BENEDICTUS de SPINOZA
(1632? -1677) 

R. H. M. Elwes's 1883 Introduction
to his Translation of Spinoza's Books I  &  II 

IntroductionPurpose - JBY Web Pages - Spinoza Electronic Texts - The Letters
Durant's Tribute - Graetz's CensureBritannica - MiniCD of Entire Site 
 


JBY Notes:

1,    The  text  is  Elwes's  Introduction,  Bk.I:Page v,   written  in  1883.

2.    Page  numbers  given  refer  to  Book I   except where otherwise
       noted.

3.    JBY added the Paragraph Numbers.

4.    [Curley's Book VIII comment or note] 
       ]Shirley's Book XIII translation variance, comment, or endnote[ 
         <Parkinson's Book XV endnote> 
       {
JBY comment or endnote}        LINKS

5.   Citation abbreviations.

6.    Please  report  errors,  clarification  requests,  disagreement,
       or suggestions  to  josephb@yesselman.com.

7.    Other Spinoza biographies.

8.    For notes and schedule of letters see " The Letters".

 


 

CONTENTS:

Introduction
  
Original unpopularity of Spinoza's writings, their gradually increasing influence in Germany, France, Holland, and England

Authorities for the life of Spinoza: Colerus,

Birth, 1634, and education of Spinoza

His breach with the synagogue, 1656

Life near Amsterdam and at Rhijnsburg

Friendship with Simon de Vries

Removal to Voorburg and the Hague

Correspondence with Oldenburg, Leibnitz, Tschirnhausen, and

others. Publication of Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

Massacre of the De Witts, 1672. Indignation and danger of Spinoza

Completion of the Ethics, 1674

Later life of Spinoza

Death and burial, February, 1677

Opera Posthuma published 1677

Sketch of Spinoza's philosophy

{Spinoza's Dictum}

{The Foundation Rock upon which Spinoza's philosophy stands: [37].
 Simply Posit:
ONE1D6.}

{Concluding Thought}

Scope of the present work

{The Highest Good is to know G-D. WHY?} 
 



Bk.II:page v - Elwes's Introduction.

[1]    A   very  few  years   ago  before  the  1880's }   the   writings   of                      Graetz

Spinoza  were  almost unknown  in  this  country {England}.   The only

authorities  to  which  the  English  reader could be referred were the

brilliant  essays  of   Mr. Froude, (v:1)  and Mr. Matthew Arnold, (v:2),

the  graphic  but  somewhat misleading sketch in Lewes's "History of

Philosophy,"  and  the  unsatisfactory  volume  of   Dr. R. Willis  (v:3).

But in 1880  Mr. Pollock brought out his most valuable  "Spinoza, His                 EL:Feuer:11651 

Life and Philosophy," (v:4) likely long to remain the standard work on

the  subject;    Dr. Martineau  has  followed  with  a  sympathetic  and

gracefully   written  "Study of Spinoza;"  Professor  Knight  has edited

a   volume   of   Spinozistic   Essays    by  Continental   Philosophers;

page VI    Auerbach's   biographical   novel   (vi:1)  has  been  translated,

and   many   writers   have   made   contributions   to   the  subject  in

magazines and reviews.


[2]   At  first sight this stir of tardy recognition may seem less surpris-

ing  than  the  preceding  apathy,  for  history  can  show few figures

more  remarkable  than  the  solitary  thinker of Amsterdam.   But the

causes  which  kept  Spinoza  in  comparative obscurity are not very

far  to  seek.   Personally  he  shrank with almost womanly sensitive-

ness  from  anything  like  notoriety:  his  chief  work was withheld till

after  his  death,  and  then  published  anonymously;  his treatise on

Religion  was  also  put forth in secret, and he disclaims with evident

sincerity  all  desire  to  found  a  school,  or  give his name to a sect.

{ EL:L19(68):296 }


                      Bk.XIB:1992.
[3]   Again,  the  form  in which his principal work is cast is such as to                Spinozism
                            {dabbler}
repel  those  dilettante  readers,  whose  suffrage  is  necessary for a

widely-extended reputation;  none  but genuine  students would care

to  grapple  with the serried array of definitions, axioms, and proposi-

tions of which "The Ethics", {Bk.I}, is composed, while the display of

geometric  accuracy  flatters  the  careless  into  supposing,  that  the

 whole  structure  is  interdependent,  and that, when a single breach

has been effected, the entire fabric has been demolished.
 


[4]   The  matter,  no less than the manner, of Spinoza's writings was

such as to preclude popularity.   He genuinely shocked his contemp-         Graetz's Censure

oraries.   Advances  in  thought  are  tolerated  in  proportion as they

respond to and, as it were, kindle into flame ideas which are already

smouldering  obscurely  in  many  minds.    A  teacher  may  deepen,

modify,  transfigure  what  he  finds,  but  he must not attempt radical                Mark Twain  

reconstruction.   In  the  seventeenth  century all men's deepest con-
{
religious}
victions  were  inseparably  bound  up  with anthropomorphic notions             Spinoza's Daring

of  the  Deity;  Spinoza, in attacking these latter and endeavouring to

substitute   the  conception  page VII   of   eternal   and   necessary  law,         Chain of Natural Events    
                                                                                            { and civil }
seemed  to  be  striking at the very roots of moral ^ order: hence with  

curious  irony  his  works,  which few read and still fewer understood,

became  associated  with  notions  of  monstrous  impiety,  and  their

author,  who  loved  virtue  with  single-hearted  and saintly devotion,

was  branded  as  a  railer  against  God  and a subverter of morality,

whom  it  was  a shame  even to speak of.   Those from whom juster

views  might  have  been  expected  swelled  the  popular  cry.   The
 Bk.XIB:230, 23089.
Cartesians  sought  to  confirm  their  own  precarious  reputation for

orthodoxy  by  emphatic  disavowals  of  their more daring associate.

Leibnitz,   who   had   known   Spinoza   personally,  speaks  of  him,

whether  from  jealousy  or  some  more  avowable  motive,  in  tones

of consistent depreciation.


[5]   The  torrent  of  abuse,  which poured forth from the theologians

and  their  allies,  served  to overwhelm the ethical and metaphysical

aspect  of  Spinoza's  teaching.  The philosopher was hidden behind             Spinoza's Daring

the   arch-heretic.   Throughout   almost   the  whole  of  the  century

following  his  death,  he  is  spoken  of  in terms displaying complete

misapprehension  of  his  importance  and scope.   The grossly inac-

curate  account  given  by Bayle in the "Dictionnaire Philosophique"

was  accepted  as  sufficient.   The  only  symptom  of  a  following is

found  in  the  religious  sect  of  Hattemists, which based some of its
                                                                                        Bk.XIB:229.
doctrines  on  an  imperfect  understanding  of  the  so-called  mystic

passages   in   "The  Ethics".  The  first  real  recognition  came  from

Lessing,  who  found  in  Spinoza a strength and solace he sought in

vain  elsewhere,  though  he  never accepted the system as a whole.

His  conversation  with  Jacobi  (1780),  a diligent though hostile stu-

dent  of  the  Ethics,  may  be  said  to  mark  the beginning of a new

epoch  in  the  history  of  Spinozism.    Attention  once attracted was

never   again   withdrawn,   and  received  a  powerful  impulse  from

Goethewho  more  than  once  confessed  his  indebtedness to the

Ethics,  which  indeed  is  abundantly page VIII  evident  throughout  his

writings.   Schleiermacher  paid  an  eloquent tribute to "the holy, the
                                                                                           Bk.III:261.
rejected  Spinoza."   Novalis celebrated him as  "the man intoxicated         Wolf, Cambridge:762
                             Bk.XIV:1:298, 2:348.
with Deity "  (der Gottvertrunkene Mann),  and Heine for once forgot               Durant13a:640

to  sneer,  as  he recounted his life.  The brilliant novelist, Auerbach,

has  not  only  translated  his complete works, but has also made his

history  the  subject  of  a  biographical  romance.    Among  German

philosophers  Kant  is,  perhaps,  the  last,  who  shows no traces of

Spinozism.    Hegel has declared, that "to be a philosopher one must

first be a Spinozist."    In recent years a new impulse has been given

to  the  study  of the  Ethics  by  their  curious  harmony  with the last
                {cosmological}
results of physiological research.                                                                              Damasio—Biological


                                                  {1883}
[6]   In  France  Spinoza has till lately been viewed as a disciple and
              Bk.III:211; Bk.XIB:23090.
perverter  of Descartes.   M. Emile Saisset prefixed to his translation         Damasio—Pineal Gland

of  the  philosopher's  chief  works  a critical introduction written from

this  standpoint.   Since  the  scientific  study  of philosophic systems

has begun among the French, M. Paul Janet has written on Spinoza

as  a  link  in  the chain of the history of thought; a new translation of

his  complete  works  has been started, and M. Renan has delivered

a  discourse on him at the bicentenary of his death celebrated at the

Hague.


[7]   In Holland there has also been a revival of interest in the illustri-

ous  Dutch  thinker.   Professors  Van  Vloten  and Land were mainly

instrumental  in  procuring  the  erection  of  a  statue  to his memory,

and  are  now  engaged  in  a  fine  edition of his works, of which the

first  volume  has  appeared (viii:1).   In  England, as before said, the

interest  in  Spinoza  has till recently been slight.   The controversial-

ists  of  the eighteenth century, with the exception of Toland, passed

him  by  as  unworthy  of  serious  study.   The first recognition of his

true   character  came  probably  from  Germany  through  Coleridge,

who in his desultory way expressed enthusiastic admiration,   page IX

and recorded his opinion (in a pencil note to a passage in Schelling),

that   the  Ethics,  the  Novum  Organum,   and  the Critique of Pure

Reason  were the three greatest works written since the introduction

of  Christianity.   The  influence  of  Spinoza  has  been traced by Mr.

Pollock   in  Wordsworth,   and  it  is  on  record that Shelley not only

contemplated  but  began  a translation of the Tractatus Theologico-

Politicus,  to  be  published  with  a  preface  by  Lord Byron,  but the

project  was  cut  short  by his death.   It is said that George Eliot left

behind   her   at   her   decease   a   MS.   translation  of  the  Ethics.


[8]   It  may  strike  those  who  are  strangers  to Spinoza as curious,

that,  notwithstanding  the  severely  abstract  nature  of  his method,

so  many  poets  and imaginative writers should be found among his

adherents.   Lessing,  Goethe,  Heine, Auerbach, Coleridge, Shelley,

George  Eliot;  most  of  these not only admired him, but studied him

deeply.     On   closer   approach   the  apparent  anomaly  vanishes.

There is about Spinoza a power and a charm, which appeals strong-

ly  to  the  poetic  sense.   He  seems  to dwell among heights, which

most  men  see  only  in  far off,  momentary glimpses.   The world of

men  is  spread  out  before him, the workings of the human heart lie

bared  to  his  gaze,  but  he  does not fall to weeping, or to laughter,

or  to  reviling: his thoughts are ever with the eternal, and something

of  the  beauty  and calm of eternal things has passed into his teach-

ing.   If  we  may, as he himself was wont to do, interpret spiritually a

Bible  legend,  we  may  say  of  him  that,  like Moses returning from

Sinai,   he   bears  in  his  presence  the  witness  that  he  has  held

communion with the Most High.


[9]   The  main  authority for the facts of Spinoza's life is a short biog-
                        Bk.XII:409; Bk.XIB:381.
raphy  by  Johannes Colerus (Kohler) (ix:1),   Lutheran  page X   pastor

at  the  Hague,  who occupied  the lodgings formerly tenanted by the

philosopher.    The  orthodox  Christian   felt  a  genuine  abhorrence
                                                              Bk.XIX:25344, 45, & 46.
for  the  doctrines,  which  he  regarded as atheistic,  but was honest

enough  to  recognize  the stainless purity of their author's character.

He   sets   forth  what  he  has  to  say  with  a  quaint  directness  in

admirable  keeping  with the outward  simplicity of the life he depicts.


[10]    Further   authentic   information   is  obtainable  from   passing

notices  in  the  works  of Leibnitz, and from Spinoza's published cor-

respondence,  though  the  editors  of  the latter have suppressed all

that  appeared  to them of merely personal interest.   There is also a

biography  attributed  to  Lucas,  physician  at the Hague (1712), but
                                          {formal or elaborate praise}
this  is  merely  a confused  panegyric,  and  is often at variance with

more  trustworthy  records.    Additional details may be gleaned from

Bayle's;  hostile  and  inaccurate article in the "Dictionnaire Philoso-

phique;"  from  S.  Kortholt's  preface to the second edition (1700) of

his  father's  book "De tribus impostoribus magnis:"  and, lastly, from
                                 Bk.XIB:142,143;Bk.XX:315-18.
the  recollections  of  Colonel  Stoupe (1673),  an officer in the Swiss

service,  who  had  met  the  philosopher  at  Utrecht,  but  does  not

contribute much to our knowledge.


[11]   Baruch  de  Spinoza  was  born  in Amsterdam Nov. 24, 1634?.

His  parents  were  Portuguese,  or possibly Spanish Jews, who had
                                                            Bk.XX:2, 3.
sought a refuge in the Netherlands from the rigours of the Inquisition

in  the  Peninsula.  Though  nothing  positive  is known of them, they

appear to have been in easy circumstances, and certainly bestowed

on  their  only son—their  other  two children being girls—a thorough

education  according  to  the  notions  of  their time and sect.   At the
                                                                           Bk.XIB:3063.
Jewish  High  School,  under  the  guidance  of  Morteira,  a  learned
                                                                            Bk.XIB:612, 16, 820, & 1326.
Talmudist,  and  possibly  of  the  brilliant page XI Manasseh Ben Israel,

who   afterwards  (1655)  was  employed  to  petition  from  Cromwell

the  readmission  of  the  Jews  to  England,  the young Spinoza was

instructed  in  the  learning  of  the  Hebrews,   the  mysteries  of  the
 Bk.XIII:342381
Talmud  and  the Cabbala,  the  text  of  the  {Hebrew Bible}, and the

commentaries  of Ibn Ezra and Maimonides.   Readers of the Tracta-

tus  Theologico-Politicus  will  be  able  to  appreciate  the use made

of  this  early  training.   Besides such severer studies,  Spinoza was,

in obedience to Rabbinical tradition, made acquainted with a manual
                        Bk.XIB:4316, 238118.
trade,  that  of  lens  polishing,  and  gained  a knowledge of French,

Italian, and German; Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew were almost

his  native  tongues,  but  curiously enough,  as we learn from one of
                                    {LT:L32(19):331 }
his  lately  discovered  letters, (xi:1)  he  wrote  Dutch  with  difficulty.

 Latin  was  not included in the Jewish curriculum, being tainted with

the  suspicion  of  heterodoxy,  but  Spinoza,  feeling  probably that it

was  the  key  to  much  of the world's best knowledge, set himself to

learn  it  (xi:2);  first,  with  the aid of a German master, afterwards at
                        Bk.XIB:1938Bk.XII:414.
the  house  of Francis Van den Ende, a physician. It is probably from
                           Bk.XIB:2041.^ a Lucianist—"deploying the hermeneutics..."
the  latter  that  he gained the sound knowledge of physical science,

which  so  largely  leavened his philosophy; and, no doubt, he at this
                                        Bk.III:211.
time began the study of Descartes, whose reputation towered above

the learned world of the period.


[12]   Colerus  relates  that  Van  den  Ende  had  a  daughter,  Clara

Maria,  who  instructed  her  father's pupils in Latin and music during

his  absence.    "She  was none of the  page XII  most beautiful, but she
                        Bk.XII:414.
had  a  great  deal  of wit," and as the story runs displayed her saga-

city  by  rejecting  the  proffered  love  of  Spinoza for the sake of his
  Bk.XX:108, 1848, 195, 293.
fellow-pupil  Kerkering,  who  was able to enhance his attractions by

the  gift  of a costly pearl necklace.   It is certain that Van den Ende's

daughter  and  Kerkering  were  married  in 1671, but the tradition of

the  previous  love  affair  accords  ill  with ascertained dates.   Clara
                  Bk.XIB:220, 22174Bk.XII:414.
Maria  was  only  seven  years  old  when  Spinoza  left  her  father's

house, and sixteen when he left the neighbourhood.


[13]   Meanwhile  the  brilliant  Jewish student was overtaken by that

mental  crisis,  which has come over so many lesser men before and

since.   The  creed  of  his fathers was found unequal to the strain of

his own wider knowledge and changed spiritual needs.  The Hebrew

faith with its immemorial antiquity, its unbroken traditions, its myriads

of  martyrs,  could  appeal to an authority which no other religion has

equalled,  and  Spinoza,  as  we  know  from  a passage in one of his
 { EL:L74(76):417 }
letters (xii:1),  felt  the claim  to  the  full.   We  may  be  sure that the

gentle  and  reserved  youth  was  in  no haste to obtrude his altered

views,  but  the  time  arrived  when  they  could  no  longer  be  with

honesty  concealed.  The  Jewish  doctors  were  exasperated at the

defection  of  their  most  promising pupil, and endeavoured to retain
                                                               {Bk.XII:416—From Colerus}
him  in  their  communion  by  the  offer  of a yearly pension of 1,000

florins.   Such overtures were of course rejected.   Sterner measures

were then resorted to.   It is even related, on excellent authority, that

Spinoza's  life  was  attempted  as  he  was  coming  out of the Portu-

guese  synagogue.   Be this as it may,  he fled from Amsterdam, and
                           Bk.XIB:2454, 55, 2961; Bk.XX:2306.                                                           { Will Durant - scroll
was  (1656)  formally excommunicated and anathematized according            down about 10%
                                                                                                                   to III Excommunication }
to the rites of the Jewish church.   Bk.XIB:2246, 48Bk.XII:416, 425.


[14]  Thus  isolated from his kindred, he sought more congenial soci-
                                                               Bk.XIB:22988, 253.
ety  among  the  dissenting community of Collegiants,  page XIII  a  body

of  men  who  without  priests  or set forms of worship carried out the

precepts of simple piety.    He passed some time in the house of one
                       Bk.XX:146 {map}.
of that body, not far from Amsterdam, on the Ouwerkerk road, and in

1660  or  the following year removed with his friend to the head quar-

ters of the sect at Rhijnsburg, near Leyden, where the memory of his

sojourn  is  still  preserved in the name "Spinoza Lane."   His separa-

tion  from  Judaism  was  marked  by  his  substituting  for  his  name
                                                                                       Bk.XII:415.
Baruch the Latin equivalent Benedict, but he never received baptism

or  formally  joined  any  Christian  sect.   Only  once  again does his

family  come  into  the  record  of  his life.   On the death of his father,
   Bk.XIB:22071Bk.XII:422.
his  sisters  endeavoured  to  deprive  him  of  his share of the inheri-

tance  on  the  ground  that  he  was an outcast and heretic. Spinoza

resisted their claim by law, but on gaining his suit yielded up to them

all they had demanded except one bed.


[15]   Skill  in  polishing  lenses  gave  him  sufficient  money  for  his

scanty  needs,  and  he  acquired  a reputation as an optician before

he  became  known  as  a  philosopher.   It  was  in this capacity that

he   was   consulted   by   Leibnitz (xiii:1).    His  only  contribution  to

the  science  was  a  short  treatise  on  the  rainbow, printed posthu-

mously  in  1687.   This  was  long  regarded  as lost, but has, in our

own   time,   been   recovered   and   reprinted   by  Dr.  Van  Vloten.


[16]   Spinoza also drew,  for amusement, portraits of his friends with
                                                                                         Bk.XII:418.
ink or charcoal.   Colerus possessed "a whole book of such draughts,

amongst  which  there  were  some  heads  of  several  considerable

persons,  who  were  known  to  him,  or  had  occasion  to visit him,"

and  also  a  portrait  of  the  philosopher  himself  in  the costume of

Masaniello.


[17]   So  remarkable  a  man  could  hardly  remain obscure, and we

have  no  reason  to  suppose  that Spinoza shrank from social inter-

course.   Though  in  the  last  years  of his life his page XIV habits were
                                                                            Bk.XX:349.
somewhat  solitary,  this  may  be  set down to failing health, poverty,

and  the  pressure of uncompleted work.   He was never a professed

ascetic,  and  probably,  in  the  earlier  years  of his separation from

Judaism,  was  the  centre  of  an  admiring and affectionate circle of

friends.   In  his  letters he frequently states that visitors leave him no

time  for  correspondence,  and the tone, in which he was addressed

by   comparative   strangers,  shows  that  he  enjoyed  considerable

reputation  and  respect.   Before  the  appearance  of  the Tractatus

Theologico-Politicus,  he  had  published  nothing which could shock

the  susceptibilities  of  Christians,  and  he  was known to be a com-
                      Bk.XX:170eudaimonia.
plete  master  of  Cartesianism  then  regarded as the consummation

and  crown  of  learning.   It  is  recorded that a society of young men

used  to hold meetings in Amsterdam for the discussion of philosoph-

ical   problems,   and  that  Spinoza  contributed  papers  as  material

for  their  debates (xiv:1).   Possibly the MS. treatise " On God, Man,
               { Blessedness—Elwes's translation }
and  his  Well-Being,"  which  has been  re-discovered  in  two Dutch                    Wolf
     { ^ For translation and commentary by Curley see Bk.VIII:46 }
copies during our own time, may be referred to this period.  It is of no
                              { ^ 1883 }
philosophic value compared with the Ethics, but is interesting histori-

cally  as throwing light on the growth of Spinoza's mind and his early

relations to Cartesianism.


