Series on Love IV—Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics

Spinoza has a dubious position on free will. “Men feel they are free because they are conscious of their own actions…this is no less true than a baby thinking it freely goes to the breast.” He also states that it appears to him that men have little power over their own tongues….and it would appear to him that there is nothing of which men are more incapable than controlling their appetites. Emotions to Spinoza’s philosophy are simply a part of nature of which we are subject. And man, he says, determines all things from his emotion.
Spinoza posits that the mind and body offer no reciprocity to one another. The body is not simply available to do the bidding of the mind.  “Does the mind move the body? Does the body simply do the bidding of the mind? If the body is sluggish, is the mind fit for thinking?”He defines will as the effort of the mind and appetites as effort of mind and body. Appetites are the essence of man. Desires are our conscious appetites.
Because we are dictated by our emotions, Spinoza declares the following:
“From what has been said it is plain, therefore, that we neither strive for, wish, seek, nor desire anything because we think it to be good, but on the contrary, we adjudge to be good because we strive for, wish, seek, or desire it.”
Building on his definitions of joy and sorry, he defines love and sorrow:
“Love is nothing by joy accompanied with the idea of an external cause.”
“Hatred is nothing by sorrow with the accompanying idea of an external cause.”
When a man loves a thing, he endeavors to keep and preserve it. When he hates a thing endeavors to remove and destroy it.
A man rejoices when joy is brought to that which he loves brings sorrow. Conversely, the image of sorry brought to that which he loves also brings him sorrow. Further, a man hates that which brings sorrow to that which he loves and loves that which brings joy to the object of his own love.
A man endeavors as much as possible to make others love what he loves. But a mean is happy when joy is brought to another, unless by the man having it would detract from his own ability to receive joy from that object.

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