Translations by Samuel Shirley



Translations by Samuel Shirley

Edited, with Introduction and Notes, by

Michael L. Morgan

Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Indianapolis I Cambridge



Baruch Spinoza: 1 632-1677

Copyright © 2002 by Hackett Publ ishing Company, Inc.

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Spinoza, Benedictus de, 1 6 32-1 677. [Works. Engl ish . 2002] Complete works/Spinoza; translated by Samuel Shirley and others;

edited, with introduction and notes, by Michael L. Morgan. p . cm.

Includes bibl iographical references and index. ISBN 0-87220-620-3 (cloth) I. Philosophy. I. Shirley, Samuel, 1 9 1 2- II . Morgan, Michael L., 1 944-

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Translator’s Preface Introduction Chronology Editorial Notes


Treatise o n the Emendation of the Intellect Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being Principles of Cartesian Ph ilosophy and Metaphysical Thoughts Ethics Theological-Political Treatise Hebrew Grammar Political Treatise The Letters


vii ix

xvii xxi

3 1 108 2 1 3 383 584 676 7 5 5

96 1





In these translations, I have adhered to the Gebhardt Heidelberg text of 1 926 ex­ cept as noted. Leaving the task of annotation and exposition in the hands of more competent scholars, I shall confine myself in this Preface to a personal odyssey, a sort of voyage around Spinoza.

At Oxford I do not remember that I read anyth ing by Spinoza and very little about him. But that l ittle interested me strangely. So I attended the lectures given by H. H . Joachim, without much understanding. These lectures were delivered in the late afternoon, and as the sun streamed through New College windows onto the gray head of that venerable and beloved figure, it was for me an aesthetic ex­ perience rather than an intellectual enl ightenment.

But the seed was sown. Many years later, being entrusted with the task oflec­ turing to university extension adult classes, I chose Spinoza’s Ethics, using the edi­ tion translated by Boyle. That edition was prefaced by an inspiring in troduction by Santayana. But there were a number of passages in the translation that puzzled me, and when I sought out the original Latin in a l ibrary, I found that they were mistranslations. Writing to the publisher, I poin ted out four such passages and pro­ vided my own translations. In due course I received a courteous reply, confirm­ ing my criticisms and promising to incorporate my corrections in the next reprint. A check for £5 was enclosed (it should be remembered that £5 was worth far more in the 1950s than i t is now). The next edition appeared with my corrections.

Now I had tasted – justa s ip- of the heady wine of authorship. Ambition grew; could I not improve on the Boyle translation? My offer to do so was courteously refused by the publisher as commercially unviable.

In 1 972, at the age of 60, I resigned my post as headmaster of a grammar school . G ifted with the abundant leisure of retirement, I turned my mind to a translation ofSpinoza’s Ethics. This I duly offered to some respected publ ishers in the United Kingdom. They declined, invariably with courteous regrets, but one of them, for­ tunately, advised me to try Hackett Publ ishing Company in the United States.

So began my long and happy connection with Hackett. My translation of the Ethics came out in 1982. Encouraged by a few laudatory reviews, I turned my at­ tention to the Theological-Political Treatise, a work for which I have a fervent ad­ miration . Thereafter, gently cajoled by Lee Rice, to whom I rema in vastly indebted, I con tinued with the rest of Spinoza’s works with the exception of the Hebrew Grammar and the Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, which was originally written in Dutch. The results are here before you.




viii Translator’s Preface

A word on Spinoza’s Latinity. This was criticized by some earlier scholars, per­ haps because of h is modest admission in Letter 1 3 , where he seeks the help of h is more accompl ished friends in polishing his hastily composed Principles orCarte­ sian Philosophy. Unsure of h imself as he may have been, he nevertheless suc­ ceeded in forging for himself a powerful l inguistic instrument, wonderfully lucid, devoid of all rhetoric, and with a peculiar charm of its own. I t was an appropriate medium of expression for one who, in much of the Ethics, was nearing the l imits of what it is that can be put into words.

I could not have persisted with the task of translation without a steady convic­ tion of its worthwhileness. To my mind, although Spinoza l ived and thought long before Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and the startl ing impl ications of quantum theory, he had a vision of truth beyond what is normally granted to human beings. He was relentless in pursuit of a goal that was basically ethical and rel igious, ridding h imself of the anthropocentric bias that is inevitably innate in human beings and manifested in their rel igious beliefs. His conclusions did not d ismay him, as they did so many of his contemporaries when they realized the full impl ications. Even Henry Oldenburg, h is correspondent for many years, in h is later letters was ap­ palled when he came to see the full implications of Spinoza’s radical th inking. But Spinoza boldly looked reality in the face and, far from being discouraged at what he saw, drew from it a spiritual sustenance, an elevation of mind that sup­ ported him all his life. It is th is aspect ofSpinozism that is captured in the title of Errol Harris’ book Salvation from Despair. Such, then, are the considerations, purely personal, that have induced me to undertake this lengthy task.

Finally, while I have never contributed to the rich field of Spinozan exegesis, I venture to share with readers an idea that continues to occur to me, one that may be capable of elaboration by other scholars. Genuine artistic creativity seems to us a mysterious business. Many writers, poets, painters, and composers have tried to indicate, with varying success, what happens in this process. They say that they do not know what they are doing or are about to do. They are, as it were, possessed. My own favorite illustration is Book IV of the Aeneid, where Vergil becomes so absorbed in the creation of h is Dido character that the stammering Aeneas cuts a very unheroic figure; yet he should be the flawless hero, the prototype of his al­ leged descendant Augustus. Can the essence of God be seen as the source of the ill-understood phenomenon that we call artistic creativity? In the “conatus” ofhu­ man beings, a conaius that derives from God’s potentia, do we see a shadow, an image, of God’s creativity, finding expression most markedly in the process of artis­ tic creativity?

I conclude with a tribute to my wife, who heroically endured for many years my preoccupation with Spinoza.

Samuel Shirley




Reading the works of Spinoza, one can be overwhelmed by a sense of abstract rigor and detachment. They may seem to some readers the product of an almost mechanical mental l ife. This appearance notwithstanding, I am inclined to as­ cribe to Spinoza a romantic set of virtues. He is among thinkers extraordinarily creative and novel ; his thinking is marked by a marvelous intensity and focus; and yet his deepest commitments are to the most embracing unity and sense of com­ prehensiveness that one can find in the tradition of Western philosophy. In short, Spinoza’s writings and h is thought are marked by a kind of heroism that is rare and beautiful -even breathtaking.