[18]   Oblivion  has  long  since  settled  down  over this little band of

questioners,  but  a  touching  record  has  been preserved of one of
                        Bk.XX:213, 261, 262.
their  number,  Simon de Vries, who figures in Spinoza's correspond-

ence.   He  had  often,  we are told,  wished to bestow gifts of money

on  his  friend  and  master,  but  these  had  always  been  declined.

During  the  illness  which  preceded  his  early  death, he expressed

a  desire to make the philosopher his heir.   This again was declined,

and  he  was  prevailed  on  by  Spinoza  to  reduce the bequest to a

small  annuity,  and  to  leave  the  bulk  of  his  property  page XV  to his

family.   When  he  had  passed  away  his  brother fixed the pension

at  600  florins, but Spinoza declared the sum excessive, and refused

to  accept  more  than  300 florins, which were punctually paid him till

his death.


[19]  Besides this instruction by correspondence, for which he seems

to  have  demanded  no  payment  ("mischief,"  as  one  of his biogra-

phers  puts it,  "could  be had from him for nothing"), Spinoza at least

in  one  instance received into his house a private pupil (xv:1) gener-

ally identified with one Albert Burgh, who became a convert to Rome

in  1675,  and  took that occasion to admonish his ex-tutor in a strain

of  contemptuous  pity (xv:2).   Probably  to  this  youth were dictated

"The   principles   of   Cartesianism   geometrically   demonstrated,"

which  Spinoza  was induced by his friends to publish, with the addi-

                                                                                      { E5:L29(12):317 }
tion  of  some metaphysical reflections, in 1663 (xv:3).  Lewis Meyer,                Letter:3320[34]
          Bk.XX:171, 172, 403.
a  physician  of  Amsterdam, and one of Spinoza's intimates, saw the

book  through  the press,  and  supplied  a  preface.   Its author does

not  appear  to  have  attached any importance to the treatise, which

he  regarded  merely  as  likely  to  pave the way for the reception of

more  original  work.   It  is  interesting  as an example of the method

afterwards  employed in the Ethics, used to support propositions not

accepted by their expounder.   It also shows that Spinoza thoroughly

understood the system he rejected.

Note[20]
[20]   In  the  same year the philosopher removed from Rhijnsburg to
 Bk.XIB:4419, 20TL:L30(17):325, Neff.
Voorburg,  a  suburb  of  the Hague, and in 1670 to the Hague itself,
     ^ Bk.XIB:605Bk.XII:418.
where  he  lived till his death in 1677, lodging first in the house (after-

wards  tenanted  by  Colerus)  of  the widow Van Velden, and subse-

quently  with  Van  der  Spijk,  page XVI   a  painter.  He  was very likely

led  to  leave  Rhijnsburg  by  his  increasing reputation and a desire

for  educated  society.   By  this  time  he was well known in Holland,
                                                    Bk.XIB:21; Bk.XX:407.
and  counted  among  his  friends, John de Witt,  who is said to have

consulted  him  on affairs of state.   Nor was his fame confined to his
                         Bk.XIB:5137Bk.XIII:185.
native  country.   Henry  Oldenburg,  the  first  secretary of the newly-
                                          ^ Bk.XX:404.
established Royal Society of England,  had visited him at Rhijnsburg,

introduced  possibly  by Huyghens, and had invited him to carry on a
     {LT:L01(01):275 }
correspondence (xvi:1), in terms of affectionate intimacy.  Oldenburg

was rather active-minded than able,  never really understood or sym-

pathized  with  Spinoza's  standpoint,  and  was  thoroughly shocked
                  { EL:L19(68):296 }
(xvi:2)  at the appearance of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, but

he was the intimate friend of Robert Boyle,  and kept his correspond-

ent  acquainted  with  the  progress  of science in England.  Later on
           Bk.XIB:239123.
(1671),  Leibnitz  consulted Spinoza on a question of practical optics

(xvi:3),  and  in 1676, Ludwig von Tschirnhausen, a Bohemian noble-

man,   known   in  the history  of  mathematical  science,  contributed

some pertinent criticisms on the Ethics,  then circulated in MS (xvi:4).


[21]  Amusing testimonies to Spinoza's reputation are afforded by the
                                      { LT:L31(18):327 }
volunteered effusions of Blyenbergh (xvi:5), and the artless question-

ings of the believer in ghosts (xvi:6).


[22]   In  1670,   the  Tractatus Theologico-Politicus   was  published

anonymously,   with   the  name  of  a  fictitious  printer  at  Hamburg.
                                                                {Bk.XIB:143, 257.}
It   naturally   produced   a   storm   of   angry   controversy.    It  was,

in 1674,  formally prohibited by the States-General, and, as a matter

of course, was placed on the Index by the Romish Church.   Perhaps

few  books  have  been  page XVII  more often "refuted," or less seriously

damaged  by  the  ordeal.   Its  author  displayed  his disinclination to

disturb the faith of the unlearned by preventing during his lifetime the             EL:L19(68):296

appearance of the book in the vernacular.

       
Bk.XIB:136.
[23]   In 1672,  men's  thoughts were for a time diverted from theologi-
                                          Bk.XX:106, 292.
cal  controversy  by  the French invasion  of the Netherlands, and the
                                                                            Bk.XIB:1383.
consequent  outbreak  of domestic faction.   The  shameful massacre

of  the  brothers  De Witt  by   an infatuated mob brought Spinoza into

close  and  painful  contact  with  the  passions  seething  round  him.
                                                                                          Bk.XIB:1385.
For  once  his  philosophic  calm  was  broken:  he  was only by force

prevented  from  rushing  forth  into  the  streets  at the peril of his life,

and proclaiming his abhorrence of the crime.


[24]    Shortly   afterwards,  when  the  head-quarters  of  the  French
                                                                         Bk.XIB:141Bk.XII:422, 423.
army  were at Utrecht,  Spinoza was sent for by the Prince de Conde,

who  wished  to  make his acquaintance.   On his arrival at the camp,

however,  he  found  that the Prince was absent; and, after waiting a

few  days,  returned  home  without  having  seen  him.   The philoso-

pher's   French   entertainers   held   out  hopes  of   a  pension  from
                           Bk.XIB:141Bk.XII:423.
Louis XIV.,  if  a book  were  dedicated  to  that  monarch;  but   these

overtures were declined.

                    Bk.XIB:14212Bk.XII:423.
[25]   On his arrival at the Hague,  Spinoza was exposed to consider-

able  danger from the excited populace, who suspected him of being
 Bk.XIB:14516Bk.XII:37.
a spy.   The  calm,  which  had  failed him on the murder of his friend,

remained  unruffled  by  the  peril  threatening  himself.    He  told his

landlord,  who  was  in  dread  of the house being sacked, that, if the

mob  showed  any  signs  of  violence, he would go out and speak to

them  in  person,  though  they  should serve him as they had served
                                                    Bk.XII:424.
the  unhappy  De Witts"I  am  a  good republican,"  he Added, "and

have  never  had  any  aim  but  the  welfare  and  good of the State."                Bk.XIB:142. 

                                           L53, 54:373     Bk.XIB:146Bk.XII:424.
[26]   In 1673,  Spinoza was offered by the Elector Palatine,  page XVIII

Charles Lewis (xviii:1),  a  professorship of philosophy at Heidelberg,

but  declined it (xviii:2), on the plea that teaching would interfere with

his  original  work,   and  that  doctrinal  restrictions,  however  slight,

would prove irksome.


[27]   In the following year {1674}, the Ethics were finished and circu-

lated  in  MS. among their author's friends.   Spinoza made a journey

to  Amsterdam  for  the  purpose  of publishing them, but changed his

intention  on  learning  that  they  would  probably meet with a stormy

reception  {EL:L19:296, EL:L20:297}.  Perhaps  failing  health strengthened

his  natural  desire for peace, and considerations of personal renown

never had any weight with him.


[28]   To   this   closing  period  belong  the  details  as  to  Spinoza's
                                         {Bk.XII:409}
manner of life collected by Colerus. They are  best given in the biog-

rapher's  simple  words,  as  rendered  in  the  contemporary English
                                                        Bk.XX:26356Bk.XII:419.
version:  "It  is  scarce  credible  how  sober and frugal he was.   Not

that  he  was  reduced  to  so  great  a  poverty,  as not to be able to

spend  more,  if  he  had  been willing.   He had friends enough, who

offered  him  their  purses, and  all manner of assistance; but he was
                                                                     {Bk.XII:419}
naturally  very  sober,  and  would   be satisfied with little."   His food

apparently cost him but a few pence a day, and he drank hardly any

wine.   "He was often invited to eat with his friends, but chose rather

to  live  upon  what  he  had  at  home,  though it were never so little,

than  to  sit down to a good table at the expense of another man. . . .

He was very careful to cast up his accounts every quarter;  which he

did,  that  he  might  spend neither more nor less than what he could

spend  every  year.   And  he  would say sometimes to the people of

the  house,  that  he was like the serpent, who forms a circle with his
         Bk.XIB:14724Bk.XII:419.
tail  in his mouth, to denote that he had nothing left at the year's end.

He  added,  that  he  designed  to  lay  up no more money than what
                                                                    {Bk.XII:419. }
would  be  necessary  for  him  to  have a decent burying. . .  page XIX

He  was  of  a middle size; he had good features in his face, the skin

somewhat black;  black curled hair; long eye brows, and of the same

colour,  so  that  one  might  easily  know  by  his  looks  that he was

descended  from  Portuguese  Jews. . . . If  he  was very frugal in his

way  of  living,  his conversation was also very sweet and easy.   He

knew admirably well how to be master of his passions: he was never

seen  very  melancholy,  nor  very  merry. . . . He  was  besides very

courteous  and  obliging.   He  would  very  often  discourse  with his
                                            {Bk.XII:420. }
landlady,  especially  when  she  lay  in,  and  with  the people of the

house,  when  they  happened to be sick or afflicted: he never failed,

then,  to  comfort  them, and exhort them to bear with patience those

evils  which  God  assigned  to them as a lot.   He put the children in

mind  of  going  often to church, and taught them to be obedient and

dutiful  to  their  parents.    When the people of the house came from

church,  he  would  often ask them what they, had learned, and what

they   remembered   of   the  sermon.   He  had  a  great  esteem  for
  Bk.XIB:237111, 112Bk.XII:420.
Dr. Cordes,  my  predecessor, who was a learned and good-natured

man,  and  of  an  exemplary  life, which gave occasion to Spinoza to

praise  him  very  often: nay, he went sometimes to hear him preach.

. . It  happened  one  day  that  his  landlady  asked  him whether he  

believed  she  could  be  saved  in  the religion  she  professed.   He             J. Thomas Cook

answered:  'Your  religion  is  a very good one; you need not look for                Mark Twain

another,  nor doubt that you may be saved in it,  provided, whilst you
                        {Bk.XII:421.}
apply  yourself  to piety,  you  live at the same time a peaceable and

quiet life."


[29]   His amusements were very simple:  talking on ordinary matters
                                                                             Bk.XX:26357Bk.XII:421.
with  the  people  of  the  house;  smoking  now  and  again a pipe of

tobacco;  watching  the habits and quarrels of insects; making obser-
                         Bk.XIB:252154.
vations  with  a  microscope—such  were  his  pastimes  in the hours

which  he  could  spare from his philosophy.   But the greater part of

his  day  was  taken  up  with  severe  mental  work  in his own room.

Sometimes  page XX  he  would  become  so  absorbed,  that  he would

remain  alone for two or three days together, his meals being carried

up to him.


[30]   Spinoza  had never been robust, and had for more than twenty
                                   {pulmonary tuberculosis; consumption}
years  been  suffering  from  phthisis,  a malady which, at any rate in

those  days,  never  allowed  its  victims  to  escape.   The end came
         Bk.XX:349.
quite  suddenly  and  quietly,  in  February, 1677.   On  Saturday, the

20th,   after  the  landlord  and  his  wife  had  returned  from  church,

Spinoza  spent  some  time  with  them  in conversation, and smoked

a  pipe  of  tobacco,  but went to bed early.   Apparently, he had pre-
                                                                   { E5:L29(12):317 }
viously  sent  for  his friend and physician, Lewis Meyer, who arrived

on  Sunday  morning.   On  the  21st,  Spinoza, came down as usual,

and  partook  of  some  food  at  the  mid-day meal.   In the afternoon,

the physician stayed alone with his patient,  the rest going to church.

But when the landlord and his wife returned,  they were startled with

the   news  that  the  philosopher  had  expired  about  three  o'clock.

Lewis Meyer returned to Amsterdam that same evening.


[31]   Thus  passed away all that was mortal of Spinoza.   If we have

read  his  character  aright,  his  last  hours  were comforted with  the

thought,  not  so much that he had raised for himself an imperishable              Perpetuation 

monument,  as  that  he  had  pointed  out  to mankind a sure path to

happiness  and  peace,  {PcM}.   Perhaps,  with  this glorious vision,

there mingled  the  more  tender  feeling, that, among the simple folk

with  whom  he  lived,  his  memory  would  for  a  few  brief years be

cherished with reverence and love.


[32]   The  funeral  took place on the 25th February, "being attended

by  many  illustrious  persons,  and  followed  by  six coaches."   The

estate left behind him by the philosopher was very scanty.  Rebekah
                        Bk.XIB:22071Bk.XII:442.                           Bk.XX:351.
de  Spinoza,  sister  of  the  deceased,  put in a claim as his heir; but

abandoned  it on finding that, after the payment of expenses, little or

nothing would remain.

page XXI
[33]    The  MSS.,  which  were  found  in  Spinoza's  desk,  were,  in
                                                                    Bk.XIB:4522, 23Bk.XII:441.
accordance  with  his  wishes,  forwarded  to  John Rieuwertz, a pub-
                                                     Bk.XIB:198;Bk.XX:349.^
lisher  of  Amsterdam, and were that same year brought out by Lewis
 Bk.XIB:2019.
Meyer,  and  another  of  the  philosopher's  friends,  under  the  title,

"B. D. S. Opera Posthuma."  They  consisted  of  the  Ethics, a selec-           Image of Title Page 

tion  of  Letters, a compendium of Hebrew grammar, and two uncom-

pleted  treatises,  one  on politics, the other (styled  "An Essay on the

Improvement  of  the  Understanding," )   on   logical   method.    The                       Wolf 

last-named   had   been  begun  several  years  previously,  but  had

apparently  been  added to from time to time. It develops some of the

doctrines  indicated  in  the Ethics,  and  serves  in  some  sort as an

introduction to the larger work. 
 

                                          

                        B. D. S.  Opera Posthuma Title Page
                              published in November 1677
                        {
Used with the kind permission of Ulrich Harsch  
                                     from his Geometrico Demonstrata
}


[34]   In  considering  Spinoza's  system  of philosophy, it must not be

forgotten  that  the  problem of the universe seemed much simpler in
                                                     {How much more so in 2005!}
his day {1670's}, than it does in  our  own {1880's}. Men had not then

recognized,  that knowledge is "a world whose margin fades for ever

and for ever as we move."    They believed that truth was something

definite,  which  might  be  grasped  by  the  aid  of a clear head, dili-

gence,  and a sound method.   Hence a tone of confidence breathed

through  their  inquiries, which has since died away, and a complete-

ness  was  aimed  at,  which is now seen to be unattainable, {except

pragmatically}. But the products of human thought are often valuable

in  ways  undreamt  of  by  those who fashioned them, and long after
                                                                   {hypothesis}
their  original  use has become obsolete.   A system, obviously inade-

quate  and  defective  as  a whole, may yet enshrine ideas which the

world is the richer for possessing {and evolving}.


[35]   This   distinction   between   the   framework   and  the  central

thoughts  is  especially  necessary  in  the  study  of  Spinoza; for the

form in which his work is cast would seem to lay stress on their inter-

dependence.   It  has  often  been  said, that the geometrical method

was  adopted,  because  it  was  page XXII  believed  to  insure absolute

freedom  from  error.  But examination shows this to be a misconcep-

tion.   Spinoza,  who  had  purged  his mind of so many illusions, can

hardly  have succumbed to the notion, that his Ethics was a flawless

mass  of  irrefragable  truth.   He  adopted  his  method  because  he

believed,   that   he  thus  reduced  argument  to  its  simplest  terms,

and  laid  himself  least open to the reductions of rhetoric or passion.

"It  is  the  part  of  a wise man," he says, "not to bewail nor to deride,             Spinoza's Dictum

but to understand."   Human nature obeys fixed laws no less than do

the figures of geometry.   "I will, therefore, write about human beings,

as  though  I  were  concerned  with  lines,  and  planes,  and solids."                    Triangles


[36]  As  no  system  is  entirely  true,  so  also  no system is entirely

original.    Each  must  in  great  measure  be  the  recombination  of
                                                {The same applies to Religion and Holidays.}
elements  supplied by its predecessors.   Spinozism forms no excep-

tion  to  this  rule;  many  of  its  leading  conceptions  may be traced
                                                                Bk.III:211.
in the writings of Jewish Rabbis and of Descartes.


[37]   The biography  of  the  philosopher  supplies  us  in  some sort                 Spinozism

with  the  genesis  of  his system.   His youth had been passed in the            Wolfson:2:221
                           {Endnote [37]}
study   of   Hebrew  learning,  of  metaphysical  speculations  on  the               Hampshire:203
  
nature  of  the  Deity.   He  was  then  confronted  with  the 
scientific                Hampshire:28
                                                                      {for me, Spinoza and Einstein}
aspect  of  the  world  as  revealed  by  DescartesAt  first  the  two                Dialectics
                                          EL:Endnote Bk.III:211 ^
visions   seemed  antagonistic,   but,   as   he  gazed,  their  outlines           Philosophy/Religion
  {Theistic - Spinozistic Theistic Synthesized, Paradigm Shift, ST:Note 4}                                                               Rosenberg:26
blended   and   commingled ^,  he found himself in the presence  not           {Read "Gifts of
                                {James}                                                 {organically, IP28, 29}                     the Jews" Pg. 156}
of  two,   but  of  ONE;  the  universe  unfolded  itself ^ to  him as the
                                                                                {ONE1D6}
necessary  result  of  the  Perfect  and  Eternal  G-D.                                         Schorsch
 

From "Jews, God and History", ISBN 0451628667, Pg. 339.  {Thanks to Tim Bagwell.} 


[38]   Other  influences,  no  doubt, played a part in shaping his con-

victions;  we know, for instance, that he was a student of Bacon and

of  Hobbes,  and  almost  certainly of Giordano Bruno, but these two
                                                    Bk.XIB:23398.
elements,  the  Jewish  and  the  Cartesian, are the main sources of                 Other sources 

his  system,  though  it  cannot  properly be called the mere develop-
                                                     Bk.III:211.
ment  of  either.   From page XXIII   Descartes, as Mr. Pollock points out,

he  derived  his  notions  of  physical science and his doctrine of the

conservation of motion.


[39]   In  the  fragment  on  the  Improvement  of  the  Understanding,

Spinoza  sets  forth the causes which prompted him to turn to philos-

ophy (xxiii:1).   It  is  worthy  of  note that they are not speculative but
                                                       Bk.III:211.
practical.   He  did  not  seek, like Descartes, "to walk with certainty,"
                     {pleasure}
but to find a happiness {better PcM}, beyond the reach of change for

himself  and  his  fellow  men.   With  a  fervour  that  reminds  one of

Christian  fleeing  from   the  City  of  Destruction,  he  dilates on  the

vanity  of  men's ordinary ambitions,  riches, fame, and the pleasures

of  sense,  and  on  the  necessity  of  looking  for some more worthy

object  for  their  desires.   Such  an object he finds in the knowledge

of  truth,  as  obtainable  through  clear and distinct  ideas, bearing in

themselves the evidence of their own veracity.


[40]   Spinoza  conceived  as  a  vast  unity  all  existence  actual and

possible;  indeed,  between  actual  and  possible  he  recognizes no

distinction,  for,  if  a  thing does not exist, there must be some cause

which  prevents  its  existing,  or  in other words renders it impossible.

This  unity  he  terms  indifferently Substance  or  G-D,   and the first

part  of  the  Ethics  is  devoted  to  expounding  its  Nature.                           E1:D.VI:45, Love of G-D.


