n i t e and has a determinate existence; and again, t h i s cause cannot e x i s t nor be determined to a c t i o n unless by another cause which i s also f i n i t e and determined to existence and a c t i o n , and so on ad i n f i n i t u m . E.i.28.  L e i b n i z , who was not noted for h i s generosity to Spinoza or h i s philosophy, was quick to come up with a very cogent objection to Spinoza's theory o f causation, which arises out o f there obviously being f i n i t e things i n the world.  29. (Spinoza) maintains ... that f i n i t e and temporal things cannot be produced immediately by an i n f i n i t e cause, but that they are produced by other causes, i n d i v i d u a l and f i n i t e . But how w i l l they f i n a l l y then spring from God? For they cannot come from him mediately i n t h i s case, since we could never reach i n this way things which are not s i m i l a r l y produced by another f i n i t e thing. It cannot, therefore, be s a i d that God acts by mediating secondary causes, unless he produces secondary causes. LEIBNIZ: REFUTATION OF SPINOZA, WIENER: SELECTIONS p.497.  LEIBNIZ  In f a c t Spinoza's p o s i t i o n i s n ' t quite as bad as i t seems.  First of a l l , i n  answer to the claim that E.i.16 and E.i.21 are simply inconsistent with the existence o f f i n i t e and temporal modes, one could say the following.  When  Spinoza says, i n E.i.16, that everything follows from 'the necessity o f the divine nature' he means something d i f f e r e n t by 'the necessity o f the divine nature  1  from what he means by 'the absolute nature o f any a t t r i b u t e o f God'  i n E.i.21.  The s i g n i f i c a n t difference l i e s i n the word 'absolute', which  occurs only i n the l a t t e r proposition. following way.  One might then read E.i.21 i n the  ' A l l things which follow from the absolute nature o f any  a t t r i b u t e o f God must ...'.  One could then interpret the proposition as  asserting that everything that follows immediately from the d e f i n i t i o n of, or at l e a s t from the essence of, God, i s i n f i n i t e and eternal.  This would leave  one room f o r the f i n i t e and temporal, by admitting the existence o f things which d i d u l t i m a t e l y follow from God, but didn't follow immediately from His d e f i n i t i o n or essence.  But t h i s escape from the f r y i n g pan o f s e l f - c o n t r a d i c -  t i o n seems to lead s t r a i g h t to the f i r e o f Leibniz's objection. equated the entailment r e l a t i o n with the causal r e l a t i o n . caused by God.  Spinoza has  Everything i s  Therefore everything i s e n t a i l e d by God. What Spinoza appears  to be s t r i v i n g f o r i s to be able to say the following. eternal follow d i r e c t l y from the nature o f God.  The i n f i n i t e and  The f i n i t e and temporal also  30.  follow from God's nature, but only i n d i r e c t l y .  The problem i s :  'How can  the existence o f f i n i t e things, and e s p e c i a l l y temporal things, be l o g i c a l l y i n f e r r e d from the existence o f an i n f i n i t e and eternal thing?'.  E.M. Curley i n his book SPINOZA'S METAPHYSICS, and Peter Remnant i n a recent graduate seminar at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, have independently provided s i m i l a r accounts o f Spinoza's views on the c a u s a l i t y o f God i n r e l a t i o n to the world.  The Curley-Remnant i n t e r p r e t a t i o n e f f e c t s a p a r t i a l  salvage o f Spinoza's u l t i m a t e l y untenable p o s i t i o n .  The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which  follows i s e s s e n t i a l l y a hybrid o f the views o f Remnant and Curley, which, on this matter, are very s i m i l a r .  Let us, f o r the sake o f s i m p l i c i t y , concentrate on the a t t r i b u t e o f extension.  We s h a l l f i r s t o f a l l take Spinoza's remarks on t h i s subject as  being r e a l l y statements about facts rather than things.  We can then take i t  that the divine a t t r i b u t e o f extension i s a manifestation o f an ultimate law, or 'basic nomological'  law, o f r e a l i t y .  One could characterize the a t t r i b u t e  of extension by saying 'Every substance must be extended'.  The immediate i n f i n i t e mode under the a t t r i b u t e o f extension, the mode of motion-and-rest, follows l o g i c a l l y from the a t t r i b u t e o f extension. mode can be characterized thus.  This  'Everything i s e i t h e r i n motion or at r e s t ' .  I t follows from the a t t r i b u t e o f extension, since the existence o f this a t t r i b u t e e n t a i l s that everything, that i s 'substance', i s extended. But anything that i s extended i s , as a matter o f l o g i c e i t h e r i n motion or at rest.  Therefore everything i s e i t h e r i n motion or at r e s t .  31.  The mediate i n f i n i t e mode under the a t t r i b u t e o f extension, "the face of the whole universe', which f o r a l l i n t e n t s and purposes, can be equated w i t h p h y s i c s , i n t u r n follows from the laws o f motion and r e s t .  One should note at t h i s juncture that so f a r a l l the statements which are  i n the deduction are u n i v e r s a l statements o f the form ' A l l x i s ...'.  We s t a r t o f f w i t h something which resembles an e t e r n a l t r u t h , and was c e r t a i n l y regarded as such by Spinoza, and we end up w i t h another seeming e t e r n a l t r u t h . Before going f u r t h e r , i t might be worth n o t i n g that already we can see Spinoza's confusion between 'unbounded by spatiotemporal r e s t r i c t i o n s ' and 'necessary'. I f i t i s true t h a t any substance must be extended, i t i s true without r e f e r ence to any time o r to any p l a c e .  I am not sure whether one ought to say  t h a t i t i s n e c e s s a r i l y true t h a t any substance must be extended. that given Spinoza's d e f i n i t i o n o f substance, i t i s so.  I suppose  I t a l s o seems reason-  able to say that 'anything extended must be e i t h e r i n motion o r at r e s t ' i s necessarily true.  I t i s a s i m i l a r k i n d o f t r u t h to 'nothing can be red and  green a l l over a t the same time'.  The laws o f physics share w i t h the above  two statements, that they are not l i m i t e d by time and space.  By t h i s I mean  that the b a s i c laws o f physics are true f o r a l l times and a l l p l a c e s . i t i s not the case that these laws are n e c e s s a r i l y true.  However  I t would not involve  a c o n t r a d i c t i o n to deny, say Archimedes' p r i n c i p l e , o r other b a s i c laws o f physics.  Spinoza, however, thought i t would, and to think so i s q u i t e under-  standable.  This a l l f i t s i n w e l l w i t h the entailment theory o f causation. 'cause' o f the a t t r i b u t e o f e x t e n s i o n i s 'substance' i t s e l f . substance explains why a l l substances must be extended.  The  The nature o f  The 'cause' o f the  33.  plus certain facts about the f i n i t e tiling i n question and other f i n i t e things. This i s rather similar to the familiar causal picture, where for instance the causal law that people who f a l l out of the topmost window of a one hundred storey building, i f their f a l l i s unimpeded, w i l l die, plus the fact that I am i n an unimpeded f a l l from the top of a hundred storey building only j o i n t l y e n t a i l that I w i l l die.  E.i.16 i s stressing that eternal laws cannot be l e f t out of any explanation.  E.i.28 i s stressing that when one i s talking about f i n i t e things, one  cannot leave f i n i t e things out of one's explanation.  Although the two proposi-  tions l i t e r a l l y do c o n f l i c t , we can reinterpret them and provide a constructive suggestion as to what Spinoza had i n mind i n asserting them.  I would l i k e to say three things about this way of reading Spinoza.  F i r s t of a l l , the idea that the occurrence of an event i s entailed not solely by a causal law nor by the occurrence of a p r i o r event, but only by a combination of the two, i s not merely true, but t r i v i a l l y so.  This, however,  i s not i n i t s e l f too bad, since i t i s one of the tasks of an innovative metaphysician to convince his attentive readers that his system can account for the everyday facts.  The second point i s more important, and i s as follows. Spinoza held i t to be axiomatic that: The knowledge of an effect depends upon and involves the knowledge of the cause. E.i.Ax.4.  34.  I f I am not mistaken, this would leave Spinoza open to the charge that his theory does not enable us to have knov Ledge o f anything except eternal and i n f i n i t e truths.  For o f any two f i n i t e things, A and B, B being the p a r t i a l  cause o f A, I cannot know A unless I know B; but I cannot know B unless I know i t s cause, part o f which w i l l be the f i n i t e C, and so on ad infinitum. This i s c e r t a i n l y e n t a i l e d by the Curley-Remnant i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , and i t seems, at the very l e a s t , to have an a i r o f paradox about i t . However, to t h i s I would say that i t i s a bad r e f l e c t i o n on Spinoza rather than on the CurleyRemnant view o f his  theory.  In f a c t Spinoza d i d believe that we could not have adequate knowledge o f f i n i t e things.  So an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which implies t h i s i s not to be rejected  on the grounds that i t saddles Spinoza with this view.  As a R a t i o n a l i s t who  unequivocally scorned the senses, i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g that Spinoza should have held t h i s view  that we could not have adequate knowledge o f f i n i t e and  transient things, as such knowledge would have to come v i a the senses.  It is  a c t u a l l y part o f h i s l a t e r theory o f freedom that we become free as we cease f i l l i n g our heads with 'inadequate' ideas o f f i n i t e things. discussion o f this matter u n t i l a l a t e r  The  I s h a l l leave  chapter.  t h i r d point r e a l l y arises out o f the second one, and i s t h i s .  Spinoza i s not able to answer Leibniz's objection s a t i s f a c t o r i l y .  His causal  rationalism forces him to admit that the ordinary everyday world i s not r e a l , since the ordinary world i s temporal, and the causal theory cannot accomodate time.  Nevertheless,  Spinoza does not abandon h i s causal rationalism, which  reappears i n the l a t e r part o f ETHICS Part Five.  Instead he 'forgets' i t  w h i l s t giving his account o f the human condition o f bondage to the ' a f f e c t s ' .  35.  We can be thankful that he does.  Although there i s obviously much more work which could usefully be done on the topic of Spinoza's metaphysics, I s h a l l now turn to my main concern i n this essay - Spinoza's theory of human freedom.  I f I have provided some-  thing l i k e the requisite metaphysical background for at least understanding the context i n which Spinoza's work about human beings was written, then this chapter w i l l have achieved i t s purpose.  CHAPTER TWO  THE BONDAGE OF HUMAN BEINGS  5.  THE SOURCE OF SPINOZA'S DETERMINISM.  In many of the debates about the freedom of human beings, the main argument against their freedom has been that everything i s causally determined, and as this i s so, there i s no room for freedom.  Therefore no human beings  are free, and the b e l i e f that they are stems from romantic muddle-headedness. Spinoza i s famous for being a determinist; he i s also well-known, not entirely on account of the work of Somerset Maugham, for believing that human-beings are not free, but i n bondage. However, his b e l i e f that people are not free does not stem from h i s determinism, but from a different, thought not entirely unconnected source.  As a Rationalist Spinoza was deeply committed to the view that everything has an explanation or cause.  But so were the other Rationalists, and they  certainly did believe that people are at least free enough to deserve moral blame f o r their misdeeds.  I readily concede that Descartes' account of human  freedom was p a r t i c u l a r l y misguided, but I would l i k e to stress that there i s an important kind of freedom which i s not incompatible with determinism, despite being incompatible with any just ascriptions of responsibility to anything.  That Spinoza believed i n some such sort of freedom despite h i s  r a t i o n a l i s t i c determinism i s evident from the following. That thing i s called free which exists from the necessity of i t s own nature alone, and i s determined to action by i t s e l f alone. That thing, on the other hand, i s called necessary, or rather  37.  compelled, which by another i s determined to e x i s t ence i n a f i x e d and prescribed manner. E . i . Def.  7.  On this view i t i s quite a l l r i g h t to admit that something i s both causally determined and f r e e , provided of course that the cause of the free thing's existence and action i s i t s own nature and not anything e l s e .  As substance  i s the only thing that i s completely self-caused, i t i s the only thing that can be s a i d to be t r u l y free.  On the other hand, a human being i s not self-caused.  For Spinoza, i n  order to be f r e e , something has to be completely independent of anything e l s e . That i s to say, the existence, and action o f a free thing depends e x c l u s i v e l y on i t s own nature or essence.  What defines a human being, or constitutes i t s  'essence' does not e n t a i l the existence of any human beings.  In E.i.8.Sch.,  Spinoza argues that Whenever i t i s possible f o r several i n d i v i d u a l s o f the same nature to e x i s t , there must n e c e s s a r i l y be an external cause f o r t h e i r existence. He proves' t h i s , taking man  as a paradigm case of the p o s s i b i l i t y f o r several  i n d i v i d u a l s of the same nature to e x i s t . twenty men  i n existence.  He assumes that there are j u s t  I f there are j u s t twenty men  must be a cause or reason why  i n existence,  there are neither more nor l e s s .  there  This cause  cannot l i e i n human nature i t s e l f : ... since volve the cause why the cause side each  the true d e f i n i t i o n of a man does not i n number twenty, and therefore ... the these twenty men e x i s t , and consequently why each e x i s t s , must n e c e s s a r i l y l i e outone; ...  E.i.8.Sch. Thus according to the d e f i n i t i o n given above of what i t i s to be f r e e , man n e c e s s a r i l y unfree.  Again, at the beginning of Part Four of ETHICS - that  is  38.  e n t i t l e d OF HUMAN BONDAGE, Spinoza writes: There i s no i n d i v i d u a l thing i n nature which i s not surpassed i n strength by some other thing, but any i n d i v i d u a l thing being given, another and stronger i s also given, by which the former can be destroyed. E. i v . Axiom.  In Part One o f ETHICS Spinoza launched a f r o n t a l assault on anthropocent r i s m and on orthodox Judaeo-Christian theology.  His determinism i s , apart  from anything e l s e , part o f t h i s f r o n t a l assault.  Many people, including Christians and Jews believe that human beings are importantly unique i n the universe.  They maintain that people are s p e c i a l i n  the world, because they can transcend nature. thing which i s loosely c a l l e d ' f r e e - w i l l ' .  They believe we possess some-  Such a view o f mankind was to the  R a t i o n a l i s t , scientific-minded Spinoza, prejudiced and i r r a t i o n a l .  His main  d i s t i n c t i o n between things was the ' i n f i n i t e and eternal' versus the ' f i n i t e and temporal'.  C l e a r l y , on t h i s count, people have the relevant things i n  common with p l a n t s , animals, tables and c h a i r s , and lack the features o f God or Nature.  I t i s not a b i t s u r p r i s i n g therefore, that Spinoza has i t as an  axiom at the s t a r t o f h i s discussion o f human bondage that any i n d i v i d u a l thing i n nature i s surpassed i n strength, and can be destroyed by, another. I s h a l l come back to Spinoza's anti-anthropocentrism i n the next section.  Although anthropocentrism can be maintained by a t h e i s t s , such as the Humanist group, i t goes hand i n hand with the doctrines o f Judaism and C h r i s t ianity.  For the sake o f b r e v i t y I s h a l l discuss the Spinozist c r i t i c i s m s only  of C h r i s t i a n i t y .  There i s a pressure from orthodox C h r i s t i a n i t y to accept  l i b e r t a r i a n i s m , which i s the b e l i e f that human beings act i n ways which are  39.  not subject to determining laws.  What Spinoza does i s to reject orthodox  C h r i s t i a n i t y , and thereby remove one of the main bases for the b e l i e f i n libertarianism.  He also has independent reasons for rejecting libertarianism,  which doctrine he regards as thoroughly incoherent.  The f i r s t reason for believing i n libertarianism which stems from orthodox C h r i s t i a n i t y , i s that i t seems to be a necessary condition for God's having to do anything i n order to create the world i n the f i r s t place.  There  would simply be nothing for God to have done unless the creation had something independent of Him i n i t , for otherwise, i t would a l l be part of Himself.  The  obvious candidate for something independent of God i s mankind with the Godgiven g i f t of f r e e - w i l l .  The second pressure from Christianity f o r believing i n libertarianism arises out of the Christian notion of desert. Admittedly there are some Christians who believe that we are such miserable creatures that we don't deserve anything.  These people believe that we can attain salvation by God's  grace alone, which seems to be l i t t l e more discriminating than a lottery. However the majority of Christians believe that the way to salvation i s through freely deciding to do the right thing, or adopt the right way of l i f e , namely the Christian way.  Christians seek to explain the existence of e v i l i n  the world, by attributing i t to people's freely rejecting God's commandments, although this attempt cannot succeed.  The whole notion of g u i l t and deserv-  ingness which l i e s so near the heart of Christian theology hardly makes sense unless people have real freedom of choice.  Much of ETHICS Part One i s devoted to showing that the idea of a creatorGod separate from the creation, i s absurd.  Spinoza's main argument i s that no  40.  substance can either be or be conceived besides God, since God i s a being of which no attribute can be denied.  I f there were a substance existing be-  sides God, this would ' l i m i t ' God, but this i s impossible, since God i s an 'absolutely i n f i n i t e ' being. Quite a l o t can be said about Spinoza's attack on the r a t i o n a l i t y of believing i n a Christian God, but to get into a discussion of this would take us rather too f a r a f i e l d .  What i s important  i s that Spinoza absolutely rejected the view of the world which presents a creator and a separate creation which i s dependent on the creator.  The rejection of the Christian God removed important reasons for believing i n libertarianism.  As implied above Spinoza also had reasons of a  positive nature for believing i n determinism.  He was very against the notion  of ' f r e e - w i l l ' even for God. He writes: The w i l l cannot be called a free cause, but can only be called necessary. E.i.28. His argument for this i s based on the statement that the w i l l i s only a certain mode of thought, and as a l l modes are determined by external causes, the w i l l i s so determined, and hence i s not free.  As a corollorary to this  we find: Hence i t follows ... that God does not act from freedom of the w i l l . E.i.33. When Spinoza says this he r e a l l y means i t and he doesn't attempt to grant God the freedom of choice accorded to the Christian God by introducing i t under a different name. For Things could have been produced by God i n no other manner and i n no other order than that i n which they have been produced. E. i.33.  41.  We have already come across this proposition i n connection with the discussion of Spinoza's causal rationalism. seen, i s not a good one,  His argument f o r the proposition, as we have  since i t involves ignoring the p o s s i b i l i t y of s e l e c t -  ing any o f a number of conclusions  from a given premise.  For more discussion  of this proposition and the argument f o r i t I r e f e r the reader to  6.  THE SCIENTIFIC VIEW.  Spinoza's attack on anthropocentrism i s part of h i s avid insistence upon being objective and  ' s c i e n t i f i c ' i n his writings.  The  'scientific' is in  inverted commas because Spinoza's philosophy has been c r i t i c i s e d f o r being unscientific.  We must remember that Spinoza and the other R a t i o n a l i s t s b e l -  ieved that the most respectable s c i e n t i f i c enquiry was  a priori.  I t stems  from h i s taking h i s Rationalism very s e r i o u s l y that Spinoza writes at the ginning of ETHICS Part Three, about those who  regard man  be-  i n nature as a king-  dom within a kingdom, that they: ... proceed to a t t r i b u t e the cause of human weakness and changeableness, not to the common power o f nature, but to some v i c e of human nature, which they therefore bewail, laugh at, mock, or as i s more generally the case, detest; E.iii.Intro. His i n t e n t i o n , he t e l l s us, i s not to s c o f f at the ' a f f e c t s ' , but rather to understand them, by applying to t h e i r study the geometrical method. standing'  i s the key word here.  'Under-  His reason f o r using the geometrical method  for analyzing human ' a f f e c t s ' i s that: Nothing happens i n nature which can be a t t r i b u t e d to . any v i c e of nature, f o r she i s always the same, and her power everywhere one. Her v i r t u e i s always the same, and her power of acting; that i s to say, her laws and r u l e s , according to which a l l things are and are changed from form to form, are everywhere and  42.  always the same; so that there must also be one and the same method of understanding the nature of a l l things whatsoever, that i s to say by the universal laws and rules of nature. E.iii.Intro. Spinoza, then, had a very deep-seated b e l i e f i n the unity of science.  The affects are roughly equivalent to what we would c a l l emotions, and include hatred, anger and envy amongst other things.  