We are tempted to think that the notion of perspective or points of view, so cru­ cial to the world of art, was not of importance to philosophy until Kant and Ger­ man Ideal ism made it so. Kant, it is said, taught us what metaphYSiCS could and could not accomplish by confining its investigations to the viewpoint of human ex­ perience and then went on to distinguish between the detached point of view of the scientific enquirer and the engaged point of view of the moral agent. From those beginnings, German Idealism and its twentieth-century legacy made the notion of perspective or point of view central to philosophical accounts of human existence and human experience, from Fichte, Schelling, and Kant to Schopen­ hauer and Nietzsche, to Husserl, Heidegger, and beyond. And with this legacy came a series of stmggles, between the natural and the human sciences, between exis­ tentialism and scientific philosophy, between relativism and objectivism, and more.

But perspective was at the center of Spinoza’s system. H is th inking shows a pas­ sion for unity and totality, coupled with a scrupulous fidelity to the integrity of the individual particular. There is no parochialism in Spinoza. His commitment to the progress of scientific enquiry into the natural world belied any such l imitation in behalf of his cognitive goals. In every way, in every dimension of our lives, Spinoza saw the common; he saw unity and wholeness. At the same time his allegiance to the univell>ality of the ethical l ife and its virtues did not annul the personal per­ spective of human experience. For him life was always a struggle against our finite l imitations of perspective and particularity. Life was not life without such l imita­ tions, but neither could life be what it could be if we were satisfied with them. The world was of necessity filled with particular objects, but they existed within a Single order. We are among those objects, and our goal is to do what we can, in knowledge and conduct, to l ive with our particularity and yet transcend it. Spinoza was fully aware of the necessity and the complexity of human pell>pective; he knew what it





meant to the hopes for scientific knowledge, for the burdens of religious, moral , and political confl ict, and for the possibility of a truly blessed life. In a certain sense, per­ spective is the fulcrum on which all Spinoza’s thinking turns.

Spinoza l ived in a world distant from our own. No amount of h istorical deta il and reconstruction can adequately place us in the complex world of Western Europe in the seventeenth century. So much was new and yet so much was old. Spinoza was immersed in all of it, in a world that was, by virtue of its economic and geograph ical situation, at a crossroads. Spinoza knew about rel igious ortho­ doxies and about rel igious reform; he knew about traditional culture and novel­ ties; he knew about old texts and new thinking, abou t the tensions between conservative pol i tical practice and l iberal hopes and aspirations; and he knew about the risks- persecution and possibly death. To him, reason in us was akin to reason in nature; one order permeated everything and enabled us, as rational beings, to understand ourselves and the whole and to l ive peacefully and calmly within it. This was the key to science, to ethics, and to religion. It was the key to all of l ife. It was his goal to show, clarify, explain, and teach it- to the benefit of all humankind.

If the key that unlocked the secrets of possibil ity for us as human beings was unity and totality, the wholeness and order of all things, then the reality that grounded the aspiration to this unity and order was the fact that each of us, as nat­ ural objects and as human beings, was precisely located in that unity and order; each of our places was determined in every way, and we were thereby endowed with a very particular point of view on the whole. In a letter to Henry Oldenburg of November 1 665 (Ep32), as he attempts to clarify the natu re of parts and wholes, Spinoza provides us with a famous image. Each of us is, he tells us, l ike a l ittle worm in the blood. Natu re is l ike the en tire circulatory system or l ike the entire organism; each of us lives within that system or organism, interacting with only a small part of it and experiencing only a very l imited region. Even if we grasp the fact that there is a total system and understand its principles to some degree, our experience is so circumscribed and narrow that we are bound to make mistakes about our understanding of the system and our place in it. Myopia confines our understanding, no matter how we seek to overcome i t. And we do. We aspire to experience every detail, every event, and every item as part of the whole, to see it from the perspective of the whole rather than from our own narrow poin t of view. Our success is l imited; we can free ourselves from prejudices and blindness but only to a degree. We can see ourselves and act in terms of the whole, but only within l imits. Our goal is to free ourselves from the distortions and corruptions of our finitude, to become free, active, and rational . These are all the same, and are aspects of becoming l ike the whole, which is what the tradition dignifies with the title “God” or “divine” or “the H ighest Good.”

I do not believe that Spinoza saw th is challenge and th is sort of l ife as an es­ cape from the world. H istory was riddled with strife and confl ict, with prejudice and persecution. Life could be better; i t could be harmonious with nature rather than a struggle with i t. Rel igious and pol itical institutions could be renovated to



Introduction xi

serve human purposes, and human l ife could be refashioned as well . The an­ cient Stoics had understood that l ife in harmony with nature was the best human l ife, and that in order to achieve such harmony, one had to understand nature. Natural philosophy or science was both the h ighest achievement of human rational ity and the key to l iving the best human life. Spinoza, I believe, fully sym­ pathized with the broad strokes of th is program . Like the Stoics, he revered rea­ son and our rational capaci ties. Like them, he saw our reason and the reason in nature as intimately l inked. Like them, he saw natural philosophy as the key to opening the door of the h ighest good and the way through that door as leading to tranquility of spirit, harmony with nature, and peace. To be sure, Spinoza was a modern . Natural ph ilosophy meant the developments and achievements of the new science, conducted in the spirit of Descartes and others, grounded in math­ ematics and a priori reasoning about natural events and causal relations. But if the science was modem and mathematical and the metaphysics constructed as a foundation for that science, the overall role for it and its goals were very simi­ lar to those of the ancient Stoics: un ion with the whole of nature through knowl­ edge of the natural order.

Moreover, Spinoza would call the goal of th is project- the human project­ “blessedness.” He did not shy away from religious terminology, the vocabulary of the Judaism and the Christianity with which he was so familiar. Indeed, it is a re­ markable feature of his temperament that his th inking never totally rejected reli­ gious themes, beliefs, and vocabulary as much as it sought to refine and refashion them. One might say th is about virtually all of the great seventeenth-century philosophers, that they did not decisively reject the rel igious world out of which they emerged and in which they l ived. They sought to retool that world, to come to a new understanding of rel igiOUS l ife and to revise rel igiOUS concepts and ter­ minology. Even those, l ike Hobbes and Spinoza, who were censored and vil ified as atheists, did not reject rel igion . More correctly, we, from our perspective, can appreciate their philosophical goals as epistemological, ethical, and rel igiOUS all at once. Spinoza, in these terms, was a religious visionary, a moral innovator, and a philosopher-scientist, not one bu t all . His passion for unity and wholeness made any fragmentation of this conglomerate undesirable, but the reality was that in h is day, given the way that these and other domains ofl ife were lived and experienced, any such fragmentation was quite impossible.