[41]   Being the sum of existence, it is necessarily infinite (for there is

nothing external to itself to make it finite),  and it can be the cause of

an infinite number of results.   It must necessarily operate in absolute

freedom,  for there is nothing by which it can be controlled;  but none

the  less  necessarily  it must operate in accordance with eternal and

immutable laws, fulfilling the perfection of its own Nature.


[42]   Substance  consists  in,   or  rather  displays  itself  through  an

infinite  number  of  Attributes,  but  of  these  only two,  page XXIV Exten-

sion  and  Thought,  are  knowable  by us; therefore, the rest may be

left out of account in our inquiries.   These Attributes are not different
                                                                              {Substance}                                         {Three blind men
things,  but  different  aspects  of  the  same  thing (Spinoza does not             and the elephant.}

make  it  clear, whether the difference is intrinsic or due to the percip-

ient);  thus  Extension and Thought  are  not  parallel and interacting,

but  identical,  and  both acting in one order and connection.   Hence

all  questions  of  the dependence of mind on body, or body on mind,              Pineal Gland.

are  done  away  with  at  a  stroke.    Every manifestation of either is

but  a  manifestation  of  the  other,   seen  under  a  different  aspect.


[43]   Attributes  are  again  subdivided,  or rather display themselves

through  an  infinite  number of Modes; some eternal and universal in
                                                                                               {mental}
respect of each Attribute (such as motion and the sum of all psychical

facts);  others having no eternal and necessary existence,  but acting

and reacting on one another in ceaseless flux, according to fixed and

definite  laws.   These  latter  have been compared in relation to their

Attributes  to  waves  in  relation  to the sea; or again they may be lik-

ened  to  the  myriad  hues  which play over the iridescent surface of

a  bubble;  each  is  the  necessary  result  of that which went before,

and  is  the  necessary precursor of that which will come after; all are
  { affections }
modifications of the underlying film.   The phenomenal world is made

up  of  an  infinite  number  of  these  Modes.   It  is  manifest that the

Modes  of  one  Attribute  cannot  be acted upon by the Modes of an-

other  Attribute,  for  each  may  be  expressed  in  terms of the other;

within  the  limits  of  each Attribute the variation in the Modes follows

an  absolutely  necessary  order.   When  the  first  is  given,  the rest

follow  as  inevitably,  as  from  the  nature of a triangle it follows, that

its  three  angles  are  equal  to  two  right angles.  Nature is uniform,
                          {, miracle,}
and  no  infringement  of  her laws is conceivable without a reduction

to chaos.

                                                                              < E1:Parkinson:26844 >
[44]   Hence  it  follows,  that  a  thing  can  only  be called contingent
                                                                                       Bk.III:229^
page XXV  in  relation  to  our  knowledge.    To  an  infinite  intelligence

such a term would be unmeaning.


[45]   Hence also it follows,  that the world cannot have been created

for  any  purpose  other  than  that  which  it  fulfils by being what it is.

To  say  that  it  has  been  created  for  the  good  of man, or for any                 No Ends

similar end, is to indulge in grotesque anthropomorphism.


[46  Among the Modes of thought may be reckoned the human mind,

among  the  Modes  of  extension may be reckoned the human body;

taken together they constitute the Mode man.


[47]     The  nature  of  mind  forms  the  subject  of  the  second  part

of  the Ethics.   Man's mind is the idea of man's body,  the conscious-      Meme Evolution, Mysticism.

ness  of  bodily  states.   Now bodily states are the result, not only of        Autonomic Nervous System

the  body  itself,  but  also  of  all things affecting the body; hence the

human  mind takes cognizance, not only of the human body, but also

of  the  external  world,  in  so  far  as  it  affects the human body.   Its

capacity for varied perceptions is in proportion to the body's capacity
                      {emotions}
for receiving impressions. {E2:VII:86.}


[48]   The  succession  of  ideas  of bodily states cannot be arbitrarily

controlled  by  the  mind  taken  as  a  power  apart,  though the mind,

as  the  aggregate  of  past  states,  may  be a more or less important

factor  in  the  direction  of  its  course.     We can, in popular phrase,

direct  our thoughts at will, but the will, which we speak of as sponta-              Mark Twain

neous, is really determined by laws as fixed and necessary, as those

which regulate the properties of a triangle or a circle.   The illusion of

freedom, in the sense of uncaused volition, results from the fact, that

men  are  conscious  of  their actions, but unconscious of the causes
                                                                  {no praise, no blame}
whereby  those  actions have been determined. The chain of causes

becomes,  so  to  speak,  incandescent at  a particular point, and men

assume  that  only  at  that  point  does  it  start  into existence.  They

ignore the links which still remain in obscurity.

page XXVI
[49]    If  mind  be  simply,  the  mirror  of  bodily  states,  how can we

account  for  memory?   When  the mind  has  been  affected  by two

things  in  close  conjunction,  the recurrence of one re-awakens into

life  the  idea  of  the  other.  To  take  an  illustration,  mind  is  like a

traveller  revisiting  his  former  home,  for  whom  each feature of the

landscape  recalls  associations  of  the  past.     From  the  interplay,

of associations are woven memory and imagination.


[50]   Ideas  may  be  either  adequate  or inadequate, in other words

either  distinct  or  confused;  both  kinds  are  subject  to  the  law of

causation. Falsity is merely a negative conception. All adequate ideas

are  necessarily  true,  and  bear  in themselves the evidence of their

own veracity.   The mind accurately reflects existence, and if an idea

be  due  to the mental association of two different factors, the joining,

so  to  speak, may, with due care, be discerned. General notions and

abstract  terms  arise from the incapacity of the mind to retain in com-

pleteness  more  than a certain number of mental images; it therefore

groups  together  points  of  resemblance, and considers the abstrac-

tions thus formed as units.


[51]   There  are  three  kinds  of  knowledgeopinion, rational know-

ledge, and  intuitive knowledge.   The first alone is the cause of error;

the  second  consists  in  adequate  ideas  of  particular properties of

things,  and  in general notions; the third proceeds from an adequate

idea   of   some   attribute   of  G-D  to  the  adequate  knowledge  of

particular things.


[52]     The  reason  does  not  regard  things  as  contingent,  but  as

necessary, considering them under the form of eternity, as part of the

Nature  of  G-D.   The will has no existence apart from particular acts                  Mark Twain

of  volition,  and  since  acts  of  volition are ideas, the will is identical                      2P49

with the understanding.


[53]   The  third  part  of  the Ethics  is  devoted  to the consideration

of  the  emotions.


[54]    In  so  far  as  it  has  adequate ideas,   i.e.,  is  purely  rational,

page XXVII  the  mind  maybe  said to be active; in so far as it has inade-

quate   ideas,   it   is  passive,   and  therefore  subject  to  emotions.
 
         {
E3:IV:136}
[55]    Nothing  can  be  destroyed  from  within,   for  all change must
                                                                             {E3:VI:136}
come from without.   In other words, everything endeavours to persist
                                                           {Why not? I think it is.}
in  its  own  being.    This endeavour must not be associated with the
        Darwinism +1+2
"struggle for existence"  familiar  to students  of evolutionary theories,

though   the   suggestion   is  tempting;   it  is  simply  the  result  of  a

thing  being  what  it  is.  When  it  is  spoken  of  in  reference  to the
                                                                      <Bk.XV:278113onE3:IX(3)N:137.>
human mind  only, it is equivalent to the will; in reference to the whole

man,  it  may  be  called  appetite.  Appetite is thus identified with life;
                              < Bk.XV:278114 on E3:IX(4):137 >
desire  is defined as appetite, with consciousness thereof.  All objects

of  our  desire  owe  their choice-worthiness simply to the fact that we

desire them: we do not desire a thing, because it is intrinsically good,

but  we  deem  a thing good, because we desire it.  Every thing which
                                                           {E3:GN(2)n }
adds to  he bodily or mental powers of activity is pleasure; everything

which detracts from them is pain.


[56] From these three fundamentalsdesire, pleasure, pain—Spinoza

deduces  the entire list of human emotionsLove is pleasure, accom-

panied by the idea of an external cause; hatred is pain, accompanied

by  the idea of an external cause.     Pleasure or pain may be excited

by anything, incidentally, if not directly.  There is no need to proceed

further  with  the  working  out  of  the  theory,  but we may remark, in

passing,  the  extraordinary  fineness  of  perception and sureness of
                                                          { or here }
touch,  with  which it is accomplished; here, if nowhere else, Spinoza   

remains  unsurpassed  (xxvii:1).    Almost  page XXVIII  all  the   emotions           Damasio's Bk. XXVI

arise  from  the  passive  condition  of  the  mind,  but  there is also a

pleasure  arising  from  the  mind's  contemplation  of  its  own power.

This is the source of virtue, and is purely active.


[57]   In  the  fourth  part  of  the Ethics,  Spinoza  treats  of man in so

far  as  he  is  subject  to  the  emotions,  prefixing  a  few remarks on

the   meaning   of  the  terms  perfect  and  imperfect,  good  and  evil.

A  thing  can  only  be  called perfect in reference to the known inten-

tion of its author.   We style "good" that which we know with certainty

to be useful to us: we style "evil" that which we know will hinder us in

the  attainment of good.   By, "useful," we mean that which will aid us

to approach gradually the ideal we have set before ourselves.    Man,

being a part only of Nature, must be subject to emotions, because he

must  encounter  circumstances  of which he is not the sole and suffi-

cient  cause.   Emotion  can  only  be  conquered by another emotion

stronger than itself,  hence knowledge will only lift us above the sway

of  passions,  in  so  far  as it is itself  "touched with emotion."   Every

man necessarily,  and therefore rightly, seeks his own interest, which

is  thus  identical  with  virtue; but his own interest does not lie in sel-

fishness,  for  man  is  always in need of external help, and nothing is

more  useful  to  him than his fellow-men; hence individual well-being

is best promoted by harmonious social effort.     The reasonable man

will  desire  nothing  for himself,  which  he  does  not desire for other

men;  therefore  he  will  be  just,  faithful,  and honourable. {E2:II:192. }


[58]   The  code  of  morals  worked  out  on  these  lines bears many

resemblances  to  Stoicism,   though  it  is  improbable  that  Spinoza

was   consciously   imitating.    The   doctrine   that  rational  emotion,

rather than pure reason,  is necessary for subduing the evil passions,

is entirely his own.

                                                                      {       peace-of-mind        }
[59]     The means whereby man may gain mastery over his passions,

are  set  forth  in  the  first portion of the fifth part page XXIX of the Ethics.

They  depend  on  the  definition  of passion as a confused idea.  As

soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of a passion,  it changes its

character,  and ceases to be a passion.  Now it is possible,  with due

care,  to form a distinct idea of every bodily state;  hence a true know-

ledge  of  the  passions  is  the  best  remedy against them.   While we

contemplate  the world as a necessary result of the perfect Nature of
       { Isaac Bashevis Singer }   
G-Dfeeling of joy  will arise in our hearts, accompanied by the idea                  Mysticism
       {
better, °PcM  ^ }                       {         Cash Value            }
of G-D as its cause.  This  is the intellectual love of G-D,  which is the
      { better, °PcM }
highest happiness man can know. It seeks for no special love from G-D            G-D at 100% °P
                                                                         {miracle}
in return, for such would imply a change in the Nature of the Deity.  It

rises above all fear of change through envy or jealousy, and increases

in  proportion  as  it  is  seen  to  be participated in by our fellow-men.
 
                        {
E5:XXI-XLII:259}
[60]   The  concluding propositions  of  the Ethics  have  given rise to
             {dispute}
more  controversy  than  any  other  part of the system.   Some critics

have   maintained  that  Spinoza  is  indulging  in  vague  generalities

without  any  definite  meaning,  others  have  supposed  that the lan-

guage  is  intentionally obscure.   Others,  again,  see  in them a doc-

trine of personal immortality, and, taking them in conjunction with the               Bk.XIV:2:3112    

somewhat  transcendental  form  of  the  expressions  concerning the
                                                                                            Bk.XIB:229.
love  of  G-D,  have  claimed  the  author  of  the  Ethics  as a Mystic.

All  these suggestions are reductions to the absurd, the last not least

so.   Spinoza  may  have  been  not  unwilling  to show that his creed

could be expressed in exalted language as well as the current theology
                       
EL:xxix:1A-Love
 but   his   "intellectual love"   has   no   more  in  common  with  the

ecstatic  enthusiasm  of  cloistered saints, than his "G-D" has in com-

mon  with the Divinity of Romanist peasants, or his "eternity" with the
                                                                             (xxix:1)    { xxix:1A }
paradise  of  Mahomet.   But   to  return  to  the  doctrine  in  dispute .
                                  { E5:XXIII:259 }                           { ^E5:Endnote20:20N}
"The  human  mind,"  says Spinoza, "cannot be wholly destroyed with

the  body,   but  page XXX  somewhat  of  it  remains,  which  is  eternal."              Durant:746:[1a]

The  eternity  thus  predicated  cannot mean indefinite persistence in

time, for eternity is not commensurable with time.  It must mean some

special  kind  of existence; it is, in fact, defined as a mode of thinking.

Now,  the mind consists of adequate and inadequate ideas;  in so far

as  it  is composed  of the former, it is part of the infinite mind of G-D,

which  broods,  as  it were, over the extended universe as its expres-

sion  in  terms  of  thought.   As  such,  it  is  necessarily eternal, and,

since  knowledge  implies  self-consciousness,  it  knows  that it is so.

Inadequate ideas will pass away with the body, because they are the

result  of  conditions,  which  are  merely  temporary, and inseparably
                                                           {triangles}
connected  with  the  body,  but  adequate  ideas  will not pass away,

inasmuch as they are part of the mind of the Eternal.    Knowledge of

the  third  or  intuitive kind is the source of our highest perfection and

blessedness;  even  as  it  forms  part  of  the infinite mind of G-D, so

also  does  the joy with which it is accompanied—the intellectual love

of  G-D—form  part  of  the  infinite  intellectual  love, wherewith G-D

regards Himself.


[61]   Spinoza concludes with the admonition, that morality rests on a

basis  quite  independent  of  the  acceptance  of  the  mind's Eternity.

Virtue  is  its  own reward,  and needs no other.  This doctrine, which

appears, as it were, perfunctorily in so many systems of morals, is by

Spinoza  insisted  on with almost passionate earnestness; few things

seem  to  have  moved  him  to  more scornful denial than the popular

creed,  that supernatural rewards and punishments are necessary as
                                                              Bk.XX:247.
incentives to virtue. "I see in what mud this man sticks,"  he exclaims

in  answer  to  some  such statement. "He is one of those who would

follow after his own lusts, if he were not restrained by the fear of hell.

He  abstains page XXXI  from  evil  actions  and  fulfils  God's commands

like  a  slave  against  his  will,  and  for  his  bondage  he expects to

be   rewarded   by   God   with   gifts   far   more   to   his  taste  than
                  (EL:L49(43):365"and greater in proportion to his dislike to goodness.")
Divine love,  and  great  in  proportion  to his original dislike of virtue."

Again,  at  the  close  of  the  Ethicshe  draws  an  ironical picture of

the  pious  coming  before  God  at  the  Judgment, and looking to be

endowed  with incalculable blessings in recompense for the grievous

burden of their piety.   For him,  who is truly wise, Blessedness is not                    5P42:270

the  reward  of  virtue,  but  virtue itself.  "And though the way thereto

be  steep,  yet it may be found—all things excellent are as difficult, as            Concluding Thought

they are rare."


[62]    Such,   in  rough  outline,  is  the  philosophy  of  Spinoza;  few

systems  have  been  more variously interpreted. Its author has been
                                                    Bk.XIB:230, 231.
reviled   or   exalted   as  Atheist,  PantheistMonotheist, Materialist,
 Bk.XIB:229.    Bk.XIX:25344, 45, & 46.^                ^ Bk.XVIII:32Bk.XIV:II:39.
Mystic,  in  fact,  under almost every name in the philosophic vocabu-

lary.   But  such  off-hand  classification is based on hasty reading of

isolated  passages,  rather  than  on  sound  knowledge of the whole.

We  shall  act  more wisely, and more in the spirit of the master, if, as

Professor Land advises, "we call him simply Spinoza, and endeavour

to learn from himself what he sought and what he found."

                                                                                               Books 1 & 2
[63]   The two remaining works,  translated in these volumes, may be

yet more briefly considered.  They present no special difficulties, and

are easily read in their entirety.


[64]    The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, {BkII}, is an  eloquent  plea

for  religious liberty.   True religion  is shown to consist in the practice

of  simple  piety, and to be quite independent of philosophical specu-

lations.   The  elaborate  systems  of  dogmas framed by theologians

are based on superstition, resulting from fear.


[65]   The  Bible  is examined by a method, which anticipates in great

measure  the  procedure of modern rationalists {1880's}, and  page XXXII

the  theory  of  its verbal  inspiration  is shown to be untenable.   The

Hebrew prophets were distinguished not by superior wisdom,  but by

superior  virtue,  and  they  set  forth  their  higher moral ideals in lan-

guage,  which  they  thought  would best commend it to the multitude

whom they  addressed.  For anthropomorphic notions of the Deity as

a  heavenly  King  and Judge, who displays His power by miraculous

interventions,  is  substituted the conception set forth in the Ethics of

an  Infinite Being,  fulfilling  in  the uniformity of natural law the perfec-

tion  of  His  own Nature.   Men's thoughts cannot really be constrain-

ed by commands;  therefore, it is wisest, so long as their actions con-

form to morality, to allow them absolute liberty to think what they like,

and say what they think.

                   Bk.XIB:25.
[66]  The Political Treatise  {Bk.II:283}  was the latest work of Spinoza's
                       {L(84):357 }
life,  and  remains  unfinished.   Though  it  bears  abundant evidence
                                 Bk.III:211.
of  the  influence of  Hobbes,  it  differs  from him in several important           Hampshire:179 

points.   The  theory  of  sovereignty  is  the same in both writers, but

Spinoza  introduces  considerable qualifications.   Supreme power is

ideally  absolute,  but  its  rights  must,  in  practice,  be limited by the

endurance  of  its  subjects.    Thus governments are founded on the

common consent, and for the convenience of the governed, who are,

in the last resort, the arbiters of their continuance.


[67]    Spinoza,  like  Hobbes,  peremptorily  sets  aside  all  claims of          Hampshire:179 
   
{Where there are multiple Religions but not where there is a Universal Religion.}
religious  organizations  to act independently of, or as superior to the

civil  power.   Both  reject  as  outside  the sphere of practical politics

the case of a special revelation to an individual.   In all matters affect-            Din Medinah Din 

ing conduct the State must be supreme.


[68]  It remains to say a few words about the present version.  I alone

am responsible for the contents of these volumes, with the exception

of  the Political Treatise,  which  has  been  translated  for me by my

friend  Mr.  A. H. Gossetpage XXXIII  Fellow  of  New  College,  Oxford,

who  has  also,  in  my  absence  from England, kindly seen the work

through  the  press.  I  have  throughout  followed Bruder's {1843 Latin}

text  (xxxiii:1{xxxiii:J4 , xxxiii:J5},  correcting  a  few  obvious misprints.

The  additional letters  given  in  Professor Van  Vloten's Supplement

(xxxiii:2), have been inserted in their due order.


[69]   This  may  claim  to  be  the  first  version  (xxxiii:3) of  Spinoza's

works  offered  to  the  English  reader;  for,  though Dr. R. Willis has

gone  over  most  of  the  ground  before,  he  laboured under the dis-

advantages  of  a  very  imperfect  acquaintance  with Latin, and very

loose notions of accuracy. The Tractatus Theologico-Politicus xxxiii:J6

had  been  previously  translated  in  1689.     Mr. Pollock  describes

this  early  version  as "pretty accurate,  but of no great literary merit."


[70]   Whatever  my  own  shortcomings,   I  have  never  consciously

eluded  a  difficulty  by  a  paraphrase.     Clearness  has  throughout

been  aimed  at  in  preference  to  elegance.     Though  the  precise

meaning  of  some  of  the  philosophical  terms  (e.g. idea)  varies in

different  passages,  I  have,  as  far  as  possible,    given  a  uniform

rendering,  not venturing  to  attempt  greater  subtlety  than  I  found.

I  have  abstained  from  notes;  for,  if  given  on  an adequate scale,

they  would  have  unduly  swelled  the  bulk of the work.   Moreover,

excellent commentaries are readily accessible.
 

