|E4: PROP. 38. Whatsoever disposes the human body, so as to render it capable of being affected in an increased number of ways, or of affecting external bodies in an increased number of ways, is useful to man; and is so, in proportion as the body is thereby rendered more capable of being affected or affecting other bodies in an increased number of ways; contrariwise, whatsoever renders the body less capable in this respect is hurtful to man.|
|Proof.--Whatsoever thus increases the capabilities of the body increases also the mind's capability of perception (E2P14); therefore, whatsoever thus disposes the body and thus renders it capable, is necessarily good or useful (E4P26 and E4P27); and is so in proportion to the extent to which it can render the body capable; contrariwise (E2P14, E4P26 and E4P27), it is hurtful, if it renders the body in this respect less capable. Q.E.D.|
|Referenced in: E4P39,- E4P41,- E4P42,- E4P43,- E4APND27,- E5P39|
|E4: PROP. 39. Whatsoever brings about the preservation of the proportion of motion and rest, which the parts of the human body mutually possess, is good; contrariwise, whatsoever causes a change in such proportion is bad.|
|Proof.--The human body needs
many other bodies for its preservation
(E2POST4). But that
which constitutes the specific reality (forma) of
a human body is, that its parts communicate their several motions one to
another in a certain fixed proportion
(E2P13D). Therefore, whatsoever
brings about the preservation of the proportion between motion and rest,
which the parts of the human body mutually possess, preserves the specific
reality of the human body, and consequently renders the human body capable
of being affected in many ways and of affecting external bodies in many
E2POST6]; consequently it is good (by the last Prop.
Again, whatsoever brings about a change in the aforesaid proportion causes the human body to assume another specific character, in other words, (see Preface to this Part towards, the end E4PREF, though the point is indeed self-evident), to be destroyed, and consequently totally incapable of being affected in an increased numbers of ways; therefore [E4P38] it is bad. Q.E.D.
|Referenced in: E4P42,- E4APND27|
| E4: PROP. 39, Note.
--The extent to which such causes can injure or be of service to the
mind will be explained in the fifth Part. But I would here remark that I
consider that a body undergoes death, when the proportion of motion and
rest which obtained mutually among its several parts is changed. For I do
not venture to deny that a human body, while keeping the circulation of
the blood and other properties wherein the life of a body is thought to
consist, may none the less be changed into another nature totally
different from its own. There is no reason, which compels me to maintain
that a body does not die, unless it becomes a corpse; nay, experience
would seem to point to the opposite conclusion.
It sometimes happens, that a man undergoes such changes, that I should hardly call him the same. As I have heard tell of a certain Spanish poet, who had been seized with sickness, and though he recovered therefrom yet remained so oblivious of his past life, that he would not believe the plays and tragedies he had written to be his own: indeed, he might have been taken for a grown-up child, if he had also forgotten his native tongue.
If this instance seems incredible, what shall we say of infants? A man of ripe age deems their nature so unlike his own, that he can only be persuaded that he too has been an infant by the analogy of other men. However, I prefer to leave such questions undiscussed, lest I should give ground to the superstitious for raising new issues.
|Referenced in: E5P38N|
|E4: PROP. 40. Whatsoever conduces to man's social life, or causes men to live together in harmony, is useful, whereas whatsoever brings discord into a State is bad.|
|Proof.--For whatsoever causes men to live together in harmony also causes them to live according to reason (E4P35), and is therefore (E4P26 and E4P27) good, and (for the same reason) whatsoever brings about discord is bad. Q.E.D.|
|E4: PROP. 41. Pleasure in itself is not bad but good: contrariwise, pain in itself is bad.|
|Proof.-- Pleasure (E3P11 and E3P11N) is emotion, whereby the body's power of activity is increased or helped; pain is emotion, whereby the body's power of activity is diminished or checked; therefore (E4P38) pleasure in itself is good, etc. Q.E.D.|
|Referenced in: E4P43,- E4P45C2N,- E4P47,- E4P50,- E4P59|
|E4: PROP. 42. Mirth cannot be excessive, but is always good; contrariwise, Melancholy is always bad.|
Mirth (see its Def. in
pleasure, which, in
so far as it is referred to the body, consists in all parts of the body
being affected equally: that is
(E3P11), the body's
power of activity is
increased or aided in such a manner, that the several parts maintain their
former proportion of motion and rest; therefore
Mirth is always good
(E4P39), and cannot be excessive.
