Ideas from 'The Ethics' by Baruch de Spinoza [1675], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Ethics, Improvement of Understanding, Letters' by Spinoza,Benedict de (ed/tr Elwes,R.H.M.) [Dover 1955,0-486-20250-x]].

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
If we are not wholly wise, we should live by good rules and maxims
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 4. Ordinary Language
We must be careful to keep words distinct from ideas and images
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 3. Pure Reason
Reason only explains what is universal, so it is timeless, under a certain form of eternity
Reason perceives things under a certain form of eternity
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
In so far as men live according to reason, they will agree with one another
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
There is necessarily for each existent thing a cause why it should exist
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 8. Subjective Truth
For Spinoza, 'adequacy' is the intrinsic mark of truth
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
A true idea must correspond with its ideate or object
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 1. Mathematics
Mathematics deals with the essences and properties of forms
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. Geometry
The sum of its angles follows from a triangle's nature
The idea of a triangle involves truths about it, so those are part of its essence
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 2. Types of Existence
The more reality a thing has, the more attributes it has
Outside the mind, there are just things and their properties
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. Existence as One
We can easily think of nature as one individual
In nature there is just one infinite substance
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 7. Reason for Existence
There must always be a reason or cause why some triangle does or does not exist
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 1. Grounding / a. Nature of grounding
Men say they prefer order, not realising that we imagine the order
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 4. Naturalism
Laws of nature are universal, so everything must be understood through those laws
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 3. Types of Properties
An 'attribute' is what the intellect takes as constituting an essence
8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 8. Properties as Modes
A 'mode' is an aspect of a substance, and conceived through that substance
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
Things persevere through a force which derives from God
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 4. Powers as Essence
The essence of a thing is its effort to persevere
8. Modes of Existence / D. Universals / 6. Platonic Forms / d. Forms critiques
The 'universal' term 'man' is just imagining whatever is the same in a multitude of men
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 1. Unifying an Object / b. Unifying aggregates
A thing is unified if its parts produce a single effect
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / b. Need for substance
Spinoza implies that thought is impossible without the notion of substance
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Substance is that of which an independent conception can be formed
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 1. Essences of Objects
The essence of a thing is what is required for it to exist or be conceived
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 6. Essence as Unifier
Essence gives existence and conception to things, and is inseparable from them
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / b. Essence not necessities
Nothing is essential if it is in every part, and is common to everything
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 8. Essence as Explanatory
All natures of things produce some effect
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 11. End of an Object
Only an external cause can destroy something
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
There cannot be two substances with the same attributes
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 8. Leibniz's Law
Two substances can't be the same if they have different attributes
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 7. Natural Necessity
People who are ignorant of true causes imagine anything can change into anything else
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 10. Impossibility
Things are impossible if they imply contradiction, or their production lacks an external cause
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 5. Contingency
Contingency is an illusion, resulting from our inadequate understanding
Reason naturally regards things as necessary, and only imagination considers them contingent
We only call things 'contingent' in relation to the imperfection of our knowledge
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 1. Sources of Necessity
Divine nature makes all existence and operations necessary, and nothing is contingent
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 6. Necessity from Essence
Necessity is in reference to essence or to cause
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / a. Transworld identity
A horse would be destroyed if it were changed into a man or an insect
10. Modality / E. Possible worlds / 3. Transworld Objects / e. Possible Objects
A thing is contingent if nothing in its essence determines whether or nor it exists
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Spinoza's three levels of knowledge are perception/imagination, then principles, then intuitions
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
Understanding is the sole aim of reason, and the only profit for the mind
Rational minds only seek understanding, and judge nothing else to be of any use
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 1. Certainty
True ideas intrinsically involve the highest degree of certainty
A man who assents without doubt to a falsehood is not certain, but lacks a cause to make him waver
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 3. Error
People make calculation mistakes by misjudging the figures, not calculating them wrong
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 6. Cogito Critique
'I think' is useless, because it is contingent, and limited to the first person
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
If the body is affected by an external object, the mind can't help believing that the object exists
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
The eyes of the mind are proofs
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / a. Pro-internalism
Anyone who knows, must know that they know, and even know that they know that they know..
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / e. Necessity in explanations
To understand a phenomenon, we must understand why it is necessary, not merely contingent
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / a. Mind
The human mind is the very idea or knowledge of the human body
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / b. Purpose of mind
Knowledge is the essence of the mind
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 1. Mind / c. Features of mind
Will and intellect are the same thing
The will is finite, but the intellect is infinite
The will is not a desire, but the faculty of affirming what is true or false
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
Animals are often observed to be wiser than people
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / d. Purpose of consciousness
To understand is the absolute virtue of the mind
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 8. Remembering Contiguity
If the body is affected by two things together, the imagining of one will conjure up the other
16. Persons / D. Self and Body / 5. Role of the Body
The mind only knows itself by means of ideas of the modification of the body
16. Persons / E. Self as Mind / 1. Self and Memory
The poet who forgot his own tragedies was no longer the same man
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Free Will / a. Nature of free will
A thing is free if it acts by necessity of its own nature, and the act is determined by itself alone
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Free Will / c. Free will critique
Would we die if we lacked free will, and were poised between equal foods? Yes!