                                                                     R. H. M. ELWES, 1883.

[End
 
 



 

R. H. M. ELWES'S  ENDNOTES


page v
v:1     "Short Studies in Great Subjects,"  first series,  art.  "Spinoza."

v:2      "Essays in Criticism,"  art.  "Spinoza and the Bible."

v:3       "Benedict de Spinoza; his Life, Correspondence, and Ethics."
            1870.

v:4        But  in  1880  Mr.  Pollock  brought  out  his  most  valuable
            "Spinoza, his Life and Philosophy, Book XII.{Ordering Books}  
            I  take  this  early opportunity of recording my deep obligations 
            to  Mr.  Pollock's  book.    I have made free use of it,  together 
            with  Dr.  Martineau's,  in  compiling  this  introduction.    In the 
            passages which Mr. Pollock has incidentally translated, I have 
            been  glad to be able to refer to the versions of so distinguish- 
            ed  a  scholar. 

page vi
vi:1      "Spinoza: ein Denkerleben."  1855.

page viii
viii:1    "B. de Spinoza, Opera. I."  The Hague,  1882.

page ix
ix:1      The main authority for the facts of Spinoza's life  is a short
            biography by Johannes Colerus (Kohler) Lutheran.
               The Life of B. De Spinosa
            Originally  written in Dutch (1706).  Translated the same year           Bk.XIV:1:3231
            into French and English,  and afterwards (1723) into German. 
            The  English  version  is reprinted  in  Mr.  Pollock's  book  as  
            an appendix A, Page 409.   Page 438—"Of the last Sickness,
            and Death of Spinosa" is reprinted herein. 

page xi
xi:1      Neff L32(19):331 {Spinoza to Blyenbergh -- Spinoza answers with his
               usual  courtesy  the  question  propounded  by  Blyenbergh  in L31(18):327.}
                                                                                  Bk.XIB:250.

xi:2       A translator has special opportunities for observing the extent 
            of  Spinoza's  knowledge  of Latin.   His sentences are gram- 
            matical and his meaning almost always clear. But his vocabu- 
            lary is restricted;  his style is wanting in flexibility, and seldom 
            idiomatic; in fact, the niceties of scholarship are wanting.   He 
            reminds  one  of  a  clever workman who accomplishes much 
            with simple tools. 


page xii
xii:1     Neff EL:L74(76):414 { in answer to EL:L73(67):410.} 
           Spinoza To Albert Burgh.  Spinoza laments the step taken 
            by  his  pupil,  conversion to Catholicism, and answers his 
            arguments.  The Hague, end of 1675. 
           { Bk.XIII:43103 } 


page xiii
xiii:1    L51(45):370.   Leibnitz to Spinoza;  Re: Optics.
           L52(46):371.  Spinoza to Leibnitz;  Reply. ??


page xiv                            {Bk.XIB:14414Bk.XII:421. }
xiv:1    L26(8):309; Simon De Vries to Spinoza.
              Simon de Vries,  a  diligent  student  of  Spinoza's writings and
            philosophy,  describes a club formed for the study of Spinoza's
            MS.  containing  some of the matter afterwards worked into the
            Ethics,   and   asks   questions   about   the   difficulties   felt by
            members  of  the  club.

              NeffL27(9):313; Spinoza to Simon De Vries.
              Spinoza  deprecates  his  correspondent's  jealousy  of  Albert
           Burgh;  and  answers  that  distinction must be made between
           different  kinds  of  definitions.   He explains his opinions more
           precisely.

page xv
xv:1     L26(8):309; NeffL27(9):313. Same as above.

xv:2      "Spinoza  at  least  in  one instance received into his house a
             private  pupil  generally identified with one Albert Burgh, who
             became  a  convert  to Rome in 1675, and took that occasion
             to  admonish  his  ex-tutor  in  a  strain of contemptuous pity."
             {EL:L73(68):410. }

xv:3     The full title is, "Renati des Cartes Principiorum partes I.et11.                       Letter:3320[34
            more  geometrico  demonstratae per Benedictum de Spinoza
            Amstelodamensem.    Accesserant  ejusdem  cogitata  meta-
            physica. Amsterdam", 1663.

page xvi
xvi:1    L01(01):275,  sqq.      Oldenburgh  and Spinoza correspondence;
                                                carried  on  from  Letter  I  to  Letter XXV.a.
 
                      Neff EL:L2(2):275. Defines "G-D" and "attribute" and sends definitions,
                      axioms, and first four propositions of Book I of Ethics.  Some errors
                      of Bacon and Descartes discussed.  Bk.III:211.

                Footnote  from:  spinoza@meta4.co.uk
                Henry Oldenburg  (1628-1678)  Founder member of the Royal Society
                and  the consul for Bremen in London under the Commonwealth.  Also
                corresponded  with  Leibniz.  (Spinoza  corresponded  with Oldenburg
                until the end of his life but met him only once.)


xvi:2     But  Tschirnhausen  seems  to  have brought Oldenburg and
            Boyle  to  a  better  mind.  {TL:65(63):396.}

xvi:3     L51(45):370.  See xiii:1

xvi:4     L61(57):389, sqq.

xvi:5     L31(18):327, sqq.

xvi:6     L55(51):375, sqq.

page xviii
xviii:1    L53(47):373.

page xviii
xviii:2    L54(48):374.

page xxiii
xxiii:1   These  observations are not offered as a complete exposition
            of  Spinozism,  but  merely as an indication of its general drift.

page xxvii
xxvii:1  It  may  be  worth  while  to cite the often-quoted testimony of
            the   distinguished   physiologist,   Johannes  Muller:— "With
            regard  to  the  relations of the passions to one another apart
            from  their  physiological  conditions,  it  is  impossible to give            Damasio's Bk. XXVI
            any  better  account  than  that  which Spinoza has laid down
            with   unsurpassed  mastery."- Physiologie  des  Menschen,
            ii. 543.   He follows up this praise by quoting the propositions
            in question in extenso.

page xxix
xxix:1  The  explanation here  indicated  is  based  on  that  given  by
          Mr. Pollock, "Spinoza" &c., ch. ix., pg. 288, to which the reader
           is  referred  for  a  masterly  exposition  of  the  question.

                                                  Bk.XIB:11651;Bk.XVIII:357.
         { From Bk.XII:288-Pollock on Eternity of the Mind.
                                        Wolfson, De Dijn, Curley, Parkinson.
                                        EL:[60]:xxix; E5:XX(20):259. }


{ xxix:1A  From Bk.XIV:2:3084-Wolfson on Eternity of the Mind.
                                                   Pollock, De Dijn, Curley, Parkinson.
                                                   EL:[60]:xxix; E5:XX(20):259.}


page xxxiii
xxxiii:1  "B.  de  Spinosa  Opera  quae  Supersunt  Omnia," ed. C. H.
             Leipzig (Tauchnitz), 1843. {xxxiii:J4 , xxxiiiJ5}

xxxiii:2  "Ad B. D. S. Opera quae Supersunt Omnia Supplementum."
             Amsterdam, 1862.

xxxiii:3   While  these  volumes  were  passing  through  the press, a
             translation   of   the  Ethics   appeared   by   Mr.  Hale  White
             (Trubner and Co.).  TheTractatus Politicus was translated in
             1854  by W. Maccall, but the book has become so rare as to
             be practically inaccessible.



From Pollock's Book XII, Page 438. 

        Colerus - Of the last Sickness, and Death of Spinosa. 



JBY  ENDNOTES:
 

Bk.XIB:11651—From Feuer's Bk.XIB:Page 283.     Wolfson's Ending.


[20]Note
From  Tammo Bakker's "In Spinoza's Rijnsburg"


Quoted  from   "The Divine Philosophy of Baruch de Spinoza"
with  the  kind  permission  of  the  Endeavor Academy.

Another  translation  is  given  in  Bk.XII:18  and  in  Wolf's  Introduction.

From: Ethel Jean Saltz <nietgal@airmail.net>  The  source is a photo

of   the  original  which  is  at  the  Jewish  Portuguese  Community in
Amsterdam.    Bk.XX:12112.

The Excommunication of Baruch de Spinoza.                     Bk.XX:116ff.


{Three reasons for the excommunication of Spinoza are:     Bk.XX:129. 

1.   Spinoza  violated Aben  Ezra's  dictum  of "silence."   This violation
      is  seditious  in  that  it  tends  to  break down a functioning society.
      It  takes  an  existing  faith  away  without quickly replacing it with a     Mark Twain's "Little Story"
      new  faith;  only evolution can do this peaceably. This resistance to
      change is the society's stability.
  

      Another example of the "silence" violation: inquisitorial denunciation
      of Galileo in 1632. Bk.XVII:194.  

      Spinoza is  like a  soldier  violating  an  order,  but in so doing wins
      the  battle.  Should he be condemned or commended? The answer
      is, I think, both—but unfortunately, you can't have it both ways.  

2.   The  Jewish  Authorities  feared  the  wrath  of the ruling Calvinist         Damasio:32626
      Christians against the Jewish community.  I  say  this because the              Hampshire:204
      Jewish  Authorities did   ".... endeavour(ed)  to retain him  in  their                         Wolf
      communion  by  the  offer  of  a  yearly  pension  of 1,000 florins ,"
      if he would not set forth or teach his ideas publicly. }                Bk.XIB:9; Bk.XII:416; Bk.XX:129.

       The Jewish Authorities also wanted, as did the ruling Calvinist Christians,
      to protect their communities
against an attack on their faith in a transcen-
      dent
anthropomorphic God by an abstract indwelling imminent G-D.    Mark Twain's "Little Story"

 
3.  Graetz's Censure of Spinoza. 
     From Heinrich Graetz's "History of the Jews, Vol. V", Chapter IV - Spinoza and the Rabbis.
    The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1895, Pages 92-109.  
    {I have changed Graetz's spelling of God in accordance with Note 4
      I strongly recommend study of Paragraphs 8, 9, and 10 for the understanding of Spinoza.}

From Michael A. Meyer's Response to Modernity, 0195063422, Page 63—Spinoza Censure: 


Reprinted  with  permission  from  "Spinoza,  Benedict  de,"  Encyclopædia
Britannica
, 15th  edition.   Copyright  © 1998  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
 


EL:Endnote [37]—From HirPent: Lev 19:18 - "....but thou shalt love thy neighbour's
                                                                          well-being as t'were thine own: I am G-D."

Mark 12: (29) And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments
                is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our G-D is one Lord: (30) And thou         HirPent:Deut 6.5
                shalt  love  the  Lord  thy G-D with all thy heart, and with all thy 
                soul,  and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the
                first  commandment.  (31)  And  the  second  is  like, namely this,
                Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other             Golden Rule 
                commandment greater than these.

Rom 13:(8)  Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that                  Organic
                loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
 
From Evolutionary ethics--Simpson, however, contends, in the article
                           "Logical Sciences," in The Great Ideas Today (1965):  


EL:Endnote [37]- From Herman De Dijn's Book III:211Cartesian-based anthropocentric views.



EL:Endnote [37] Decartes - From Frederick J. E. Woodbridge—Deus sive Natura. 
[A lecture delivered at Columbia University, January 26, 1933 for the Spinoza tercentenary published in 
Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza, Hafner Library of Classics, Hafner Publishing Co., New York 1949] 
 
Thanks to Richard Golden <rgolden272@home.com> for sending me a copy of this lecture
from which this paragraph this extracted. 



EL:Endnote [34] - From Stephen Hawking's Book XVII:8Last Line —Realm of Science.

Continued with i2:Shirley:10 - Scientific Method, Hypothesis.
 


From Bk.I:410
EL:L73(67):410.

                                          Albert Burgh To Spinoza.

[Albert Burgh announces his reception into the Romish Church, and 
exhorts Spinoza to follow his example.   The whole of this very long
letter  is not given here, but only such parts as seemed most charac-
teristic,  or  are  alluded  to  in Spinoza's {EL:L74(76)} reply. —(TR.)] 
{Burgh's conversion.}

[L73:1] 
                                                           
  ]Bk.XIII:303328.[
I  promised  to  write  to  you on leaving my country, if anything, note-

worthy  occurred  on  the journey.  I take the opportunity which offers
                                                                         ]discharge my debt[
of  an  event  of  the  utmost  importance, to redeem my engagement,
                                                                                          ]brought back[
by  informing  you that I have, by God's infinite mercy, been received
                                                                          Bk.XX:33642.
into  the Catholic Church and made a member of the same. You may

learn  the particulars of the step from a letter which I have sent to the

distinguished  and accomplished Professor Craanen of Leyden. I will
          ]add[                                           ]own good[
here subjoin a few remarks for your special benefit.

[L73:2] 

Even as formerly I admired you for the subtlety and keenness of your
                                                          ]lament[
natural gifts, so now do I bewail and deplore you; inasmuch as being

by  nature  most talented, page 411 and adorned by God with extraor-

dinary  gifts;  being  a lover, nay, a coveter of the truth, you yet allow

yourself  to  be  ensnared  and deceived by that most wretched and
      ]arrogant[
most proud of beings, the prince of evil spirits.   As for all your philos-

ophy, what is it but a mere illusion and chimera?  Yet to it you entrust
                                                                                           Bk.XX:337.
not  only your peace of mind in this life, but the salvation of your soul

for  eternity.   See  on  what a wretched foundation all your doctrines

rest.   You  assume  that you have at length discovered the true phil-

osophy.   How  do  you  know  that  your  philosophy is the best of all

that  ever  have  been  taught  in  the world, are now being taught, or

ever  shall  be  taught?   Passing  over  what  may  be devised in the

future,  have  you  examined  all  the philosophies, ancient as well as

modern,   which   are   taught  here,  and  in  India,  and  everywhere

throughout  the whole world?   Even if you have duly examined them,

how  do  you  know  that  you  have chosen the best ?   You will say:

"My  philosophy  is  in  harmony with right reason; other philosophies

are  not."    But   all  other  philosophers  except  your  own  followers

disagree  with  you,  and with equal right say of their philosophy what

you  say  of  yours, accusing you, as you do them, of falsity and error.

 It  is,  therefore,  plain,  that  before  the truth of your philosophy can

come  to  light, reasons must be advanced, which are not common to

other  philosophies,  but  apply  solely  to your own; or else you must
                                                           ]unsure and futile[
admit  that  your  philosophy is as uncertain and nugatory as the rest.

[L73:3] 

However, restricting myself for the present to that book of yours with
                                                                                   ]not[
an impious title ("Tractatus Theologico-Politicus") and mingling your
                                                                         ]confuse[
philosophy with your theology, as in reality you mingle them yourself,

though with diabolic cunning you endeavour to maintain, that each is

separate  from  the other, and has different principles, I thus proceed.

[L73:4] 

Perhaps you will say:   "Others have not read Holy Scripture so often

as I have; and it is from Holy Scripture, the acknowledgment of which

distinguishes  Christians  from  the  rest  of the world, that I prove my
   ]case[
doctrines.   But how?   By  comparing  the  clear  passages  with  the

more obscure  I  explain Holy Scripture, and out of my interpretations
                     ]conclusions[
page 412   frame  dogmas,  or  else confirm those which are already con-
]formed[                                ]beseech[
cocted in my brain."   But,  I adjure you, reflect seriously on what you

say.   How  do  you  know,  that you have made a right application of

your  method,  or  again that your method is sufficient for the interpre-

tation  of Scripture, and that you are thus interpreting Scripture aright,
                                                                                                ]entire[
especially  as  the  Catholics  say,  and  most truly, that the universal

Word  of  God  is  not  handed down to us in writing, hence that Holy

Scripture  cannot  be  explained  through  itself,  I  will not say by one

man,  but  by  the  Church  herself,  who  is  the sole authorized inter-

preter?   The  Apostolic  traditions  must  likewise be consulted, as is

proved  by  the  testimony  of  Holy  Scripture  and  the  Holy Fathers,

and  as  reason  and  experience suggest.   Thus, as your first princi-
                                                        ]perdition[
ples  are  most  false  and lead to destruction, what will become of all
         ]teaching[                                                        ]false[
your  doctrine,  built  up  and  supported  on  so  rotten a foundation?

[L73:5] 

Wherefore,   if  you  believe  in  Christ  crucified,  acknowledge  your
   ]evil[
pestilent heresy,  reflect on the perverseness of your nature,  and be

reconciled with the Church.

[L73:6] 

How  do  your  proofs differ from those of all heretics, who ever have
                                                                      ]the Church of God[
left,  are now leaving, or shall in future leave God's Church?   All, like

yourself, make use of the same principle, to wit, Holy Scripture taken
                ]                to  form  and  lend  weight to                   [
by  itself,  for  the  concoction  and  establishment  of  their  doctrines.
                            {Devils quote Scripture.}

[L73:7] 
               ]  be beguiled [                                                       Bk.XIB:7232, 7334.
Do  not  flatter  yourself  with  the  thought, that neither the Calvinists,
                                                 Bk.XIB:419, Bk.XIB:5551.                 Bk.XIII:49.
it  may  be,  nor  the  so-called Reformed Church, nor the Lutherans,
         Bk.XIB:21; Bk.XIII:47.            Bk.XIII:47, 49.
nor the Mennonites, nor the Socinians, &c., can refute your doctrines.

All  these,  as  I  have said, are as wretched as yourself, and like you

are dwelling in the shadow of death.

[L73:8] 

If  you  do  not  believe  in  Christ,  you are more wretched than I can

express.   Yet  the  remedy  is easy.   Turn away from your sins, and

consider  the  deadly arrogance of your wretched and insane reason-

ing.   You do not believe in Christ.  Why?  You will say: "Because the

teaching  and  the  life  of Christ, and also the Christian teaching con-               Mark Twain
                                                                          ]principles[
cerning Christ are not at all in harmony with my teaching."  But again,

I say,  then you dare to think yourself greater than all those who have

ever  risen  up  in  the  State  or  Church of God, patriarchs, prophets,

apostles,  martyrs,  doctors,   page 413   confessors,  and   holy   virgins
                               ]  even blasphemously   [
innumerable,  yea,  in  your  blasphemy, than Christ himself.   Do you

alone  surpass  all  these  in  doctrine,  in  manner  of  life,   in  every

respect?   Will  you,  wretched  pigmy,  vile  worm  of  the  earth, yea,
                                                                                                    ]claim[
ashes,  food of worms, will you in your unspeakable blasphemy, dare

to  put  yourself  before  the  incarnate, infinite wisdom of the Eternal

Father?   Will  you,  alone,  consider  yourself wiser and greater than

all  those,  who  from  the  beginning  of  the  world  have been in the

Church  of  God, and have believed, or believe still, that Christ would

come or has already come?   On what do you base this rash, insane,

deplorable, and inexcusable arrogance?

       *         *         *         *         *         *          *  
     {Shirley's Bk.XIII:305 continues with full Letter73(67) at this point.}

[L73:9] 

If  you  cannot  pronounce  on  what  I  have  just  been enumerating

(divining rods, alchemy, &c.),  why, wretched man, are you so puffed           JBYnote1 

up  with  diabolical  pride,  as  to  past  rash  judgment  on  the awful

mysteries  of  Christ's  life  and  passion,  which  the  Catholics them-
                                                                  ]beyond our understanding[
selves   in   their  teaching  declare  to  be  incomprehensible?   Why
                                             ]raving[        ]idle[
do  you  commit  the further insanity  of  silly and futile carping at the

numberless  miracle  and  signs,  which have been wrought through

the  virtue  of  Almighty  God  by  the  apostles and disciples of Christ,

and  afterwards  by  so  many  thousand  saints,  in testimony to, and

confirmation  of  the  truth  of the Catholic faith; yea, which are being

wrought  in  our  own  time  in  cases  without number throughout the

world,   by  God's  almighty  goodness  and  mercy?    If  you  cannot
                                                                        ]keep on with your clamor[
gainsay  these,  and  surely you cannot, why stand aloof any longer?
 ]Surrender, turn away from your errors,[
Join  hands  of  fellowship, and repent from your sins: put on humility,

and be born again.


[L73:10] {Elwes's Summary; for full text see Shirley's Bk.XIII:312.}

[Albert Burgh requests Spinoza to consider:

(i.)    The large number of believers in the Romish faith.

(ii.)   The uninterrupted succession of the Church.

(iii.)  The fact that a few unlearned men converted the
        world to Christianity.

(iv.)  The  antiquity, the  immutability,  the  infallibility, the
        incorruption,  the  unity,  and  the  vast extent of the
        Catholic  Religion;   also  the  fact,  that  secession
        from  it  involves  damnation,  and  that  it  will itself
        endure as long as the world.    ]Bk.XIII:310329.[

(v.)   The admirable organization of the Romish Church.

(vi.)  The superior morality of Catholics.
page 414
(vii.) The frequent cases of recantation of opinions among
        heretics.
                                            Bk.XIX:25344, 45, & 46.
(viii.) The miserable life led by atheists, whatever their
         outward demeanour may be.]

           *        *        *        *         *        *  

 
[L73:11] 

I  have  written  this  letter  to  you with intentions truly Christian; first,
                                                                                                ]Gentile[
in  order  to  show  the  love I bear to you, though you are a heathen;
                                                                                   ]ruining[
secondly,  in  order  to  beg  you  not  to  persist  in converting others.