But Melancholy (see its Def. in the same note E3P11N) is pain, which, in so far as it is referred to the body, consists in the absolute decrease or hindrance of the body's power of activity; therefore (E4P38) it is always bad. Q.E.D.
|E4: PROP. 43. Stimulation may be excessive and bad; on the other hand, grief may be good, in so far as stimulation or pleasure is bad.|
which, in so far as it is referred to the body, consists in one or some of
its parts being affected more than the rest (see its Definition,
E3P11N); the power of this
emotion may be sufficient to
overcome other actions of the body (E4P6),
and may remain obstinately
fixed therein, thus rendering it incapable of being affected in a variety
of other ways: therefore (E4P38)
it may be bad.
Again, grief, which is pain, cannot as such be good (E4P41). But, as its force and increase is defined by the power of an external cause compared with our own (E4P5), we can conceive infinite degrees and modes of strength in this emotion (E4P3); we can, therefore, conceive it as capable of restraining stimulation, and preventing its becoming excessive, and hindering the body's capabilities; thus, to this extent, it will be good. Q.E.D.
|Referenced in: E4P44,- E4P47,- E4P59|
|E4: PROP. 44. Love and desire may be excessive.|
accompanied by the idea of an external cause
(Def. of Emotions, E3DOE6); therefore
accompanied by the idea of an external cause is
love may be
Again, the strength of desire varies in proportion to the emotion from which it arises (E3P37). Now emotion may overcome all the rest of men's actions (E4P6); so, therefore, can desire, which arises from the same emotion, overcome all other desires, and become excessive, as we showed in the last proposition E4P43 concerning stimulation.
| E4: PROP. 44, Note.
which I have stated to be good, can be conceived more easily
than it can be observed. For the
we are daily assailed,
are generally referred to some part of the body which is affected more
than the rest; hence the emotions are generally excessive, and so fix the
mind in the contemplation of one object, that it is unable to think of
others; and although men, as a rule, are a prey to many emotions--and very
few are found who are always assailed by one and the same --- yet there
are cases, where one and the same
We sometimes see men so absorbed in one object, that, although it be not present, they think they have it before them; when this is the case with a man who is not asleep, we say he is delirious or mad; nor are those persons who are inflamed with love, and who dream all night and all day about nothing but their mistress, or some woman, considered as less mad, for they are made objects of ridicule. But when a miser thinks of nothing but gain or money, or when an ambitious man thinks of nothing but glory, they are not reckoned to be mad, because they are generally harmful, and are thought worthy of being hated. But, in reality, Avarice, Ambition, Lust, etc., are species of madness, though they may not be reckoned among diseases.
|Referenced in: E4P58N,- E4P60N,- E4APND30|
|E4: PROP. 45. Hatred can never be good.|
hate a man,
we endeavour to destroy him (E3P39), that
is (E4P37), we endeavour to do
something that is bad. Therefore, etc. Q.E.D.
N.B. Here, and in what follows, I mean by hatred only hatred towards men.
|Referenced in: E4P51N|
|E4: PROP. 45, Corollary 1.-- Envy, derision, contempt, anger, revenge, and other emotions attributable to hatred, or arising therefrom, are bad;|
|this is evident from E3P39 and E4P37.|
|Referenced in: E4P45C2N,- E4P46,- E4P59|
|E4: PROP. 45, Corollary 2.--Whatsoever we desire from motives of hatred is base, and in a State unjust.|
|This also is evident from E3P39, and from the definitions of baseness and injustice in E4P37N1 and E4P37N2.|
| E4: PROP. 45 Corollary 2,
(which I have in Coroll. 1. E4P45C1 stated to be
bad) and laughter I recognize a great difference. For laughter, as also
jocularity, is merely pleasure;
therefore, so long as it be not excessive,
it is in itself good (E4P41).