Hence, Spinoza’s scientific philosophy and ethics aimed at tranquil ity in a con­ flicted and turbulent world; they did not seek escape from that world but rather a renovation of it. His was a world view for life, not for escape from l ife. It recom­ mended changes in one’s behavior and one’s beliefs, practices, and institu tions. What i t did not recommend was escape from life. I t was, as he put i t in the Ethics, a meditation on l ife and not on death.

One could seek the perspective of eternity in order to redeem the unavoidable perspective of finitude, but, as l iving and natural beings, we could not escape the latter and, as human beings, we should not avoid the former. This is the gist of Spinoza’s philosophy, h is eth ics, and h is rel igion. The key to grasping th is picture



xii Introduction

of our hopes and our realities is reason , that abil ity within us that enables us to understand and make sense of our world and ourselves.

Spinoza presents us with the total ity of his system in one work: the Ethics. He also left us with a prel iminary version of that work, as well as two treatises that consti­ tute introductions to h is philosophy, and writings that are examples of appl ica­ tions of that work- to pol i tics and rel igion. Because these do not completely agree with each other, all of this makes it hard to grasp his ph ilosophical system.

To me Spinoza is remarkable for h is creativity. He was an heir of a philosophi­ cal terminology that came down to the seventeenth century from antiquity, the recovery of ancient philosophies and texts, and its presence in the medieval philo­ sophical tradition. He did not invent terms like “substance,” “attribute,” “mode,” “affect,” “essence,” “necessity,” and “eternity.” He was taught the terms, how they were used, what they meant, and more. And he was taught how they figured in the thinking of Descartes, who was, for Spinoza, the bridge between the philosophical tradition and the new philosophy and new science. What Spinoza did was to take the tradition, Descartes’ accompl ishment, and h is own passionate commitments and blend them into a new whole, a new worldview. At one level, it is an extension and modification of Cartesian metaphysics; at another, it has its own character and demands a view of the natural order very different from that of Descartes.

Spinoza has a relentless mind. His commitment to reason involves a commit­ ment to consistency and rigor. This is not to say that he does not allow h is reason to leap to conclusions that seem strange and even recalcitrant to us, and i t is not to say that he never makes mistakes. What I mean is that he can be understood as starting with certain concepts whose meanings are clear and correct to him and pushing the consequences of accepting those concepts. He can also be under­ stood as observing what Descartes had achieved and yet as believing that Descartes had fuiled to follow reason to its relentless conclusions because of prej­ udices, biases to which Descartes had clung and which Spinoza saw as distortions. In the case of the concept of substance, for example, Spinoza thought that he and Descartes largely agreed about what substance means, but he thought too that if so, there was no justification for treating minds and bodies as substances. More­ over, if the principle of sufficient reason was foundational for scientific enquiry and if the natural world and even eternal truths were created by God, then a deep contingency would lie at the heart of nature and human knowledge. And even if one were to treat the physical world as a collection of bodies that causally inter­ act and are capable of being understood by scientific enquiry, why exclude the mind and mental occurrences from similar understanding? Is it not only a preju­ dice grounded in traditional theological commitments to isolate the mind or the soul, allow it special privileges, and grant it special features? Is it not more con­ sistent with our understanding of nature, science, and the human good to treat the mind and mental phenomena just as one would treat physical ones and yet to do so in a nonreductivist way-that is, without simply treating mental events as iden tical in some sense with physiological ones?



Introduction xiii

While it may be a bit of a caricature, it is helpful to see Spinoza as seeking a middle ground regarding the treatment of mind, soul, and mental phenomena in a world where the physical sciences are beginning to take shape in new and ex­ citing ways. On the one hand, the Cartesian strategy could be seen as having iso­ lated the mind in order to save the in tegrity of certain theological commitments, such as the belief in free will and in the immortality of the soul. Science could not study the mind and mental phenomena in the same way i t could study the physical world, using mathematical reasoning and applying it to causality, mo­ tion, and so forth. The strategy of materialists l ike Hobbes, on the other hand, could be seen as reducing mental phenomena to physical ones- that is, basically to motions of various kinds-and defining mental processes and experiences in terms of motions of physical bodies. What Spinoza achieves, its problems notwith­ standing, is a middle road. He constructs a view of nature as a whole in which physical events and mental events are both understandable, in which they are re­ lated but separate, and in which the sciences of the physical world and ofthe men­ tal world are related but distinct. I t may be that Kant, Dilthey, and Neo-Kantian developments and later debates abou t the distinction between the natural sci­ ences and the human sciences look l ike they are built on Cartesian foundations; there is also a sense in which they build on Spinozist ones as well. To the degree that the social sciences and psychology are conceived as requiring a scientific treatment of mental phenomena, they are Spinoza’s heirs, whether or not that sci­ entific treatment is conceived of as similar to or different from the methodology of the natural sciences. Indeed, there are post-Kantian attempts by Wilfrid Sell­ ars, John McDowell, and others to distinguish the domain of the mental and the “space of reasons” from the physical or the “space of causes.” These can even be treated as a development of Spinoza and h is commitment to demystifying the mind and the body and to making both accessible to rational understanding and thereby, in a sense, to human control.

There are two keys to this Spinozist achievement. The first is to conceive of the totality of the natural world as both the sum of all facts- that is, all things in all oftheir determinations-and the ordering force that determines all those facts to be just the ways they are. To conceive of nature as God and as substance gives the natural world the unity and orderl iness that Spinoza believes science aspires to understand and makes it the case that everyth ing we do and are finds its rational place within the totality of nature. The second key to Spinoza’s system concerns the “channels” whereby the single ordering force or principle (“God”) is the single active causal determining force of all there is, and actually determines things and their states in the world. At the h ighest level, where these “channels” are virtually identical to God or the one and only substance but are nonetheless wholly distinct from each other, Spinoza calls these “attributes” of substance, and while he thinks that in principle the one and only one substance has all the at­ tributes that there are, there are but two that determine the world in which we l ive: thought and extension. In short, all the modes- things and their states-that make up the natural world are modes of though t and extension, and while schol­ ars have debated exactly how the distinction between these attributes should be



xiv Introduction

understood, I believe that what Spinoza means is that we understand the single array of facts in the world by using both the physical sciences and the psycholog­ ical sciences. In the fumous Proposition 7 of Part II of the Ethics and in the schol ium to that proposition, Spinoza indicates j ust th is: that the order and connection of ideas or mental phenomena is one and the same as the order and connection of physical ones. This is a proposition with countless important implications throughout the remainder of the Ethics and Spinoza’s system.