[L73:12] 

I  therefore will thus conclude: God is willing to snatch your soul from
                                                  ]   wish it    [
eternal  damnation,  if  you  will allow  Him.   Do  not  doubt  that  the                   {eternal
                                                                                                                             damnation -
Master,  who  has  called  you so often through others, is now calling               Bk.XIII:44Ep67.}

you  for  the  last  time  through  me, who having obtained grace from
                                                          ]prays for[
the  ineffable  mercy  of  God Himself, beg  the same for you with my
                                      ]refuse it[
whole  heart.   Do  not  deny  me.   For  if you do not now give ear to

God who calls you,  the wrath of the Lord will be kindled against you,

and  there is a danger of your being abandoned by His infinite mercy,
                              ]hapless[
and  becoming  a  wretched  victim  of  the  Divine Justice which con-

sumes  all  things  in wrath.   Such a fate may Almighty God avert for

the greater glory of His name, and for the salvation of your soul, also
                                                                                     ]unhappy[
for  a  salutary example for the imitation of your most unfortunate and

idolatrous  followers,  through  our  Lord  and  Saviour  Jesus  Christ,

Who  with  the  Eternal  Father  liveth and reigneth in the Unity of the

Holy Spirit, God for all Eternity.   Amen.
 

Florence, (Sept. 3, 1675.) 
[Elwes's Note - There is a kind of  affectation consistent with the letter
 
in the use of the classical calendar and Roman numerals for the date.]
 

[End.]  EL:L73(67):414   -   Albert Burgh To Spinoza.
 
 


From Bk.I:414 Neff
EL:L74(76):414 in answer to EL:L73(67):410.

                           Spinoza To Albert Burgh. 

             [Spinoza laments the step taken by his pupil, and
             answers his arguments. The Hague, end of 1675.]
                     {Burgh's conversion.}

[L74:1] 

That,  which  I  could scarcely believe when told me by others, I learn

at  last from your own letter; not only have you been made a member
            ]Roman
of  the  Romish  Church,  but  you are become a very keen champion
                                                                ]to curse and rage without restraint[
of  the  same,  and  have  already  learned wantonly to insult and rail

against your opponents.

[L74:2] 

At  first  I  resolved to leave your letter unanswered, thinking that time
                                                                                              ]argument[
and   experience   will  assuredly  be  of  more  avail  than  reasoning,          Dictates of Reason
                                                              ]family[
to  restore  you  to  yourself  and  your  friends;  not  to mention other

arguments, which won your approval formerly, when we were discus-
                           ]Bk.XIII:340375[
sing   the   case  of Steno [Elwes's  Note  -  A  Danish  anatomist,  who  re-

nounced  Lutheranism  for  Catholicism  at Florence in 1669.]  in whose steps

you  are now following.   But some of my friends, who like myself had

formed  great  hopes from your superior talents, strenuously urge me
                               ]duties[
not  to  fail  in  the  offices  of a friend, but to consider what you lately
                                   Bk.XX:33845.
were,  rather  than  what  you  are,  with  other  arguments of the like

nature.   I have thus been induced to write you this short reply, which
                              ]      to please read with patience.         [
I earnestly beg you will think worthy of calm perusal.

[L74:3] 

I  will not imitate those adversaries of Romanism, who would set forth
                                                                         ] discredit them with you.  [
the  vices  of  priests and popes with a view to kindling your aversion.
            ] accusations [
Such  considerations  are  often  put  forward from evil and unworthy
                                            ]annoy[
motives,  and tend rather to irritate than to instruct.   I will even admit,
                                                              ]upright[
that  more  men  of  learning  and  of  blameless  life are found in the

Romish  Church  than  in any other Christian body; for, as it contains

more  members,  so  will  every  type  of  character  be  more  largely

represented  in  it.   You  cannot possibly deny, unless you have lost

your  memory  as well as your reason, that in every Church there are

thoroughly   honourable  men,  who  worship  God  with  justice  and
 Bk.XX:338.
charity.   We  have  known  many  such  among  the  Lutherans,  the

Reformed Church,  the Mennonites,  and the Enthusiasts.   Not to go

further,  you knew your own relations, who in the time of the Duke of

Alva  suffered  every kind of torture bravely and willingly for the sake

of  their  religion.   In  fact,  you  must admit, that personal holiness is

not  peculiar  to  the  Romish  Church,  but  common  to all Churches.

[L74:4] 

As  it  is  by  this,  that  we  know "that we dwell in G-D and He in us"
 ]Bk.XIII:341376photocopy[
(1 Ep. John, iv. 13),  it  follows,  that  what  distinguishes the Romish
                                     ]               is  of  no  real  significance,                  [
Church    from   others  must   be   something   entirely   superfluous,
                                                                                       1 John, iv. 7 & 8.
and  therefore  founded  solely  on  superstition.    For, as John says,

justice  and  page 416  charity  are the one sure sign of the true Catholic

faith,  and the true fruits of the Holy Spirit.   Wherever they are found,

there  in  truth  is  Christ;  wherever they are absent, Christ is absent

also.   For  only  by  the  Spirit  of  Christ can we be led to the love of
                                                                       ]meditate[      {Deut 6:4-7}                  The Shaw-ma'
justice  and  charity.   Had you been willing to reflect on these points,
                                                                                                 ]grief[
you  would not have ruined yourself, nor have brought deep affliction
                 ]kinfolk[                                           Bk.XX:338.            ]plight [
on  your  relations, who are now sorrowfully bewailing your evil case.

[L74:5] 

But  I  return to your letter, which you begin, by lamenting that I allow

myself  to  be ensnared by the prince of evil spirits.   Pray  take heart,
        ]come to[
and  recollect  yourself.   When  you  had  the  use  of  your faculties,

you were wont, if I mistake not, to worship an Infinite G-D, by Whose

efficacy  all  things  absolutely come to pass and are preserved; now

you  dream  of  a  prince,  God's  enemy,  who  against God's will en-
                                                             ]for the good are few[
snares  and  deceives very many men (rarely good ones, to be sure)

whom  God thereupon hands over to this master of wickedness to be

tortured  eternally.   The  Divine  justice  therefore allows the devil to
                     ]            with  impunity                [
deceive  men  and  remain  unpunished; but it by no means allows to

remain  unpunished the men, who have been by that self-same devil

miserably deceived and ensnared.

[L74:6] 

These  absurdities  might  so  far  be  tolerated,  if you worshipped a

G-D infinite and eternal;  not one whom Chastillon, in the town which
                                                                    ]378[
the  Dutch  call  Tienen,  gave with impunity  to  horses  to  be eaten.

And, poor wretch, you bewail me?   My philosophy, which you never

beheld,  you  style  a  chimera?   O youth deprived of understanding,

who has bewitched you into believing, that the Supreme and Eternal

is eaten by you, and held in your intestines? {Religion and Mark Twain's "Little Story"}
 

[L74:7] 
                                          [resort to]
Yet  you  seem  to  wish to employ reason, and ask me, "How I know

that  my  philosophy is the best among all that have ever been taught

in  the  world, or are being taught, or ever will be taught?" a question

which  I  might  with much greater right ask you; for I do not presume   
                             ]379complete[             [but]
that  I  have  found  the best philosophy, I know that I understand the               Hampshire:11  
 {pragmatic}
true  philosophy.379   If you ask in what way I know it, I answer: In the

same  way  as you know that the three angles of a triangle are equal

to  two  right  angles:  that  this is sufficient, will be denied by no one
                                                                                                ]unclean[
whose  brain is  page 417  sound  and who does not go dreaming of evil
                                                          ]as if they were[
spirits  inspiring  us  with  false  ideas   like   the  true.   For  the  truth
 ]      reveals      [
is the index of  itself and of what is false.380

[L74:8] 

But  you,  who  presume that you have at last found the best religion,
                                                                           ]pledged[
or  rather  the  best  men,  on  whom  you  have pinned your credulity,
 ] how do you  [
you,  "who  know  that  they  are the best among all who have taught,

do  now  teach,  or  shall  in  future  teach other religions.   Have you

examined  all religions,  ancient  as  well as modern, taught here and
                                                        Bk.XX:339.
in  India  and  everywhere  throughout  the  world?   And, if you have

duly  examined  them,  how  do  you  know that you have chosen the
                                              ]grounds[
best"  since  you  can give no reason for the faith that is in you?   But
                                ]give acceptance to[
you  will  say, that you acquiesce in the inward testimony of the Spirit

of  God, while the rest of mankind are ensnared and deceived by the
             ]wicked[
prince  of  evil  spirits.   But  all  those outside the pale of the Romish

Church   can   with   equal  right  proclaim of  their  own  creed  what

you  proclaim  of  yours.

[L74:9] 

As  to  what  you  add  of  the  common  consent  of  myriads  of men
                    { ii }                                                                          ]same
and  the  uninterrupted  ecclesiastical  succession,   this  is  the  very
  old song [                      ]381[
catch-word  of  the  Pharisees {or the Pagans}. They with no less confi-

dence  than  the  devotees  of  Rome  bring  forward  their myriad wit-

nesses,  who as pertinaciously as the Roman witnesses repeat what

they   have   heard,   as  though  it  were  their  personal  experience.
                                                                         {The Jews}
Further,  they  carry  back their line to Adam.   They boast with equal

arrogance,  that their Church has continued to this day unmoved and
 ]unshaken[
unimpaired  in  spite  of the hatred of Christians and heathen.   They
                                   ]   people rely on their    [
more  than  any other sect are supported by antiquity.   They exclaim

with  one  voice,  that  they  have  received  their traditions from God

Himself,  and  that they alone preserve the Word of God both written
                                        ]sects[
and  unwritten.  That all heresies have issued from them {as has their
                                                                                                                     
]steadfast[
heresy  issued  from the Pagan
},  and  that  they  have  remained  constant
                                                                                        ]government[
through  thousands  of  years  under  no constraint of temporal domin-
                                                           {monotheistic ??}
ion,  but  by  the  sole  efficacy of their superstition , no one can deny.

The  miracles  they  tell  of  would tire a thousand tongues.   But their
    ]source of pride[
chief  boast  is,  that  they count a far greater number of martyrs than

any  other  nation,  a  number which  is  daily increased by those who             Hamphire:205

suffer  with  singular  constancy  for  the faith they profess; nor is their

boasting  false. I  myself  knew page 418 among others of a certain Judah
                 
Bk.I:4181
called the faithful, who in the midst of the flames, when he was already

thought  to  be  dead,   lifted  his  voice  to  sing  the  hymn  beginning,
                                                {
spirit}
"To Thee O God, I offer up my soul, {Thou hast redeemed me, O the Lord, Thou         Psalm 31:6

God of truth."} and so singing perished.382

[L74:10

The  organization  of the Roman Church, which you so greatly praise,

I  confess  to  be  politic,  and  to many lucrative. I should believe that

there  was no  other  more  convenient  for  deceiving the people and
                                     ]controlled[
keeping  men's  minds  in check,  if it were not for the organization of

the  Mahometan  Church,  which  far  surpasses  it. For from the time
             {monotheistic ??}                                           ]383[
when this superstition arose, there has been no schism in its church.

[L74:11] 

If,  therefore,  you  had rightly judged, you would have seen that only
        { iii }
your third point tells in favour of the Christians,  namely, that unlearn-
               ]humble[
ed  and  common  men  should have been able to convert nearly the
                                 ]the Christian faith[
whole world to believe in Christ. But this reason militates not only for

the Romish Church, but for all those who profess the name of Christ.

[L74:12] 

But  assume  that  all  the  reasons  you  bring  forward  tell in favour

solely  of  the  Romish Church.   Do  you  think  that you can thereby

prove  mathematically  the  authority  of that church?   As the case is

far  otherwise,  why  do  you  wish  me to believe that my demonstra-
                                                          ]wicked[
tions  are  inspired  by  the  prince  of  evil spirits, while your own are

inspired  by  God,  especially  as  I  see,  and  as  your  letter  clearly
                                                                                     ]slave[
shows,   that   you   have   been  led  to  become  a  devotee  of  this
                                       {virtue}                                 Shirley:44
Church  not  by  your  love of G-D but by your fear of hell, the single  
  ]
Bk.XIII:3443845P42(5)n:270[
cause  of  superstition.   Is this your humility, that you trust nothing to

yourself,  but  everything  to  others,  who  are  condemned  by many

of their fellow men?     Do you set it own to pride and arrogance, that
                                     ]acceptance of[
I  employ  reason  and  acquiesce in  this  true Word  of  G-D, which             Dictates of Reason
                                                           ]distorted[
is  in  the  mind  and  can  never  be  depraved  or corrupted ?   Cast
                             ]destructive[
page 419  away,  this  deadly   superstition,   acknowledge   the  reason
                                                       ]cultivate it[
which  G-D  has  given  you,  and  follow  that,  unless  you would be
                                                                                    ]absurd[
numbered  with  the  brutes.   Cease,  I  say,  to  call ridiculous errors
                                     ]shamefully[
mysteries,   and  do  not  basely  confound  those  things  which  are

unknown  to  us,  or  have  not  yet  been  discovered,  with  what  is
                                             ]fearsome[
proved  to be absurd, like the horrible secrets of this Church of yours,
                                                         ]opposed[
which,  in  proportion  as  they  are  repugnant  to  right  reason, you

believe to transcend the understanding {refuge of ignorance}.

[L74:13]

But the fundamental principle of the "Tractatus Theologico-Politicus,"

that  Scripture  should  only  be  expounded through Scripture, which

you  so  wantonly  without  any  reason  proclaim  to  be  false, is not
           ]supposition[
merely assumed, but categorically proved to be true or sound; espec-

ially   in  chapter vii.,   where  also  the  opinions  of  adversaries  are
 ]refuted[
confuted; see also what is proved at the end of chapter xv.  If you will

reflect  on  these  things,  and also examine the history of the Church             Christian Dogma

(of  which  I  see  you  are  completely  ignorant), in order to see how

false,  in  many  respects,  is  Papal  tradition,  and by what course of
                                         ]craft[
events  and  with  what  cunning the Pope of Rome six hundred years

after  Christ  obtained  supremacy  over  the  Church,  I  do not doubt

that  you  will  eventually return to your senses.   That this result may
                                                          Bk.XX:340.
come  to  pass  I,  for  your  sake,  heartily  wish.  Farewell,  &c.                             Bk.XIB:22173.


                                                                              
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
 
Spinoza to Albert Burgh
The Hague, Dec. 1675 

[END] EL:L74(76):419 in answer to EL:L73(67)

 

From Shirley's Bk.XIII Introduction:44 

Alfred Burgh (1651-?) and Nicholas Steno (1638-1686) both page 44  wrote to Spinoza from Florence at about the same time in 1675104, each with the same purpose: to convert Spinoza to Roman Catholicism. The former was a student of Van den Enden and quite possibly of Spinoza; his father, Conrad Burgh, was the General Treasurer of the United Provinces. His conversion to Catholicism was a blow to his parents, who asked Spinoza to help them regain their son105. His letter to Spinoza (L73(67)) has a mocking tone, and, in the words of Wolf, is quite "ill-mannered" and "stupid"106; his arguments are hardly philosophical and not even substantive from a rhetorical standpoint, and he ends by threatening Spinoza with eternal damnation. Spinoza's reply (L74(76)) is a bit more civil and philosophical, although he is guilty of throwing many of Burgh's arguments back at him. Spinoza rightly accuses his former friend of acting "not so much through the love of G-D as fear of Hell, which is the single cause of superstition" (L23(75)), and closes with the wish that the young man soon recover his senses.

Steno, on the other hand, probably got to know Spinoza while stationed at the University of Leiden. He was a bit more learned than Burgh, and his geological tractate, De solido intra solidum naturaliter contendo dissertationis prodromus (1669) ["The Forerunner of a Dissertation concerning a Solid naturally contained within a Solid"] was among the books in Spinoza's library. Note that he greets Spinoza as the "Reformer of the New Philosophy" (Ep67a:313), which could hardly have been a flattering title since it was addressed by a convert from one of the reformed religions. Also noteworthy is that Steno, unlike Burgh, is both philosophical and friendly. He confronts Spinoza's ideas as presented in the TTP and attempts to appeal to reason rather than to his own passions or fears. No reply is known to have been sent by Spinoza, and perhaps the only reason why the Burgh letter was answered was because his parents had pleaded with Spinoza on his behalf.


Footnotes from Shirley's Bk.XIII 

Bk. XIII:44104  Perhaps not a coincidence. See Wolf (1928) 465. 

Bk. XIII:44
105  Burgh apparently took extra pains to demonstrate his newly found faith. He is reported to have frequently run long distances bare-footed as a form of penance and openly rejoiced at his parents' displeasure with his conversion. See Meinsma 454.

Bk. XIII:44
106  Wolf (1928) 465.

Bk. XIII:342
378.  This probably refers to an incident in May of 1635 when a Franco-Dutch army attacked the Spanish army in Belgium. The French general Gaspard de Coligny was a Huguenot
{French Protestant}, and after sacking the town he ordered the eucharistic {the consecrated elements of the Holy Communion, esp. the bread} hosts to be thrown to the horses as an expression of his disgust with Catholic idolatry.

Bk. XIII:342
379.  Spinoza is using 'best' here in the sense of 'complete'. In fact, no philosophy (his or any other) can claim completeness on Spinoza's own count; since philosophy by its very nature is a finitary activity and deals at most with a finite number of the divine attributes. No matter how adequate or true a philosophy should be, infinite orders of nature will lie beyond its range of understanding.

Bk. XIII:342
380.  This is a major theme of the unfinished Traclatus de intellectus emendatione. An idea is said to be false only in relation to a given true idea which lies al the base of human understanding. See Pierre-François Moreau, Spinoza: L'expérience et l'éternité (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994), 65-103.

Bk. XIII:342
381.  Spinoza uses the term 'Pharisee' to refer to and condemn the adherents of rabbinic Judaism, which is based on the Talmud and the belief in the so-called Oral Torah (or "Law"). Central to the belief is the claim (made also by Roman Catholicism) of an unbroken chain of succession. The term is also used in this sense in the work of Gabriel da Costa (known more commonly as Uriel d'Acosta) (1585-1640), who certainly did not originate the sense. Wolf conjectures that in his youth Spinoza may have met Da Costa, perhaps shortly before the latter's suicide

Bk. XIII:343
382.  Don Lope de Vera y Alarcon (`Judah the Faithful') was, like Uriel da Costa, a convert (or 'revert', since he was born into a crypto-Jewish family) to Judaism. He was burned at the stake on 25 July 1644. An account of his martyrdom is given by Manasseh ben Israel in his Esperança de Israel (Amsterdam, 1652).

Bk. I:419
1.  Don Lope de Vera y Alarcon de San Clemente, a Spanish nobleman who was converted to Judaism through the study of Hebrew, and was burnt at Valladolid on the 25th July, 1644."—Pollok's Spinoza:78, chap. ii., last note . Mr. Pollock refutes the inference of Grätz, that Spinoza's childhood must have been spent in Spain, by pointing out that the word used here, "novi," is the same as that used above of Albert Burgh's knowledge of his ancestors' sufferings, of which he was certainly not an eye-witness.

Bk. XIII:343383.  Spinoza is, of course, completely ignorant of the history of Islamic religion.

  

{See Spinoza's attitude toward Christianity in letters EL:L20, EL:L21, 
     EL:L22
, EL:L23, EL:L24, EL:L25, EL:25A, EL:L73 & EL:L74, 
       
SPINOZISM AND CHRISTIANITY by Wayne Ferguson.} 

Spinoza and Christianity  


xxxii:J4  Shirley's Book XI:1.   From Tractatus Theologico-Politlicus
                Introduction  by  BRAD S. GREGORY. 

xxxiii:J5 Shirley's Book XI:45.   From Tractatus Theologico-Politlicus, 
                                                     
(based on Gebhardt 1925 text) 
                                              Translator's Foreword by Samuel Shirley.  

                                  Book XI:46 and translation Book XI:47
xxxiii:J6     See  photocopy  of  Title  Page  of   the  first   edition   of   the
                 Tractatus Theologico-Politicus with sub-title omitted by Elwes.  
 




LETTERS: For additional letters see "The Letters"

Letter 1, 2, 3, 4, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 25A, 42, 49, 73, 74.



From Bk.I:275
Letter 01. Letter 01(01) - Oldenburg to Spinoza. London,16/26 Aug.1661
{
Oldenburg correspondence}

[Oldenburg, after complimenting Spinoza, asks him to enter into a
Philosophical correspondence.]