The affects, which are  p a r t i a l causes of what we would c a l l actions, are themselves normally caused by the same necessity as that which necessitates any natural phenomenon. Thus Spinoza treats human beings as simply being one group amongst many, of f i n i t e modes.  For him there i s no essential difference between people and  other bodies, which would j u s t i f y us i n giving a special 'moral' treatment of the study of man. Thus he writes at the conclusion to the introduction to E . i i i : I s h a l l consider human actions and appetites j u s t as i f I were considering l i n e s , planes or bodies. E.iii.Intro.  7. THE SPECIAL TREATMENT OF HUMAN BEINGS.  Having made a l l these disclaimers about the non-speciality of human beings i n the study of nature, Spinoza proceeds with what must be one of the most i n s i g h t f u l and sympathetic accounts of the human condition.  Before  embarking on the discussion of his detailed account of human bondage I would l i k e to recapitulate the metaphysical basis for his claim that human beings are inevitably i n bondage. There are two meanings to 'free' - one of them i s i n d i s t i n c t i o n to 'caused'.  In this sense of 'free', freedom i s impossible,  even for an i n f i n i t e , or even absolutely i n f i n i t e being, since 'everything has  43.  a cause  1  i s , for any good Rationalist, a necessary truth.  According to the  other sense of 'free', the Spinozist sense, 'being free' i s i n contradistinction to 'having an external cause'. this sense.  Substance i s the only free thing i n  People are not free, since they depend for their existence on  the co-operation of other things - they are not self-caused.  In this respect  they are not different from anything else i n the world.  When Spinoza discusses human bondage i t i s significant that he emphasizes the mental manifestations of this condition.  This i s interesting because a l -  though he doesn't actually attribute minds to the things i n nature apart from human beings, i t i s one of his f a i r l y fundamental tenets that: The order and connexion of ideas i s the same as the order and connexion of things. E.ii.7. Many of the propositions of ETHICS express this parallelism between the world of ideas and the world of extended things.  As the mind i s on the 'idea' side  of things, and the body i s i t s analogue on the 'extension' side, one would expect that an understanding of human beings would involve knowledge of the human body no less than of the human mind.  Early on i n Part One of ETHICS, Spinoza talks of the connexion between finitude and lack of freedom.  The notion of finitude i s f a i r l y easily under-  stood when applied to physical objects, but less so when applied to minds. Spinoza writes the following on the subject. ... For example, a body i s called f i n i t e , because we always conceive another which i s greater. So a thought i s limited by another thought. E.i.DEF.2. It i s easy to understand how a body can be limited by another body, but much  44. less so, how a thought, or a mind i s l i m i t e d by another mind.  Of course we  can t a l k o f having f i n i t e minds, meaning by this that we cannot, f o r example, conceive an i n f i n i t y o f things at the same time, but the problem s t i l l remains that we don't have a metric f o r s i z e o f minds, as we do f o r s i z e o f bodies.  I f human beings were not regarded as s p e c i a l by Spinoza we could have expected him to have produced a study o f 'the order and connexion' o f the human body, or human bodies, i n t h e i r commerce with the rest o f the extended world, and then to invoke E . i i . 7 . to j u s t i f y h i s claim that the mind i s i n bondage too.  The point I am t r y i n g to make i s that Spinoza i s r e a l l y doing  himself an i n j u s t i c e , though he apparently would not have thought so, when he says that he i s going to consider human actions and appetites as i f he were studying l i n e s , planes or bodies.  I f he r e a l l y followed t h i s through  he would have concentrated on the p h y s i c a l movements o f the bodies o f human beings, and would have then added the s p e c i f i c a l l y mental content at the end via E.ii.7.  Of course he does t r y to maintain the o b j e c t i v i t y with which one  would normally study l i n e s , planes and the l i k e , but one can detect throughout the l a t t e r parts o f ETHICS a profound sympathy f o r the human condition, and i n p a r t i c u l a r f o r the mental anguish suffered by most human beings.  8.  THE NATURE OF HUMAN BONDAGE.  The kernel o f Spinoza's theory o f human bondage i s t h i s . nearly always at the mercy o f t h e i r a f f e c t s .  People are  This i s made quite e x p l i c i t  not only by the t i t l e o f Part Four o f ETHICS, which i n i t s complete  form  reads: "Of Human Bondage or o f the Strength o f the A f f e c t s " , but also by the opening words o f the introduction to that part.  45. ... The impotence o f man to govern or r e s t r a i n the a f f e c t s I c a l l bondage, f o r a man who i s under t h e i r control i s not his own master, but i s mastered byfortune, i n whose power he i s , so that he i s often forced to follow •the worse, although he sees the b e t t e r before him ... E.iv.Preface.  The theory i s b a s i c a l l y that, as most people are f a i r l y weak they are nearly always at the mercy o f t h e i r a f f e c t s .  When one i s at the mercy o f  an a f f e c t , one i s not at the helm i n determining one's course o f action. A f f e c t s come over one, whether o r not one asks them t o , and i t i s a matter of chance whether or not they impel one to do what one r e a l l y wants to do, or what i t i s i n one's true i n t e r e s t to do.  I s h a l l amplify t h i s point l a t e r ,  when I discuss the theory o f the a f f e c t s i n d e t i a l .  Despite the seeming i n e v i t a b i l i t y o f our being unfree f o r the reasons adduced e a r l i e r , Spinoza does t a l k o f there being a d i s t i n c t i o n w i t h i n the behaviour o f human beings between a c t i v i t y and p a s s i v i t y , which suggests that our p l i g h t may be not quite as gloomy as at f i r s t appeared. I say that we act when anything i s done, e i t h e r within us or without us, o f which we are the adequate cause, that i s to say (by preceding d e f . ) , when from our nature anything follows, e i t h e r w i t h i n or without us, which by that nature alone can be c l e a r l y and d i s t i n c t l y understood. On the other hand I say that we s u f f e r when anything i s done within us, or when anything follows from our nature, o f which we are not the cause except p a r t i a l l y . E.iii.Def.3. In more modern language one might translate the above d e f i n i t i o n into something l i k e the following:  Whenever the occurrence o f an event can be ex-  plained s o l e l y by reference to the fundamental desire o f a person that person i s active - or perhaps better i s :  We are active when we do something  because  46.  that i s what we, namely our true selves, want to do.  On the other hand we  suffer, or are passive, to the extent that what we do i s determined by anything other than our true selves. The question w i l l now, I suspect, arise i n the reader's mind as to what i s this 'true s e l f .  This might well be  coupled with the question 'What i s the connexion between 'fundamental desire' and 'true s e l f ?  They both seem extremely nebulous expressions which c a l l  for explication, and they aren't obviously connected.  9.  ESSENCES AND INNER DRIVES.  Spinoza, as I think has been said e a r l i e r , distinguishes 'existence' from 'essence'.  In connexion with his arguments about God, he says that  God's essence involves existence, just as the essence of a triangle involves the triangle's having three sides. According to this notion of essence, an object's essence may be equated roughly with i t s definition.  We know that a  triangle w i l l have three sides as this fact i s contained i n the d e f i n i t i o n or 'essence' of a triangle.  S i m i l a r l y , the argument goes, with God - that  God exists i s part of the d e f i n i t i o n or 'essence' of God.  I t would be s e l f -  contradictory to deny existence to God, just as i t would be self-contradictory to deny three-sidedness to a triangle.  Notwithstanding a l l t h i s , Spinoza has something else i n mind when he talks of essences other than a simple equation of 'essence' and 'definition'. He does have a d i s t i n c t i o n between 'essence' and 'actual essence', which i s not s p e c i f i c a l l y acknowledged by him, but i s nonetheless important.  He defines 'essence' i n the following way at the beginning of ETHICS Part Two:  47.  I say that to the essence of anything pertains that, which being given, the tiling i t s e l f i s n e c e s s a r i l y posited, and being taken away, the thing i s necessari l y taken; or, i n other words, that without which the thing can neither be nor be conceived, and which i n i t s turn cannot be nore be conceived without the thing. E.ii.Def.2. Here 'essence' i s defined as something s i m i l a r to what we might c a l l 'defining c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s ' .  This was  a f a i r l y common i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of 'essence'.  The essence of a thing consists of i t s e s s e n t i a l properties.  So, f o r any  thing, i f i t s e s s e n t i a l properties are i n s t a n t i a t e d the thing i s s a i d to exist.  S i m i l a r l y , i f the thing e x i s t s the e s s e n t i a l properties must be i n -  s t a n t i a t e d , and so on.  This d e f i n i t i o n does not, as might appear on a f i r s t reading, commit Spinoza to an o n t o l o g i c a l argument f o r the existence o f a l l things, f o r i t does not assert that the essence of a thing causes i t s existence.  However,  i t i s true that the i n s t a n t i a t i o n of the e s s e n t i a l properties of a thing 'causes' i t s existence, as t h i s i n s t a n t i a t i o n e n t a i l s the existence of the thing.  In order to get the o n t o l o g i c a l argument out o f E.ii.Def.2.,  one  would need the premise that 'existence' i s a defining or e s s e n t i a l property of everything, which Spinoza does not  accept.  The d e f i n i t i o n above i s s l i g h t l y p u z z l i n g because Spinoza implies i n i t that the essence of a thing i s responsible f o r two a c t i v i t i e s .  I t f i r s t of  a l l enables the thing to e x i s t , and secondly enables i t to be conceived, as i f these were two separate feats. i f something i s inconceivable  They are a c t u a l l y intimately r e l a t e d , f o r  i t could not e x i s t , whereas the d e f i n i t i o n  suggests, by the words "neither be nor be conceived", that something could be, and yet not be conceivable.  Perhaps one should not make too much of t h i s .  48.  Spinoza had two different things i n mind when he talked of essences, even though he might have been misled by his causal rationalism into equating them. The second type of 'essence' has much more to do with an inner dynamic force which keeps things going, than with the defining or essential properties of the o r i g i n a l d e f i n i t i o n .  In the part of ETHICS which i s devoted to ex-  plaining the nature and o r i g i n of the affects Spinoza says the following: The e f f o r t by which each thing endeavours to persevere i n i t s own being i s nothing but the actual essence of the thing i t s e l f . E.iii.7 The 'actual essence' of a thing i s here something l i k e the inner drive which holds i t together, or, i n the case of people, the basic motivational force. This i s a f a r cry from the rather abstract essential properties of the o r i g i n a l account of 'essence', although the word 'essential' could j u s t i f i a b l y be applied to both sets of properties.  More w i l l be said on this controver-  s i a l subject of drives, when I talk i n more d e t a i l about motivation.  So I contend that i n E.ii.Def.2., Spinoza i s confused between 'formal' essences or definitions and 'actual' essences, or inner-driving forces, and his confusion stems d i r e c t l y from his causal rationalism.  What interests me here i s the second sense of 'essence'. Spinoza believes that human beings are passive or i n bondage when what they do does not follow from their drive for self-preservation.  The actual essence of  each person i s something very akin to the Freudian notion of the ' i d ' .  The  main difference i s that Spinoza rather implausibly attributes this fundamental endeavour for self-preservation, or 'conatus' as i t i s commonly c a l l e d , to a l l things, animate or inanimate. This 'conatus' doctrine i s f a i r l y well-known, not least for i t s being very d i f f i c u l t to defend, especially i n the face of  49.  such self-destructive 'tilings' as activated time bombs.  I s h a l l not try to defend the 'conatus' doctrine, but would l i k e to say that i t i s a doctrine which has far more p l a u s i b i l i t y when applied to human beings and other animate objects, than when applied to l i f e l e s s things.This i s a feature common to many of Spinoza's doctrines despite his vehement anti-anthropocentricism.  His anti-anthropocentrism  came from two directions. He t r i e d to close  the gap between people and things f i r s t of a l l by saying that people are far more l i k e things than they think. more l i k e people than we think. non-human beings.  He also maintained that things are far Thus he demotes human beings and elevates  These two strains i n Spinoza's anti-anthropocentrism  are  closely p a r a l l e l l e d by his wavering between a cold s c i e n t i f i c view of the universe, and a reverent pantheism.  Despite this he never manages quite to  escape his deep commitment to understanding the human condition.  In fact Spinoza does, whilst discussing the 'conatus' doctrine make relevant d i s t i n c t i o n between people and, say, inanimate objects.  He makes  the d i s t i n c t i o n as i f i t i s not p a r t i c u l a r l y important, although i t turns out to have great significance. Talking of the e f f o r t or endeavour of anything to persevere i n i t s own being he writes: This e f f o r t , when i t i s related to the mind alone, i s c a l l e d w i l l , but when i t i s related at the same time both to the mind and the body, i s c a l l e d appetite, which i s therefore nothing but the very essence of man, from the nature of which necessarily follow those things which promote his preservation, and thus he i s determined to do those things. Hence there i s no difference between appetite and desire, unless i n this p a r t i c u l a r , that desire i s generally related to men and i t may therefore be defined as  50.  appetite of which we are conscious. E.iii.9.Sen. Human beings are different from ordinary tilings, because we have consciousness of our desires. Spinoza acknowledged t h i s , but he could not adequately accomodate i t into his theory o f psycho-physical parallelism, for he maintained that the: ... idea of the mind i s united to the mind i n the same way as the mind i t s e l f i s united to the body. E.ii.21.  According to his o r i g i n a l theory every physical state has i t s mental counterpart.  He i s now asserting that i n the same way every mental state has, be-  sides a physical counterpart, a higher order mental state, which i t i s d i f f i cult to see as other than something l i k e our notion of self-consciousness. The problem with this i s that, along with the o r i g i n a l p a r a l l e l i s m , i t would e n t a i l that everything i s self-conscious, or that there are ideas of the ideas of say stones.  Yet clearly there are mental states without s e l f -  consciousness, even i f one were to grant that a l l things have mental states. Moreover i t i s obvious, amongst other things, from E . i i i . 9 . S c h . , that Spinoza realized t h i s .  In fact, i n his theory of human freedom, our capacity for re-  f l e c t i v e awareness, something not attributed to things other than people, i s c r u c i a l f o r the escape from bondage.  I t seems f a i r l y clear from this why Spinoza, i n his t a l k about human beings i s f a r more concerned with their mental aspect.  Thoughts were somewhat  of an embarrassment to him i n his metaphysical talk about f i n i t e and i n f i n i t e ; bodies are the embarrassment when he talks about the p o s s i b i l i t y of human freedom, since we have such obviously f i n i t e bodies.  SI.  I pass now to a discussion of the stumbling blocks to human freedom, the affects.  10.  THE AFFECTS. PART ONE.  'Affect' i s defined i n the following way: By affect I understand the affections of the body, by which the power of acting of the body i t s e l f i s increased, diminished, helped, or hindered, together with the ideas of these affections. E.iii.Def.3. One has affects only when there i s some change i n the 'power of acting of the body i t s e l f .  The nearest equivalent i n our language to an affect i s ,  I think, an emotion, although this i s not more than an approximation. The main difference may stem less from Spinoza meaning something different by 'affect' from what we mean by 'emotion', and more from the fact that he held unfamiliar views about our f a m i l i a r emotions.  Affects are a species of 'affection' of the body plus the idea of that affection.  An affection i s a change i n the state of a body.  Some affections  leave the body's power of acting unchanged, whilst others constitute a change i n power. An affect i s an affection which constitutes a change i n a body's power of acting plus the corresponding idea of t h i s change. When Spinoza talks of our bondage to the affects he i s concerned mainly with affects such as sorrow, rage, joy and so on, rather than with the changes which occur i n one's power of acting when one suffers direct physical affronts such as being h i t on the head by a stone and the corresponding pain, although this would technically-speaking be an affect.  52. Spinoza does sometimes talk as i f the affects cause rises and f a l l s i n the power of bodies.  What one might sa; to explain this i s that an affect r  not only constitutes a change i n the power of acting of a body, but also causes a further r i s e or f a l l .  A c t i v i t y was believed by Spinoza to be more desirable than passivity. In fact he equated 'power' with 'virtue'.  'Power' i n this context means  'power of a c t i v i t y ' , 'activity' here being a technical term to be explained later.  The affects of sorrow mark a change from the more to the less active. These affects are therefore i n themselves bad.  For these negative affects  constitute and bring about a diminution i n the power of the body. They also diminish the power of the mind, f o r : I f anything increases, diminishes, helps, or l i m i t s our body's power of action, the idea of that thing increases, diminishes, helps, or l i m i t s our body's power of thought. E.iii.11. These, as I c a l l them, 'negative' affects, cannot stem from our own nature or actual essence, since our own nature i s constantly s t r i v i n g for s e l f - r e a l i z a tion which i s equated with a c t i v i t y .  Our minds are, for instance, described  i n the following way: The mind endeavours as much as possible to imagine those things which increase or assist the body's power of acting. E.iii.12. When one i s having a negative affect, one's mind i s not imagining that which w i l l increase the body's power of action, but on the contrary, i s dwelling on the loss of power of the body. These thoughts cannot stem from our own nature,  53. then.  Therefore, to the extent that we have such affects we are not active,  according to the d e f i n i t i o n given above.  In ETHICS Part Three Spinoza says that there are three primary affects, which are joy, sorrow, and desire. The l a s t of these causes problems of interpretation, since 'desire' i s not only associated with the already alluded to 'conatus', but i s reintroduced as something which arises from joys and sorrows.  Spinoza even writes:  There are as many kinds of desires, ... as there are kinds of joy, sorrow, love §c... E. iii.56.Dem. These individual desires can increase or diminish the power of acting of their possessors, whereas the conatus inevitably involves an increase. Spinoza certainly ought to have distinguished the 'conatus-desire' from the 'affect-desire', as these are, although related, different.  The desires  which arise out of joys and sorrows are affects from which a free person w i l l be free, whereas a free person w i l l have an extremely powerful  conatus.  The other two primary affects are defined i n the following way: By joy, ... I s h a l l understand the passion by which the mind passes to a greater perfection; by sorrow, ... the passion by which i t passes to a less perfection. E.iii.ll.Sch. Sorrow and joy are called 'passions' because they do not, t y p i c a l l y , arise simply from the essence of the j o y f u l or sorrowful person.  These affects,  along with 'desire' are the basic ones. Affects t y p i c a l l y involve joy, sorrow, or desire, plus the accompanying idea of some external thing, that i s , of something other than the owner of the affect. i s defined as:  For instance the affect of hatred  54. Sorrow, with the accompanying idea of an external cause. E. Def.8. of the Affects. Joy and the affects of joy are i n themselves good, whereas sorrow and i t s affects are i n tJ mselves bad, for: Joy ... i s an affect by which the body's power of action i s increased or assisted. Sorrow on the other hand, i s an affect by which the body's power of action i s lessened or restrained. E.iv.41.Dem.  In more familiar language one might say that feeling sorrowful i s a bad thing, since when one feels l i k e that one i s severely limited from doing things. Spinoza believed that sorrow was a psycho-physical condition which constitutes both a physical and a psychological diminution of power of the sorrowful person.  This i s true of a l l the affects of sorrow.  instance, someone who feels extremely jealous.  Consider, for  I f one feels extremely  jealous of somebody, then i t i s l i k e l y that one w i l l be severely inhibited from doing the things which one r e a l l y wants to do.  