As fur as our attempts to understand the world go, then, for Spinoza these at­ tempts are self-contained and comprehensive. All worldly fucts should be exam­ ined and studied in the same way; there is a uniformity to all of nature. Mental modes interact causally with mental modes, and physical modes interact causally with physical modes. But since, strictly speaking, there is just one set of facts in nature, what this means is that these two types of scientific understanding are self-contained. We do not use physical causes to help us understand mental phe­ nomena, nor do we use mental causes to help us understand physical phenom­ ena. Moreover, in a sense the sciences of both physical and mental phenomena apply to all things in the world, and this means that Spinoza must show in what sense even inanimate things have mental or ideational correlates and what dis­ tingUishes animals and most preeminently human beings among worldly things- that is, what we mean when we say they have minds or souls.

I do not mean to suggest that on all these matters Spinoza was clear and lucid throughout his career and never changed his mind. A careful study ofthe early Trea­ tise on the Emendation of the Intellect and Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, for example, shows how his thinking developed into the shape we find in the Ethics, and we are helped to some degree in understanding how Spinoza’s ideas developed by some of the letters in his correspondence. But the basic char­ acter of his thinking, I believe, did not change from the time around h is excom­ munication in 1 656 until his death in 1 677. Throughout h is life Spinoza was always committed to finding a way to unite science, ethics, and religion and to articulating a metaphysical system that would make the whole of nature, human life, and reli­ gious themes comprehensible. His system was an attempt to work out what made nature unified and an ordered whole and then to see what that picture impl ied.

Between the covers of this collection you will find the totality ofSpinoza’s writings, all that we now have come to th ink that he left us. If this is a big book, it is also a small one, particularly when compared to the total written corpus of other philoso­ phers, such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. Given Spin­ oza’s impact on subsequent Western philosophy and Westem intellectual culture in genernl, so brilliantly surveyed for example in the recent work ofJonathan Israel (Radical Enlightenment [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 200 I J), h is written legacy is surprisingly spare. Nonetheless, its richness is evident everywhere.

Furthermore, the corpus of Spinoza’s works contains a fuscinating diversity. There is at its center, of course, the presentation of his system, the Ethics. Begun



Introduction xv

in the early I 660s, th is work was probably completed about 1 674. It is h is lifework, the centerpiece of what came to be known as Spinozism, and one of the great ac­ compl ishments of world philosophy and Westem intellectual culture.

In addition to the Ethics and his philosoph ical system, Spinoza left us what we might call four different introductions to that work and that system. The first is h is handbook on Cartesian philosophy, first composed as a guide to tutoring a stu­ dent in Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy and useful for what it shows us about Spinoza’s early appreciation of Descartes. The second is h is youthful, unfinished work, the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect. Largely a work on method and definition, th is short essay places Spinoza’s project within an ethical context. The third introduction is the unfinished Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being, which is a prel iminary attempt to begin the system and which Spin­ oza set aide when he decided to turn to the early parts of the Ethics. And finally we can treat the anonymous treatise on biblical interpretation and pol itiCS, the Theological-Political Treatise, as an introductory work, insofar as i t seeks to per­ suade those with an affinity for philosophy and science how to read Scripture and understand its central ethical teaching; revise traditional interpretations of no­ tions such as prophecy, law, and miracles; and appreciate the relation between church and state. What we have, then, is a mansion with four entrances, any one of which enables us to en ter the vast complex of Spinoza’s world .

Furthermore, Spinoza has given us, in the Theological-Political Treatise and in the unfinished Political Treatise, two examples of how h is system might be appl ied more fully to areas dealt with in only a cursory way in the Ethics, reli­ gion and pol i tics. To be sure, in both cases, there are al ready indications in the Ethics of how Spinoza thinks we should understand rel igious concepts and in­ stitu tions and also poli tical life. Especially in various scholia and in the appen­ dix to Part I , he notes how traditional ideas such as creation, miracles, teleology, and free will must be either revised or j ettisoned altogether. In Part IV of the Ethics, Spinoza sets out the rudiments of his contract theory and of h is views on the foundations and purposes of the state. Finally, in Part V, in the famous final propositions of the work, Spinoza defends and reinterprets what he takes to be the eternity of the mind and the goal of the ethical l ife, an ” intellectual love of God” that is blessedness itself, a goal, he says, that is as difficult as it is rare. These indications notwithstanding, the treatises on politics and religion add s ignifi­ cantly to our understanding of how Spinoza’s naturalism applies to these do­ mains of human experience.

In Chapter 7 of the Theological-Political Treatise Spinoza describes h is “his­ torical” method for interpreting Scripture. The first requ irement for any respon­ s ible reader is a study of the Hebrew language. Among Spinoza’s writings we have an unfinished treatise on Hebrew Grammar, a work that he probably began to write shortly after finishing the Theological-Political Treatise at the request of friends. The Hebrew Grammar gives us a valuable insight into what he thought that study of Hebrew should involve, Spinoza’s understanding of Latin grammar and bibl ical Hebrew, and his general approach to intellectual activity- in this case a philological and l ingu istic inqu iry.



xvi Introduction

Lastly, among the writings of Spinoza we are grateful to possess are a sampl ing of his correspondence-letters to him and many by h im. Here we are helped to understand better h is ph ilosophical and rel igious views, but we are also given valuable information about the chronology of h is works, about h is friends and as­ sociates, and about his l ife. Without these letters, we would know less about Spin­ oza the person than we currently do and less too about his thinking.

I would l ike to thank Deborah Wilkes, Jay Hullett, and Frances Hackett for the invitation to edit the first Engl ish collection of Spinoza’s works, for their friend­ ship over many years, and for the wonderful contribution to the study of ph iloso­ phy that Hackett Publ ish ing Company has made. Needless to say, we are all in the debt of Samuel Shirley, whose commitment to Spinoza and his writings has provided us with splendid translations and made this volume possible. At Hackett, Meera Dash orchestrated the production of the collection with patience and skil l . I would also l ike to thank Abigail Coyle for helping with the design of the volume. Rondo Keele, Inge Van Der Cruysse, Bieneke Heitjama, and Michal Levy assisted with matters Latin, Dutch, and Hebrew. Lee Rice generously provided an exten­ sive chronology, which we modified for this volume. Joshua Shaw assisted with the proofs; he and Lilian Yahng compiled the bulk of the Index.

There is something inspiring and noble about Spinoza’s philosophical think­ ing and his moral vision. An important feature of h is Ethics is its emphasis on rational ity and self-control; we all face the challenges of coping with the worries and the fears that fill our l ives, and yet we go on. We can learn this lesson from Spinoza’s works; we can also learn it from life. As this project comes to comple­ tion, I am thankful for those special people who have helped me to learn it- my wife, Audrey, and my daughters, Debbie and Sara.