Assuredly nothing forbids man to enjoy
himself, save grim and gloomy
For why is it more lawful to
satiate one's hunger and thirst than to drive away one's
I reason, and have convinced myself as follows: No deity, nor anyone else, save the envious, takes pleasure in my infirmity and discomfort, nor sets down to my virtue the tears, sobs, fear, and the like, which are signs of infirmity of spirit; on the contrary, the greater the pleasure wherewith we are affected, the greater the perfection whereto we pass; in other words, the more must we necessarily partake of the divine nature. Therefore, to make use of what comes in our way, and to enjoy it as much as possible (not to the point of satiety, for that would not be enjoyment) is the part of a wise man.
I say it is the part of a wise man to refresh and recreate himself with moderate and pleasant food and drink, and also with perfumes, with the soft beauty of growing plants, with dress, with music, with many sports, with theatres, and the like, such as every man may make use of without injury to his neighbour. For the human body is composed of very numerous parts, of diverse nature, which continually stand in need of fresh and varied nourishment, so that the whole body may be equally capable of performing all the actions, which follow from the necessity of its own nature; and, consequently, so that the mind may also be equally capable of understanding many things simultaneously.
This way of life, then, agrees best with our principles, and also with general practice; therefore, if there be any question of another plan, the plan we have mentioned is the best, and in every way to be commended. There is no need for me to set forth the matter more clearly or in more detail.
|Referenced in: E4APND31|
|E4: PROP. 46. He, who lives under the guidance of reason, endeavours, as far as possible, to render back love, or kindness, for other men's hatred, anger, contempt, etc., towards him.|
|Proof.--All emotions of hatred are bad (E4P45C1); therefore he who lives under the guidance of reason will endeavour, as far as possible, to avoid being assailed by such emotions (E4P19); consequently, he will also endeavour to prevent others being so assailed (E4P37). But hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can be quenched by love (E3P43), so that hatred may pass into love (E3P44); therefore he who lives under the guidance of reason will endeavour to repay hatred with love, that is, with kindness [see def. of high-mindedness in E3P59N]. Q.E.D.|
|Referenced in: E4P73N,- E5P10N|
|E4: PROP. 46, Note. --He who chooses to avenge wrongs with hatred is assuredly wretched. But he, who strives to conquer hatred with love, fights his battle in joy [pleasure] and confidence; he withstands many as easily as one, and has very little need of fortune's aid. Those whom he vanquishes yield joyfully, not through failure, but through increase in their powers; all these consequences follow so plainly from the mere definitions of love and understanding, that I have no need to prove them in detail.|
|Referenced in: E4APND15,- E5P10N|
|E4: PROP. 47. Emotions of hope and fear cannot be in themselves good.|
|Proof.-- Emotions of hope and fear cannot exist without pain. For fear is pain (E3DOE13), and hope (Explanation under E3DOE12 and E3DOE13) cannot exist without fear; therefore (E4P41) these emotions cannot be good in themselves, but only in so far as they can restrain excessive pleasure (E4P43). Q.E.D.|
|E4: PROP. 47, Note. --We may add, that these emotions show defective knowledge and an absence of power in the mind; for the same reason Confidence, despair, joy, and disappointment are signs of a want of mental power. For although confidence and joy are pleasurable emotions, they nevertheless imply a preceding pain, namely, hope and fear. Wherefore the more we endeavour to be guided by reason, the less do we depend on hope; we endeavour to free ourselves from fear, and, as far as we can, to dominate fortune, directing our actions by the sure counsels of wisdom.|
|E4: PROP. 48. The emotion of over-esteem and disparagement are always bad.|
|Proof.--These emotion (see Def. of the Emotions, E3DOE21 and E3DOE22) are repugnant to reason; and are therefore (E4P26 and E4P27) bad. Q.E.D.|
|E4: PROP. 49. Over-esteem is apt to render its object proud.|
|Proof.--If we see that any one rates us too highly, for love's sake, we are apt to become elated (E3P41N), or to be pleasurably affected (Def. of the Emotions, E3DOE30); the good which we hear of ourselves we readily believe (E3P25); and therefore, for love's sake, rate ourselves too highly; in other words, we are apt to become proud [by E3DOE28]. Q.E.D.|
|E4: PROP. 50. Pity, in a man who lives under the guidance of reason, is in itself bad and useless.|
(Def. of the Emotions, E3DOE18)
is a pain, and therefore
(E4P41) is in itself bad.