Often when one feels  jealous, remorseful, resentful, or any of a host of other things, one i s not only somehow 'taken over' by feelings which one did not invite to come upon one, but also one would very much l i k e i t i f the feelings would go away. Many of these feelings simply interfere with one's purposes when one i s subject to them. The most obvious area where this i s the case i s i n the f i e l d of concentration.  One just cannot seem to concentrate on anything, except of  course one's sorrow, i f one i s i n subjection to a sorrow.  On the other hand,  i f one i s feeling f u l l of joy, one i s very often able to do a l o t of things get a l o t done. Feelings of joy are not t y p i c a l l y i n h i b i t i n g .  Moreover,  people do not, as a rule, wish that they did not have the feelings of joy to which they are subject.  So, although both joy and sorrow are passions i n the  55.  sense that they t y p i c a l l y come upon us through causes external to ourselves, we are i n less bondage i f we are subject to the emotions of joy than i f we are subject to sorrows.  Spinoza writes i n a note at the bottom of the d e f i n i t i o n of 'affect': I f ... we can be the adequate cause of any of these affections, I understand the affect to be an action, otherwise i t i s a passion. E.iii.Def.3. So Spinoza does allow the p o s s i b i l i t y of having affects, and being active i n so doing.  In as much as the affects we have constitute a c t i v i t i e s rather  than p a s s i v i t i e s , they must be affects of either joy or desire, although c l e a r l y , being such an affect i s not a s u f f i c i e n t condition for being an 'active' one. Nevertheless I would l i k e to say that i t i s not at a l l clear that the passions of sorrow, as they are c a l l e d , universally make us unfree to a greater extent than some of the passions of joy. Sometimes people keep going i n the depths of adversity, driven on by a hatred of t h e i r oppressors. I have heard of people who survived the most t e r r i b l e ordeals i n the Nazi concentration camps, driven on by a hatred of the Nazis, which helped to give them the single-mindedness to put up with the most appalling hardships, which broke many people, who had, perhaps, less strong emotions, and were, hence more 'free'.  I f bondage i s the lack of self-determination, and i f self-deter-  mination i s acting solely from the motive of self-preservation, then Spinoza's claim about the extremity of bondage to the affects of sorrow would seem at most true as a r u l e , and not a universal truth.  I s h a l l now pass on, f o r the time being, from the affects as such, although there i s quite a l o t more to be said by way of elucidation, expansion and c r i t i c i s m .  I s h a l l resume this discussion i n my next chapter.  56.  11. ADEQUACY.  There i s one c r u c i a l aspect of Spinoza's account of the bondage of human beings which I have so far l e f t completely alone, and this i s his notion of adequacy. Adequacy crops up i n two guises. Spinoza talks of 'adequate causes' and of 'adequate ideas'.  In E . i i i . D e f . 3 . , above quoted, Spinoza i s saying that we are active i f we are the 'adequate cause' o f an affect.  He defines 'adequate cause' as  follows: I c a l l that an adequate cause whose effect can be clearly and d i s t i n c t l y perceived by means of the cause. I c a l l that an inadequate or p a r t i a l cause whose effect cannot be understood by means of the cause alone. E.iii.Def.l. As i s strongly implied by the note at the end of E . i i i . D e f . 3 . , Spinoza certainly believed that i t i s possible f o r us to be active, some of the time, at any rate.  This immediately generates problems for him, given his theory that  we are active inasmuch as we are the adequate cause of how we f e e l , and of what we do. The most natural.way to interpret 'adequate cause', i n the l i g h t of Spinoza's causal rationalism i s to take i t that adequacy i s an a l l or nothing matter. inadequate.  Either a cause i s completely adequate, or i t i s completely  What E . i i i . D e f . l .  appears to be saying i s that a cause i s  adequate i f and only i f i t entails i t s effect no matter what else i s the cause. Thus God can be described as the adequate cause of a l l conceivable things, since a l l things follow from the nature of God. something l i k e a l o g i c a l l y s u f f i c i e n t condition.  An adequate cause, then, i s The problem with this inter-  pretation of 'adequate cause' i s that i t would render our bondage or passivity absolutely irremediable which i s certainly not what Spinoza intended. I t  57.  would make our passivity absolutely incurable because we are individual things i n nature, and: There i s no individual thing i n nature which i s not surpassed i n strength and power by some other thing, but any individual thing b^ing given, another and a stronger i s also given, by which.'the former can be destroyed. E.iv.Axiom. As I could be destroyed at any time by a number of things outside of myself, every time I do anything or feel anything part of the cause of my feeling the thing I feel or of my doing the thing I do i s that I am being enabled to do or feel whatever i t i s by the suitable interaction of the things that could destroy me, of which there are an i n f i n i t e number. Fully to understand why I do what I do, or feel the way I f e e l , i t i s necessary to understand, amongst other things, why I exist.  As I am not the adequate cause of my  own  existence I could not be the adequate cause of what presupposes i t , namely my feelings and actions and so on.  So i t seems that we are forced to construe 'adequate causation as being a matter of degree.  I f we give i t this interpretation then we can at least  allow there to be degrees of a c t i v i t y .  We might wish to say that someone who  i s doing something because that i s what he r e a l l y wants to do, and not because he i s , say, suffering from a compulsion, or because someone else i s making him, i s more of an adequate cause of his action than the slave and the kleptomaniac. This would y i e l d the right answer as far as our intuitions are concerned with regard to the relative freedom or degree of a c t i v i t y of the v a r i ous people.  The slave and the kleptomaniac are paradigm examples of people  who are r e l a t i v e l y speaking very unfree, and passive, at least with regard to their slaving and stealing.  58.  However, this escape doesn't l e t Spinoza o f f the hook, at least i f he i s to maintain his causal rationalism. a scale f o r degrees of adequacy.  The problem i s that of establishing  I f adequacy i s a matter of degree one would  have to make comparisons between inadequate causes i n order to say which i s the more adequate.  Given a causal r a t i o n a l i s t idea of 'cause' this would  amount to having to make statements of the following form. adequate cause of Y than P i s of Q. P does to e n t a i l i n g Q.'.  'X i s a more  For X comes nearer to entailing Y than  But the only sense i n which there can be these  'degrees of entailment' yields only three 'degrees'. Either A entails B, or i t i s consistent with, but doesn't, by i t s e l f e n t a i l B, or i t i s inconsistent with B.  The 'degrees of adequacy' would have to be developed within the  second of my three categories, and i n this context there i s simply no room there for such a development.  As f a r as the entailment of events i s concerned  a miss i s as good as a mile.  I f he gave up the causal rationalism there would be hope of at least some salvage.  When we talk of the cause of a happening we aren't usually  concerned with a l l the things which had to conspire i n order for the event to have occurred.  For instance i f a car crashes, and we want to find out the  cause we don't say that i t was caused by gravity, although the law of gravity's holding at the time of the crash would have been a necessary condition of the accident. We would also not be p a r t i c u l a r l y interested i n some of the p a r t i c ular facts of the situation which might have been necessary conditions for the crash having occurred, such as the fact that the road was less than f i f t y yards wide, or the fact that the wind was blowing at a rate of less than two hundred miles per hour. When we are looking f o r the cause of something's happening we assume that something unusual happened, and was a factor i n the happening.  To pursue the 'crash' story further, we would probably assume  59. that the accident would not have happened i f the driver had not been negligent, or i f the car's tyres had not been bald, or i f the camber of the road had been normal, or ... . When we pick out the cause of an event we pick out the thing of a l l the causes which seems to be special to the p a r t i c ular case.  In the crash case we wouldn't say that the cause of the crash was  the force of gravity, since the force of gravity i s present on the roads at a l l times, and yet crashes happen f a i r l y infrequently. that people's car's often have bald tyres etc.  One might say to this  I quite agree that none of  the causes i s l o g i c a l l y s u f f i c i e n t to guarantee the event. However, we do, with some j u s t i f i c a t i o n talk of important and less important factors i n something's happening.  The most important cause i s the one which i s regarded as  being p a r t i c u l a r l y special to the case. We might say that the most important factor i n , or cause of, the crash was the driver's negligence, since the road was normal, the car's tyres were i n good condition ... .  We can relate this to human beings and their actions and psychic states. When we explain the occurrence of something we pick out that of the causally relevant factors which are special to the case.  So we could easily say of a  human being that he or she was the cause of an action.  This would be tanta-  mount to saying that i n the action, what was special to the case was the person's real desires, as opposed to the w i l l of another, or a compulsion, or a number of things external to the agent's 'essence'.  Of the things one does,  one i s r e a l l y the driving force behind some, though not others.  Also a person  might be one of the most important, though not the most important factor behind a certain thing taking place. of establishing a scale.  According to this model there i s some hope  We can talk of being a more or less special causal  factor i n our actions, as the actions emanate to a large extent from our own selves, or from extraneous factors.  60.  This i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s , I think, i n the s p i r i t o f Spinoza's account o f freedom.  I t i s c l e a r at t h i s point j u s t how much the causal r a t i o n a l i s m i s  an embarrassment to Spinoza's philosophy.  I s h a l l take up the discussion  of 'being the cause o f our psychic states' i n the next  chapter.  The other r o l e i n which 'adequacy' appears i s i n the notion o f 'adequate ideas'.  That the d i s t i n c t i o n between adequate and inadequate ideas i s  important f o r Spinoza's theory o f human bondage i s suggested r i g h t at the beginning o f ETHICS Part Three. Our mind acts and at times s u f f e r s : i n so f a r as i t has adequate ideas, i t n e c e s s a r i l y a c t s , and i n so f a r as i t has inadequate ideas, i t necessari l y suffers. E.iii.l. I wrote e a r l i e r that Spinoza's theory o f human bondage and freedom was essent i a l l y about mental bondage and freedom.  Here he i s saying that we are f r e e ,  or a t l e a s t our mind a c t s , to the extent that we have adequate ideas. then i s an 'adequate idea'?  What  Spinoza's d e f i n i t i o n at the beginning o f Part  Two i s not i n i t s e l f very h e l p f u l . By adequate idea, I understand an idea which i n so f a r as i t i s considered i n i t s e l f , without reference to the object, has a l l the properties or i n t e r n a l signs o f a true idea. EXPLANATION: I say i n t e r n a l , so as to exclude that which i s external, the agreement, namely, of the idea with i t s object. E.ii.Def.4. According  to this d e f i n i t i o n and i t s explanation, then, an adequate idea i s  one which has the properties o f a true idea, whatever that may be, without any reference to the agreement o f the idea with i t s object, whatever that may mean.  Spinoza wishes to exclude 'the agreement o f the idea with i t s object',  because according to his theory o f t r u t h and f a l s i t y , a l l ideas agree with  61. t h e i r objects.  But t h i s , f o r anyone with a correspondence theory of t r u t h ,  i s to admit that there i s no such thing as f a l s i t y .  In the d e f i n i t i o n  Spinoza implies that there i s such a tiling as a f a l s e idea, but he i s never able to say exactly how something can be f a l s e .  In the d e f i n i t i o n he im-  p l i e s that an adequate idea i s one which can be seen to be true without having to r e l y on knowledge about the world - i t can be known to be true from i t s own i n t e r n a l structure alone.  But he cannot say i n what f a l s i t y  consists, and without t h i s he cannot explain what t r u t h or any species o f t r u t h might be.  He does define ' f a l s i t y ' , i n the following way:  F a l s i t y consists i n the p r i v a t i o n o f knowledge, which inadequate, that i s to say, mutilated and confused ideas involve. E.ii.35. Any account o f what f a l s i t y i s must be i n terms o f what i t i s to make a f a l s e judgement.  I t must be able to explain what i t i s f o r someone to believe that  something i s the case which i s n ' t i n f a c t the case.  Spinoza does not have  any adequate account o f judgement or o f b e l i e f , and so cannot give an adequate account o f f a l s i t y .  There i s i n f a c t strong evidence to suggest that what  Spinoza c a l l s ' f a l s i t y ' and 'truth' i s a completely d i f f e r e n t thing from what we mean by the terms.  What he cannot do i s to explain the p o s s i b i l i t y o f hav-  ing f a l s e b e l i e f s on our notion o f f a l s i t y .  There i s obviously much more to  be s a i d about Spinoza's theory o f f a l s i t y which one cannot discuss i n a work of t h i s scope and subject-matter. 'false judgments*.  Any account o f f a l s i t y must be i n terms o f  Spinoza's account being j u s t i n terms of ideas cannot  y i e l d an adequate account o f what a f a l s e judgment, or indeed o f what a judgment, may be.  Despite t h e i r t h e o r e t i c unsatisfactoriness Spinoza's d e f i n i t i o n s o f 'adequate idea' and o f ' f a l s i t y ' do contain i n t e r e s t i n g elements, which can  62.  be e x t r a c t e d from the unsalvageable wreck o f the theory o f f a l s i t y .  There i s some sense i n which we can t a l k o f ideas as being 'inadequate or  'mutilated'.  I n t h i s sense an 'inadequate' idea i s one which gives a d i s -  t o r t e d p i c t u r e o f what i t i s supposedly an idea of.  One analogy which might  e l u c i d a t e t h i s i s that o f a camera and i t s photographs. the  1  Cameras always t e l l  t r u t h , f o r they take p i c t u r e s only o f what i s a c t u a l l y before them. How-  ever photographs are notorious f o r g i v i n g d i s t o r t e d views o f the f a c t s o f a situation.  Sometimes the impression one gets from a photograph i s very mis-  l e a d i n g v i s - a - v i s what a c t u a l l y occurred when the photo was taken.  At best  one gets a camera-eye view o f what went on, and there i s always a b i t o f reading i n t o the photo which has to be done i f one i s t o get an accurate i d e a o f what r e a l l y happened, was r e a l l y  like.  Another analogy which helps e x p l a i n what an 'inadequate idea' might be i s one I heard from Jonathan Bennett.  L e t us consider someone watching a  c r i c k e t match through a narrow v e r t i c a l s l i t .  What the observer w i l l perceive  i s a s e r i e s o f r a t h e r disconnected people and b a l l movements.  What he sees  w i l l be seen out o f context, and could n o t enable him to understand e x a c t l y what was going on, a t l e a s t unless he could connect up what he saw w i t h other c r i c k e t matches which he had seen, and understood, under more favourable conditions.  Suppose that the s l i t enables the observer t o see only the l i n e  across the middle o f the p i t c h .  Then a l l he w i l l see i s the b a l l coming  through h i s f i e l d o f v i s i o n every so o f t e n , and people p e r i o d i c a l l y running towards him o r away from him. his  In t h i s case the observer cannot discover from  l o o k i n g what the causes o f h i s perceptions a r e , or r a t h e r what the causes  of the ball-movements are, and he therefore cannot understand them.  Similarly  Spinoza b e l i e v e d that we could not p r o p e r l y understand an inadequate idea.  63.  In i l l u s t r a t i n g t h i s feature t h i s analogy i s o f more help than the other.  What Spinoza i s t r y i n g t o get out o f the n o t i o n o f 'adequate idea' i s something p r o p o s i t i o n a l , such as 'a sentence which i s true i n v i r t u e o f i t s i n t e r n a l c o n s t r u c t i o n o r l o g i c a l form'. He b e l i e v e d that t o have an adequate idea was t o have i n one's mind a necessary t r u t h .  Of course h i s theory didn't  allow him t o say t h i s , but i t i s f a i r l y c l e a r that t h i s i s what he had i n mind.  Spinoza, then, b e l i e v e d that a l l ideas represented r e a l i t y i n some way. Some i d e a s , however, give an incomplete, o r d i s t o r t e d p i c t u r e o f what the nature o f r e a l i t y i s l i k e .  These are the s o - c a l l e d ' f a l s e ideas', and they  include the ideas we have o f ordinary p a r t i c u l a r things.  I n contrast w i t h  these ideas are the 'adequate ideas' which provide an accurate, ive picture o f r e a l i t y .  non-subject-  Spinoza b e l i e v e d that i n r e a l i t y the connexions be-  tween things were l o g i c a l , and t h a t the only r e a l knowledge there i s i s 'adequate knowledge'.  To have an adequate idea i s t o perceive something i n i t s true  l i g h t , under the aspect o f e t e r n i t y .  We can now l i n k Spinoza's statement that we are i n bondage to our passions w i t h h i s statement t h a t we are passive to the extent that we have inadequate i d e a s , where p a s s i v i t y i s tantamount t o bondage.  According to  Spinoza when we s u f f e r a passion we n e c e s s a r i l y have an inadequate, o r d i s t o r t ed i d e a o f the cause o f our own sorrow o r joy.  There i s one more feature o f an adequate i d e a which might be worth mentioning b r i e f l y , and t h a t i s the f o l l o w i n g . Adequate ideas are something l i k e Descartes'  ' c l e a r and d i s t i n c t ' ideas.  They d i f f e r from them i n t h i s respect.  According t o Spinoza one can never be deceived i n t o t h i n k i n g that one has an  64. adequate idea when one doesn't actually have one. He who has a true idea knows at the same time that he has a true idea, nor can he doubt the truth of the thing. E.ii.43. Then he writes, more poetically i n E.ii.43.Sch.: Just as l i g h t reveals both i t s e l f and the darkness, so truth i s the standard o f i t s e l f and of the false. E.ii.43.Sen. This provides an answer, at least to those c r i t i c s of Cartesian 'clear and d i s t i n c t ' ideas, who maintain that we can be duped into thinking a non-clearand-distinct idea i s such.  I t i s also interesting i n the l i g h t of Spinoza's believing that v a c i l l a tion i s one of the important ingredients of human bondage. What he i s saying i s that when one i s on the right path, so to speak, one certainly knows one i s , and w i l l not have any doubts about the matter.  Spinoza's account of human freedom i s , as one might expect, intimately connected with the theory of bondage.  I have t r i e d up t i l l now to concentrate  on the 'bondage' side of his account.  I realize that i n elucidating human  bondage, one has to contrast i t with human freedom, and vice versa.  There  are some aspects, however, of the theory of freedom which can be rejected whilst the basic account of bondage i s accepted. Although the theories are two sides of the same coin, one side of the coin has more designs on i t than the other.  The next chapter w i l l be ostensibly on the freedom of human beings.  I would j u s t l i k e to make i t clear that the d i v i s i o n of the account of the  65.  human condition into chapters on bondage and freedom i s rather a r t i f i c i a l , given the content of each chapter. In dividing the chapters up i n this way I am following Spinoza, and also acknowledging that there are aspects o f the account of freedom which are independent of the account of bondage, or at least deserve an independent treatment. In any event the next chapter w i l l t i e up a number of loose ends remaining out of the discussion of human bondage.  LL CHAPTER THREE  THE FREEDOM OF HUMAN BEINGS  12.  INTELLECT AND REASON.  Although Spinoza's account of human liberty doesn't o f f i c i a l l y begin until ETHICS Part Five, he talks about i t at some length i n the section on human bondage.  In the ensuing discussion I shall draw on both Parts.  Just  as Part Four is called *0f Human Bondage OR THE STRENGTH OF THE AFFECTS' so Part Five i s called 'Of THE POWER OF THE INTELLECT, or of Human Liberty' (my capitals).  In the Preface to Part Five Spinoza t e l l s us how he i s going  to show us the 'method or way which leads to liberty'.  He says that i n order  to do this he w i l l : ... treat of the power of reason, showing how much reason i t s e l f can control the affects, and then what is freedom of mind or blessedness.  It i s interesting that already his account of human liberty i s i n terms of 'freedom of mind', rather than 'freedom of body and mind', or some such thing.  I have already mentioned my conjecture as to why, when he is talking  about human beings and their liberty, Spinoza is so shy of the body. The main reason for this i s that as Spinoza has defined freedom so that finitude rules out freedom, i t would be absurd to suggest that one could make one's body free.  We should take Spinoza's o f f i c i a l reason for ignoring the body i n  the discussion of freedom, or rather, for not working out i n detail the body's freedom, with a pinch of salt.  