LOVE. I see, Brother, that both my essence
and perfection depend on your perfection;
and since the perfection of the object which
you have conceived is your perfection, while
from yours again mine proceeds, so tell me
now, I pray you, whether you have conceived
such a being as is supremely perfect, not
capable of being limited by any other, and
in which I also am comprehended.
UNDERSTANDING. I for my part consider Nature
only in its totality as infinite, and supremely perfect, but
you, if you have any doubts about it, ask Reason, she will tell you.
REASON. To me the truth of the matter is indubitable,
for if we would limit Nature then we should, absurdly
enough, have to limit it with a mere Nothing;[N1] we avoid this
absurdity by stating that it is One Eternal Unity,
infinite, omnipotent, &c., that is, that
Nature is infinite and that all is contained therein; and the
negative of this we call Nothing.
[Note N1]: A and B continue: moreover under the following attributes,
namely, that it is One, Eternal, infinite through itself; we avoid ...
DESIRE. Ah indeed! it is wondrously congruous to
suppose that Unity is in keeping with the
Difference which I observe everywhere in Nature. But
how? I see that thinking substance has nothing in common
with extended substance, and that the one limits
[not] the other; and if, in addition to these substances, you
want to posit yet a third one which is perfect in all respects,
then look how you involve yourself in manifest
contradictions; for if this third one is placed outside the first
two, then it is wanting in all the attributes which belong to
those two, but this can never be the case with a whole
outside of which there is nothing. Moreover if this being is
omnipotent and perfect, then it must be such because it has
made itself, and not because another has made it; that,
however, which could produce both itself and yet another
besides would be even more omnipotent. And lastly, if you
call it omniscient then it is necessary that it should know
itself; and, at the same time, you must know that the
knowledge of oneself alone is less than the knowledge of
oneself together with the knowledge of other substances. All
these are manifest contradictions. I would, therefore, have
advised Love to rest content with what I show her, and to
look about for no other things.
LOVE. What now, O dishonourable one, have you
shown me but what would result in my immediate ruin.
For, if I had ever united myself with what you have
shown me, then from that moment I should have been
persecuted by the two archenemies of the human race,
namely, Hatred and Remorse, and sometimes also by
Oblivion; and therefore I turn again to Reason only to
proceed and stop the mouths of these foes.
REASON. What you say, O Desire, that there are
different substances, that, I tell you, is false; for I see
clearly that there is but One, which exists through itself,
and is a support to all other attributes. And if you will refer
to the material and the mental as substances, in relation
to the modes which are dependent on them, why then,
you must also call them modes in relation to the
substance [N1] on which they depend: for they are not
conceived by you as existing through themselves. And in
the same way that willing, feeling, understanding, loving,
&c., are different modes of that which you call a thinking
substance, in which you bring together and unite all these
in one,[N2] so I also conclude, from your own proofs, that
Both Infinite Extension and Thought together with all other
infinite attributes (or, according to your usage, other
substances) are only modes of the One, Eternal, Infinite
Being, who exists through himself; and from all these we
posit, as stated, An Only One or a Unity outside which
nothing can be imagined to be.[N3]
[Note N1]: A: substances; B: substance.
[Note N2]: A: all which you bring to one, and make one from all these;
B: to which you bring all and make them into one.
[Note N3]: B: ... One, Eternal, self-subsisting Being in which all is
one and united, and outside which unity nothing can be imagined to be.
DESIRE. Methinks I see a very great confusion in this
argument of yours; for, it seems you will have it that the
whole must be something outside of or apart from its parts,
which is truly absurd. For all philosophers are
unanimous in saying that "whole" is a second notion, and
that it is nothing in Nature apart from human thought.
Moreover, as I gather from your example, you confuse
whole with cause: for, as I say, the whole only consists of
and [exists] through its parts, and so it comes that
you represent the thinking power as a thing on which the
Understanding, Love, &c., depend. But you cannot call it a
Whole, only a Cause of the Effects just named by
REASON. I see decidedly how you muster all your friends
against me, and that, after the method usually adopted by those
who oppose the truth, you are designing to achieve by quibbling
what you have not been able to accomplish with your fallacious
reasoning. But you will not succeed in winning Love to your side
by such means. Your assertion, then, is, that the cause
(since it is the Originator of the Effects)
must therefore be outside these. But you say this
because you only know of the transeunt and not of the
immanent cause, which by no means produces anything
outside itself, as is exemplified by the Understanding, which is
the cause of its ideas. And that is why I called the understanding
(in so far as, or because, its ideas depend on it[N1]) a cause; and on
the other hand, since it consists of its ideas, a whole: so also
God is both an Immanent Cause with reference
to his works or creatures, and also a whole,
considered from the second point of view.
[Note N1]: So in B:. A: it depends on its ideas.