Michael L. Morgan




1 5 36 Calvin publ ishes the Institution of the Christian Religion.

1 565 Beginning of the war of independence of the Spanish-Dutch region against Spain .

1 579 The “Union of Utrecht” establishes the United Provinces.

1 594 Publ ication of Socinus’ De Christo Servatore.

1 600? The Espinosa family emigrates from Portugal to Nantes and thence to Amsterdam.

1 603 Arminius and Gomar debate at Leiden on the questions of tolerance and freedom of the will.

1 6 1 0 Uytenbogaert, a disciple o f Arminius a n d teacher o f Oldenbarneveldt, publ ishes the Remonstrant Manifesto.

1 6 1 8 The Thirty Years War begins.

1 6 19 The Synod of Dordrecht condemns Arminianism and puts Oldenbarn­ evelt to death . The Collegiant sect is formed. Descartes is a soldier in the army of Maurice of Nassau.

1 628 Descartes is living in Holland.

1 629 18 October: Lodewijk Meyer is baptized at the Old Church in Amster- dam.

1 630 4 November: Johan Bouwmeester is bom in Amsterdam. 1 632 24 November: Birth of Baruch d’Espinosa at Amsterdam. 1 633 Papal condemnation of Galileo, who is placed under house arrest.

Descartes decides not to publ ish Le Monde.

1 638 The founding of the great Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam. Spinoza is registered as a student in the Hebrew school.

1 640 Beginning of the Engl ish civil war.

1 64 1 Descartes’ Meditationes de Prima Philo80phia i s published.

1 642 Hobbes publ ishes De Cive.




xviii Chronology

1 644 Descartes publ ished Principia Philosophiae.

1 647 Descartes’ Meditations Metaphysiques is publ ished in French transla- tion.

1 648 The Peace of Munster. Definitive establ ishment of the United Provinces.

1 649 Charles I of England is executed.

1 6 50 1 1 February: Death of Descartes. 6 November: A failed coup d’�tat by Will iam II of Orange. Jan de Witt becomes the Grand Pensioner of the Netherlands.

1 6 5 1 Beginning o f the Anglo-Dutch War. Hobbes publ ishes Leviathan. 30 March: Bouwmeester is enrolled in philosophy courses at the Uni­ versity of Leiden.

1 6 5 3 A decree b y the States General prohibits the publication a n d diffusion of Socinian works and ideas.

1 6 54 End of the Anglo-Dutch War. Spinoza begins to meet with a group of “churchless Christians’ (Pieter BaIJing, Jarig Jelles, Jan Rieuwertsz, Fran­ ciscus Van den Enden) in Amsterdam. 19 September: Meyer is enrolled as a student in philosophy at the University of Leiden.

1 6 5 6 27 July: Spinoza i s banished from the Jewish community in Amsterdam. He begins the study of humanities, Latin, philosophy, and theater at the school of the ex-Jesuit Van den Enden. 6 October: Decree of the States of Holland and of Frisia prohibiting the teaching of Cartesian ism.

1 657 The play Philedonius of Van den Enden is produced in Amsterdam. Spin­ oza is still studying with Van den Enden and may also be enrolled at the University of Leiden .

1 6 5 8 27 May: Bouwmeester receives a doctorate in medicine from the Uni­ versity of Leiden. 25 September: Meyer is enrolled in courses in medicine at Leiden. Spinoza begins work on the Treatise on the Emen­ dation of the Intellect (unfinished) .

1 659 Adriaan Koerbagh receives a doctorate in medicine from the University of Leiden.

1 660 Restoration of the Stuarts in England. Spinoza leaves Amsterdam and moves to Rijnsburg, where he is a familiar visitor among Collegiant cir­ cles. He begins work on the Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well­ Being. 19 March: Meyer receives a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Lei den. 20 March: Meyer receives a doctorate in medicine.

1 662 Founding of the Royal Society. Oldenburg is its joint secretary, and Boyle and Newton are charter members. Spinoza completes the first part of the



Chronology xix

(tripartite) Ethics. He begins work on the Principles of Cartesian Philos­ ophy and Metaphysical Thoughts.

1 663 Simon de Vries meets with Spinoza a t a meeting of the “Spinozistic Cir­ cle” in Amsterdam (Ep8). Letters 1 2 and 1 2a from Spinoza to Meyer, the latter concerning the publication of the Principles of Cartesian Philoso­ phy. Spinoza is installed at Voorburg. He there publishes the Principles of Cartesian Philosophy with Metaphysical Thoughts as appendix. 31 July: Spinoza writes to Oldenburg and introduces Petrus Serrarius. 3 August: Spinoza writes to Meyer concerning Meyer’s editorship and preface to the Principles of Cartesian Philosophy, which is published several months later.

1 664 Beginning of the (second) Anglo-Dutch War.

1 665 28 January: Spinoza’s Letter 2 1 to Blyenbergh on the interpretation of Scripture. Spinoza makes several visits to Amsterdam, where he probably visits with Meyer during March and April. 26 May: The new Amsterdam Theater opens with Meyer as its director. June: Having completed the first drafts of Parts II and III of the (tripartite) Ethics, Spinoza writes to Bouwmeester (Ep28).

1 666 10 June: Spinoza’s Letter 37 to Bouwmeester. 1 667 End of the Anglo-Dutch War. Spinoza’s Letter 40 to Jelles mentions Isaac

Vossius as a friend.

1 668 Adriaan Koerbagh’s Een Blotmlhof is published. The author is con­ demned by ecclesiastical authorities, and imprisoned on 19 July.

1 669 15 October: Adriaan Koerbagh dies in prison. 1 670 Spinoza publ ishes (anonymously and in Latin) the Theological-Political

Treatise: ecclesiastical condemnations follow. Posthumous publication of the Pensees of Pascal.

1 67 1 Spinoza is installed a tThe Hague, where he prevents (possibly at the sug­ gestion of Jan de Witt) the appearance of the vernacular edition of the Theological-Political Treatise (Ep44) .

1 672 Louis XIV invades Holland. The French army occupies Utrecht (May). William I I of Orange becomes stadtholder (July). 20 August: Jan de Witt and his brother are massacred by a mob probably inspired by Calvinist clergy.

1 673 Spinoza decl ines the chair of ph ilosophy at Heidelberg (Ep47, Ep48). Spinoza visits the military camp of the Prince de Conde. 1 3 No- vember: The French occupation of Utrecht ends. 19 July: The States of Holland publ ish a formal condemnation of the Theological­ Political Treatise and “other heretical and atheistic writings; including



xx Chronology

the works of Hobbes and the Socinians. Malebranche publ ishes the Recherche de la Write, which is accused of being of Spinozist inspi­ ration.