He says that he won't occupy himself with how  the body can best perform i t s functions, as this i s a task for medicine.  67. He a l s o says that he i s not going to concern h i m s e l f w i t h how  to render  the i n t e l l e c t p e r f e c t , despite the t i t l e o f P a r t F i v e , f o r t h i s i s a matter for  logic.  This i s p u z z l i n g to say the l e a s t .  What i s r e l e v a n t here i s the  d i s t i n c t i o n between the second and t h i r d kinds of knowledge which are somewhat obscurely introduced i n P a r t Two.  I s h a l l now  t u r n to a b r i e f d i s -  cussion o f the kinds o f knowledge as they are brought i n i n P a r t  Spinoza does not mean by  Two.  'knowledge' ('scientia') what we mean by  the  term, f o r according to him, c o n f e r r i n g the t i t l e of knowledge upon something i s not to give i t an epistemic c e r t i f i c a t e .  Thus he t a l k s o f u n c e r t a i n or  inadequate knowledge, whereas we would not c a l l anything was  'knowledge' which  e p i s t e m i c a l l y inadequate, o r about whose t r u t h we were u n c e r t a i n .  The f i r s t k i n d o f knowledge corresponds more or l e s s to our e m p i r i c a l knowledge, and includes what we what we  'know' from having been t o l d ,  'know' from making sensory observations.  ledge i s supposed to d e r i v e from our 'possessing ideas o f the p r o p e r t i e s o f t h i n g s ' .  ordinary and  The second k i n d o f knowcommon notions and adequate  What I t h i n k he means here i s something  l i k e 'knowledge o f the k i n d which comes v i a l o g i c a l deduction'.  The  third  k i n d o f knowledge, the famous ' s c i e n t i f i a i n t u i t i v a ' , i s described i n the f o l l o w i n g manner: This k i n d o f knowing advances from an adequate idea o f the formal essence o f c e r t a i n a t t r i b u t e s o f God to the adequate knowledge o f the essence o f things. E . i i . 4 0 (Schol.2) This i s r e a l l y r a t h e r mysterious, and i s 'explained' by the n o t o r i o u s l y unh e l p f u l example o f d i f f e r e n t ways o f f i n d i n g the f o u r t h p r o p o r t i o n a l . has already s a i d that one might f i n d the f o u r t h p r o p o r t i o n a l , given  Spinoza  three  numbers, because one remembers, i n the p a r t i c u l a r case, that the f o u r t h  68. proportional of, f o r instance, 2, 4 and 6, i s 12, i n which case one's knowledge i s o f the f i r s t kind; or one might f i n d i t by applying the relevant rule from 'Euclid', understanding  the r u l e for deducing proportionals, i n  which case one's knowledge would be of the second kind.  He  continues:  But with the simplest numbers there i s no need of a l l t h i s . I f the numbers 1, 2, 3, f o r instance be given, every one can see that the fourth proportional i s 6 much more c l e a r l y than by any demonstration, because from the r a t i o i n which we see by one i n t u i t i o n that the f i r s t stands to the second we conclude the fourth. E.ii.  (Schol.2)  Both knowledge of the t h i r d and of the second kind are e p i s t e m i c a l l y guaranteed by Spinoza, since both involve 'adequate ideas', which are the ideas of what we would c a l l  'necessary truths'.  meant to be  There i s , however, a  difference between the two kinds o f knowledge, which i s reminiscent o f a d i s t i n c t i o n o f Descartes. t i v e knowledge.  Both philosophers distinguished i n t u i t i v e from deduc-  The l a t t e r involves a chain of reasoning.  Thus i n a piece  of deductive reasoning one passes from the premise or premises to the conclus i o n , as i t were step by step, f o r instance by applying a r u l e to the o r i g i n a l premise.  In i n t u i t i v e reasoning on the other hand, one sees i t a l l at one  go.  In Spinoza's example one does not reach the conclusion that the fourth proport i o n a l of 1, 2, 3, i s 6 by applying any r u l e s . o r i g i n a l premise to the conclusion.  One passes s t r a i g h t from the  There i s i n t h i s l a t t e r case no movement  from premises to conclusion, as i s required i n a deduction. ing  of the d i s t i n c t i o n between i n t u i t i o n and deduction  Descartes, w r i t -  says:  Hence we d i s t i n g u i s h this mental i n t u i t i o n from deduct i o n by the fact that i n t o the conception of the l a t t e r there enters a c e r t a i n movement or succession, i n t o that of the former there does not. Descartes: RULES POR THE DIRECTION OF THE MIND, RULE 2. Haldane and Ross, Vol.1, p.8. We  can thus l i n k Spinoza's example quite w e l l with the Cartesian d i s t i n c t i o n .  69.  The problem now remains of interpreting the characterization of the t h i r d kind of knowledge which occurs before the example, and has already been quoted here. There i s an important clue i n E.ii.47. (Schol.), which casts rather a new l i g h t on the whole matter, despite i t s obscurity. Hence we see that the i n f i n i t e essence and the eternity of God are known to a l l ; and since a l l things are i n God and are conceived through Him, i t follows that we can deduce from this knowledge many things which we can know adequately, and that we can thus form that t h i r d sort of knowledge mentioned i n E. i i . 4 0 . (Schol.2), of whose excellence and value the F i f t h Part w i l l be the place to speak. F. i i . 4 7 . The interpretation here put upon Spinoza's 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' must remain somewhat tentative. I t i s a fundamental b e l i e f of Spinoza that we cannot have adequate knowledge of ordinary empirical objects.  However we can, i t  now appears, get knowledge of something p a r t i c u l a r , i n virtue of our knowledge of the i n f i n i t e essence of (some of the attributes of) God. thing p a r t i c u l a r i s the essence of individual things.  This some-  The knowledge i s the  true knowledge of reason, the knowledge of the t h i r d kind, 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' .  There are some truths which we know to be true i n t u i t i v e l y , for instance the truth that one plus one equals two.  We cannot explain why this i s so i n  terms of something simpler, but must remain content with saying something l i k e : ' I f you know what i s meant by "one" and "two", then i t ' s just obvious, that i s i t ' s indubitable'.  One might be able to do s l i g h t l y better than that,  but to do so i s not the present concern.  I t i s just worth considering the  sort of feeling one has about such statements as 'One plus one i s two'.  If  we combine Spinoza's i l l u s t r a t i o n of 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' with i t s d e f i n i t i o n and what i s said about i t i n E.ii.47. (Schol.), i t emerges that Spinoza believed i t to be i n p r i n c i p l e possible to have knowledge about individual  70.  essences which i s qualitatively similar to the sort of knowledge we have of the simplest mathematical truths.  Knowledge of both the t h i r d and the second kinds i s adequate, unlike the knowledge of the f i r s t kind. of the t h i r d kind.  However Spinoza i s primarily concerned with that  This, I believe, i s because knowledge of the t h i r d kind i s  involved i n the attainment of that of the second kind.  This i s , admittedly,  in apparent c o n f l i c t with the way Spinoza sets up his distinctions between kinds of knowledge, which implies that the t h i r d kind i s something which only a few people attain, although many attain that of the second kind.  In reply  to this one could say that r e a l l y Spinoza has two things going at the same time, and refers to them both as 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' , for the obvious reason that they involve immediate i n t u i t i o n s .  The two things are the straightforward  obvious necessary truths such as 'one plus equals two', and the rather mysterious knowledge of the essence of individual things.  One could then say that the  f i r s t of these i s required i n any deduction, that i s any deduction has to i n clude some i n t u i t i v e jump. For instance any l o g i c a l argument requires the use of ' i n t u i t i v e ' l o g i c a l laws.  The other kind of 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' i s some-  thing which i s elusive, to be revered and i s not presupposed by knowledge of the second kind.  The argument here offered i s that Spinoza rather misleadingly  c a l l s these two species of 'scientia i n t u i t i v a ' 'knowledge of the t h i r d kind'.  13.  SELF-PRESERVATION  There are many facets to Spinoza's notion of what constitutes a c t i v i t y . Many of them have to do with the 'conatus' doctrine which was introduced into the discussion i n the previous chapter. an extension of that discussion.  The ensuing discussion i s basically  The 'conatus' doctrine i s stated b r i e f l y as  71.  follows: Each thing, i n so far as i t i s i n i t s e l f , endeavours to persevere i n i t s being. E.ii.6.  Human beings, as things, endeavour to persevere i n their own being.  From  E . i i i . 6 . , one can i n f e r that i f something i s not persevering i n i t s own being, whatever that may mean, i t i s , i n virtue of that, not ' i n i t s e l f .  If  something i s not 'in i t s e l f , Spinoza would say, I believe, that i t i s neither self-determined, nor active, nor free.  Although the implication  arrow goes only from 'being i n i t s e l f to 'endeavouring to persevere i n i t s being', there i s no reason to believe that Spinoza would object to i t s going the other way as w e l l - ' I f something i s endeavouring to persevere i n i t s being, i t i s , i n virtue of that, ' i n i t s e l f .  I f this were so we could find  out what human freedom consists of by discovering what i t i s for a human being to endeavour to persevere i n i t s being.  When we are talking about human  beings we could translate 'endeavouring to persevere i n i t s own being' as acting  out of the motive of self-preservation'.  The question now i s 'What  i s the motive of self-preservation?'.  The f i r s t impression one gets from reading Spinoza on this subject i s that he means something which resembles a common sense notion of self-preservation by 'endeavour to perservere i n i t s own being'.  He not only says that  a person who commits suicide i s , i n virtue of t h i s , obviously not active or free, but governed by external factors; he also writes the following: ... a free man avoids danger by the same virtue as that by which he seeks to overcome i t . ... By danger, I understand anything which may be the cause of sorrow, hatred, discord, or any other e v i l l i k e them. E.iv.49 (Dem. f, Corol.)  72.  This notion of self-preservation doesn't seem different from our ordinarynotion of keeping out of trouble, and doesn't appear to have anything particu l a r l y Spinozist about i t .  The notion of 'self-preservation' i n this con-  text i s remarkably similar to any common or garden concept of 'self-interest'. Spinoza i s , i n effect, saying that a free man i s one who i s self-interested.  He also equates virtue and power, and i n i t s turn, power and freedom. So a powerful person i s one who i s free, and a free person i s one who i s virtuous.  I f v i r t u e , power and freedom are the same thing, and i f freedom  i s acting out of the motive of s e l f - i n t e r e s t , then i t follows that i t i s virtuous to act out of s e l f - i n t e r e s t . we understand by virtue?  But isn't this quite contrary to what  For we frequently distinguish virtuous people from  non-v:i rtuous people on the grounds that the former and not the l a t t e r are prepared to s a c r i f i c e their own s e l f - i n t e r e s t f o r other people. Being s e l f interested i s not only not the c r i t e r i o n of v i r t u e , i t seems to be fundamentally opposed to i t .  Isn't Spinoza, then, hopelessly wrong on this matter? How can  we take at a l l seriously any moral theory which advocates universal selfishness?  Although Spinoza i s vehemently against much of the psychology behind fundamental Christian ethics, he i s not i n f a c t , advocating that we should never care about anybody or anything other than ourselves.  Much of ETHICS  Part Four i s actually devoted to showing how acting i n one's real s e l f - i n t e r est involves abiding by most of the principles of a morality of mutual caring for people, such as that advocated by Christianity.  What he i s attempting to  do i s to free people from the bondage of not r e a l l y understanding why they do what they do.  He i s p a r t i c u l a r l y concerned with why people do what they do,  rather than with the content of t h e i r actions, although the two are obviously interrelated.  His basic strategy begins by defining 'good' and ' e v i l ' i n a  73.  technical way for the purposes of ETHICS Part Four.  The definitions are quite  revealing. By good, I understand that which we certainly know i s useful to us. By e v i l , on the contrary, I understand that which we certainly know hinders us from possessing anything that i s good. E.iv.  Defs. 1 § 2.  Having defined as 'good' that which we know to be useful to us, one might think that he would naturally take i t to be e v i l to make any sacrifices f o r anyone else.  In p a r t i c u l a r , i t would seem to be the height of e v i l to lay  down one's l i f e for anyone or anything.  However, this view i s not held even  by Spinoza.  There i s i n Spinoza's work the basis for a d i s t i n c t i o n between what i n more recent discussions would be c a l l e d 'crude s e l f - i n t e r e s t ' and 'enlightened s e l f - i n t e r e s t ' , although this d i s t i n c t i o n i s not made e x p l i c i t by him, and i s i n fact sometimes belied by the text.  I f we are not guided by reason  we might w e l l think that our best interest would be served by trying to get one up on our fellow human beings, or at least by rarely considering the needs of others, except where some direct benefit would accrue to one through one's 'benevolence'. For instance we would think that our self-interest would be better served by l i s t e n i n g to an enjoyable opera, than by looking after an a i l i n g grandmother. One might think i t would be virtuous to look after the grandmother, but i t would certainly not be i n one's s e l f - i n t e r e s t to do so, unless one was anticipating being l e f t a l o t of money by her, or i f , f o r some reason, one found looking after her more enjoyable than l i s t e n i n g to opera.  Spinoza might w e l l agree that looking after the grandmother would be  virtuous, and we should not forget that he believed acting virtuously and  74. acting out of s e l f - i n t e r e s t to be the same thing.  How  does he come to such  a p o s i t i o n on the grandmother case?  His f i r s t move i s to assert that nothing can be e v i l i n so f a r as i t i s s i m i l a r to our nature.  But nothing i s more s i m i l a r to each of our  natures than another person.  As anything that i s not e v i l i s good, from  the l a s t two sentences i t follows that f o r any person another person i s good. Other people are, i n the s p e c i a l Spinozist sense o f 'useful', very u s e f u l to us.  He writes: There i s no single thing i n nature which i s more p r o f i t a b l e to man than a man who l i v e s according to the guidance of reason. For that i s most p r o f i t a b l e to man which most agrees with h i s own nature ... E.iv.35. ( C o r o l l . l )  The L a t i n word 'convenire' means 'to agree' both i n the sense of 'to have things i n common with' and that o f 'to be s u i t a b l e ' , so one might accuse Spinoza of e i t h e r d e l i b e r a t e l y or inadvertently punning on the word 'convenit' to e s t a b l i s h h i s conclusion, f o r i t i s almost a tautology that those things which agree with us i n the l a t t e r sense o f 'agree with' are ' p r o f i t able' to us.  However, whether or not there i s some punning going on here,  i t i s c l e a r that Spinoza would have stuck to E.iv.35. ( C o r o l l . l ) even with the former i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of 'convenit'.  According to t h i s doctrine people are more p r o f i t a b l e to a person than any other thing i s p r o f i t a b l e , because they have more i n common with each other than they have with other things.  However, when people are not govern-  ed by reason, what they do does not follow from t h e i r essence or nature, and what they have i n common with each other becomes obscured. not guided by reason they are ruled by t h e i r passions, and:  When people are  75.  In so f a r as men are agitated by a f f e c t s which are passions can they be contrary to one another. E.iv.34.  It i s quite c l e a r that Spinoza has to struggle to reconcile his  theory  that power and v i r t u e are the same with something which resembles a humanist i c morality.  This i s because of the rather g l a r i n g f a c t that people do  have genuine c o n f l i c t s o f i n t e r e s t , and that one person's power, or w e l l being at any rate, seems to be attainable sometimes only at the cost o f another's.  Furthermore this i s not simply because o f people's not being  governed by reason.  Suppose, f o r example that we are back i n ancient Rome  at the time o f the gladiators.  I f two men had been ordered t o f i g h t to the  death, or else both be k i l l e d by being fed to the l i o n s , and i f the v i c t o r of the f i g h t would c e r t a i n l y be freed, then the two combatants would have a genuine c o n f l i c t o f i n t e r e s t , and i t would be unquestionably f a l s e to say that they could seek t h e i r own s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n , that i s act r a t i o n a l l y , and not t r y to k i l l the other person i n combat.  This i s so even though the  two people would probably have more i n common than most people.  But one  doesn't have to go to b i z a r r e examples to see the c o n f l i c t that i n e v i t a b l y arises from one strand o f Spinoza's philosophy  o f freedom.  He equates the  'good' with 'that which we c e r t a i n l y know i s u s e f u l to us', as we have seen. He then writes: Whatever i s e f f e c t i v e to preserve the proportion o f motion and r e s t which the parts o f the human body bear to each other i s good, and, on the contrary, that i s e v i l which causes the parts o f the human body to have a d i f f e r e n t proportion o f motion and rest to each other. and: Whatever conduces to the universal fellowship o f men, that i s to say, whatever causes men to l i v e i n harmony with one another, i s u s e f u l , and, on the contrary,  76.  whatever brings d i s c o r d i n t o the State i s e v i l . E.iv.39, § E.iv.40. From the d e f i n i t i o n s o f 'good' and ' e v i l ' and E.iv.39. i t follows that whatever causes the p a r t s o f the human body t o have a d i f f e r e n t p r o p o r t i o n o f motion and r e s t t o each other i s harmful t o us, f o r i f t h i s p r o p o r t i o n i s not preserved the body w i l l , on Spinoza's theory o f bodies, be destroyed. On ther other hand, 'whatever conduces t o the u n i v e r s a l f e l l o w s h i p o f men' i s u s e f u l t o us.  But i t i s q u i t e c l e a r t h a t i n some circumstances i t might  w e l l serve the ' u n i v e r s a l f e l l o w s h i p o f men' t o l a y down one's l i f e , that i s t o see t o i t , o r a t l e a s t not t r y i n g t o stop i t from happening, that the parts o f one's body do not maintain the same proportions o f motion and r e s t . An example o f t h i s would be the case o f Socrates, who l e t us suppose, r a t i o n a l l y gave up h i s l i f e f o r the b e n e f i t o f h i s f e l l o w human beings.  Someone  who d i e d as a r e s u l t o f r e s i s t i n g the Nazi oppression might w e l l have been s e r v i n g the u n i v e r s a l f e l l o w s h i p o f mankind.  Yet such people would c e r t a i n l y  be doing something 'harmful' a t the same time - namely b r i n g i n g about t h e i r own deaths.  There are s e v e r a l ways i n which Spinoza might e x p l a i n away the apparentl y c o n t r a d i c t o r y consequences o f h i s theory. he i s r e a l l y t a l k i n g about tendencies. Spinozism'.  The f i r s t would be t o say t h a t  This would amount t o a s o r t o f 'rule  Such a v e r s i o n would say that g i v i n g up one's l i f e i s always  harmful, w h i l s t s e r v i n g the u n i v e r s a l f e l l o w s h i p o f mankind only tends to be useful.  Then one could admit that i n c e r t a i n circumstances i t would not be  u s e f u l t o serve the u n i v e r s a l f e l l o w s h i p o f mankind.  On t h i s account many  of the statements about the u t i l i t y and d i s u t i l i t y o f various things o r acti o n s , are meant only as guidelines f o r a c t i o n .  As i t i s not always p o s s i b l e  to know the true consequences o f a p a r t i c u l a r course o f a c t i o n , we have these  77.  secondary principles to guide us.  We could accept the principle 'Do always  that which is useful', and when there i s a conflict between helping humanity and saving our lives, we just choose to save our l i f e .  The trouble with this  interpretation i s that i t quite against the s p i r i t of Spinoza's writing. Spinoza l a i d out his propositions as an archetypal Rationalist.  He did not  believe that his statements about people being useful to one another etc., were of the order of secondary principles; he saw them as being necessaryconsequences of necessary and eternal truths.  He just would not have allowed  for exceptions.  We could then help Spinoza out here by saying that he actually slipped up on his statement about that which conduces to the universal fellowship of man. We could perhaps persuade a spokesman for Spinoza to drop the 'universal fellowship' principle, and to substitute something more complex.  It is  useful on the whole to an individual to act i n a way which promotes the universal fellowship of mankind, as doing so helps people, including the agent, to live i n accordance with reason, that i s , to be free or active. This i s not always the case, however, and when i t isn't the case, e.g. because acting i n such a way would cause the agent's death, then i t would not be rational or useful to act thus.  I f one adopted this strategy one would  have to relegate E.iv.39., to a scholium.  