[L1:1]
ILLUSTRIOUS SIR, AND MOST WORTHY FRIEND,So  painful  to me 
was  the  separation  from  you  the  other day  after  our meeting in your 
retreat at Rhijnsburg, that it is my first endeavour, now that I am returned 
to England,  to renew, as far as is possible by correspondence, my inter- 
course  with  you. Solid learning, conjoined with courtesy and refinement 
of  manners  (wherewith  both  nature and art have most amply endowed 
you),  carries  with  it such charms as to command the love of every hon- 
ourable  and  liberally-educated man. Let us then, most excellent sir, join 
hands  in  sincere  friendship,  and  let  us  foster  the  feeling  with every 
zealous  endeavour  and  kind  office  in  our  power.  Whatever  my poor 
means  can  furnish  I beg you to look on as your own. Allow me in return 
to  claim  a  share  in  the  riches  of  your  talents,  as  I  may  do without 
inflicting any loss on yourself. 

[L1:2]
We  conversed  at  Rhijnsburg  of  G-D,  of extension, of infinite thought,
 
of  the  differences  and agreements between these, of the nature of the 
connection  between  the  human soul and body, and further, of the prin- 
ciples of the Cartesian and Baconian philosophies. 

[L1:3]
But,  as  we then spoke of these great questions merely cursorily and by
 
the way, and as my mind has been not a little tormented with them since, 
I  will  appeal  to  the  rights  of our newly cemented friendship, and most 
affectionately  beg  you  to  give  me  at  somewhat  greater  length your 
opinion on the subjects I have mentioned. On two points especially I ask 
for enlightenment, if I may presume so far; first: In what do you place the 
true  distinction  between  thought  and  matter?  secondly: What do you 
consider  to  be  the chief defects in the Cartesian and Baconian philoso- 
phies,  and  how  do  you  think  they might best, be removed, and some- 
thing more sound substituted? The more freely you write to me on these 
and similar subjects, the more closely will you tie the bonds of our friend- 
ship, and the stricter will be the obligation laid on me to repay you, as far 
as possible, with similar services. 

[L1:4
There  is  at present in the press a collection of physiological discourses
 
written by an Englishman (Robert Boyle of noble family and distinguished 
learning.)  They  treat of the nature and elasticity of the air, as proved by 
forty-three  experiments;  also of its fluidity, solidity, and other analogous 
matters.  As  soon  as the work is published, I shall make a point of send- 
ing  it  to  you  by  any  friend  who  may be crossing the sea. Meanwhile, 
farewell, and remember your friend, who is 

Yours, in all affection and zeal,
HENRY OLDENBURG. 
London, 16/26 Aug., 1661 

[End]  Letter 1:276 - Oldenburg to Spinoza.
 



From Bk.I:276 - With permission from Neff
EL:L02:276. Letter 02(02)  Spinoza to Oldenburg. Sept. 1661?
{
Oldenburg correspondence} 

[Spinoza defines "G-D", and "attribute" and sends definitions, axioms, and first four propositions of Book I. of Ethics. Some errors of Bacon and Descartes discussed.]  
    Wolfson's Bk.XIV:1:58.

[L2:1].  Illustrious Sir,—How pleasant your friendship is to me, you may your- 
self  judge,  if  your modesty will allow you to reflect on the abundance of 
your own excellences. Indeed the thought of these makes me seem not a 
little  bold  in  entering  into  such a compact, the more so when I consider 
that between friends all things, and especially things spiritual, ought to be 
in  common.  However,  this  must  lie  at  the charge of your modesty and 
kindness  rather  than  of myself.  You have been willing to lower yourself 
through  the former and to fill me with the abundance of the latter, till I am 
no  longer  afraid to accept the close friendship, which you hold out to me, 
and  which  you deign to ask of me in return; no effort on my part shall be 
spared to render it lasting. 

[L2:2]. 
As  for  my  mental  endowments, such as they are, I would willingly allow
 
you  to share them, even though I knew it would be to my own great hind- 
rance.  But  this  is  not  meant as an excuse for denying to you what you 
ask  by  the  rights  of friendship.  I will therefore endeavour to explain my 
opinions  on  the  topics  you  touched on; though I scarcely hope, unless 
your kindness intervene, that I shall thus draw the bonds of our friendship 
closer. 

[L2:3]. 
I  will  then  begin  by  speaking  briefly of G-D, Whom I define as a Being           
TEI:[97]:36 
consisting  in  infinite attributes,  whereof  each  is  infinite  or  supremely  
    ]Bk.XIII:612E1:D.6:45.[             Bk.XIX:411.                      ^ Bk.XIX:2020.
perfect  after  its  kind.   You must observe that by attribute I mean every-
thing,
which is conceived through itself and in itself, so that the conception 
of  it  does  not  involve  the  conception  of  anything  else.   For instance, 
extension   is   conceived  through  itself  and in itself,  but  motion  is  not. 
The  latter  is  conceived  through something else, for the conception of it 
implies extension.  ]Bk.XIII:623E1:D.3&4:45.[ 
 

[L2:4]. 
That  the definition above given of G-D is true appears from the fact, that
 
by  G-D  we  mean  a  Being  supremely  perfect  and  absolutely  infinite. 
That such a Being exists may easily be proved from the definition; but as 
                            ]Bk.XIII:624E1:XI:51.[; Bk.XIX:8125.
this  is  not  the place for such proof, I will pass it over.   What I am bound
here  to  prove,  in  order  to satisfy  the  first  inquiry  of my distinguished 
questioner,  are  the  following  consequences;  first  that  in  the universe 
there  cannot  exist  two  substances  without  their differing utterly in ess- 
ence; secondly that substance cannot be produced or created—existence 
pertains  to  its  actual  essence; thirdly, that all substance must be infinite 
or  supremely  perfect after its kind. Bk.XIII:625E1:V, VI, & VIII:47; Bk.XIV:1:1184, 

[L2:5]. 
When these points have been
demonstrated, my distinguished questioner 
will  readily  perceive my drift, if he reflects at the same time on the defini- 
tion  of  G-D.   In  order  to  prove  them  clearly and briefly,  I can think of 
nothing  better  than to submit them to the bar of your judgment proved in 
      
Bk.XIV:1:58.               ]Bk.XIII:626—Footnote in the O.P.[
the  geometrical  method.  [The allusion is to E1. Beginning to Prop. 4.] I therefore
enclose  them  separately
 and await your verdict upon them. 

[L2:6]. 
Again,  you  ask  me  what  errors I detect in the Cartesians and Baconian
 
philosophies.  It  is  not  my  custom to expose the errors of others, never- 
theless I will yield to your request.  The first and the greatest error is, that          Bk.XIA:6231. 
these  philosophers  have  strayed  so  far from the knowledge of the first 
cause  and  origin  of  all things; the second is, that they did not know the 
true nature of the human mind; the third, that they never grasped the true 
cause  of  error.  The  necessity  for  correct  knowledge  on  these  three 
points  can only be ignored by persons completely devoid of learning and 
training.  {essay2:N8} 

[L2:7]. 
That  they  have  wandered  astray from the knowledge of the first cause,
 
and of the human mind, may easily be gathered from the truth of the three 
propositions given above; I therefore devote myself entirely to the demon- 
stration  of  the  third error.  Of Bacon I shall say very little, for he speaks 
very  confusedly  on  the  point,  and  works  out  scarcely any proofs: he 
simply narrates.  In the first place he assumes, that the human intellect is          Bk.XIA:6232. 
liable  to err,  not  only through the fallibility of the senses, but also solely 
through  its  own nature, and that it frames its conceptions in accordance 
with  the  analogy  of its own nature, not with the analogy of the universe, 
so  that  it  is  like  a mirror receiving rays from external objects unequally, 
and mingling its own nature with the nature of things, &c. 

[L2:8].
Secondly,  that  the human intellect is, by reason of its own nature, prone
 
to abstractions; such things as are in flux it feigns to be constant, &c. 

[L2:9].
Thirdly,  that  the  human  intellect continually augments, and is unable to
 
come  to  a  stand or to rest content.  The other causes which he assigns 
may  all  be  reduced  to  the  one Cartesian principle, that the human will 
is free and more extensive than the intellect, or, as Verulam himself more 
confusedly  puts it, that "the understanding is not a dry light, but receives 
infusion  from  the  will."       (We  may  here  observe  that  Verulam  often 
employs "intellect" as synonymous with mind, differing in this respect from 
Descartes).  This  cause,  then,  leaving  aside the others as unimportant, 
I  shall  show  to  be  false;  indeed  its falsity would be evident to its sup- 
porters, if they would consider, that will in general differs from this or that 
particular  volition  in  the  same way as whiteness differs from this or that          2P49
white object, or humanity from this or that man.  It is, therefore, as impos- 
sible  to conceive, that will is the cause of a given volition, as to conceive 
                           
]Bk.XIII:6311E1:VIII(25)N2:279, E1:XXXII:70.[ 
that humanity is the cause of Peter and Paul.

[L2:10].
Hence,  as will is merely an entity of the reason, and cannot be called the
 
cause  of  particular volitions, and as some cause is needed for the exist- 
ence  of  such volitions, these latter cannot be called free, but are neces- 
sarily  such  as  they  are determined by their causes; lastly, according to 
Descartes, errors are themselves particular volitions; hence it necessarily 
follows  that  errors,  or,  in  other  words, particular volitions, are not free,          2P49
but are determined by external causes, and in nowise by the will.  This is 
what I undertook to prove. 
 
                                                                              
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
 
Spinoza to Oldenburg
Sept. 1661?

[End] - Letter 02(02):276                Bk.XIV:1:1184; Bk.XVIII:2713Bk.XIV:1:57-59.
 
 


From Bk.I:279
Letter 03(03) - Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 27 Sept. 1661
{
Oldenburg correspondence}

[Oldenburg propounds several questions concerning G-D and His existence,
thought, and the axioms of Ethics I. He also informs Spinoza of a philosoph-
ical society, and promises to send Boyle's book.]

[L3:1]
MOST EXCELLENT FRIEND,—Your  learned  letter  has been delivered
to me, and read with great pleasure. I highly approve of your geometrical
 
method of proof, but I must set it down to my dulness, that I cannot follow 
with  readiness  what  you set forth with such accuracy.  Suffer me, then, 
I beg, to expose the slowness of my understanding, while I put the follow- 
ing questions, and beg of you to answer them.  

[L3:2]                                                                                          {posited}
First.  Do you clearly and indisputably understand solely from the ^ defini- 
tion you have given of G-D,  that such a Being exists? For my part, when       Simply Posit
I reflect that definitions contain only the conceptions formed by our minds, 
and  that  our  mind  forms many conceptions of things which do not exist, 
and  is  very  fertile  in  multiplying  and  amplifying what it has conceived, 
I  do  not yet see, that from the conception I have of God I can infer God's 
existence.  I  am  able by a mental combination of all the perfections I per- 
ceive  in men, in animals, in vegetables, in minerals, &c., to conceive and 
to  form  an  idea of some single substance uniting in itself all such excell- 
ences;  indeed my mind is able to multiply and augment such excellences 
indefinitely;  it  may thus figure forth for itself a most perfect and excellent 
Being,  but  there  would  be  no  reason  thence  to conclude that such a        JBYnote1
Being actually exists. 

[L3:3]
Secondly.  I  wish  to ask, whether you think it unquestionable, that body
 
cannot  be  limited  by  thought,  or  thought  by  body;  seeing  that it still 
remains undecided, what thought is, whether it be a physical motion or a        Pineal Gland
spiritual act quite distinct from body? 

[L4:4]                                     {Propositions?}  
Thirdly.   Do  you  reckon  the  axioms,  which  you  have  sent to me,  as
 
indemonstrable principles  known  by  the  light of nature and needing no       Bk.XIV:2:124-5 
proof?  Perhaps  the  first is of this nature, but I do not see how the other 
three can be placed in a like category. The second assumes that nothing 
exists in the universe save substances and accidents,  but many persons 
would  say  that  time  and  place  cannot  be classed either as one or the 
other.  Your  third axiom,  that  things  having  different attributes have no 
quality  in  common,  is  so  far  from  being  clear  to me,  that its contrary 
seems  to  be  shown  in the whole universe. All things known to us agree 
in  certain  respects  and  differ  in  others.  Lastly, your fourth axiom, that 
when  things  have  no  quality  in  common,  one cannot be produced by 
another,  is  not so plain to my groping intelligence as to stand in need of 
no further illumination.  God has nothing actually in common with created 
things, yet nearly all of us believe Him to be their cause. 

[L3:5
As you see that in my opinion your axioms are not established beyond all
 
the  assaults  of  doubt,  you  will readily gather that the propositions you 
have  based  upon  them  do not appear to me absolutely firm. The more 
I reflect upon them,  the more are doubts suggested to my mind concern- 
ing them. 

[L3:6
As  to  the  first, I submit that two men are two substances with the same
 
attribute, inasmuch as both are rational; whence I infer that there can be 
two substances with the same attribute. 
 
[L3:7]
As  to  the  second,  I  opine  that,  as  nothing can be its own cause, it is
 
hardly  within  the  scope  of our intellect to pronounce on the truth of the 
proposition,  that  substance  cannot  be  produced  even  by  any  other 
substance.  Such a proposition asserts all substances to be self-caused,       {There is only one
and  all  and  each  to  be  independent  of  one another, thus making so       SubstanceG-D.}
many  gods,  and  therefore  denying  the  first  cause  of all things. This, 
I  willingly  confess,  I cannot understand, unless you will be kind enough 
to  explain  your  theory on this sublime subject somewhat more fully and 
simply,  informing  me  what may be the origin and mode of production of 
substances,   and   the   mutual  interdependence  and  subordination  of 
things.  I  most strenuously beg and conjure you by that friendship which 
we  have entered into, to answer me freely and faithfully on these points; 
you may rest assured, that everything which you think fit to communicate 
to  me  will  remain  untampered  with  and  safe,   for  I  will  never  allow 
anything  to  become  public  through  me  to  your  hurt or disadvantage. 
In  our  Philosophical  society we proceed diligently as far as opportunity 
offers with our experiments and observations, lingering over the compila- 
tion  of  the  history  of  mechanic  arts,  with  the idea that the forms and 
qualities of things can best be explained from mechanical principles, and 
that  all  natural  effects  can  be  produced  through  motion, shape, and 
consistency,  without  reference  to  inexplicable forms or occult qualities, 
which are but the refuge of ignorance. 

[L3:8]
I  will  send the book I promised, whenever the Dutch Ambassadors send
 
(as they frequently do)  a  messenger  to  the  Hague, or whenever some 
other  friend  whom  I  can  trust  goes  your way. I beg you to excuse my 
prolixity  and  freedom,  and  simply  ask you to take in good part, as one 
friend from another, the straightforward and unpolished reply I have sent 
to your letter, believing me to be without deceit or affectation, 

Yours most faithfully,
HENRY OLDENBURG. 
London, 27 Sept., 1661. 

[ENDLetter 03(03):282
 

 

From Bk.I:282 - With kind permission from Terry Neff.
Letter 04(04) Spinoza to Oldenburg. Oct. 1661?
{
Oldenburg correspondence}

[Spinoza answers some of Oldenburg's questions and doubts, but has not
time to reply to all, as he is just setting out for Amsterdam.] 

[L4:1]. Illustrious Sir,—As I was starting for Amsterdam, where I intend staying 
for  a  week  or  two,  I  received  your  most welcome letter, and noted the 
objections  you  raise to the three propositions I sent you.  Not having time 
to reply fully, I will confine myself to these three. 

[L4:2]
To  the  first,  I  answer,  that  not  from every definition does the existence
 
of  the  thing  defined  follow,  but only (as I showed in a note appended to  
the  three  propositions)  from  the  definition  or idea of an attribute, that is 
(as I explained fully in the definition  given  of  G-D) of  a thing  conceived        Bk.XIX:8125. 
through  and  in  itself.   The reason for this distinction was pointed out, if I 
mistake  not,  in  the  above-mentioned  note sufficiently clearly at any rate 
for  a  philosopher, who is assumed to be aware of the difference between 
a  fiction  and  a  clear and distinct idea, and  also of the truth of the axiom 
that  every  definition or clear and distinct idea is true. When this has been 
duly  noted,  I do not see what more is required for the solution of your first 
question. 

[L4:3]
I  therefore   proceed  to  the solution  of  the  second,  wherein  you  seem
 
to  admit  that,  if  thought  does not belong to the nature of extension, then 
extension  will  not  be  limited  by  thought;  your  doubt  only  involves the 
example  given.   But  observe, I beg, if we say that extension is not limited 
by  extension  but by thought, is not this the same as saying that extension 
is  not  infinite  absolutely,  but  only  as  far  as  extension is concerned, in 
 
]Bk.XIII:6713E1:D.2:45, E2:I & II:83.[; Bk.XIX:5912.
other  words,  infinite  after  its  kind?   But  you  say:  perhaps thought is a 
corporeal  action:  be  it  so, though I by no means grant it: you, at any rate, 
will  not deny that extension, in so far as it is extension, is not thought, and 
this  is  all that is required for explaining my definition and proving the third 
proposition. 

[L4:4]
Thirdly.  You  proceed  to  object,  that  my axioms ought not to be ranked
 
      ] common notionsBk.XIII:6814E2:XXXVII-XL:109.[
as  universal  notions.  I will not dispute this point with you; but you further
hesitate  as  to  their truth, seeming to desire to show that their contrary is
 
more  probable.   Consider, I beg, the definition which I gave of substance 
    ] accidentsBk.XIII:6815.[
and attribute,  for on that they all depend.  When I say that I mean by sub-
stance  that  which  is  conceived through and in itself; and that I mean by 
modification or accident that, which is in something else, and is; conceived 
through  that  wherein  it is, evidently it follows that substance is by nature 
prior  to  its accidents.  For without the former the latter can neither be nor 
be  conceived.   Secondly,  it  follows  that,  besides substances and acci- 
dents,  nothing exists really or externally to the intellect.  For everything is 
conceived  either  through  itself  or  through something else, and the con- 
ception  of  it  either  involves or does not involve the conception of some- 
thing else.  Thirdly, it follows that things which possess different attributes 
   
   ] Bk.XIII:6816E1:II & III:46.[
have  nothing  in common.   For  by attribute I have explained that I mean
something,  of  which  the  conception  does not involve the conception of 
anything  else.   Fourthly  and  lastly,  it  follows  that,  if  two  things  have 
nothing  in common, one cannot  be  the cause of the other.  For, as there 
would be nothing in common between the effect and the cause, the whole 
effect  would  spring  from  nothing.   As  for  your contention that God has 
                                        
{finite}; Bk.XIX:4812.  
nothing  actually  in  common  with  created  things,  I have maintained the
exact  opposite  in  my  definition.   I said that G-D is a Being consisting of 
 
                           Bk.XIX:2020. ]Bk.XIII:6817Bk.XIII:612E1:D.6:45.[
infinite attributes,  whereof  each one is infinite or supremely perfect after

its  kind.   With  regard  to  what  you  say  concerning my first proposition, 
I  beg  you,  my  friend,  to bear in mind, that men are not created but born, 
                                                                              ]Bk.XIII:6918E1:VIII(11)N2:49.[ 
and   that   their  bodies  already  exist before birth, though under different 
forms.   You  draw the conclusion, wherein I fully concur, that, if one parti- 
                                                                   
]Bk.XIII:6919.[
cle of matter be annihilated, the whole of extension would forthwith vanish.
My  second  proposition  does  not  make  many gods  but only one, to wit,          G-D
a Being consisting of infinite attributes, &c.  {essay2} 
 
                                                                                   
                                                                                     {
Signature added.}
 
Spinoza to Oldenburg
Oct. 1661?
 

[End] - Letter 04(04):282
 


EL:Letter04[4]Common Notions.
                     From Abraham Wolf, "The Correspondence of Spinoza", 
                     ISDN: 0714615730; Page 377. (Out of print.) 


From Bk.I:284
EL:Letter05(05):70.

[L05:1] MOST RESPECTED FRIENDPlease accept herewith the book I promised you, and write me in answer your opinion on it, especially on the remarks about nitre, and about fluidity, and solidity. I owe you the warmest thanks for your learned second letter, which I received to-day, but I greatly grieve that your journey to Amsterdam prevented you from answering all my doubts. I beg you will supply the omission, as soon as you have leisure. You have much enlightened me in your last letter, but have not yet dispelled all my darkness; this result will, I believe, be happily accomplished, when you send me clear and distinct information concerning the first origin of things. Hitherto I have been somewhat in doubt as to the cause from which, and the manner in which things took their origin; also, as to what is the nature of their connection with the first cause, if such there be. All that I hear or read on the subject seems inconclusive. Do you then, my very learned master, act, as it were, as my torch-bearer in the matter. You will have no reason to doubt my confidence and gratitude. Such is the earnest petition of  


From Bk.XIII:83
EL:Letter06(06).