1 675 Spinoza completes and circulates the Ethics but decl ines to publish it. He begins work on the Political Treatise. Spinoza writes to G. H. Schuller (Epn) expressing his distrust of Leibniz.

1 676 16 January: The curator of the University of Leiden issues a new prom- ulgation aga inst Cartesianism. The Synod of The Hague orders an inqu iry into the authorship of the Theological-Political Treatise.

1 677 21 February: Death of Spinoza. His friends edit and publ ish the Opera Posthuma and Nagelate Schriften, all of whose contents are condemned by the pol itical authorities and Calvinists the following year.

1 680 22 October: Death of Bouwmeester. 1 687 Newton publ ishes the first edition of the Mathematical Principles of Nat­

ural Philosophy.

1 688 The “Glorious Revolution”: Will iam III becomes King of England.

1 689 Locke publishes his Letter on Tolerance and his Essay on Civil Govern­ ment.

1 697 In his Dictionnaire Historique et Critique, Bayle characterizes Spinoza as “un athee de systeme, etrangement vertueux.”

1 7 1 0 Leibniz publishes h is Theodicy.





Of the translations included here, all but those of the Short Treatise and the He­ brew Grammar are by Samuel Sh irley. Shirley’s Theological-Political Treatise was originally published in 1 989 by Brill and then republished by Hackett Publ ishing first in 1 998 and then recently, in a corrected version, in 200 1 . Shirley’s transla­ tions of the Ethics, the Principles of Cartesian Philosophy with Metaphysical Thoughts, the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, the Political Treatise, and The Letters were published by Hackett during the past decade. For this vol­ ume, the editor has revised and edited the notes and made minor changes in the translations, but the bulk of the writing remains as Shirley translated it. For the Short Treatise we have used the translation of A. Wolf first published in 1 9 1 0 ; it has been carefully examined by Bieneke Heitjama and Inge Van Der Cruysse and edited by the editor; Wolf used the older A manuscript of the Short Treatise and presented altemative readings from the B manuscript in notes. We follow h is de­ cisions except in a few cases and provide Spinoza’s notes as well as, on some oc­ casions, when important for the reader, altemative versions. In the case of the Hebrew Grammar, we have used the translation of Maurice j . Bloom first pub­ l ished by the Philosophical Library in 1 964. Rondo Keele checked the Bloom translation against the Gebhardt text, and some modifications have been made. The Hebrew texts have been completely revised and corrected using the Geb­ hardt and the French translation of the Hebrew Grammar. In addition, in several cases, the Engl ish has been modified and the translation corrected . An explana­ tion of the system of annotation appears before the first footnote of each work. The Chronology of Spinoza’s l ife and times is based on the chronology prepared by Lee Rice for The Letters.

For complete information about Shirley’s translations, we direct the reader to the editions of his translations published by Hackett, which also have complete notes and full in troductions by the editors of the separate texts. Of special assis­ tance are the introductions and notes of Steven Barbone and Lee Rice to The Let­ ters and the Political Treatise and those of Seymour Feldman to the Ethics and the Theological-Political Treatise. The best and most comprehensive recent biography ofSpinoza is that of Steven Nadler, Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni­ versity Press, 1 999).

A complete l ist of the translations used for this volume is as follows:




xxii Editorial Note8

Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and Ethics Spinoza, Baruch . Ethics, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, and Selected Letters. Translated by Samuel Shirley. Edited and introduced by Seymour Feldman. Indianapolis: Hackett Publ ish ing Company, 1 992.

Short Treatise Spinoza, Baruch. SpinoiZa’s Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well-Being. Translated and edited, with an introduction and commentary, by A. Wolf. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1 9 10 .

Principles o f Cartesian Philosophy and Metaphysical Thoughts Spinoza, Baruch. Principles of Cartesian Philosophy with Metaphysical Thoughts and Lodewi;k Meyer’s Inaugural Dissertation. Translated by Samuel Shirley with in­ troduction and notes by Steven Barbone and Lee Rice. Indianapol is: Hackett Pub­ l ishing Company, 1 998.

Theologicat-Political Treatise Spinoza, Baruch. Theological-Political Treatise, second edition. Translated by Samuel Shirley. Introduction by Seymour Feld­ man. Indianapolis: Hackett Publ ish ing Company, 200 1 .

Hebrew Grammar Spinoza, Baruch. Hebrew GramTlUlr [Compendium Gram­ matices Linguae-HebraeaeJ. Edited and translated, with an introduction, by Mau­ rice J . Bloom. New York: Philosophical Library, 1 964.

Political Treatise Spinoza, Baruch. Political Treatise. Translated by Samuel Shirley. In troduction and notes by Steven Barbone and Lee Rice. Indianapolis: Hackett Publ ishing Company, 2000.

The Letters Spinoza, Baruch. The Letters. Translated by Samuel Shirley. Intro­ duction and notes by Steven Barbone, Lee Rice, and Jacob Adler. Indianapolis: Hackett Publ ish ing Company, 1995 .


Works ofSpinoza CM Metaphysical Thoughts (Cogitata Metaphysica) (CMI 12 i s

Part I , Chapter 2) E Ethics (Ethica) (followed by arabic numeral for part and

in ternal references) Ep Letters (Epistolae) (followed by arabic numeral ) KV Short Treatise (Korte Verhandeling) (KVI 12/3 is Part I , Chap­

ter 2, Paragraph 3)







Editorial Notes xxiii

Principles of Cartesian Philosophy (Principia Philosophiae Cartesianae) (followed by arabic numeral for part and in ter­ nal references) Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect (Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione) (followed by arabic numeral for paragraph) Political Treatise (Tractatus Politicus) (TPI !2 is Chapter I , Paragraph 2 ) Theological-Political Treatise (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus) (followed by chapter and page number)

Works of D es cartes Med PPH Rep

Meditations (followed by arabic numeral) Principles of Philosophy Replies to Ob;ections

Internal References A Article App Appendix Ax Axiom Cor Corollary Def Definition Dem Demonstration Exp Explanation GenSchol General Schol ium Lem Lemma P Proposition Post Postulate Pref Preface Prol Prologue Schol Schol ium

Page numbers, where given for Descartes’ Meditations, are from Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, th ird edition, translated by Donald Cress (Indianapol is: Hackett, 1 993) and the Adam-Tannery (AT) edition: Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes, I I volumes, revised edition, edited by Charles Adam and Paul Tannery (Paris: Vrin 1964–76: reprinted 1996).