One might think that this would  at least preserve most of Spinoza's doctrine about power and virtue. ever, this line is blocked by Spinoza himself. We find him saying: If i t be asked whether, i f a man by breach of faith could escape from the danger of instant death, reason does not counsel him, for the preservation of his baling, to break faith; I reply i n the same way, that i f reason gives such counsel she gives i t to a l l men, and reason therefore counsels men to make no agreements for uniting their strength and possessing laws i n common except deceitfully, that  How-  78. is to say, to have i n r e a l i t y no common laws, which i s absurd. E.iv.72. (Schol.)  This statement seems to be very near something l i k e one of Kantian u n i v e r s a l i s a b i l i t y . On the face of i t what i s recommended to the person i n the  dilemma i s to give up h i s l i f e - to abandon his self-preservation, and  moreover, to do i t whilst acting i n accordance with reason, that i s , freely. Spinoza's argument involves the unfair adoption of a more extreme principle than i s required to j u s t i f y the agent i n saving his own l i f e .  The principle  which Spinoza adopts, as being necessary for j u s t i f y i n g the escape i s 'Never make any agreements f o r uniting your strength and for having common laws except deceitfully.'.  In fact no such principle i s required to j u s t i f y the  escape; a l l that would be needed would be something l i k e :  'When an agreement  has been made i t is a l l right to break i t i f not doing so would cost you your life.'.  The adoption of this principle i s certainly not  inconsistent with  keeping a l l kinds of agreements.  The other point that needs making about Spinoza's Kantian move i s that what he i s saying i s that breaking the agreement to save one's l i f e could not be recommended to a person governed by reason, because acting i n this way would commit the person to the acceptance of a principle which would have disastrous consequences.  But, i f we return to the "'good' equals 'use-  f u l ' (to the agent)" doctrine we can clearly see that what i s here recommended i s i n direct c o n f l i c t with this e a r l i e r doctrine.  I t could hardly be  more useful to the potential escaper to keep the agreement under those circumstances, unless he would be better o f f destroyed, a supposition which Spinoza could not allow.  The course of action recommended by Spinoza i n E.iv.72.  (Schol.) i s certainly commendable, but i t certainly doesn't seem to be at a l l  79.  a rational thing to do on Spinoza's central notion of r a t i o n a l i t y .  This i s at any rate the way i t f i r s t appears. However Spinoza was very keen to maintain both of these aspects of his moral philosophy - that i t i s always rational to serve one's fellow human beings, on account of this being 'useful', and that i t i s always i r r a t i o n a l to do something which leads to one's self-destruction, or i n fact, anything which harms one.  The only way  he could maintain both of these doctrines i n the l i g h t of the conflicts which arise between looking after oneself and serving the interests of others would be to deny the psycho-physical parallelism which plays such a prominent part i n the e a r l i e r sections of ETHICS.  I f he were to do this he could say  that when we are talking of self-preservation we are r e a l l y interested i n something psychological rather than physical.  To act r a t i o n a l l y one has to  preserve one's essence, or rather, to be trying to do so.  I f one's essence  i s a psychical entity then the fact that helping one's fellow human beings might result i n physical harm or even physical death f o r the agent i s s t r i c t l y irrelevant to the r a t i o n a l i t y of the action.  I t i s clear that Spinoza did  move towards abandoning his parallelism i n the last Part of ETHICS, although of course he would never admit i t . Thus we f i n d him writing revealingly: The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body, but something of i t remains which i s eternal. ... this something which pertains to the essence of the mind w i l l necessarily be eternal. E.v.23. § i t s Dem.  Certainly when Socrates d i d not prevent his death he was quite convinced that physical death would not destroy his essence; i n fact he went rejoicing to his death, for he believed that his s p i r i t would, at death, f i n a l l y be liberated, though i t must be stressed that he did not die i n order to reach  80.  this state of s p i r i t u a l liberation.  However this l i n e of defence i s r e a l l y  not a let-out for Spinoza's moral theory.  For one thing, this new view  cannot be reconciled with the parallelism, which states e x p l i c i t l y that: I f anything increases, diminishes, helps, or l i m i t s our body's power of action, the idea of that thing increases, diminishes, helps, or l i m i t s our mind's power of thought. E.iii.11. There i s also another d i f f i c u l t y . I f the parallelism i s rejected then Spinoza might argue that i t can be psychologically b e n e f i c i a l to someone to lose a limb, or give up his or her l i f e for the fellowship of mankind; but sometimes the c a l l of service to humanity might lead to one's psychic destruction as w e l l . Suppose one was being tortured, and that by holding out one would not merely not betray the v i t a l secrets, but would also go comp l e t e l y insane so that one could not longer form 'adequate ideas'.  Someone  who held out i n these circumstances would certainly be harming his 'mental' as w e l l as his physical s e l f .  I f this would not be harming his essence  then i t i s d i f f i c u l t to see just what would.  I f the essence of a person can  not be harmed then i t seems to be pointless to spend one's time trying to preserve i t or prevent i t from coming to harm.  The rejection of parallelism seems to be a good way of j u s t i f y i n g Spinoza's b e l i e f that altruism and self-preservation don't c o n f l i c t , but i t i s ultimately unsatisfactory.  Apart from the reasons we have given, concern-  ing the continuance of counter-examples even i f the p a r a l l e l i s m i s abandoned, Spinoza quite adamantly sticks to his parallelism. I t i s reaffirmed i n one of i t s forms after the controversial E.v.23. He who possesses a body f i t for many things possesses a mind of which the greater part i s eternal. E.v.39.  81.  Spinoza's theory that one i s a c t i v e , free or v i r t u o u s , i f one i s a c t i n g from the motive of s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n i s not as s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d l y incompatible w i t h a l t r u i s m as i t at f i r s t appears, f o r according to the theory, a free person w i l l behave i n an a l t r u i s t i c f a s h i o n , where ' a l t r u i s t i c ' i s taken to mean something l i k e ' g i v i n g up one's own pleasure f o r the sake of someone else'.  He can admit t h i s because there i s a d i f f e r e n c e between crudely s e l f i s h  behaviour, which u s u a l l y i s a c t u a l l y against the true i n t e r e s t s of the agent, and enlightened s e l f i s h behaviour, which involves the r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t the best chance a person has of f u l f i l l i n g h i m s e l f i s through ' u n s e l f i s h ' r e l a t i o n ships w i t h other people, i n p a r t i c u l a r people w i t h whom one has a l o t i n common. The pursuing o f such r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f t e n requires the f o r f e i t i n g o f one's apparent i n t e r e s t s .  One can then, r a t i o n a l l y decide t o r e s t r i c t some of one's  m o t i v a t i n g d e s i r e s , f o r the sake of true r e a l i s a t i o n or f u l f i l l m e n t .  Notwith-  standing a l l t h i s the d o c t r i n e cannot be defended to i t s l o g i c a l conclusion. We have already seen that s e r v i n g the i n t e r e s t s of humanity might a c t u a l l y be against one's s e l f - i n t e r e s t , even i f ' s e l f - i n t e r e s t ' i s construed very broadl y ; i t i s a l s o s u r e l y the case t h a t two r a t i o n a l i n d i v i d u a l s might have a genuine c o n f l i c t o f i n t e r e s t .  This i s not allowed f o r by Spinoza's theory o f  r a t i o n a l i t y and s e l f - p r e s e r v a t i o n .  We can now recognize one o f the fundamental tensions i n the philosophy of Spinoza.  I t seems to be o f the same genus as one which confronted Kant  i n h i s s t r u g g l e f o r a theory of human freedom against a fundamental theory that we could have knowledge only of the phenomenal world which i s thoroughly d e t e r m i n i s t i c i n a sense which r u l e s out the p o s s i b i l i t y o f freedom.  He  had  a fundamental respect f o r the d i g n i t y of man, but allowed no room f o r i t i n h i s metaphysics, and so ended up w i t h a p a i n f u l attempt to incorporate human freedom which was bound to f a i l .  Spinoza l i k e w i s e , i n f a c t more e x p l i c i t l y ,  82. and more r a d i c a l l y , argued against the special dignity of human beings.  In  his metaphysics, as we have seen, human beings are nothing special i n the universe, and we should study them with the precision and detachment with which we study l i n e s , planes and bodies. However i t i s obvious that Spinoza was a deeply humanistic person.  I t i s perhaps i r o n i c a l that a philosopher  who went so f a r out of his way to attack anthropocentrism should have written i n such depth about the human mind and i t s l i b e r a t i o n .  Spinoza, i n  ETHICS Part Five, transgresses his own metaphysical principles i n an attempt to j u s t i f y crediting at least some people with the dignity of freedom; for i t i s quite clear that the body can i n no way be rendered free.  Thus we can  understand why, as Parts Four and Five progress, Spinoza talks ever increasingly about the human mind. At the end of E.v.20., he writes; I t i s time ... that I should pass to the consideration of those matters which appertain to the duration of the mind without the body.  There i s a further motivation f o r this concentration on the mental aspect of human beings to the neglect of the physical, which w i l l be discussed l a t e r . This further motivation arises out of Spinoza's undoubted musticism.  The  mystical s t r a i n reaches i t s peak, and Spinoza's w r i t i n g i s i t s most obscure, when he i s talking of the blessedness of the i n t e l l e c t u a l love of God.  An  essay of this nature i s probably not the place to write a critique of this aspect of Spinoza's work.  Fortunately one can discuss much of his theory of  freedom without bringing i n his mystical doctrines, whose value I do not here c a l l into question, but whose s u s c e p t i b i l i t y to discussion I do.  14.  FREEDOM THROUGH ADEQUATE IDEAS.  I turn now to a more direct discussion of Spinoza's views about freeing  83.  the mind of i t s bondage to the emotions.  In the previous chapter i n the dis-  cussion of 'adequacy', i t was asserted that Spinoza believed that we are unfree to the extent that we have inadequate ideas i n our minds.  Inadequate  ideas include a l l our ideas about individual bodies, though not about their essences, a l l our ideas about anything temporal, and i n p a r t i c u l a r , a l l our ideas which we would characterize as emotions. What does a l l this amount to in practice?  There i s an uncharitable interpretation of E . i i i . l . , which makes Spinoza's theory of freedom through adequate ideas seem thoroughly misguided, and there is another which makes i t interesting though highly problematic and  mysterious.  E . i i i . l . , as we have seen, states that: Our mind acts at times and at times suffers: i n so far as i t has adequate ideas, i t necessarily acts; and i n so far as i t has inadequate ideas, i t necessarily suffers. E.iii.l. An adequate idea i s s t r i c t l y speaking defined as one which involves knowledge of an eternal and necessary truth. So, on a l i t e r a l interpretation of the above proposition i t follows that the mind's a c t i v i t y follows from i t s having  ideas of necessary and eternal truths.  of eternal and necessary truths?  But what are the paradigm examples  Likely candidates are the laws of logic and  the tautologies which follow from them. This doctrine appears to lead rapidly to the absurdity that one becomes increasingly active as one's head becomes f i l l e d up with tautologies. A person would be quite active i f he or she could constantly be thinking 'A black cat i s black', 'A black cat i s a cat', 'A white cat i s a cat'  and so on ad nauseam. I t i s clear that on any  reasonable theory of freedom such a fate as that of endless tautology-repeating  could not be the paradigm of freedom, and certainly not of a c t i v i t y .  Any  theory which affirms that such a person would be active, or one which entails  84.  i t , ought to be rejected on that ground alone.  One might argue that this  interpretation i s unduly harsh on Spinoza, as i t i s quite clearly not what he had i n mind when he propounded his theory of mental a c t i v i t y and passivity. It certainly doesn't do justice to Spinoza's intentions on the subject, but i t does follow from what he actually said. What then were his intentions here?  To answer this question i t i s necessary to return to Spinoza's determini s t i c causal rationalism. He believed that eveything that happens has a cause, and that the causal relation i s one of entailment.  I t follows from  these b e l i e f s that knowledge of r e a l i t y , or 'true knowledge', involves knowledge of a series of entailments.  I f we can get an objective perspective on  the world, we s h a l l see everything as being necessarily connected, that the statement describing any state of a f f a i r s i s entailed by another statement, and so on, as was shown i n Chapter One of the present essay. Now i n the case of ordinary physical objects i n the world, the series of entailments i s i n f i n i t e , and so we can never have complete knowledge of the s e r i e s , and so our ideas of ordinary physical things must be inadequate, since one cannot have an adequate idea of something unless one has an adequate idea of i t s cause. Spinoza then certainly does intend to say at any rate that we cannot be active and therefore cannot be free, as long as our mind contains ideas of ordinary physical things, that i s , as long as we are thinking about particular physical objects.  This corresponds with what he says about the three kinds of knowledge. Our ordinary empirical knowledge - that of the f i r s t kind - i s necessarily i n adequate.  On the other hand, our knowledge of the second and t h i r d kinds i s  necessarily adequate.  85.  The knowledge of the second kind i s the knowledge which we get from doing syllogisms, and i n fact from engaging i n any deductive reasoning. The knowledge that a l l black cats are black i s of this kind since i t can be deduced from the i n t u i t i v e fundamental law of l o g i c , which can be expressed as 'A § B entails A . 1  Clearly going around with such tautologies i n one's  head i s not the path to freedom.  There i s , however, a further aspect to the  knowledge of the second kind, and this would be the sort of knowledge one gets when one solves a chess problem.  One would be active, because one would  have adequate ideas i n one's mind, i f one were doing a chess problem.  Simil-  arly i f one were following any mathematical series, such as counting sheep, one would be active.  In both of these a c t i v i t i e s , though not i n the constant  repetition of t r i v i a l tautologies, one i s , i n a legitimate sense, active. One's mind i s not allowed to wander, and i s kept by one from the external distractions of the world.  The t h i r d kind of knowledge involves intuitions into r e a l i t y , which are immediate i n the sense that one can 'see' the objects of this knowledge d i r e c t l y , quite c l e a r l y , and without carrying out any deductions. This kind of knowledge involves such things as simple mathematical i n t u i t i o n s , and knowledge of the fundamental laws of logic such as the law of non-contradiction.  which are presupposed i n thinking, Although having such knowledge i n one's  mind seems to be a l i t t l e more active than having knowledge of what can be immediately derived from i t , this i s certainly not what one would think a mentally active person would have his mind f u l l of. There i s , however, more to the t h i r d kind of knowledge than merely knowledge of these fundamental l o g i c a l and mathematical truths.  Spinoza, as we saw i n the previous chapter,  believed that we could attain knowledge of the essences of ordinary empirical objects, and that this knowledge would be knowledge of the t h i r d kind.  The  86.  bulk of ETHICS Part Five i s concerned with this p a r t i c u l a r kind of knowledge and i t s accompanying adequate ideas.  What i s meant by the obscure notion of  'knowledge of the individual essences of things' w i l l be discussed shortly.  When Spinoza i s discussing the nature of human freedom i n ETHICS Part Five, he deliberately does not discuss ' i n what manner and i n what way  the  i n t e l l e c t should be rendered perfect', as this i s simply a matter for logic. We can then exonerate Spinoza from the charge that he believed that the path to freedom l i e s i n doing syllogisms and i n enumerating l o g i c a l truths, a l though this i s actually entailed by his theory.  This leaves us with such  adequate ideas as one might have whilst doing chess problems and the l i k e , and with the adequate ideas which y i e l d knowledge of the essences of individual things.  I t i s with the l a t t e r that Spinoza concerned himself, and i t i s  to them that we now turn.  Spinoza, as a Seventeenth Century Rationalist believed not only that the i n t e l l e c t or understanding and the senses constitute two f a c u l t i e s , but that the former i s active and the l a t t e r passive.  In his opinion the understanding  deals solely with eternal and necessary truths. He subscribed, however, to the view that not a l l necessary truths are essentially contentless.  This i s  captured partly by his d i s t i n c t i o n already alluded to, between formal essences, which are something l i k e definitions, and actual essences which constitute the conatus of individual things.  The knowledge of the t h i r d kind involves,  amongst other things, i n t u i t i v e knowledge of the actual essences of individuals. Spinoza i s extremely unclear about exactly what he means by 'essence'.  He  uses the term without p r e f i x i n g i t with 'formal' or 'actual', and s l i p s and slides between the two uses.  What he seems to be trying to say i s that the  self-preserving tendency of a l l things i s r e a l l y the essence of God or Nature.  87.  This needs a l o t of explaining, which w i l l be attempted presently.  In t h i s  explanation the language w i l l sometimes be rather metaphorical.  This i s  deemed necessary because of the obscurity of the doctrine to be  explained.  Many people have believed that the universe s p i r i t u a l force - a l i f e - g i v i n g force.  i s inhabited by some  Certain Christians would subscribe  to t h i s doctrine, and would contend that the l i f e - g i v i n g force which permeates the universe i s the force o f love.  Some Eastern r e l i g i o n s and philoso-  phies, maintain that there i s an i n f i n i t e source of energy which a c t u a l l y constitutes the universe. 'One  This might be best summarized by the  l i g h t , but many lamps'.  which pervades the universe. was  On this view there i s one supreme essence Everything which exists would not e x i s t i f i t  not pervaded by this force.  l i k e l y that Spinoza was Neo-platonists  slogan:  This essence i s a creative force.  It is  very much influenced i n this matter by the mystical  such as Bruno, although Bruno himself opened the way more  f o r L e i b n i z i a n monads than f o r Spinozist monism.  In view of h i s not having  been d i r e c t l y influenced by Buddhist w r i t i n g s , i t is_ i n t e r e s t i n g to mention i n passing the s t r i k i n g s i m i l a r i t i e s between t h e i r b e l i e f that a l l d u a l i t i e s represent i l l u s i o n and Spinoza's own monism - that there i s r e a l l y j u s t  one  i n f i n i t e and eternal essence, and that everything there i s follows from this essence, and partakes of i t .  That Spinoza s e r i o u s l y believed such a  view can be seen i n Part Five of ETHICS, and by reading Part One  i n the  l i g h t of Part Five.  I t f i t s i n w e l l with his view that everything that can be conceived  by  an i n f i n i t e - i n t e l l e c t follows from the necessity of the divine nature. Remember that Spinoza maintained from the beginning of ETHICS that a cause  88. must have something i n common with i t s e f f e c t .  The paver o f God, or God's  essence has caused my existence and, i n f a c t has caused the existence o f everything.  Therefore a l l things have something i n common with God.  thing i n common i s t h e i r 'conatus' o r 'actual essence'.  This  This conatus, as  Spinoza w r i t e s , 'does not involve f i n i t e but i n d e f i n i t e time'.  The essence  of God 'involves i n d e f i n i t e time', and so does that which we have i n common with i t .  What i s meant by ' A l l d u a l i t i e s are fundamentally unreal' i s that  although we can see the universe i n a number o f ways, that i s divide i t up conceptually i n a number o f ways, the correct way o f viewing i t i s as one homogeneous, i n d i v i s i b l e whole.  One could go on f o r a very long time t r y i n g to make c l e a r what 'essences' r e a l l y are, but to do so would be to wander o f f the track o f t h i s essay, so i t won't be attempted here.  However, the b r i e f sketch j u s t given provides us  with an important clue f o r the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f Spinoza's statement that the mind i s active i n so f a r as i t has adequate ideas, and passive i n so f a r as i t has inadequate ones.  Let us consider the following p r o p o s i t i o n i n the  l i g h t o f the above exposition. The more we understand i n d i v i d u a l objects, the more we understand God. E.v.24. In ETHICS Part Five, Spinoza says that the ultimate state o f l i b e r a t i o n f o r a human being i s one where the person has an ' i n t e l l e c t u a l love o f God'.  