As to the new question you raise, to wit, how things began to be and by what bond they depend on the first cause, I have written a complete short work on this subject, and also on the emendation of the intellect (This is the Tractatus de intellectus emendation {TEI} (never completed).), and I am engaged in transcribing and correcting it. But some times I put the work aside, because I do not as yet have any definite plan for its publication. I am naturally afraid that the theologians of our time may take offence, and, with their customary spleen, may attack me, who utterly dread brawling. I shall look for your advice in this matter, and, to let you know the contents of this work of mine which may ruffle the preachers, I tell you that many attributes which are attributed to God by them and by all whom I know of, I regard as belonging to creation. Conversely, other attributes which they, because of their prejudices, consider to belong to creation, I contend are attributes of G-D which they have failed to understand. Again, I do not differentiate between G-D and Nature in the way all those known to me have done. I therefore look to your advice, for I regard you as a most loyal friend whose good faith it would be wrong to doubt. Meanwhile, farewell, and, as you have begun, so continue to love me, who am, 


From Bk.I:290
EL:Letter15(32):290. Deus, ONE, Organic, Worm.

                   Spinoza to Oldenburg. Voorburg, 20 Nov. 1665
                    {
Oldenburg correspondence}

[Spinoza writes to his friend concerning the reasons which lead us to
believe,  that  "every  part  of  Nature  agrees  with  the  whole, and is 
associated with all other parts."  He also makes a few remarks about 
Huyghens.]            {Famous letter of the "worm"} 

[L15:1]                                                                                  ]philosophy[
Distinguished Sir,—For  the  encouragement  to  pursue my specula-

tions  given  me  by  yourself and the distinguished R. Boyle, I return
                                                                      ]poor[
you my best thanks. I proceed as far as my slender abilities will allow
                                                               ]good will[
me,  with  full confidence in your aid and kindness. When you ask me

my  opinion  on  the question raised concerning our knowledge of the

means,  whereby  each  part of Nature agrees with its whole, and the
                              ]      coheres      [              { Part and Whole }                                          Organic
manner  in  which it is associated with the remaining parts, I presume
                                   ]grounds[
you are asking for the reasons which induce us to believe, that each
                         ]accords[                                   ]    coheres       [
part  of  Nature  agrees  with  its  whole,  and  is  associated with the

remaining  parts.  For  as  to  the means whereby the parts are really

associated,  and  each  part  agrees  with  its  whole, I told you in my
                       ]it is beyond my knowledge.[
former  letter  that I am in ignorance.  To answer such a question, we

should  have to know the whole of Nature and its several parts.  I will
                   ]attempt[                                         ]compels[
therefore  endeavour  to show the reason, which led me to make the
                               ] first [
statement;  but  I  will  premise  that I do not attribute to Nature either
                  ]ugliness[     {harmony or chaos}
beauty  or  deformity,  order  or confusion.   Only  in  relation  to  our
{ prejudices }                                      < E1:Parkinson:26849 >
imagination can  things  be called beautiful or deformed, ordered or

confused.  {E4:Prf(11):188}  ]Bk.XIII:192164[


[L15:2]
              ]
coherence[
By  the  association  of  parts,  then,  I  merely mean that the laws or
                                                                                           Bk.XIX:20916.
nature of one part adapt themselves to the laws or nature of another
                                                                   ]opposition between them.[
part,  so  as  to  cause  the  least  possible  inconsistency.  As to the
                   {the Parts}
whole  and  the parts, I mean that a given number of things are parts

of  a  whole, in so far as the nature of each of them is adapted to the

nature of the rest, so that they all, as far as possible, agree together.

On  the  other  hand,  in  so  far  as  they do not agree, each of them

forms,  in  our  mind,  a  separate  idea,  and  is  to that page 291 extent

considered  as  a  whole, not as a part. For instance, when the parts
                                       ]adopt[
of  lymph,  chyle,   &c.,  combine,  according  to  the proportion of the

figure  and  size  of each, so as to evidently unite, and form one fluid,

the  chyle,  lymph,  &c., considered under this aspect, are part of the
 Bk.XIX:21017.
blood;   but,   in  so  far  as  we  consider  the  particles  of  lymph  as

differing   in   figure  and  size  from  the  particles  of chyle,  we  shall

consider each of the two as a whole, not as a part.


[L15:3]
                                 
Bk.XIB:22581; Bk.XVIII:179Letter32.   ]Bk.XIII:193165,Lem.I[
Let us imagine, with your permission, a little worm, living in the blood,                Mysticism

able  to  distinguish by sight the particles of blood, lymph, &c., and to
 ]       intelligently observe how       [                            ]colliding[
reflect on the manner in which each particle, on meeting with another
                        ]   rebounds   [
particle,  either  is repulsed,  or  communicates  a  portion  of its own
                           {the Worm, Mysticism}
motion.  This  little worm would live in the blood, in the same way, as      Famous letter of the "worm"
             ]our[                                                  ]regard[

we live in a part of the universe, and would consider each particle of

blood,  not  as  a  part, but as a whole.  He would be unable to deter-
                                             ]controlled[
mine,  how  all  the parts are modified by the general nature of blood,
                                                                                           ]   agree with
and  are  compelled  by  it  to  adapt  themselves, so as to stand in a
    one another in a definite way.       [
fixed  relation  to  one  another.   For,  if we imagine that there are no

causes  external to the blood, which could communicate fresh move-
                                                                               ]other[
ments  to  it, nor any space beyond the blood, nor any bodies where-

to  the particles of blood could communicate their motion, it is certain

that  the  blood  would always remain in the same state, and its parti-

cles  would undergo no modifications, save those which may be con-

ceived  as  arising  from  the relations of motion existing between the

lymph,  the  chyle, &c.  The blood would then always have to be con-

sidered  as a whole, not as a part.  But, as there exist, as a matter of

fact,  very  many causes which modify, in a given manner, the nature

of  the  blood,  and are, in turn, modified thereby, it follows that other
                               ]changes[
motions  and other relations arise in the blood, springing not from the
]reciprocal[
mutual  relations  of  its  parts  only,  but  from  the  mutual  relations

between the blood as a whole and external causes.  Thus the blood

comes  to  be  regarded  as  a part, not as a whole.  So much for the

whole and the part.


[L15:4]
All  natural  bodies  can and ought to be considered in the same way

as we have here considered the blood, for all bodies are surrounded
                                ] reciprocally [
by  others,  and  are  mutually  determined  to  exist and operate in a
                   ] determinate way [
fixed  and  definite  proportion  page 292  while  the  relations  between
                                      {conservation of energy}
motion  and  rest  in  the sum  total of them, that is, in the whole uni-
  ] Bk.XIII:194166,E2:XIII(25)n:96 [
verse, remain unchanged.  Hence it follows that each body, in so far

as  it  exists  as  modified in a particular manner, must be considered

as  a  part  of  the  whole  universe,  as agreeing with the whole, and        Organic Interdependence
 ]cohering[
associated with the remaining parts.  As the Nature of the universe is

not limited, like the nature of blood, but is absolutely infinite, its parts

are  by this nature of infinite power infinitely modified, and compelled

to  undergo  infinite  variations.   But,  in respect to substance, I con-                        G-D

ceive  that  each  part has a more close union with its whole.  For, as
                                     { Neff }
I said in my first letter, EL:L2(2):276 (addressed to you while I was still at

Rhijnsburg),   substance   being   infinite  in  its nature, E1:VIII:48,  it

follows,  as  I  endeavoured  to  show,  that  each part belongs to the
       corporeal—Bk.XIII:194167.
nature of substance, and, without it, can neither be nor be conceived.


[L15:5
You  see,  therefore,  how  and  why  I think that the human body is a

part  of Nature.  As regards the human mind, I believe that it also is a
                                                                    Bk.XVIII:1542p7c.
part  of  Nature;  for  I  maintain  that  there exists in Nature an infinite
] Bk.XIII:194168,E3:VI:136,E4:Def.VIII:191. [                        ] within itself [
power  of thinking, which, in so far as it is infinite, contains subjective-

ly  the whole of Nature, and its thoughts proceed in the same manner
                                    ] object of its thought [,   Bk.XIII:195169E2:XIV-XXII:97.
as Nature--that is, in the sphere of ideas, (Elwes's Footnote 3:292). Further,

I  take  the human  mind to be identical with this said power, not in so
                                       ] apprehends [
far  as  it  is  infinite,  and perceives the whole of Nature, but in so far

as  it  is  finite,  and  perceives  only  the  human body; in this manner,
                                                       Bk.XIII:195170E2:IV-VI:83, ] intellect [
I  maintain  that  the  human mind is a part of an infinite understanding.

[L15:6] 
                              ] rigorously [
But to explain, and accurately prove, all these and kindred questions,

would  take  too long; and I do not think you expect as much of me at

present.   I  am  afraid  that  I  may have mistaken your meaning, and

given  an  answer  to  a different question from that which you asked.

Please inform me on this point.

page 293
[L15:7]

You write in your last letter, that I hinted that nearly all the Cartesian

laws  of motion are false.  What I said was, if I remember rightly, that

Huyghens thinks so;  I myself do not impeach any of the laws except
 Bk.XIII:195171.
the sixth, concerning which I think Huyghens is also in error.  I asked

you  at  the  same  time  to communicate to me the experiment made

according  to  that  hypothesis  in  your  Royal  Society; as you have

not  replied,  I  infer  that  you are not at liberty to do so.  The above-
                                                                                 ] dioptrical [
mentioned  Huyghens  is  entirely occupied in polishing ^ lenses.  He
                                                                  ] machine [
has fitted up for the purpose a handsome workshop, in which he can

also  construct  moulds.   What  will  be  the result I know not, nor, to

speak the truth, do I greatly care.  Experience has sufficiently taught
                                      ] safer [                                   Bk.XX:22148.
me,  that the free hand is better and more sure than any machine for
                                ] plates [
polishing  spherical  moulds.   I  can  tell  you  nothing  certain as yet

about  the  success of the clocks or the date of Huyghens' journey to

France.  

 
                                                                               
                                                                                  {
Signature added.}
Spinoza to Oldenburg
Voorburg, 20 Nov. 1665
{
Famous letter of the "worm"}


Elwes's footnote 3:292.

[End] - L15(32):290
{
Oldenburgh replies to Spinoza in Letter 16(33):293.}
 
 


From Bk.I:296.
EL:Letter19(68):296   -   Spinoza to Oldenburg. Sept.,1675
                                           {
Reply to LT:L18(62).} 

[Spinoza  relates  his  journey  to Amsterdam for the purpose of pub- 
lishing  his  Ethics;  he  was  deterred  by  the dissuasions of theolo- 
gians  and  Cartesians.   He  hopes  that  Oldenburg will inform him 
of  some  of  the  objections  to  the  Tractatus  Theologico-Politicus, 
made  by  learned  men,  so  that  they  may  be answered in notes.] 

[L19:1]
Distinguished  and Illustrious Sir,—When I received your letter of the

22nd July {1675}, I had set out to Amsterdam for the purpose of pub-
         ] Bk.XIII:321337—the Ethics, L18(62):295. [  
lishing  the  book  I  had  mentioned to you.   While I was negotiating,

a  rumour  gained currency that I had in the press a book concerning                     Wolf

G-D,  wherein  I  endeavoured  to  show  that there is no God.   This

report  was  believed by many.   Hence certain theologians, perhaps

the  authors  of  the rumour, took occasion to complain of me before
    ] Bk.XIII:321338 [                              Bk.XIA:49125; Bk.XIII:321339;Bk.XX:31012.
the  prince  and  the  magistrates;  more  over, the stupid Cartesians,

being suspected of favouring me, endeavoured to remove the asper-

sion  by  abusing  everywhere  my  opinions  and  writings,  a course

which  they  still pursue.   When I became aware of this through trust-

worthy  men,  who  also assured me that the theologians were every-

where lying in wait for me,  I determined to put off publishing till I saw

how things were going, and I proposed to inform you of my intentions.

But  matters  seem  to  get  worse and worse, and I am still uncertain
 Bk.XIB:148;Bk.XX:33539condemn.
what to do. page 297 [L19:2]  Meanwhile I do not like to delay any longer

answering  your  letter.   I will first thank you heartily, for your friendly,

warning,  which  I  should  be  glad to have further explained, so that

I  may  know, which are the doctrines which seem to you to be aimed
                                        ]    religious virtue    [
against  the  practice  of  religion and virtue.  If  principles  agree with

reason, they are, I take it, also most serviceable to virtue.  Further, if
                                                                    Bk.XIA:50126.
it  be  not troubling you too much I beg you to point out the passages
                                                                            ] a stumbling-block to [
in  the  Tractatus Theologico-Politicus  which are objected to by the
                                  ] clarify [                     ] Bk.XIII:322340 [
learned, for I want to illustrate that treatise with notes, and to remove

if possible the prejudices conceived against it.   Farewell
 
                                                                               
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
Spinoza to Oldenburg
Sept.,1675
{
Oldenburg responds in following Letter 20(71).}
 

[EndL19(68)  -  Reply to TL:18(62). 
 


From Bk.I:297.
EL:Letter20(71):296   -   Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 15 Nov.,1675
                                            {
Reply to previous Letter 19(68):296. } 

[L20:1]
                                                                                   ] Bk.XIII:329356 [
As  I  see  from  your last letter, the book you propose to publish is in
                                                                                    ] elucidating [
peril.    It is impossible not to approve your purpose of illustrating and

softening down those passages in the TractatusTheologico-Polticus,
           ] proved a stumbling-block [  Bk.XIA:50127.   { 1 }
which  have   given  pain  to  its  readers.   First I would call attention

to  the ambiguities in your treatment of G-D and Nature: a great many
                                                                                              { 2 }
people  think  you have confused the one with the other.   Again, you
                                                                               ] validity [
seem  to  many  to  take  away  the  authority  and  value of miracles,

whereby  alone,  as  nearly  all  Christians  believe  {pragmatically}, the
                                {intuition}
certainty  of  the Divine Revelation can be established.

[L20:2]
  {
3 }                                            Bk.XIA:50128.             Bk.XIB:14925.
Again,  people  say that you conceal your opinion concerning  Jesus

Christ,  the  Redeemer  of  the  world, the only Mediator for mankind,
                                                          ]Atonement [
and  concerning His incarnation and redemption: they would like you
                                              ]    your attitude   [
to  give a clear explanation of what you think on these three subjects.
                                                                        ] reasonable and intelligent [
If  you  do  this  and  thus  give  satisfaction  to  prudent  and rational
                                                  Bk.XX:33131.
Christians,  I  think  your affairs  are  safe.     ] This is what I, who am

devoted to you, wish you to know in brief. [     Farewell.
 
                                                                               
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
Spinoza to Oldenburg
London, 15 Nov.,1675
 
[End]  EL:Letter20(71):296
{Spinoza replies in following Letter 21(73):298.}
 


From Bk.I:298.
EL:Letter21(73):298   -   Spinoza to Oldenburg. Nov. or Dec.,1675
                                             {
Reply to previous Letter 20.}  

[L21:1]
Distinguished Sir,—I received on Saturday last your very short letter
             { 1675 }                                                                         ] TTP [
dated 15th  Nov.   In  it you merely indicate the points in the theologi-
                                        ] a stumbling-block [
cal  treatise, which have given pain to readers, whereas I had hoped
                                             ]       those passages which undermined       [
to  learn  from  it,  what were the opinions which militated against the         
                                                                      { ^ morals - Spinoza's Religion}                         Shirley:332362  
practice   of   religious  virtue,  and  which  you  formerly  mentioned. 

However,  I  will speak on the three subjects on which you desire me

to  disclose  my  sentiments,  and  tell  you, first, that my opinion con-
           { New Wine in Old Bottles }
cerning  G-D  differs widely from that which is ordinarily defended by

modern  Christians.   For  I  hold  that G-D is of all  things  the  cause

immanent,  as  the  phrase  is,  not transient.  I say that all things are
{
literally}
in  G-D   and   move   in   G-D,   thus   agreeing  with Paul, (Acts 17:28,                1 Ep. John 4:13

1 Cor 3:16, 12:6, and Eph 1:23and,  perhaps,  with  all  the  ancient  philos-

ophers,  though the phraseology may be different; I will even venture
                                                                                                                                                        {Bk.XIB:11041.
to  affirm  that  I  agree with all the ancient Hebrews, in so far as one         Schechinah - Talmudic
   ] conjecture [                                                                    Bk.XIB:14925.                 form of Pantheism.}
may  judge  from their  traditions,  though  these  are  in  many  ways

corrupted.  The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the
                                                   ] identification [
Tractatus Theologico-Politicus  the  unity of  G-D and Nature (mean-                Durant:640[13]92 

ing  by  the  latter  a  certain  mass  or  corporeal  matter),   is  wholly

erroneous. {Pantheism is simply awareness that all parts are bound into an organic
interdependence for the life of the organism. Think heart-lung interaction.
}

[L21:2]
As  regards  miracles,  I 
am of opinion that the revelation of G-D can

only  be  established  by  the wisdom of the doctrine, not by miracles,

or  in  other  words  by  ignorance.   This  I  have  shown at sufficient

length  in  Chapter VI. concerning miracles.   I will here only add, that

I  make  this  chief  distinction between religion and superstition, that

the  latter  is  founded  on ignorance,  the former on knowledge; this,

I take it,  is the reason why Christians are distinguished from the rest

of  the world, not by faith, nor by charity, nor by the other fruits of the
                                                                                                   ] rest [
Holy  Spirit,  but  solely  by  their  opinions, inasmuch as they defend
         ] case [           ]   they  all  do   [                                     Bk.XX:33132.
their  cause,  like  everyone  else,  by  miracles,  that is by ignorance,
                                   ^ {i.e. all Christians}
which  is  the  source  of  all  malice;  thus  they  turn  a faith,   page 299
                                        Bk.XIB:149.
which may be true, into  superstition. ] But I doubt very much whether rulers will                {fear of hell -
    ]
Bk.XIII:333363 [                                           [3]                                                      Bk.XIII:44Ep75}
ever allow the application of a remedy for this evil.[  
Lastly, in order to disclose
         ^ {remember Roman rulers against change of their Pagan Religion}
my opinions on the third point, I will tell you that I do not think it neces-

sary,  for  salvation {PcM}  to  know Christ according to the flesh: but                      Wolf:P57, L18, 20

with  regard  to  the  Eternal  Son  of God, that is the Eternal Wisdom

of  G-D,  which has manifested itself in all things and especially in the
                                                            ] a very different view must be taken. [
human mind, and above all in Christ Jesus, the case is far otherwise.

For  without  this  no  one  can  come  to a state of blessedness, inas-              {practice of
                                                                                                                               religion -
much  as  it  alone  teaches, what  is true or false, good or evil.   And,              Bk.XIII:37Ep73.}

inasmuch  as  this  wisdom  was  made  especially  manifest  through

Jesus  Christ,  as I have said, His disciples preached it, in so far as it
                                                {as a teacher}
was revealed to them through Him ^, and thus showed that they could

rejoice  in  that  spirit  of  Christ more than the rest of mankind.   The

doctrines  added  by  certain  churches, such  as that G-D took upon

Himself human nature, I have expressly said that I do not understand;              Affirm or Deny
                                                                              Bk.XX:33132.
in  fact,  to  speak  the  truth,  they  seem  to  me  no less absurd than  
                                         Bk.XIA:104110.   
would  a  statement,  that a  circle had taken upon itself the nature of  
  Bk.XIB:14926;Bk.XIII:333364.
a  square.   This  I  think  will  be sufficient explanation of my opinions

concerning  the  three points  mentioned.   Whether  it will be satisfac-            {I think not, see
                                                        Bk.XIA:104111.                                                    Mark Twain's "Little Story"}
tory  to  Christians  you  will  know  better  than  I.   Farewell.


                                                                               
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
Spinoza to Oldenburg
Nov. or Dec.,1675
{
Oldenburg replies in following Letter 22(74):299.} 
 

L21(73) Note from Shirley's Bk. XIII:332

[EndEL:L21(73):298
 


page 299
From Bk.I:299
EL:Letter22(74):299. -  Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 16 Dec.,1675
                                        {
Reply to previous Letter 21(73):298.} 

[Oldenburg  wishes  to  be  enlightened  concerning  the doctrine of
fatalism,  of  which  Spinoza  has been accused.   He discourses on  
man's limited intelligence and on the incarnation of the Son of God.] 

[L22:1]

As  you seem to accuse me of excessive brevity, I will this time avoid

the  charge by excessive prolixity.  You expected, I see, that I should
                                                                                       ] do away with [
set  forth  those  opinions in your writings, which seem to discourage

the  practice  of  religious  virtue  in  your  readers.   I will indicate the
                                                                                   { NeffL60(56):385 }
matter which especially pains them.  You appear to set up a fatalistic
{ determinism , free-will , free }
necessity   for   all   things  and  actions;  if  such  is  conceded  and

asserted,  people  page 300  aver,  that  the sinews of all laws, of virtue,

and  of  religion,  are  severed,  and that all rewards and punishment            Mark Twain
    ]pointless[

are  vain.   Whatsoever  can  compel,  or  involves  necessity, is held

also  to  excuse;  therefore no one, they think, can be without excuse
                                     ] EL:Shirley:335365276276 [
in  the  sight  of God.   If we are driven by fate, and all things follow a

fixed  and  inevitable  path  laid  down  by the hard hand of necessity,            {miracles and
               { Oldenburg expresses the pedagogical usefulness. }                                          necessity -
they   do   not   see  where  punishment  can  come  in.   What wedge             Bk.XIII:37Ep74.}
                                                   ^ {
NeffjudgeL34(21):338}; Bk.XX:33234.
can be  brought  for  the  untying  of this knot, it is very, difficult to say.