The mind is not free to remember or forget anything
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Free Will Theories / b. Determinism
We think we are free because we don't know the causes of our desires and choices
The actual world is the only one God could have created
'Free will' is a misunderstanding arising from awareness of our actions, but ignorance of their causes
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
Mind and body are one thing, seen sometimes as thought and sometimes as extension
We are incapable of formulating an idea which excludes the existence of our body
17. Mind and Body / E. Physicalism / 1. Physicalism
Mind and body are the same thing, sometimes seen as thought, and sometimes as extension
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 3. Emotions
Minds are subject to passions if they have inadequate ideas
Stoics want to suppress emotions, but Spinoza overcomes them with higher emotions
The three primary emotions are pleasure, pain and desire
An emotion comes more under our control in proportion to how well it is known to us
An emotion is only bad if it hinders us from thinking
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
An 'idea' is a mental conception which is actively formed by the mind in thinking
Ideas are not images formed in the brain, but are the conceptions of thought
20. Action / C. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
Claiming that actions depend on the will is meaningless; no one knows what the will is
Spinoza argues that in reality the will and the intellect are 'one and the same'
20. Action / D. Explaining an Action / 5. Responsibility for Actions
We are the source of an action if only our nature can explain the action
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 1. Value / c. Subjective value
Spinoza names self-interest as the sole source of value
We don't want things because they are good; we judge things to be good because we want them
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 2. Goodness / b. Candidates for the Good
By 'good' I mean what brings us ever closer to our model of human nature
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 5. Happiness / d. Routes to happiness
Man's highest happiness consists of perfecting his understanding, or reason
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / a. Nature of pleasure
Pleasure is a passive state in which the mind increases in perfection
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 6. Pleasure / f. Dangers of pleasure
Pleasure is only bad in so far as it hinders a man's capability for action
22. Metaethics / A. Ethical Ends / 8. Love
Love is joy with an external cause
Love is nothing else but pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 2. Human Nature
Along with his pantheism, Spinoza equates ethics with the study of human nature
The essence of man is modifications of the nature of God
If infancy in humans was very rare, we would consider it a pitiful natural defect
22. Metaethics / C. Sources of Ethics / 6. Ethics from Reason
If our ideas were wholly adequate, we would have no concept of evil
23. Ethics / A. Egoism / 1. Ethical Egoism
Reason demands nothing contrary to nature, and so it demands self-love
Self-satisfaction is the highest thing for which we can hope
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 1. Contractarianism
Both virtue and happiness are based on the preservation of one's own being
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / b. Basis of virtue
All virtue is founded on self-preservation
To act virtuously is to act rationally
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / b. Living naturally
To live according to reason is to live according to the laws of human nature
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
A man ignorant of himself is ignorant of all of the virtues
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / d. Courage
In a free man, choosing flight can show as much strength of mind as fighting
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
A person unmoved by either reason or pity to help others is rightly called 'inhuman'
Pity is a bad and useless thing, as it is a pain, and rational people perform good deeds without it
People who live according to reason should avoid pity
Pity is not a virtue, but at least it shows a desire to live uprightly
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 4. External Goods / c. Wealth
Rational people judge money by needs, and live contented with very little
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Rational people are self-interested, but also desire the same goods for other people
A rational person will want others to have the goods he seeks for himself
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Animals feel, but that doesn't mean we can't use them for our pleasure and profit
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 4. Suicide
It is impossible that the necessity of a person's nature should produce a desire for non-existence
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
If people are obedient to reason, they will live in harmony
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Freedom
Only self-knowledge can liberate us
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
Spinoza extended Hobbes's natural rights to cover all possible desires and actions
25. Society / D. Social Rights / 2. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
Slavery is a disgraceful crime
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. Education / c. Teaching
The best use of talent is to teach other people to live rationally
26. Natural Theory / A. Heart of Nature / 2. Natural Purpose
Spinoza strongly attacked teleology, which is the lifeblood of classical logos
Nature has no particular goal in view, and final causes are mere human figments
Final causes are figments of human imagination
For Spinoza eyes don't act for purposes, but follow mechanical necessity
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 1. Causation / c. Final causes
A final cause is simply a human desire
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 3. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
From a definite cause an effect necessarily follows
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 3. Infinite in Nature
An infinite line can be marked in feet or inches, so one infinity is twelve times the other
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 2. Divine Nature
Spinoza's God is just power and necessity, without perfection or wisdom
God is not loveable for producing without choice and by necessity; God is loveable for his goodness
God feels no emotions, of joy or sorrow
God is wholly without passions, and strictly speaking does not love anyone
God does not act according to the freedom of the will
Spinoza's God is not a person
God is a substance with infinite attributes
God is the sum and principle of all eternal laws
The key question for Spinoza is: is his God really a God?
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 5. Divine Morality / c. God is the good
To say that God promotes what is good is false, as it sets up a goal beyond God
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 1. Ontological Proof
Denial of God is denial that his essence involves existence, which is absurd
God must necessarily exist, because no reason can be given for his non-existence
Some things makes me conceive of it as a thing whose essence requires its existence
28. God / C. Proofs of Reason / 2. Ontological Proof critique
If a thing can be conceived as non-existing, its essence does not involve existence
28. God / D. Proofs of Evidence / 5. Miracles
Priests reject as heretics anyone who tries to understand miracles in a natural way
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 2. Pantheism
That God is the substance of all things is an ill-reputed doctrine
The human mind is part of the infinite intellect of God
Everything is in God, and nothing exists or is thinkable without God
God is the efficient cause of essences, as well as of existences
28. God / E. Attitudes to God / 4. Atheism
In Spinoza, one could substitute 'nature' or 'substance' for the word 'God' throughout
29. Religion / E. Immortality / 1. Immortality
Something of the human mind has to be eternal
Spinoza's theory of mind implies that there is no immortality