This  love i s tantamount to an ' i n t u i t i v e ' understanding o f the nature o f the universe.  The L a t i n verb ' i n t e l l e g e r e ' means 'to understand', and so the  ' i n t e l l e c t u a l love o f God' i s one which comes through understanding, and should not be confused with something l i k e 'love which only i n t e l l e c t u a l s have'.  89.  I f the essences of i n d i v i d u a l things a l l are a manifestation of the nature or essence of God,  then the more one understands t h i s thing i n each object the  more one w i l l understand God's essence.  This i s not altogether without  plausibility.  I t i s not at a l l easy to characterize the t h i r d kind of knowledge, and the following should be regarded as an attempt which may nonsense to some readers, but be i n t e r e s t i n g l y suggestive  appear as abject to others.  This kind of knowledge - o f essences - i s not ordinary perceptual knowledge, f o r essences are not v i s i b l e , tangible, or odorous, and so on.  It i s  also not the knowledge one gets from doing syllogisms, chess problems, or mathematics.  The knowledge i s of what 'makes things t i c k ' , can only be  attained ' i n t u i t i v e l y ' , and i s r e a l l y more akin to what we would c a l l 'understanding'.  To a t t a i n this s o r t of understanding about things i s pre-  c i s e l y what the r e l i g i o n s o f the East would c a l l 'enlightenment'. such an understanding we of mind.  I f we have  are t r u l y f r e e , and have reached a state of peace  This involves simply regarding things i n t h e i r 'true' l i g h t , that  i s 'sub specie aeternitas', and therefore having  'adequate ideas'.  This  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Spinoza i s supported quite strongly by the text, f o r instance i n the following propositions: The highest e f f o r t of the mind and i t s highest v i r t u e i s to understand things by the t h i r d kind of knowledge. E.v.25. From this t h i r d kind of knowledge a r i s e s the highest possible peace of mind. E.v.27.  It i s not easy to know quite what to say i n c r i t i c i s m of this doctrine  90.  about the third kind of knowledge. The main problem seems to be that concerning the doctrine's v e r i f i a b i l i t y .  According to our ordinary empiricist  c r i t e r i a for v e r i f i a b i l i t y , assuming that there are any such, the claim that there are i n a l l things imperceptible, though real 'essences' which manifest the l i f e - f o r c e of the universe, i s not subject to v e r i f i c a t i o n or f a l s i f i c a t i o n , and so i s apparently untestable.  I f a theory i s untestable i t i s  usually summarily dismissed as 'unscientific'.  The case of Spinoza's theory  of essences, and the t h i r d kind of knowledge i s , however, a d i f f i c u l t case, since there are people who certainly would claim to have something l i k e an ' i n t u i t i v e understanding' of the true nature of the universe.  Moreover, these people very often have a serenity which would undoubtedl y lead one to say that they have achieved 'the highest possible peace of mind'. They can explain why most people haven't reached this state of enlightenment or highest consciousness, by arguing that to reach these levels requires a very arduous training of the mind, which only a few people are able or w i l l ing to undertake.  Spinoza obviously believed something similar to this.  I f the way which, as I have shown, leads hither (to eternal peace of mind), seem very d i f f i c u l t , i t can nevertheless be found. I t must indeed be d i f f i c u l t since i t i s so seldom discovered; for i f salvation lay ready to hand and could be discovered without great labour, how could i t be possible that i t should be neglected almost by everybody? But a l l noble things are as d i f f i c u l t as they are rare. E.v.42. (Schol.) There are undoubtedly severe epistomological problems with this view of human freedom, and although the theory i s very interesting and suggestive, there w i l l be no arguments produced here which purport to prove that i t i s true; for i f the doctrine i s true i t s truth could be understood only by someone who had already had this kind of experience to believe i n i t s value; i t i s  91.  probably impossible so to persuade a r a t i o n a l person by r a t i o n a l arguments alone.  A f o r t i o r i i t i s an e n t e r p r i s e t o t a l l y unsuited to demonstration  'more geometrico'.  We s h a l l now descend from these l o f t y metaphysical  heights t o the more mundane area of the a f f e c t s .  15.  THE AFFECTS PART  TWO.  Before proceeding f u r t h e r , a few remarks about the p i c t u r e being o f f e r ed here o f the interconnections between the various p a r t s o f Spinoza's theory of freedom would be appropriate.  Spinoza b e l i e v e d t h a t he had e s s e n t i a l l y  one theory which had d i f f e r e n t mutually supporting p i l l a r s .  In h i s o p i n i o n  these p i l l a r s d i d more than simply add e x t r a support to the anyway reasonably s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t , s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g d o c t r i n e s ; he b e l i e v e d t h a t no p a r t o f the e d i f i c e could stand up independently o f the other p a r t s - the system had to be r e j e c t e d or accepted as a whole.  We have already shown t h a t one aspect o f  h i s theory o f freedom cannot be defended by r a t i o n a l argument.  What w i l l be  attempted here i s an examination of the other aspects o f the theory on t h e i r own m e r i t s .  We can do t h i s p a r t l y because these p s y c h o l o g i c a l views about  human bondage and freedom are r e a l l y views on how to prepare f o r the u l t i m a t e s t a t e of 'blessedness'.  I f the arguments about freedom are seen as forming a  pyramid, what has been done so f a r i s to remove the top of the pyramid. Spinoza would not have had i t t h a t the top could have been removed without shaking the foundations, f o r he b e l i e v e d t h a t the 'blessedness' theory was e n t a i l e d by the p s y c h o l o g i c a l theory.  I f one accepted t h i s one could not r e -  j e c t the 'blessedness' theory, or w i t h o l d judgment on i t without doing so to the p s y c h o l o g i c a l theory.  The entailment c l a i m i s here r e j e c t e d , and so we  proceed to a d i s c u s s i o n of the p s y c h o l o g i c a l theory on i t s own m e r i t s .  92.  Spinoza, we r e c a l l , b e l i e v e d that we are a c t i v e inasmuch as we have adequate i d e a s , and p a s s i v e inasmuch as we have inadequate ones.  From t h i s  alone, one might t h i n k that i t wouldn't make any d i f f e r e n c e to our a c t i v i t y , and therefore t o our 'power' o r ' v i r t u e ' , whether the inadequate ideas are inadequate f o r one reason o r f o r q u i t e d i f f e r e n t ones.  There i s n ' t appar-  e n t l y much room f o r concern f o r d i s t i n c t i o n s w i t h i n the realm o f inadequate ideas.  I n a c t u a l f a c t there are c r u c i a l d i s t i n c t i o n s t o be made w i t h i n t h i s  realm.  Spinoza does make some o f these d i s t i n c t i o n s , the f i r s t o f which i s  made w i t h i n the area o f passions.  He says that we s u f f e r passions t o the  extent that the ideas i n our mind which are the mental aspect o f our a f f e c t s , are n o t adequate.  However passions are many-edged.  There are s e v e r a l S p i n o z i s t reasons why passions such as h a t r e d cannot be good.  Spinoza o f f e r s the f o l l o w i n g reason: The man whom we hate we endeavour t o destroy ... that i s t o say ... we endeavour t o do something which i s e v i l . E.iv.45. (Dem.)  The reason given f o r the e v i l o f d e s t r o y i n g another human being i s that nothing i s more u s e f u l t o one person than another person.  We can i n t e r p r e t the  demonstration as s a y i n g that h a t i n g someone has bad e f f e c t s inasmuch as i t leads one t o d e s i r e , o r r a t h e r i n v o l v e s d e s i r i n g , c e r t a i n things t o b e f a l l the person, the occurrence o f which would be harmful to the h a t e r .  The second reason f o r s a y i n g that h a t r e d i s e v i l i s that i t n e c e s s a r i l y i n v o l v e s sorrow.  Sorrow i s e v i l because i t c o n s t i t u t e s apart from anything  e l s e , a d i m i n u t i o n i n the power o f a c t i o n o f the mind and body. any r a t e i s a S p i n o z i s t view o f the emotion.  This, at  I t i s , as i t stands, l i t e r a l l y  f a l s e ; f o r i f we count h a t r e d as a species o f sorrow, i t i s n o t the case t h a t  93. 'sorrow' i n e v i t a b l y diminishes i t s possessor's power o f a c t i o n .  Sometimes,  as we s t a t e d e a r l i e r , people are motivated t o r e l i n q u i s h t h e i r i n e r t i a by the hatred o f someone o r something.  However Spinoza does have an i n t e r e s t i n g  and important i n s i g h t here, even though i t i s not e x p l i c i t l y made on t h i s subject.  I t i s q u i t e true that there are emotions which do seem t o c o n s t i t u t e  an i n h i b i t i o n on one's a c t i v i t i e s .  There are two b a s i c forms o f these.  The  f i r s t i s where one i s , say f e e l i n g r e s e n t f u l towards somebody, and consequentl y j u s t cannot concentrate on what one i s doing, because the o b j e c t o f one's p a s s i o n i s ever-present t o one i n an o f f e n s i v e and i n t r u d i n g manner.  Such a  ' s u f f e r e r ' may f i n d h i m s e l f c o n s t a n t l y d w e l l i n g on the i n j u r i e s which have been i n f l i c t e d on him, and thus not be able t o concentrate f u l l y on any one thing.  The second form o f ' i n h i b i t i n g ' emotion i s the one where one j u s t  f e e l s , so t o speak, deadened.  This u s u a l l y i n v o l v e s , a t some l e v e l , s e l f -  h a t r e d , and i s o f t e n caused by the suppression o f the expression o f h o s t i l e f e e l i n g s t o somebody who has caused one p a i n .  These emotions, i f one wants  to c a l l them t h a t , tend towards depression, and c o u l d w e l l be named 'depressive emotions'.  The emotions which are i n c l u d e d i n t h i s category are j u s t those  which l e a d t o o r encompass the s t a t e o f depression, which i n v o l v e s f e e l i n g so awful t h a t one cannot summon up the energy t o do anything, even those things which the depressed person most wants t o do. For example, someone who r e a l l y wants t o w r i t e a book may, i f he i s i n the g r i p o f a 'depressive' emotion, be unable t o face working on the p r o j e c t . The current conjecture i s that there i s a group o f emotions which a c t u a l l y do i n h i b i t one's a c t i v i t y , e i t h e r by s c a t t e r i n g one's concentration o r by deadening one's v i t a l i t y .  Of course the  former might w e l l lead t o the l a t t e r , and the l a t t e r would almost c e r t a i n l y i n v o l v e one's a b i l i t y t o concentrate being broken.  These emotions, which I  s h a l l h e r e a f t e r c a l l 'depressive', are harmful t o t h e i r bearers because they l i m i t t h e i r a c t i v i t y i n the more f a m i l i a r sense o f ' a c t i v i t y ' as w e l l as i n  94.  Spinoza's rather esoteric sense.  The t h i r d reason for regarding the emotions of sorrow as being, at least not untarnished by e v i l , i s that they are a l l necessarily passions. A l l emotions of sorrow are passions, because they constitute restrictions of acti v i t y for their bearers, and therefore mark the overpowering of the bearer's conatus by external factors, which i s an undesirable state for someone to be in.  This i s closely linked to the fourth reason for saying that the emotions of sorrow are e v i l , and that i s that they involve inadequate ideas of a part i c u l a r kind.  Inadequate ideas include not merely those ideas which we would  say were ideas of contingent truths, but also of falsehoods. involve inadequate ideas of the 'falsehood' type.  The passions  For instance, i f one hates  someone, one w i l l , according to Spinoza's theory, feel sorrow with the accompanying idea of the object of hatred as the true cause of the sorrow. Suppose someone stole one's favourite record - just before some friends were coming over for the evening to l i s t e n to i t .  Let us also suppose that the  c u l p r i t i s found, and that he just doesn't care at a l l about causing trouble to people, and i n particular to oneself. feel hatred towards such a person.  I t i s quite l i k e l y that one would  According to Spinoza this would involve  the primary sorrow of having one's evening ruined, with the accompanying idea of an 'external cause' - namely the thief.  This b e l i e f about the cause of  the sorrow must be mistaken, given Spinoza's view, much discussed above, of a causally r a t i o n a l i s t i c determinist universe.  There i s an i n f i n i t e l y long  series of causes for the occurrence of anything i n the world of f i n i t e modes. When we regard someone as the cause of our sorrow we are not simply viewing the person as something which i s , along with i n f i n i t e l y many other things,  95.  causally relevant to the occurrence of the state; rather, what we are doing i s regarding the object of hatred as a self-caused cause of our sorrow. This i s to have a false, inadequate idea, and i s therefore ' e v i l ' .  As well as passions of sorrow, there are passions which arise i n us out of desire and those which arise out of joy. The following discussion w i l l be r e s t r i c t e d essentially to the passions of joy.  The passions of joy share  some relevant features with those of sorrow, and d i f f e r i n important ways too.  The passions of joy are different from at least some of those of sorrow i n that they do not involve destructiveness. When one has a joyous passion, such as unselfish love, one tends, i n virtue of the feeling, to be well-disposed towards one's fellow human-beings. As the well-being of one's fellow human beings i s good, so i s that which promotes i t , for instance a passion of joy, for this promotes our true s e l f - i n t e r e s t .  Secondly, the passions of joy do not, unlike some of their counterparts on the sorrow side, lead to the i n h i b i t i o n of one's power of acting, but rather have the reverse tendency.  Spinoza has the following to say on this  matter: Joy i s not d i r e c t l y e v i l , but good; sorrow, on the other hand, i s d i r e c t l y e v i l . Joy ... i s an affect by which the body's power of action i s increased or assisted. Sorrow, on the other hand, i s an affect by which the body's power of action is lessened, and, therefore joy i s d i r e c t l y good ... E.iv.41 $ Dem. It might be worth noting here that Spinoza s p e c i f i c a l l y talks i n terms of the body's power of action.  I take him, i n doing so, to be talking about something  96.  rather like what we would describe as 'ability to do a wide range of things'. We would then be able to say that the affects of joy are directly good because their possession enables their possessor to do a wide range of things, that i s , to be more active.  On this matter, Spinoza i s , as i n the case of the passions of sorrow, l i t e r a l l y wrong.  It i s not true that a l l emotions of joy do increase our  body's power of action i n any sense that i s not purely tautological.  For  instance the feeling of joy which one might get from lazing i n a deck chair on a warm summer's afternoon, i s certainly not a feeling which either constitutes or directly leads to an increase i n the body's power of action.  On  the contrary, i f one feels really pleasant i n such a situation, one's power of action i s certainly diminished, for one would almost certainly want to do as near to nothing as possible.  Nevertheless, as before with the sorrows, Spinoza does have a point. When one i s feeling cheerful or joyous, one i s far more able to do what one wants to do than i f one i s feeling depressed or sorrowful. to find a word which encapsulates this kind of feeling. ation i s probably 'cheerfulness'.  It i s d i f f i c u l t  The closest approxim-  'Cheerfulness' i s not completely accurate.  What i s being sought i s the opposite of 'depression'.  The distinction i n  question i s f a i r l y well described as that between feeling optimistic, and feeling pessimistic.  The affects of joy have a logical connexion with feel-  ing, broadly speaking, optimistic.  When one feels optimistic about one's  existence, i t is much easier for one to get down to doing things, thus increasing 'the body's power of action'.  The nearest Spinoza actually comes  to spelling this out is i n his distinction between 'cheerfulness' and 'melancholy'.  97.  Cheerfulness ... i s joy, which, i n so far as i t i s related to the body, consists i n t h i s , that a l l the parts of the body are equally affected, that i s to say ... the body's power of action i s increased or assisted, so that a l l the parts acquire the same proportion of motion and rest to each other. Cheerfulness, therefore ... i s always good, and can never be excessive. But melancholy ... i s sorrow, which i n so f a r as i t i s related to the body, cons i s t s i n t h i s , that the body's power of action i s absolutely lessened or restrained, and melancholy, therefore ... i s always e v i l . E.iv.42. (Dem.)  I f we don't take too l i t e r a l l y the talk about imbalances i n the proportions of motion and rest i n the body, we are l e f t with the basic 'feeling good', and 'feeling bad', which we were looking for.  Although Spinoza's talking  about proportions of motion and rest i n the body leaves much to be desired as an account of how different emotions affect us, he does have a point when he talks of the excesses of joy. I f , for instance, one absolutely adored someone, the love one had for the person might be excessive, f o r i t would, as i t were, throw one completely out of equilibrium, and cause one to have a f i x a t i o n on the person loved which would i n h i b i t one's overall power of action.  'Cheerfulness' and 'melancholy' are overall emotional states of a per-  son,  and thus have a more direct relation to the actual power of action of a  person, than do emotions such as anger.  The passions of joy do share i n common with those of sorrow their not being cause solely by the essence of the bearer of the passion. do not involve adequate ideas.  Also they  I f one loves someone i n an ordinary way, one  i s , on Spinoza's view, feeling joy with the accompanying idea of the person loved as the cause of the joy. This, as we saw i n the case of the passions of sorrow, involves having a distorted or incomplete way of seeing things.  98. Anyway, we can say this, that even though a l l the passions are manifestations of a person's unfreedom, which i s a bad state, some of them are not as harmful as others, and are in fact, i n the Spinozist sense, 'useful' to us.  He gives several reasons as to why the passions of sorrow are 'harm-  f u l ' to us, and several why those of joy are 'useful'.  However, i t is not  the case that a l l the passions of sorrow are harmful i n the same ways, or at least in a l l the same ways.  For instance the passion of hatred is harm-  ful because i t leads to destructive tendencies which are against the true self-interest of the person who hates.  Sadness is harmful because i t makes  i t d i f f i c u l t for one to do what one might otherwise be able to do.  But hatred  often raises one's power of activity, and sadness does not have an inbuilt element of destructiveness. One could produce a similar account of the passions of joy.  The point which i s being made here is that Spinoza's  account  of the passions of joy and sorrow, although containing valuable insights, i s an oversimplification.  It i s not true that a l l the passions of joy are 'good'  in his sense of the word, just as i t isn't true that a l l those of sorrow are 'evil', and this i s something more than simply a matter of the possible excesses of joy, which Spinoza talks of. Pleasurable excitement may be excessive and an e v i l , and pain be good i n so far as pleasurable excitement or joy i s e v i l . E.iv.43.  Spinoza does acknowledge that some passions are more harmful than others. However, a l l the passions are ultimately undesirable, for i t is a necessary truth that having a passion involves having inadequate ideas i n one's mind, and that having such ideas constitutes being unfree mentally, and that being mentally unfree i s harmful.  It follows from this that i t i s ultimately  useful or virtuous for us to give up our passions, or at least to take steps  99.  w h i c h e n a b l e us t o cease b e i n g s u b j e c t t o them.  Does t h i s mean t h a t i t i s  u l t i m a t e l y u s e f u l t o do w i t h o u t emotions a l t o g e t h e r ?  I t i s d i f f i c u l t to say  e x a c t l y what S p i n o z a t h o u g h t on t h i s m a t t e r , because on i t he i s n o t o n l y obscure,  b u t a l s o says t h i n g s w h i c h i m p l y c o n t r a r y p o s i t i o n s .  I n t h e n e x t c h a p t e r t h e r e w i l l be a d i s c u s s i o n o f S p i n o z a ' s v i e w s on the d i s p e n s a b i l i t y o f e m o t i o n s , and o f t h e n e c e s s i t y o f d i s p e n s i n g w i t h them, for  the f r e e l i f e o f reason.  I n a m o d i f i e d and t r u n c a t e d f o r m t h e main  S p i n o z i s t p o s i t i o n w i l l be d e f e n d e d f r o m what c o u l d be a s e r i o u s from the Twentieth  Century.  challenge  loo CHAPTER FOUR  REASON, EMOTIONS AND HUMANITY  16.  TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD WE ABANDON OUR EMOTIONS?  The nearest thing to an emotion which Spinoza talks about i s ' a f f e c t ' . Part Four of ETHICS i s c a l l e d 'Of Human Bondage or o f the strength o f the Affects'.  This implies that our bondage consists i n having a f f e c t s , and  that l i b e r a t i o n would i n e v i t a b l y involve no longer being subject to them. Furthermore, the l i f e that Spinoza advocates  i s a l i f e o f reason.  He con-  s t a n t l y talks about what someone who l i v e d i n accordance with reason would do.  He equates acting i n accordance with reason with acting v i r t u o u s l y , or  being f r e e .  