The good effect which follows, namely, our endeavour to free the object of our pity from misery [by E3P27C3], is an action which we desire to do solely at the dictation of reason (E4P37); only at the dictation of reason are we able to perform any action, which we know for certain to be good (E4P27);
thus, in a man who lives under the guidance of reason, pity in itself is useless and bad. Q.E.D.
| E4: PROP. 50, Note.
--He who rightly realizes, that all things follow from the necessity of
the divine nature, and come to pass in accordance with the
laws and rules of nature,
will not find anything worthy of
contempt, nor will he
on anything, but to the utmost extent of
he will endeavour to do well, as the saying is, and to
We may add, that he, who is easily touched with compassion, and is moved by another's sorrow or tears, often does something which he afterwards regrets; partly because we can never be sure that an action caused by emotion is good, partly because we are easily deceived by false tears.
I am in this place expressly speaking of a man living under the guidance of reason. He who is moved to help others neither by reason nor by compassion, is rightly styled inhuman, for (E3P27) he seems unlike a man.
|Referenced in: E4P73N|
|E4: PROP. 51. Approval is not repugnant to reason, but can agree therewith and arise therefrom.|
|Proof.-- Approval is love towards one who has done good to another (Def. of the Emotions, E3DOE19); therefore it may be referred to the mind, in so far as the latter is active E3P59), that is (E3P3), in so far as it understands; therefore, it is in agreement with reason, etc. Q.E.D.|
|Another Proof.-- He, who lives under the guidance of reason, desires for others the good which he seeks for himself (E4P37); wherefore from seeing someone doing good to his fellow his own endeavour to do good is aided; in other words, he will feel pleasure (E3P11N) accompanied by the idea of the benefactor. Therefore he approves of him. Q.E.D.|
|E4: PROP. 51, Note. --Indignation as we defined it (Def. of the Emotions, E3DOE20) is necessarily evil (E4P45); we may, however, remark that, when the sovereign power for the sake of preserving peace punishes a citizen who has injured another, it should not be said to be indignant with the criminal, for it is not incited by hatred to ruin him, it is led by a sense of duty to punish him.|
|E4: PROP. 52. Self-approval may arise from reason, and that which arises from reason is the highest possible.|
arising from a man's contemplation of
himself and his own power of action (Def. of
the Emotions, E3DOE25). But
a man's true power of action or
(E3P3), as the
said man clearly and distinctly contemplates her
(E2P40 and E2P43);
arises from reason.
Again, when a man is contemplating himself, he only perceives clearly and distinctly or adequately, such things as follow from his power of action (E3D2), that is (E3P3), from his power of understanding; therefore in such contemplation alone does the highest possible self-approval arise. Q.E.D.
|Referenced in: E5P10N|
|E4: PROP. 52, Note. --Self-approval is in reality the highest object for which we can hope. For (as we showed in E4P25) no one endeavours to preserve his being for the sake of any ulterior object, and, as this approval is more and more fostered and strengthened by praise (E3P53C), and on the contrary (E3P55C1) is more and more disturbed by blame, fame becomes the most powerful of incitements to action, and life under disgrace is almost unendurable.|
|Referenced in: E4P58N|