Scholars agree that the brief Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect (TIE) is the earliest piece of philosophical writing that we have from Spino;ta. It probably dates {rom the period immediately after his excommunication, between 1 657 and 1 660. The treatise is unfinished, and it is likely that Spino;ta set it aside as his work on the more substantial Short Treatise on God, Man, and H is Well­ Being progressed. The latter too was left unifinished. Still, these two works exhibit Spino;ta’s first attempts at a philosophical sytem, and while later books, especially the Ethics, correct and extend these early efforts, the two are valuable glimpses of his mature thought.

The TIE is often compared with Descartes’ Discourse on Method, first published in 1 636, and the comparison is apt. Indeed, Spino;ta was most likely influenced by Descartes’ short introduction to his system. Like the latter, the TIE is an autobiographical work, more personal than most ofSpino;ta’s writings. It sets questions of goals and methods in an ethical context and is largely epistemological in content. Descrates’ Discourse is itself indebted to Augustine, and he in tum to Plato and Aristotle. In a sense, then, Spino;ta’s little work is his protrepticus, his introduction to and apology for the new scientific philosophy, for reason and for the life of reason. It is a sketch for a justification of the philosophical life, reminiscent of the Plato ofPhaedo and Republic and the Aristotle ofNicomachean Ethics X, drawn through the lens of Latin Stoicism.

The immediate autobiographical context for the TIE includes Spino;ta’s excommunication in 1 656, his subsequent disengagement from his family’s mercantile business and from the Jewish community in Amsterdam, and his more intense involvement with his rationalist, radical friends. By 1 661 Spino;ta was well known as a Cartesian and as a lens grinder skilled at producing optical lenses. He was associated with rational critics of Scripture like Juan de Prado, Isaac La Peyrere, and Uriel da Costa. Spino;za was a member of the circle around Franciscus Van den Enden, a frequent participant in Collegiant meetings, and an expert in Cartesian philosophy. There is reason to believe that Spino;ta’s critical spirit and attraction to the revolutionary science of his day were not new. They had been cultivated since his teenage years and came to a head with his public expulsion from the Jewish community. By that time, 27 July 1 656, Spino;ta had been a student and disciple of Van den Enden for some time and an advocate of tolerance, rational critique, and religious freedom. His traditional Jewish



Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect

education, thorough as it was, had turned, when he was 14 or 1 5 years old, into this new set of commitments. The result was a view of God, nature, and the human good more rational and more universal than the traditional establishment could bear.

By 1 657 Spinoza’s exile was at least sufficient to cut him off from his teachers R. Saul Morteira and R. Manasseh ben Israel and to intensify his radical intellectual friendships with thinkers such as Van den Enden, Lodewijk Meyer, Adriaan Koerbagh, Pieter Balling, Simon de Vries, and larig lelles. He probably lived with Van den Enden for a time, for he was the latters prize student, and it was at his school that he had first become acquainted with the philosophy of Descartes and much else. He turned to lens grinding to earn a living, increased his scholarly associations by spending time at the university in Leiden, and frequently attended the meetings of the religiously radical Protestant group, the Collegiants.

The TIE, one might speculate, is the first literary product of this intense activity, hence its rather personal and programmatic qualities. It is a work marked by three significant features. First, in it Spinoza valorizes the life of reason and in particular scientific reason and the attainment of a knowledge of nature. Second, Spinoza distinguishes four modes of cognition, two of which, associated with imagination and sensation, are inadequate and defective, and the remaining two of which, involving deductive reasoning and intuitive reason, are the height of human achievement. Finally, Spinoza discusses the requirements of definition, distinguishing the definition of emmal essences from those of dependent and contingent ones. At this point, the text breaks off. It is a beginning, but only that. Some believe Spinoza abandoned the work when other tasks became more compelling; others, however, believe he left the TIE when he came to doubt the fruitfulness of its method. In years to come, the Ethics would mark a new beginning-working from new principles and in a new way.




Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect


(by the Editors of the Opera Posthuma)

This “Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, etc . ,” which in its unfinished state we here present to you, dear reader, was written by our author many years ago. He always intended to finish i t, but, distracted by h is other occupations and taken from us by death, he did not succeed in bringing it to the desired conclu­ sion. But since i t contains many excellent and useful things which we are con­ vinced will be of considerable interest to an earnest seeker after truth, we did not wish to deprive you of them. That you may the more readily excuse occasional obscurities and lack of pol ish that appear in places in the text, we have thought it proper that you , too, should be made aware of these circumstances.





After experience had taught me the hollowness and futil ity of everyth ing that is ordinarily encountered in daily l ife, and I realised that all the things which were the source and object of my anxiety held nothing of good or evil in themselves save insofar as the mind was influenced by them, I resolved at length to enquire whether there existed a true good, one which was capable of communicating it­ self and could alone affect the mind to the exclusion of all else, whether, in fact, there was something whose discovery and acquisition would afford me a contin­ uous and supreme joy to all eternity.

I say ‘I resolved at length: for at first sight i t seemed ill-advised to risk the loss of what was certa in in the hope of something at that time uncertain . I could well see the advantages that derive from honour and wealth, and that I would be forced to abandon their quest if I were to devote myself to some new and different ob­ jective. And if in fact supreme happiness were to be found in the former, I must inevitably fail to attain it, whereas if it did not lie in these objectives and I devoted myself entirely to them, then once again I would lose that highest happiness.

I therefore debated whether it might be possible to arrive at a new guiding prin­ ciple-or at least the sure hope of its atta inment-without changing the manner



4 Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect

and normal routine of my l ife. This I frequently attempted, but in vain. For the things which for the most part offer themselves in life, and which, to judge from their actions, men regard as the highest good, can be reduced to these three headings: riches, honour, and sensual pleasure. With these three the mind is so distracted that i t is quite incapable of th inking of any other good. With regard to sensual pleasure, the mind is so utterly obsessed by it that it seems as if it were ab­ sorbed in some good, and so is quite prevented from thinking of anything else. But after the enjoyment of th is pleasure there ensues a profound depression which, if i t does not completely inhibit the mind, leads to its confusion and en­ ervation. The pursuit of honour and wealth, too, engrosses the mind to no small degree, especially when the latter is sought exclusively for its own sake,’ for it is then regarded as the h ighest good. Even more so is the mind obsessed with hon­ our, for this is always regarded as a good in itself and the ul timate end to which everything is directed. Then again, in both these cases, there is no repentance as in the case of sensual pleasure. The more each of them is possessed, the more our joy is enhanced, and we are therefore more and more induced to increase them both . But if it should come about that our hopes are disappointed, there ensues a profound depression. And finally, honour has this great drawback, that to attain i t we must conduct our lives to sui t other men, avoiding what the masses avoid and seeking what the masses seek.