People often oppose reason to, amongst other things, emotions.  I f one i s a c t i n g 'emotionally', one i s not acting 'reasonably'.  The r a d i c a l  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f Spinoza's views about the d i s p e n s a b i l i t y o f emotions would be the one which has him advocating a complete abandonment o f a l l emotions. Despite the attractions o f this way o f i n t e r p r e t i n g Spinoza, there are b e t t e r reasons f o r r e j e c t i n g the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n as not doing j u s t i c e to h i s main theory.  One o f the reasons f o r b e l i e v i n g that the emotions ought to be given up i s that we seem to be passive whenever we have an emotion.  However, i f  Spinoza d i d mean by 'affect' what we mean by emotion, he d i d not believe t h i s , for  he w r i t e s : Besides the joys and desires which are passions, there are other affects o f joy and desire which are r e l a t e d to us i n so f a r as we act. E.iii.58.  101.  The argument for the p o s s i b i l i t y of 'active' joys i s that the mind rejoices when i t conceives i t s power of acting, and that when i t has adequate ideas i t conceives i t s e l f and i t s power of acting, and so i t rejoices when i t i s active.  Moreover, the having of adequate ideas i s caused by one's own essence  alone, and so one i s , when one has adequate ideas, the cause of the ensuing r e j o i c i n g , since i t follows from something of which one i s the cause oneself. This argument i s not used by Spinoza i n h i s demonstration of the proposition, but i t e a s i l y could have been.  In the f i n a l paragraph of ETHICS Part Four there i s more evidence for rejecting the radical view.  Talking about 'the brave man', whom one can take  as being someone who i s free or governed by reason, Spinoza writes: ... his chief effort i s to conceive things as they are i n themselves, and to remove the hindrances to true knowledge such as hatred, anger, envy, derision and pride, and other of this kind, which we have before noticed; and so he endeavours, as we have said, as much as possible to do w e l l and rejoice. E.iv.73. (Schol.) This i s p a r t i c u l a r l y interesting because the examples which are given, of the hindrances to knowledge, are a l l emotions which lead to what we would c a l l wrongdoing; at least they are a l l emotions or attitudes which most people discourage.  Such affects as 'pity', 'hope', 'confidence' and 'gladness' are not  included; and this i s s i g n i f i c a n t , f o r according to Spinoza's c r i t e r i a , those affects are obstacles to true knowledge, and involve passivity i n the same way as do the other less reputable affects.  Spinoza's r i g i d causal rationalism did not allow him to have a theory of how we might progress from our state of confused, passive, unfreedom into the state of freedom or blessedness, for he couldn't have an adequate theory of  102. change. However, a close reading of Spinoza w i l l reveal that he did believe there was a path from bondage to freedom.  There are some emotions which are especially harmful, as they not only involve the bearer of the emotion being i n bondage, but they also promote the continuing bondage of that person and others. Such emotions are pride, anger, derision, and others of the same i l k , as mentioned i n E.iv.73. (Schol.). Spinoza urges anybody who i s seeking freedom to give up, as a matter of immediate p r i o r i t y , such negative and destructive emotions.  Although Spinoza i s against such feelings as p i t y , remorse, and other 'softnesses', because they do not stem from reason, but run.counter to i t , he does grant that they have their purposes. ... l i k e p i t y , so shame, although i t i s not a virtue, i s nevertheless good, i n so f a r as i t shows that a desire of l i v i n g uprightly i s present i n the man who i s possessed with shame ... E.iv.58. (Schol.) ... he who i s moved neither by reason nor p i t y to be of any service to others i s properly called inhuman. E.iv.50. These 'soft' emotions, then are intermediately 'useful', for i n our 'unliberated' state, i f we did not have them we would be 'inhuman', and would be i n an extremely 'primitive' state of development.  'Pity' i s also not too good, because i t i s a 'sorrow'; this distinguishes i t from the passions of joy, passions though even these l a t t e r be.  Passions  of joy are regarded as reasonably a l l right i n as much as they involve a tendency to increased a c t i v i t y or virtue on the part of the bearer. However, even these ultimately should go, f o r :  103. A l l of these (desires from a f f e c t s of joy and sorrow) ... i n so f a r as they are begotten i n us of a f f e c t s which are passions, are b l i n d ... nor would they be of any use i f men could be e a s i l y persuaded to l i v e according to the dictates of reason alone ... E.iv.58.  (Schol.)  The trouble with a l l the passions, whether they are 'positive' or  'negative'  i s that we have them whether or not we want t o , and also whether or not i t i s i n our i n t e r e s t to have the p a r t i c u l a r passion at a p a r t i c u l a r time.  In  respect to our passions, when we are i n a state o f unfreedom, we have no more control than leaves i n the wind have over t h e i r l o c a t i o n - both are determined by external f a c t o r s .  I f we  are f e e l i n g p a r t i c u l a r l y good on account o f something pleasant  that has happened to us, i t i s quite on the cards that this w i l l turn to f e e l i n g rotten i f the circumstances change.  What Spinoza means by 'freedom'  i n i t s human context e n t a i l s ' f e e l i n g good i n any circumstance'.  This i n -  volves looking at the world, i n c l u d i n g oneself and one's p o s i t i o n i n the world 'under the aspect of e t e r n i t y ' .  This i s c e r t a i n l y what Spinoza thought freedom  consisted of, but i t i s not c l e a r whether or not he thought i t attainable.  E a r l y i n ETHICS Part Four Spinoza asserts what implies that freedom i s unattainable f o r human beings. We s u f f e r i n so f a r as we are a part of nature, which part cannot be conceived by i t s e l f nor without the other parts. E.iv.2. I t i s impossible that a man nature ...  should not be a part of  E.iv.4. However, i n Part Five he c e r t a i n l y suggests that i t i s p o s s i b l e , though  104.  admittedly d i f f i c u l t , to reach the state of freedom, that i s the l i f e of reason.  In summary, then, the doctrine which w i l l be discussed here i s the following.  The state of freedom i s one which i t would be ultimately desir-  able to a t t a i n , although i t i s extremely unlikely that i t can be achieved by any given human being.  In order to achieve complete freedom, one would  have to be completely unmoved by what was going on around one, that i s , one would never feel things about what was happening, except what i s t r u l y appropriate.  The same feeling i s always appropriate to a free person, because,  i n r e a l i t y nothing actually changes.  This feeling i s a feeling of b l i s s , joy,  or a special kind of love or reverence. There i s a graduated series of barriers to the attainment of this state.  These barriers are the things which  cause us to see the world i n other than i t s true l i g h t .  The source of the  f a i l u r e to see things accurately i s our having inadequate ideas, a sub-species of which are the ideas contained i n passions.  In order, then, to attain  freedom, we must set about eliminating these passions.  Within the realm of  passions there are some which must be eliminated i f the pursuer of freedom i s to make any headway at a l l ; these emotions are the ones which involve hatred, envy, and the l i k e - the emotions which have an i n b u i l t tendency to destruction and those which tend towards 'depression' as i t was explicated e a r l i e r . These emotions get i n the way of any further development, and that i s why they must be eliminated early. are much better.  The emotions which tend towards cheerfulness  The main problems with at least most of them are that one  has no control over whether or not one has them, at least when one i s an ordinary 'unfree' human being.  The state of freedom involves being free of  them too. I t i s ambiguous just what i s involved i n being free of these 'positive' attitudes and feelings.  The ambiguity can be expressed as follows.  105.  I f one i s free of the affect of 'gladness' i s i t the case that one never feels 'glad', or that one can control whether or not one feels 'glad'?  It is  assumed that Spinoza i s here r e a l l y concerned with having control over one's affects - that i s the control of being able to decide whether or not one i s going to have a p a r t i c u l a r feeling.  For after a l l he does maintain that  there are affects which are actions.  After a person has f i n a l l y conquered  the passions, he or she w i l l also have an 'objective' view of the universe, and w i l l possess 'the i n t e l l e c t u a l love of  17.  God'.  REACTIVITY.  This section w i l l deal with an objection to the Spinozist programme for freedom which comes from Professor P.F. Strawson i n his B r i t i s h Academy lecture "Freedom and Resentment".  This lecture i s a contribution to the  debate between the hard and soft determinists.  Hart determinists believe  that an acceptance of the truth of determinism would force us to give up our b e l i e f that i t i s sometimes j u s t i f i e d to hold a person morally responsible for an action. The soft determinists believe that j u s t i f i e d ascriptions of moral responsibility are quite compatible with an acceptance of the truth of determinism.  Strawson believes that the acceptance of hard determinism as above ascribed would force us to adopt 'the obscure and panicky metaphysics of l i b e r tarianism', for i t i s i n some sense inconceivable that we should abandon our b e l i e f that sometimes people are morally responsible for their actions.  So  the issue becomes one between soft determinism with the p o s s i b i l i t y of accepting the truth of determinism, and libertarianism, which appears to be i n t u i t i v e or at any rate unscientific.  counter-  What Strawson does i s to examine the  106. source of our ascriptions of moral responsibility, and i n so doing to attempt to show that our notion of moral responsibility stems from roots quite other than a b e l i e f that some people are sometimes free i n a sense of 'free' which i s incompatible with 'determined'. This i s i n direct c o n f l i c t with Spinoza's view on this matter. ... and because (man) supposes himself to be free, notions l i k e those of praise and blame, s i n and merit have arisen. E . i . Appendix. I t i s quite common for a correct philosophical position to be rejected because the arguments which are adduced i n i t s favour are poor.  This i s what,  according to Strawson, has happened to the doctrine .of soft determinism. One such argument i s that put forward by, amongst others, Moritz Schlick, who writes about the related notion of punishment: Punishment i s concerned only with the i n s t i t u t i o n of causes, of motives of conduct, and this alone i s i t s meaning. Punishment i s an educative measure, and as such i s a means to the formation of motives, which are i n part to prevent the wrongdoer from repeating the act (reformation) and i n part to prevent others from committing a similar act (intimidation). Analogously, i n the case of reward we are concerned with an incentive. M. Schlick.  PROBLEMS OF ETHICS, p.152.  What i s objectionable to this sort of j u s t i f i c a t i o n for punishment or reward i s that i t ignores one very important component of our punishing or rewarding someone, and that i s the element of resentment or hurt i n the former, and that of gratitude i n the l a t t e r .  I f i t did not matter whether or not these  elements were present, there would be no d i s t i n c t i o n between 'corrective therapy' and punishment.  Strawson sheds l i g h t on this problem i n an interesting way through a d i s t i n c t i o n he makes, which i s not always clear, between 'reactive attitudes'  107. and 'the objective attitude'.  He writes of the l a t t e r :  To adopt the objective attitude to another human being i s to see him, perhaps, as an object of social policy; as a subject for what, i n a wide range of sense, might be called treatment; as something certainly to be taken account of, perhaps precautionary account, of; to be managed or handled or cured or trained; ... P.79. This i s to be contrasted with reactive attitudes. ... i t cannot include the range of reactive feelings and attitudes which belong to involvement or p a r t i c i p ation with others i n inter-ersonal human relationships; i t cannot include resentment, gratitude, forgiveness, anger, or the sort of love which two adults can sometimes be said to f e e l reciprocally, for each other. P.79.  1  Strawson argues that i t i s these reactive attitudes which provide the basis for our notions of moral responsibility and so on. He says that the personal reactive attitudes have a vicarious analogue; for instance the reactive attitude of resentment has i t s vicarious analogue i n 'moral indignation', or 'resentment on behalf of another'. This i s s l i g h t l y misleading, since one of the features of the personal reactive attitudes was simply the fact that they were reactions to the good or i l l - w i l l of somebody to oneself. I t i s an important feature of these attitudes that one sees the object of the attitude as having done something f o r or against one personally.  It is  possible to feel this so-called 'resentment on behalf of another' without i t mattering who the victim of the moral outrage might be.  Anyway, this i s a  parenthetical remark, as I s h a l l not question Strawson's claim that these two kinds of reactive attitude and a t h i r d kind, which i s the analogue of the other two which i s held towards oneself, and includes remorse, are a l l 'humanly' connected. P.F. Strawson (ed.) Studies In The Philosophy of Thought and Action.  108.  I t i s maintained i n "Freedom and Resentment" that anyone who questions, after reading the early parts of the paper, the r a t i o n a l i t y of maintaining the reactive attitudes i n the face of a b e l i e f i n the truth of determinism 'has wholly f a i l e d to grasp' what Strawson has said on the subject.  The  argument Strawson has for this i s twofold. The f i r s t argument i s that when we decide to suspend our reactive attitudes towards somebody this i s not because we see their behaviour as caused i n a way i n which other people's i s not caused, so what attitudes we take up are taken up independently of beliefs about the truth of determinism.  The second argument i s that i t i s  impossible f o r us to give up on a r e l a t i v e l y permanent basis our reactive attitudes.  I f this were so, and as 'ought' implies 'can', i t would be i n -  appropriate to question the r a t i o n a l i t y of continuing these practices, since to do so would be to imply that we, perhaps ought to do what, ex hypothesi, we can't.  I t i s precisely these two statements of Strawson's position which are i n direct c o n f l i c t with Spinoza's programme for human l i b e r t y .  Spinoza  believed that i f we could r e a l l y see people's behaviour as being causally determined, we would no longer have these feelings of resentment, gratitude, Strawson's special kind of love between adults, hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, etc. Secondly Spinoza, as we have seen, believed that i t i s possible for people to give up their passions, which are very close to Strawson's 'reactive attitudes'.  A l l the reactive attitudes would be called 'passions'  by Spinoza, though some of the 'passions' would not be called 'reactive attitudes or feelings' by Strawson.  Let us now investigate Strawson's claim that the r a t i o n a l i t y of our continuing to have reactive attitudes cannot j u s t i f i a b l y be questioned because  109. having them i s an inevitable, and desirable part of the human condition. Strawson equates 'ordinary inter-personal relationship' with 'relationship where the people involved are prone to having reactive attitudes towards one another*.  Words l i k e 'ordinary' are dangerous i n contexts such as these,  as they are ambiguous. Does 'ordinary' mean ' s t a t i s t i c a l l y l i k e l y ' , or 'normal-in-the-sense-of-functioning-as-it-should'?  I f the l a t t e r , i t i s  pretty-well tautologous that we ought not to give up our reactive attitudes, as this would involve our never having the kind of relationships which we should have, and i t i s very strange indeed to t e l l someone that he ought to adopt a style of l i f e which would preclude him having the kind of relationships he ought to have.  I t i s undoubtedly true that relationships which  involve the range of reactive attitudes are s t a t i s t i c a l l y normal, but i t i s not at a l l as obvious that they are a manifestation of well-functioning human beings. show i t .  I f they are this l a t t e r , an argument i s certainly required to  I t i s notoriously d i f f i c u l t to produce an argument that i s anything  l i k e plausible about such a fundamental aspect of 'human nature'. doesn't r e a l l y provide a satisfactory one.  Strawson  What he does i s to try to show  how a world where we did not feel reactive attitudes would be somewhat inhuman, and thus undesirable.  This w i l l be discussed shortly.  In the meantime l e t us  pass to Strawson's more radical claim - that we could not give up having reactive attitudes.  Strawson leans rather heavily on the 'normality' of relationships, with reactive attitudes being the order of the day, or at least of most days. writes: But i t cannot be consequence of any thesis which i s not s e l f contradictory, that abnormality i s the universal condition. 2  Ibid. p.81.  He  110.  He then asks whether the acceptance of determinism could lead us to look at one another i n tliis way:  'Could the acceptance of the truth of determinism  lead to the "decay or repudiation of participant reactive attitudes"?' From the way this question has been set up by Strawson the odds are stacked against an affirmative answer being given, and i t i s not surprising that he writes: I t does not seem to be self-contradictory to suppose that this (the repudiation of participant reactive attitudes) might happen. So I suppose we must say that i t i s not absolutely inconceivable that i t should happen. But I am strongly inclined to think that i t i s , for us as we are, p r a c t i c a l l y inconceivable that i t should happen.3 This i s Strawson at his most elusive. He has two things going on at once here.  The f i r s t i s that he has some argument which has purported to show  that determinism i s irrelevant to our adoption of objective or reactive attitudes to one another.  I t i s not clear whether he means above that what  i s not quite self-contradictory, but 'practically inconceivable' i s that we should give up reactive attitudes simply because we had a theoretical conv i c t i o n that determinism was true, or that we should relinquish them for good under any circumstances.  I f he means the former one might say that  although the b e l i e f i n determinism would not on i t s own a l t e r our reactive attitudes, i t would help us to become free of some of them.  I t i s certainly  true that i f we consciously regard someone's adverse behaviour as being the upshot of a series of causes which were not subject to his control, i t i s much easier for us not to feel anger towards him.  I f we can view our sorrows  as having an i n f i n i t e number of causes we are l i k e l y to be less fixated on a single 'cause'.  Believing i n determinism i s a way of ceasing to regard one  person or thing as the cause of one's pain or pleasure.  ^  Ibid.  p.82.  This certainly helps  111.  to reduce one's proneness to at least certain reactive attitudes. This i s a fact about human psychology.  I f Strawson i s making the more radical of the two claims - that i t i s 'practically inconceivable' that we should give up our reactive attitudes for any reason, then this requires much more j u s t i f i c a t i o n than i s given. I t seems to be the case that Strawson i s making the bolder claim.  For later  i n the lecture he says of the commitment to 'inter-personal attitudes', which I take to be 'reactive attitudes': This commitment i s part of the general framework of human l i f e , not something that can come up for review within this general framework.4 Strawson i s well-known for his use of the transcendental form of argument with respect to our knowledge of what the world i s l i k e .  Instead of trying to  prove d i r e c t l y that the sceptic i s contradicting himself, f o r i t isn't obvious that he must be, what Strawson does i s to show that what the sceptic must say describes a situation which i s u n i n t e l l i g i b l e .  We can be reasonably sure that  we shan't give up our b e l i e f that we are i n a world of objective p a r t i c u l a r s , for we cannot r e a l l y conceive of a world where we could judge that there weren't any.  In connection with this type of dispute one would have expected  a remark from Strawson similar to that made i n the above quotation.  He  certainly i s basing his claim that we could not give up our reactive attitudes on a moral analogue of the epistemological transcendental argument. This explains his curious use of 'practically inconceivable', which I , rather speculat i v e l y , take to be i n contrast with the Kantian 'theoretically' inconceivable. In his book INDIVIDUALS Strawson characterizes what he i s going to be doing  4  Ibid.  p.84.  i.U.  in the book i n the following way: ... there i s a massive central core of human thinking which has no history - or none recorded i n histories of thought; there are categories and concepts which, i n their most fundamental character, change not at a l l ; and are yet the indispensable core of the conceptual equipment of the most sophisticated human beings. I t i s with these, their interconnexions, and the structure that they form, that a^ descriptive metaphysics w i l l be primarily concerned. Strawson implies that he believes that our having reactive attitudes i s a moral analogue of our having concepts of objective particulars i n our understanding of r e a l i t y .  This i s an extremely dubious claim to make, p a r t i c u l a r l y  in view of i t being possible to describe without any inconsistency what i t would be l i k e to know that one was l i v i n g i n a world where there was an absence of reactive attitudes amongst the people, including oneself.  One can  reduce a sceptic who i s prepared to l i s t e n to one's arguments to give up his position or to remain s i l e n t about i t , but there i s no such channel available to one to dispose of someone who disagrees with one's views about what a t t i t udes people can or cannot adopt to one another. There i s l i t t l e pressure on the Spinozist to accept Strawson's 'descriptive metaphysical' claim that: The existence of the general framework of attitudes i t s e l f i s something we are given with the fact of human society. As a whole i t neither c a l l s for, nor permits an essential 'rational' j u s t i f i c a t i o n .  I f the Spinozist is_ going to deny that the matter of what attitudes one can have can be settled a p r i o r i , which i s i n effect the assertion made here, then he must accept that this undercuts his own enterprise.  Both Strawson  and Spinoza were wrong i n attempting, to varying degrees, a p r i o r i psychology.  D  P.F. Strawson, INDIVIDUALS, p.10.  6  P.F. Strawson, STUDIES IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF THOUGHT AND ACTION, p.94.  113.  Spinoza i s arguing that i t i s necessarily desirable to give up one's reactive attitudes, and therefore that i t i s conceivable that one should do so; Strawson i s saying that i t i s inconceivable that one should do so, or at least 'practically inconceivable', and that i f one could do so, i t would be an undesirable thing to do anyway. How i s such a dispute to be settled? Spinoza and Strawson both retreat towards the p r i o r i , but this i s misguided, as what people want, or the sort of l i f e that i s good for them, i s something which i t i s possible to ascertain only by self-observation and the sensitive observation of others.  I t i s an empirical issue. What i s available to  Spinozists and to Strawson i s to shed more l i g h t on what the alternative views e n t a i l .  In doing this one can try to persuade the l i s t e n e r that one  or the other view i s more attractive.  What i t i s possible for human beings  to f e e l or not feel towards one another i s i n this instance a matter of empirical psychology.  What the philosopher can do i s to show what the alter-  native: views r e a l l y are, and to provide reasons for believing that one of the styles of l i f e i s preferable to the other, whilst conceding that these reasons w i l l not have the compelling nature of l o g i c a l reasons for believing something. I f we can focus attention away from the arguments for the necessity of one view or the other we can then see where the real interest of the debate l i e s .  The basic dichotomy seems to be t h i s .  Spinoza believed that emotions  are a stumbling block to people i n their quest, for true happiness, which i s what people r e a l l y want. He saw a l i f e of reason as the ultimate goal which people ought to pursue.  Strawson, on the contrary, believes that the reactive  attitudes are a natural expression of our humanity, and that even i f we could give them up, this would not be desirable, as i t would mean that a l l personal relationships would break down, these being an extremely important part of our lives without which l i f e would r e a l l y be not worth l i v i n g .  114.  Spinoza, we r e c a l l , believed that there are distinctions to be made within the realm of the passions. The most important of these i s that between the passions of joy and those of sorrow. harmful, the former, useful.  The l a t t e r are i n themselves  This i s basically because the former heighten  our level of a c t i v i t y and also lead us to do things which w i l l have consequences conducive to heightened a c t i v i t y .  Other things being equal, even i f one i s  not a Spinozist, i t i s clear that the feelings of joy are better than those of sorrow.  When one i s feeling 'negative' emotion, i t hurts, and, i f one i s re-  f l e c t i v e , one would almost certainly wish to be free of the emotion.  Spinoza  had special Spinozist reasons for recommending the abandonment of the feelings or rather passions of joy - to do with his rather esoteric notion of a c t i v i t y . He also had more down to earth arguments for the d e s i r a b i l i t y of becoming free of the 'negative' emotions.  The position to be taken up here i s one which defends the d e s i r a b i l i t y of continued proneness to positive reactive attitudes, whilst rejecting that of s u s c e p t i b i l i t y to the negative ones.  I t i s to be contended that this  position i s able to cope with the main point made by Strawson i n defence of both kinds of reactive attitude.  I t i s essentially a modified Spinozist  position.  Strawson's main argument i n defence of the d e s i r a b i l i t y of being subject to reactive attitudes i s that they are somehow required for genuine human relationships.  In a world where, for example, nothing one could do could  ever cause anyone to feel resentful one would be starved, i t i s alleged, of real human contact. As human contact i s what makes l i f e worthwhile, a world which did not allow for this would be h o r r i b l e , and without any worth. I f one could not have genuine human contact one would be leading an empty l i f e .  115.  In fact a l l that i s needed i s the weaker claim, that a l i f e with human contact i s l i k e l y to be more worthwhile than a l i f e without i t , or rather at least s u f f i c i e n t l y more worthwhile to outweigh the pain that i s caused by human contact.  The argument i s not stated i n this form by Strawson, but i t i s clear that this i s the argument which underlies the Strawsonian position on reactive attitudes.  The mistake occurs when one passes from 'Reactive attitudes are  required f o r genuine human contact, which i s obviously desirable' to 'The complete range of reactive attitudes i s required f o r genuine human contact ...'. When he i s setting up the problem about the relation between the acceptance of determinism and reactive attitudes, Strawson writes: What effect would, or should, the acceptance of the truth of a general thesis of determinism have upon these reactive attitudes? More s p e c i f i c a l l y , would, or should, the acceptance of the truth of the thesis lead to the decay or the repudiation of a l l such attitudes? Would, or should, i t mean the end of gratitude, resentment, and forgiveness; of a l l reciprocated adult loves; of a l l the essentially personal antagonisms? The argument Strawson uses i s that we hold each other morally responsible for our actions because we f e e l , i n certain circumstances offended by, or grateful for, the actions of people towards us. He argues that moral accountability comes d i r e c t l y from feelings of resentment towards anyone who displays i l l w i l l towards the person who, as a result of this display,feels resentful. Strawson implies that i f the truth of determinism i s going to have an i n h i b i t ing effect on our reactive attitudes towards each other, i t must do so to a l l of them or to none at a l l .  Ibid. p.80.  This i s a mistake.  116.  It i s not controversial to say that the negative reactive attitudes such as resentment are i n themselves unpleasant. When one feels resentful i t i s uncomfortable and nearly always i n h i b i t i n g .  One way of getting over  one's feelings of resentment towards someone is_by seeing the person's behaviour as being the outcome of a long series of causes. The main reason for hanging on to resentment stems from people's fears about what i t would be l i k e i f one's nearest and dearest would never feel resentment towards oneself.  One has the impression that i f , no matter what one did or said to  someone, the person would never feel resentment, then the person would not r e a l l y care about one.  The basic attraction of maintaining the ' i n s t i t u t i o n '  of feelings of resentment and jealousy and a host of other unpleasant f e e l ings i s that we see them as being the inevitable accompaniments of genuine positive feelings f o r someone. There i s a tendency to believe, for example, that i f a husband cannot be made jealous by his wife's sleeping with another man, then he cannot r e a l l y love her. What i s r e a l l y important to human relationships i s the a b i l i t y of the parties to feel for each other's position. What we seek i s to be loved and understood i n a way other than a purely i n t e l l e c t u a l one.  We have a very profound tendency to believe that i t i s  impossible to have these positive aspects of a human relationship without the accompanying negative ones.  Let us examine this b e l i e f b r i e f l y .  The two paradigm cases of reactive attitudes which w i l l be discussed now are resentment and gratitude.  The claim t a c i t l y made by Strawson i s that i t  i s impossible that we could be prone to feelings of gratitude without being prone to those of resentment.  I t i s admittedly impossible to prove that this  i s incorrect; by the same token i t i s impossible to prove that i t i s correct. A l l that can be done i s to t r y to explain why we feel these things when we do, and thereby to spell out what either answer to the problem of their  117.  independence entails.  Feelings of resentment usually occur when one's s e l f -  esteem i s offended by someone.  I t i s when one has expectations of someone  which are not realized, that one feels resentful. When does one f e e l g r a t i t ude? I t i s usually when someone has done more for one than one expected.  To  feel resentful, i t i s necessary that one see one's feelings of 'self-specialness' injured; however, i n the case of gratitude, i t i s not necessary that one should have these feelings at a l l . The essential asymmetry between resentment and gratitude i s that the former, though not the l a t t e r presupposes expectations of the other person.  Although i t i s quite true that gratitude i s approp-  r i a t e where expectations are exceeded, and resentment where they are f a l l e n short of, there i s the following difference between them, which I s h a l l repeat for emphasis - namely that one can f e e l gratitude towards somebody even though one had no expectations about that person, whereas without expectations one could not f e e l resentful.  Let us suppose that we manage to keep our expectations about people down to a ndnimum. This would involve not expecting, or taking i t for granted, though the two are not quite the same thing, that even those we love w i l l show especial concern about our well-being.  I f we could do t h i s , then i t  would be possible for us to be prone to feelings of gratitude, whilst not being s i m i l a r l y prone to resentment.  Could we ever achieve this state?  One reason for answering this question i n the negative stems from the b e l i e f , held by Spinoza as w e l l as Strawson, that the passions either stand or f a l l together.  Spinoza certainly believed that i t i s possible, though  very d i f f i c u l t , for a person to attain a state where he had no expectations about the good or i l l w i l l of others towards himself, and i t does seem to be right that we could, at least minimize our expectations i n this respect.  118.  However, Spinoza believed that the state one has to reach i f one i s to be free i s one where one i s independent of the i l l and good w i l l of others towards oneself. In this state one would not be subject to negative feelings which are unpleasant, certainly destructive and often i n h i b i t i n g , but one would also not f e e l the positive human emotions.  This i s seen by Spinoza as  an automatic accompaniment of seeing things 'under the aspect of eternity'.  The apparent i n e v i t a b i l i t y of giving up one's positive emotions i n the face of seeing things 'sub specie aeternitas' turns many people away from accepting Spinozism, f o r we are very reluctant to countenance a theory which advocates the abandonment of human sympathy, or human love, which most people do f e e l to be an essential part of the human situation.  The following plausible argument f o r this radical Spinozism might lead a reader to reject the whole enterprise and revert to a Strawsonian acceptance of a l l reactive attitudes.  I f one should (rationally) give up feeling  resentful towards others when they injure one, because being resentful imp l i e s that one thinks they were causally special i n one's being injured, when nothing ever i s , i n the i n f i n i t e causal chain which precedes any event, then i t would be equally i r r a t i o n a l for one to f e e l grateful when someone does something for one.  Spinoza could have gladly accepted this argument,  as he advocated the abandonment of a l l reactive attitudes, but most people feel that any b e l i e f which makes i t i r r a t i o n a l to continue feeling positive reactive attitudes must be wrong.  So perhaps we should just reject the ante-  cedent of the argument, as Strawson would do.  In any event, the argument  requires some examination.  Strawson would reject the antecedent of the above on the grounds that  119.  feeling resentful i s quite appropriate i n situations where someone has demonstrated h i s i l l w i l l towards oneself, provided the person i s not, say, a small c h i l d or a mentally i l l individual, and that the truth or f a l s i t y of determinism i s irrelevant to this.  Spinoza believed that the truth of deter-  minism l o g i c a l l y commits one to accepting that having passions i s i r r a t i o n a l . Strawson believes that the truth of determinism i s irrelevant to the appropriacy of having reactive attitudes; he does not allow for questions to arise concerning the actual r a t i o n a l i t y of having such attitudes.  They seem to be  both wrong i n t h e i r views of the connection between the truth of determinism and our having reactive attitudes, which, we r e c a l l , are a sub-species of passion.  I f one does believe i n the truth of determinism, then i t i s that much easier f o r one to avoid feeling the negative reactive attitudes.  However,  a b e l i e f i n determinism i n no way warrants that one w i l l be less prone to any feelings.  What i s required, i f one i s to become free of certain negative  reactive attitudes to people who have injured one i s that one understand the causes of one's injury.  I f one i s able to discover the causes of the offend-  ing person's behaviour, then i t i s very l i k e l y that one's negative reactive attitudes towards the person would be either eliminated, or at least reduced i n t h e i r intensity.  I t i s certainly rational to seek to understand the causes  of people's behaviour when they do things to hurt one. for t h i s .  There are two reasons  The f i r s t i s that doing so i s therapeutically b e n e f i c i a l , as i t  helps one to escape the i n h i b i t i n g and destructive influence of these feelings i t . helps one to get on with what one wants to do.  Secondly, there i s a sense  i n which i t i s always rational to seek out the reasons and causes of events. In this sense of 'rational' i t i s almost tautologous that i t i s rational to increase one's understanding of what goes on.  120. As far as the positive reactive attitudes are concerned, there i s certainly not the same 'therapeutic' pressure for seeking out the causes, of really understanding, why someone has done something kind for us.  This i s  basically because the positive reactive attitudes are, as a rule, pleasant and uninhibiting.  Of course, i n the other sense of 'rational', i t i s obvious  that i t would be irrational for us not to seek out the causes of people's amicable behaviour towards us, no less than i t is rational to seek to understand hostile behaviour.  These remarks can be connected up with Strawson's  'objective attitude'.  When one is seeking to understand the causes of someone's adverse behaviour, one i s not, typically, reacting to the behaviour.Although believing i n the truth of determinism does not mean that one w i l l never react to one's being injured by someone, i t does make i t easier not to do so, as i t i s a prerequisite for seeking to understand the causes of the behaviour i n question. But What i s really important here i s that one appreciate what the causes are, rather than simply to acknowledge that there are causes.  It isn't the truth of determinism alone which makes having negative reactive attitudes irrational, although believing i n determinism could certainly make i t easier for one to overcome one's bondage to negative reactive attitudes.  As believing i n determinism i s not by i t s e l f sufficient  to help limit one's negative reactive attitudes, so i t isn't vis-a-vis the positive ones.  What i s suggested here is trying to see the hostile things people do to one i n their broadest perspective.  It i s desirable to do this, because doing  so enables one to shake off the undesirable burden of certain negative reactive  121.  attitudes.  Insofar as one i s able to control how broad a perspective one  sees things i n , there i s not the same incentive to see the pleasant things people do for one i n this perspective, although this i s certainly what a S p i n o z i s t i c a l l y free person would undoubtedly do.  As there are very few people who are, could be, or would want to be, completely free i n this sense, an intermediate proposal, between Strawsonian abandonment to the complete range of reactive attitudes and Spinozist comg  plete abandonment of them, has been tentatively suggested.  In propounding this hypothesis about the r a t i o n a l i t y of rejecting or accepting the d e s i r a b i l i t y of having certain reactive attitudes, one must not forget the Strawsonian point that deciding to abandon or have reactive attitudes i s not just a straightforward decision about what one i s going to do, where one has two choices, for the reactive attitudes are reactions. One can, however, through time, work to change the way one i s going to react to situations of a l l sorts, including to the good or i l l - w i l l of one's fellow human-beings. To undertake this i s , nevertheless, a very radical a c t i v i t y , which can be achieved, i f at a l l , only with d i f f i c u l t y . ,  A problem with pursuing this approach to one's l i f e i s that i t i s very easy to confuse not having the negative reactive attitudes with suppressing them. One of the reasons for feeling rather sceptical about people who talk of not feeling resentful when someone close lets them down i s that we automatically suspect that the person who i s claiming not to f e e l resentment i s r e a l l y b i t i n g his or her l i p and i s simply suppressing negative feelings.  The above argument raises a number of deep issues which time and space do not permit the author to discuss f u l l y i n this essay.  122.  A l l that can be said here i s thai" the two are different, and should not be confused, for the suppression of one's feelings i s certainly one of the main causes of people's feeling depressed.  Spinoza advocated the t o t a l abandonment of passions as a prerequisite for human freedom.  Strawson has argued that we are inevitably subject to  some passions, namely the reactive attitudes.  In this chapter we have i n -  vestigated the r i v a l claims and have produced a proposal for people f o r whom complete 'freedom' i s out of range.  The substance of the compromise i s  to acknowledge the Strawsonian point that our feelings are of great importance to us, and that giving them up i s not a matter to be taken l i g h t l y .  On  the other hand, the suggestion that we cannot give up at least some of them, and moreover that i t would not be reasonable to do so, i s rejected.  I f one  accepts the Spinozist point that some of our emotions are harmful because they hurt us and others, then there i s a good prima facie case for trying to avoid our subjection to them." I t has also been argued, though somewhat tentatively, that i t i s possible but very d i f f i c u l t , to achieve t h i s , without at the same time renouncing the positive reactive attitudes, which are i n themselves 'useful' to us and others. There has deliberately been no discussion of the further step advocated by Spinoza, of giving up even one's positive passions. This can be avoided, without jeopardy to the rest of the discussion, because i t i s , as i t were, the f i n a l jewel on the crown of Spinoza's philosophy, and involves the radically altered state of consciousness which i s called 'the i n t e l l e c t u a l love of God', which i s not a subject for c r i t i c a l discussion i n an essay such as t h i s , mainly because of the d i f f i c u l t y of understanding what such a state would be l i k e .  123.  SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  Curley, Edwin, M.  Spinoza's Metaphysics: An Essay i n Interpretation. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.  Feuer, Lewis, S.  Spinoza and the Rise of Liberalism, Boston: Beacon Press.  Hampshire, Stuart.  Spinoza.  Hampshire, Stuart  Spinoza and the Idea of Freedom, B r i t i s h Academy Proceedings, 1960.  Joachim, Harold H.  A Study of the Ethics of Spinoza, Oxford: Press.  Kashap, S. Paul.  (Editor) Studies i n Spinoza, C r i t i c a l and Interpretative Essays, Berkeley: University of C a l i f o r n i a Press.  Parkinson, George H.R. Spinoza's Theory of Knowledge, Oxford: Press.  Clarendon  Clarendon  Pollock, S i r Frederick. Spinoza: His Life and Philosophy, London: Kegan Paul and Co. Roth, Leon.  Spinoza, London: Ernest Benn Limited.  Roth, Leon.  Spinoza, Descartes and Maimonides, New York: Russell.  Strawson, Peter F.  Freedom and Resentment, B r i t i s h Academy Proceedings, 1962.  Wolfson, Harry, A.  The Philosophy of Spinoza, Unfolding the Latent Process of His Reasoning, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.  Russell and  WORKS OF SPINOZA  Gebhardt,  Carl.  .(Editor)  Spinoza Opera, Heidelberg.  S t i r l i n g , Amelia, H., § White, W. Hale. (Editors and translators) Spinoza Selections, Charles Scribner's and Sons. Wolf, A.  (Editor and translator) London: F. Cass.  The Correspondence of Spinoza  

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