So when I saw that all these things stood in the way of my embarking on a new course, and were indeed so opposed to it that I must necessarily choose between the one alternative and the other, I was forced to ask what was to my greater ad­ vantage; for, as I have said, I seemed set on losing a certain good for the sake of an uncertain good. But after a l ittle reflection, I first of all realised that if I aban­ doned the old ways and embarked on a new way of l ife, I should be abandoning a good that was by its very nature uncerta in -as we can clearly gather from what has been said – in favour of one that was uncerta in not of its own nature (for I was seeking a permanent good) but only in respect of its attainment. Then persistent meditation enabled me to see that, if only I could be thoroughly resolute, I should be abandoning certain evils for the sake of a certain good. For I saw that my situ­ ation was one of great peril and that I was obliged to seek a remedy with all my might, however uncertain it might be, l ike a sick man suffering from a fatal mal­ ady who, foreseeing certa in death unless a remedy is forthcoming, is forced to seek i t, however uncerta in it be, with all his might, for therein l ies all his hope. Now all those objectives that are commonly pursued not only contribute nothing to the preservation of our being but even h inder it, being frequently the cause of the de­ struction of those who gain possession of them, and invariably the cause of the de-

All notes are Spmoza’s.

a This could be ex:plamed more fully and clearly by making a dtsttndion between wealth that is sought for its own sake, for the sake of honour, for sensual pleasure, for health, or for the advancement of the sciences and the arts. But thiS IS reserved for Its proper place, such a detailed mveshgation be� ing inappropnate here.



Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect

struction of those who are possessed by them b For there are numerous examples of men who have suffered persecution unto death because of their wealth, and also of men who have exposed themselves to so many dangers to acqu ire riches that they have finally paid for their folly with their l ives. Nor are there less nu­ merous examples of men who, to gain or preserve honour, have suffered a most wretched fate. Finally, there are innumerable examples of men who have has­ tened their death by reason of excessive sensual pleasure.

These evils, moreover, seemed to arise from this, that all happiness or unhap­ piness depends solely on the qual ity of the object to wh ich we are bound by love. For strife will never arise on account of that which is not loved; there will be no sorrow if it is l ost, no envy if i t is possessed by another, no fear, no hatred- in a word, no emotional agitation, all of which, however, occur in the case of the love of perishable th ings, such as all those of which we have been speaking. But love 1 0 towards a thing eternal a nd infinite feeds the mind with j oy alone, unmixed with any sadness. This is greatly to be desired, and to be sought with all our might. How­ ever, it was not without reason that I used these words, ‘If only I could be earnestly resolute; for although I perceived these things qu ite clearly in my mind, I could not on that account put aside all greed, sensual pleasure, and desire for esteem.

This one thing I could see, that as long as my mind was occupied with these 1 1 thoughts, i t turned away from those other objectives and earnestly applied itself to the quest for a new guiding principle. This was a great comfort to me, for I saw that those evils were not so persistent as to refuse to yield to remedies. And although at first these intermissions were rare and of very brief duration, never­ theless, as the true good becarne rnore and more discernible to me, these inter­ missions became more frequent and longer, especially when I realised that the acquisition of money, sensual pleasure, and esteem is a hindrance only as long as they are sought on their own account, and not as a means to other th ings. If they are sought as means, they will then be under some restriction, and far from being hindrances, they will do much to further the end for which they are sought, as I shall demonstrate in its proper place.

At this point I shall only state briefly what I understand by the true good, and at 1 2 the same time what i s the supreme good. In order that this may be rightly under­ stood, it must be borne in mind that good and bad are only relative terms, so that one and the same thing may be sa id to be good or bad in different respects, j ust l ike the terms perfect and imperfect. Nothing, when regarded in its own nature, can be called perfect or imperfect, especially when we realise that all things that come into being do so in accordance with an eternal order and Nature’s fixed laws.

But human weakness fuils to comprehend that order in its thought, and mean- 1 3 while man conceives a human nature much stronger than his own, and sees n o reason why he cannot acquire such a nature. Thus h e i s urged t o seek the means that will bring h im to such a perfection, and all that can be the means of h is at­ taining this objective is called a true good, while the supreme good is to arrive at

b ThiS I S t o be demonstrated a t greater length.



6 Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect

the en joyment of such a natu re, together with other individuals, if possible. What that nature is we shall show in its proper place; namely, the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of Nature.C

14 This, then, is the end for which I strive, to acquire the nature I have described and to endeavour that many should acquire it along with me. That is to say, my own happiness involves my making an effort to persuade many others to th ink as I do, so that their understanding and their desire should en tirely accord with my understanding and my desire. To bring this about, it is necessary<! ( I ) to under­ stand as much about Nature as suffices for acquiring such a nature, and (2) to es­ tablish such a social order as will enable as many as possible to reach this goal

15 with the greatest possible ease and assurance. Furthermore, (3) attention must be paid to moral philosophy and l ikewise the theory of the education of children ; and since health is of no l ittle importance in attaining this end, (4) the whole sci­ ence of medicine must be elaborated. And since many difficult tasks are rendered easy by contrivance, and we can thereby gain much time and convenience in our daily l ives, (5) the science of mechanics is in no way to be despised.

16 But our first consideration must be to devise a method of emending the intel- lect and of purifying it, as far as is feasible at the outset, so that it may succeed in understanding things without error and as well as possible. So now it will be evi­ dent to everyone that my purpose is to direct all the sciences to one end and goal: to wit (as we have said), the achievement of the h ighest human perfection. Thus everything in the sciences which does nothing to advance us towards our goal must be rejected as poin Uess- in short, all our activities and likewise our thoughts must be directed to th is end.

1 7 But since we have to continue with our l ives while pursuing this end and en- deavouring to bring down the intellect into the right path, our first priority must be to lay down certain rules for l iving, as being good rules. They are as follows:

I . To speak to the understanding of the multitude and to engage in all those activities that do not h inder the attainment of our aim. For we can gain no l i ttle advantage from the mul titude, provided that we accommodate our­ selves as far as possible to their level of understanding. Furthermore, in this way they will give a more favourable hearing to the truth .

2 . To enjoy pleasures j ust so far as suffices to preserve health. 3 . Finally, to seek as much money or any other goods as are sufficient for sus­

taining life and health and for conforming with those social customs that do not conflict with our aim.

18 Having laid down these rules, I shall embark upon the first and most important task, emending the intellect and rendering it apt for the understanding of things

c ThIS is explained more fully In Its proper place.

d Note that here I am only concerned to enumerate the SCiences necessary to our purpos

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