I should much like to know  and learn what help you can supply in the

matter.

[L22:2]
As  to  the  opinions  which  you  have  kindly disclosed to me on the

three points I mentioned,  the following inquiries suggest themselves.

First,  In  what  sense  do  you  take  miracles  and  ignorance  to  be

synonymous  and  equivalent  terms,  as  you appear to think in your

last letter?

[L22:3]
The  bringing  back  of  Lazarus  from the dead, and the resurrection

from  death of Jesus Christ seem to surpass all the power of created

nature,  and to fall within the scope of divine power only; it would not
]   argue a      [
be a sign of culpable {deserving blame or censure} ignorance, that it
]   must necessarily      [                                                          ] that is [
was  necessary  to  exceed  the limits of finite intelligence   confined
          ] definite limits [
within certain bounds.   But  perhaps  you  do  not think it in harmony

with the created mind and science, to acknowledge in the uncreated

mind  and  supreme Deity a science and power capable of fathoming,

and  bringing to pass events, whose reason and manner can neither

be  brought  home nor explained to us poor human pigmies? "We are

men;"   it appears,  that  we  must  "think  everything  human  akin  to

ourselves."

[L22:4]
Again,  when  you  say  that  you  cannot understand that G-D really

took  upon  Himself  human nature, it becomes allowable to ask you,

how  you  understand  the  texts in the Gospel and the Epistle to the

Hebrews,   whereof   the   first  says,  "The  Word  was  made  flesh,"

John 1:14,  and  the  other, "For  verily  he  took not on him the nature

of  angels;  but  he  took  on  him  the  seed  of  Abraham." Heb. 2:16.

Moreover,  the  whole  tenor  of the Gospel infers, as I think, that the

only  begotten  Son  of  God, the Word (who both was God and was
                                                           ] 1Tim 2:5-6 and Mat.20:28 [
with  God),  showed  Himself  in  human  nature,  and by His passion
                                ]         paid the ransom        [                                                   { Evolved from
and  page 301  death  offered  up  the sacrifice for our sins, the price of           Lev. 16:8-10, 20-22.
]   redemption    [                                    { ^ superstition }                                       to self-servingly
the  atonement.    What  you  have  to  say  concerning  this  without         bring Peace of Mind }

impugning  the  truth  of the Gospel and the Christian religion, which

I think you approve of, I would gladly learn.

[L22:5]
 I  had  meant  to  write  more, but am interrupted by friends on a visit,

to  whom  I  cannot  refuse  the  duties  of courtesy.   But what I have

already  put  on paper is enough, and will perhaps weary you in your

philosophizing.   Farewell,  therefore,  and  believe  me to be ever an

admirer of your learning and knowledge.
 
 

[EndEL:L22(74):299. -  Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 16 Dec.,1675
                                         {
Spinoza replies in following Letter 23(75).} 
                                            {Series begins with Letter 19(68):296.} 

page 301

From Bk.I:301
EL:Letter23(75)  -  Spinoza to Oldenburg. Dec.,1675
                                 {
Reply to previous Letter 22(74):299.} 

[Spinoza  expounds  to  Oldenburg  his  views  on fate and necessity, 
discriminates  between  miracles  and  ignorance, takes the resurrec- 
tion  of  Christ  as  spiritual,  and deprecates attributing to the sacred 
writers Western modes of speech.] 

[L23:1]

Distinguished Sir,—At last I see, what it was that you begged me not

to  publish.   However,  as it forms the chief foundation of everything
              {TTP}
in  the  treatise  which  I  intended  to bring out, I should like briefly to
                                                            ]EL:Shirley:276276Neff:L60(56):389[
explain  here,  in  what  sense I assert that a fatal necessity presides

over  all  things  and  actions.  G-D, I in no wise subject to fate: I con-

ceive  that  all  things follow with inevitable necessity from the Nature
  {The terms G-D and Nature are interchangeable.}
of  G-D,  in  the same way as everyone conceives that it follows from

G-D's   Nature  that  G-D  understands  Himself.   This  latter  conse-

quence  all  admit to follow necessarily from the Divine Nature, yet no

one  conceives  that  G-D  is  under  the  compulsion  of any fate, but

that   He   understands   Himself   quite   freely,  though   necessarily.

[L23:2] 
 
Further,  this  inevitable  necessity  in  things does away neither with

Divine  nor  human laws.   The  principles  of  morality,  whether they
                                                          {natural}  ]commandments[
receive  from G-D Himself the form of laws or institutions, or whether

they  do   not,  are  still   page 302   divine  and   salutary;   whether  we
                                      Bk.XIV:2:2823.
receive  the  good,  which  flows  from virtue  and the divine love, as
                                                                    {immanently}
from  God  in  the  capacity  of  a  judge,   or  as ^  from the necessity             {conceived not
                                                                                  {pragmatically}                       as a judge -
of  the  Divine Nature,  it  will  in  either  case  be  equally  desirable;                Bk.XIII:37Ep75.}

on  the  other  hand,  the  evils  following  from  wicked  actions  and

passions  are  not  less  to  be  feared  because  they  are necessary
                                                    {doings}
consequences.   Lastly,  in  our  actions,  whether they be necessary
                                                                                  {have no complaint}                  If objective.
or contingent, we are led by hope and fear. [L23:3] Men are only without
                                                                     EL:Dijn:26044; EL:Nadler:33235
excuse  before  G-D because they are in God's power, as clay is in             No praise, no blame.
                                                                                                             {302:J1 ^}
the  hand  of  the  potter,  who  from  the same  lump  makes  vessels,
                                                 (Romans  9:21)
 some  to  honour, some to dishonour.  If you will reflect a little on this,

you  will, I  doubt  not,  easily be able to reply to any objections which
              ]raised[
may  be  urged  against   my  opinion,  as  many  of  my  friends  have

already done.

[L23:4] 
 
I  have  taken  miracles  and ignorance as equivalent terms, because

those,  who  endeavour to establish God's existence and the truth of

religion  by  means of miracles, seek to prove the obscure by what is

more  obscure  and completely unknown, thus introducing a new sort

of  argument,  the  reduction,  not to the impossible, as the phrase is,
 ]Bk.XIII:338370 - belief in miracles inevitably leads to disbelief in the existence of G-D.[
but  to  ignorance. ^ But,  if I mistake not, I have sufficiently explained

my  opinion  on  miracles  in  the  Theologico-Political treatise.   I will

only  add  here, that if you will reflect on the facts; that Christ did not

appear  to  the  council, nor to Pilate, nor to any unbeliever, but only

to the faithful;  also that G-D has neither right hand nor left, but is by

His  essence  not  in a particular spot, but everywhere; that matter is                 Durant:63985 

everywhere the same; that G-D does not manifest himself in the ima-

ginary  space  supposed  to  be  outside  the  world;  and  lastly, that

the  frame  of  the  human body is kept within due limits solely by the

weight  of  the  air; you will readily see that this apparition of Christ is

not unlike that wherewith God appeared to Abraham, when the latter
                                                ] Gen 18:1-2. [
saw  men whom he invited to dine with him.   But, you will say, all the

Apostles  thoroughly  believed,  that  Christ  rose  from  the dead and

really ascended to heaven: I do not deny it.   Abraham, too, believed

that God had dined with him,  and all the Israelites believed that God

descended,  surrounded   page 303  with   fire,  from  heaven  to  Mount

Sinai,  and  there  spoke  directly  with  them; whereas, these appari-

tions or revelations,  and many others like them, were adapted to the

understandiing  and  opinions  of  those  men,  to  whom God wished

thereby to reveal His will.   I therefore conclude, that the resurrection

of Christ from the dead was in reality spiritual, and that to the faithful

alone,  according  to  their understanding, it was revealed that Christ

was endowed with eternity, and had risen from the dead (using dead

in  the  sense  in  which  Christ said,  "let  the  dead bury their dead",

(Matt. 8:22 & Luke 9:60)  giving  by  His  life  and  death a matchless example

of  holiness.   Moreover,  He  to  this  extent raises his disciples from

the  dead,  in  so  far  as  they follow the example of His own life and

death.   It  would not be difficult to explain the whole Gospel doctrine

on  this  hypothesis.   Nay,  1 Cor. ch. xv. cannot be explained on any

other, nor can Paul's arguments be understood: if we follow the com-

mon  interpretation,  they appear weak and can easily be refuted: not

to  mention  the fact, that Christians interpret spiritually all those doc-

trines  which  the  Jews  accepted literally.   l join with you in acknow-

ledging  human  weakness.   But  on the other hand, I venture to ask
                                 ] petty men [
you  whether  we  "human pigmies"  possess sufficient knowledge of
                                                                                                      ] and
Nature  to  be  able to lay down the limits of its force and power, or to
                                              what is beyond its power? [
say  that  a  given thing surpasses that power?   No one could go so

far  without  arrogance.   We may, therefore, without presumption ex-

plain miracles as far as possible by natural causes. When we cannot
                                                              ] absurdity [
explain  them,  nor  even  prove  their  impossibility, we may well sus-

pend our judgment about them, and establish religion, as I have said,

solely  by  the  wisdom  of  its  doctrines.   You  think that the texts in

John's  Gospel and in Hebrews are inconsistent with what I advance,

because  you  measure  oriental  phrases  by  the standards of Euro-

pean Speech;  though John wrote his gospel in Greek, he wrote it as
]Bk.XIII:339373 - Spinoza avoids a detailed interpretation of the {Christian Bible} for want of a knowledge of Greek[
Hebrew.   However  this  may  be,  do you believe, when Scripture                Wienpahl:106
        ^ The Greeks took literally what the Hebrews take figuratively.}
says  that  God manifested Himself in a cloud, or that He dwelt in the

tabernacle  or the temple, that God actually assumed the nature of a

cloud, a tabernacle, or a temple?   Yet the utmost that Christ says of
                                                                  ( Cf. Matt. 26:60; Mark 14:58 )
Himself  is,  that  He  is the Temple  page 304  of God John 2:19, because,

as  I  said  before,  God  had  specially  manifested  Himself in Christ.

John,  wishing  to express the same truth more forcibly, said that "the
                John 1:14
Word  was  made  flesh."   But  I  have  said  enough  on  the subject.
 

[End]   L23(75):303  -  Spinoza to Oldenburg. Dec.,1675
                              {
Oldenburg replies in following Letter 24(77).} 
                                   {Series begins with Letter 19(68):296.} 


From Bk.I:304.
Letter24(77)  -  Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 14 Jan.,1676
                           {
Reply to previous Letter 23(75).}

[Oldenburg returns to the questions of universal necessity, of miracles,
and of the literal and allegorical interpretation of Scripture.] 

[L24:1]

You  hit  the point exactly, in perceiving the cause why I did not wish the

doctrine  of  the  fatalistic  necessity of all things to be promulgated, lest
                                                                    { slandered }
the  practice  of  virtue  should  thereby  be  aspersed, and rewards and

punishments  become  ineffectual.  The  suggestions  in  your last letter

hardly  seem  sufficient  to  settle the matter, or to quiet the human mind.

For if we men are,  in all our actions, moral as well as natural, under the
                      EL:Dijn:26044; EL:Nadler:33235.
power  of  God,  like  clay  in the hands of the potter, with what face can  

any of us be accused of doing this or that, seeing that it was impossible

for him to do otherwise?  Should we not be able to cast all responsibility             {Is G-D the
    {JBYnote1}                                                                                                           cause of evil?
on  God ?  Your inflexible fate, and your irresistible power, compel us to           Bk.XIII:37Ep77.}

act  in  a  given  manner, nor can we possibly act otherwise.  Why, then,

and  by  what  right  do  you deliver us up to terrible punishments, which

we can in no way avoid, since you direct and carry on all things through

supreme  necessity,  according  to  your good will and pleasure?  When
                                                 {excusable - Translator}
you say that men are only inexcusable before God, because they are in

the  power  of  God,  I should reverse the argument, and say, with more              JBYnote1 

show of reason,  that men are evidently excusable, since they are in the  

power  of  God.  Everyone  may  plead,  "Thy power cannot be escaped

from,  O God;  therefore,  since I could not act otherwise, I may justly be   

excused."

[L24:2]
 
Again,  in  taking miracles and ignorance as equivalent terms, you seem

to  bring  within  the same limits the power of God and the knowledge of

the  ablest  men;  for  God is, according to you, unable to do or produce

anything,  for  which  men cannot assign a reason, if they employ all the

strength of their faculties.

[L24:3]
 
Again,  the  history  of  Christ's  passion,  death, burial, and resurrection

seems  to  be depicted in such lively and genuine colours, that I venture

to  appeal  to  your conscience,  whether  you  can  believe  them  to be

allegorical, rather than literal, while preserving your faith in the narrative?           Bk.XIII:37Ep77.

The  circumstances  so  clearly  stated by the Evangelists seem to urge

strongly  on  our  minds,  that  the  history should be understood literally.

I have ventured to touch briefly on these points, and I earnestly beg you

to  pardon  me,  and  answer  me  as  a  friend  with your usual candour.

Mr. Boyle  sends  you his kind regards. I will, another time, tell you what

the Royal Society is doing. Farewell, and preserve me in your affection.
 

Oldenburg to Spinoza
London, 14 Jan.,1676

[End]   L24(77):303  -  {Spinoza replies in following Letter 25(78).} 
                                        {Series begins with Letter 19(68):296.} 
 
 


From Bk.XIII:347.
Neff - L25(78):305  -   Spinoza to Oldenburg. The Hague, 7 Feb.,1676
                                  {
Reply to previous Letter 24(77).} 

       To the noble and learned Henry Oldenburg, from B.d.S.

            ( Spinoza again treats of fatalism.  He repeats that he
              accepts  Christ's  passion,  death, and burial literally, 
              but His resurrection spiritually. ) 

[L25:1]

Most noble Sir,

When  I  said  in  my  previous  L23(75):301 that the reason why we are  
 
{,
if objective, }                                              EL:Dijn:26044; EL:Nadler:33235.
without  excuse  is  that  we  are in G-D's power as clay in the hands of

the  potter,  I  meant  to  be  understood  in this  sense, that no one can

accuse  G-D  for  having given him a weak nature or a feeble character.

For  just  as it would be absurd for a circle to complain that G-D has not     Alcoholics Anonymous,

given it the properties of a sphere, or a child suffering from kidney-stone

that  G-D has not given it a healthy body, it would be equally absurd for

a man of feeble character to complain that G-D has denied him strength             Disability

of  spirit  and  true  knowledge  and  love of G-D,  and has given him so          {virtue and
                                                                                                                               vice -
weak a nature that he cannot contain or control his desires. In the case         Bk.XIII:37Ep78.}

of  each  thing,  it  is  only  that  which follows necessarily from its given

cause that is within its competence. That it is not within the competence

of  every man's nature that he should be of strong character, and that it

is  no  more  within  our  power  to  have  a healthy body than to have a

healthy mind, nobody can deny without flying in the face of both experi-
    Bk.XX:333.            [L25:2]                                             { EL:Shirley:335365. }
ence and reason. "But," you urge, "if men sin from the necessity of their           {The sins of
                                Bk.XVIII:344Letter 78.                                                                                       the fathers}
nature,  they  are therefore excusable." You do not explain what conclu-

sion  you  wish  to  draw  from  this.  Is it that G-D cannot be angry with

them, or is it that they are worthy of blessedness, that is, the knowledge         Mark Twain

and  love  of  G-D?  If  the  former, I entirely agree that G-D is not angry,

and  that  all  things  happen in accordance with his will.  But I deny that

on that account all men ought to be blessed; for men may be excusable,

but  nevertheless  be  without  blessedness  and  afflicted in many ways.

A  horse  is  excusable  for  being a horse, and not a man; nevertheless,
                       Bk.XX:333.
he  needs  must be a horse, and not a man. He who goes mad from the
                                                                           {natural}
bite  of  a  dog is indeed to be excused; still, it is right that he should die

of suffocation {from lockjaw}.

Finally,  he  who  cannot  control  his  desires  and keep them in check
          { awe }
through fear of the law, although he also is to be excused for his weak-

ness, nevertheless cannot enjoy tranquillity of mind and the knowledge
                                      Bk.XIX:24831;Bk.XX:33336.
and  love  of  G-D, but of necessity he is lost. I do not think I need here

remind  you  that Scripture, when it says that God is angry with sinners,

that he is a judge who takes cognizance of the actions of men, decides,

and  passes  sentence,  is  speaking  in merely human terms according

to  the  accepted  beliefs  of  the  multitude;  for  its  aim  is  not to teach

philosophy,  nor  to  make  men  learned,  but  to  make  them  obedient 

{
by pedagogical means}.
 
 [L25:3] 
 
Again, I fail to see how you come to think that, by equating
miracles with

ignorance, I  am  confining  G-D's  power  and  man's  knowledge  within

the same bounds. 

[L25:4] 
 
The  passion,  death  and  burial of Christ I accept literally, but his resur-

rection  I  understand in an allegorical sense.  I do indeed admit that this          Bk.XIII:37Ep78.

is  related  by  the Evangelists with such detail that we cannot deny that

the  Evangelists  themselves believed that the body of Christ rose again

and  ascended  to  heaven to sit at God's right hand, and that this could

also  have  been  seen  by  unbelievers  if they had been present at the

places  where  Christ  appeared to the disciples.  Nevertheless, without

injury  to  the  teaching  of  the  Gospel, they could have been deceived,

as  was  the  case  with  other prophets, examples of which I gave in my

last  letter.  But  Paul,  to whom Christ also appeared later, rejoices that
                                                                 ( 2 Cor 5:16 )
he knows Christ not after the flesh, but after the spirit.

[L25:5]

I   am  most  grateful  to  you for the catalogue of the books of the distin-
           ] Bk.XIII:348386. [
guished  Mr.  Boyle.  Lastly,  I  wait  to  hear  from  you,  when you have

an  opportunity,  about  the  present  proceedings  of  the  Royal Society.
 

Farewell,  most  honoured  Sir,  and  believe  me  yours  in  all  zeal and

affection.
                                                                               
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}

[End]  L25(78):305  -  Spinoza to Oldenburg.
                                       The Hague, 7 February 1676.

 


From Bk.I:307.
L25A(79)  -  Oldenburg to Spinoza. London, 11 Feb.,1676
     Bk.XIII:       { Reply to previous Letter 25. } 

[ Oldenburg  adduces  certain  further  objections  against  Spinoza's
  doctrine  of  necessity and miracles, and exposes the inconsistency 
  of a partial allegorization of Scripture. ] 

To the most illustrious Master Benedict de Spinoza
Henry Oldenburg sends greetings.

[L25A:1]

In  your  last  letter written to me on the 7th of February, there are some

points  which  seem  to  deserve  criticism.   You say that a man cannot

complain,  because God has denied him the true knowledge of Himself,

and  strength  sufficient  to  avoid sins;  forasmuch  as  to the nature of

everything  nothing is competent,  except that which follows necessarily

from  its  cause.  But  I  say,  that inasmuch as God, the Creator of men,

formed  them  after  His own image, which seems to imply in its concept

wisdom,  goodness, and power, it appears quite to follow, that it is more
                                    ] EL:Bk.I:3073 [
within  the  sphere  of man's powers to have a sound mind than to have

a sound body. For physical soundness of body follows from mechanical
                                   {Pineal Gland}                 
causes,  but  soundness of mind depends on purpose and design.  You
                                    ( excusable - Tr. & Bk.III)
add,  that  men  may  be  inexcusable, and yet suffer pain in many ways.

This  seems  hard  at  first  sight,  and  what  you  add  by  way of proof,
                     EL:Bk.I:3082                        ] Bk.XIII:349387. [
namely,   that  a  dog,  mad  from having  been  bitten  is  indeed  to  be

excused,  but  yet  is  rightly killed, does not seem to settle the question.

For  the killing of such a dog would argue cruelty, were it not necessary

in  order  to  preserve  other dogs and animals, and indeed men, from a

maddening bite of the same kind.

[L25A:2] 
 
But  if  God  implanted  in  man a sound mind, as He is able to do, there              JBYnote1.

would be no contagion of vices to be feared.  And, surely, it seems very

cruel,   that   God  should  devote  men  to  eternal,  or  at  least  terrible          { God is cruel -
                                                                                        Bk.XX:33337.                      Bk.XIII:37Ep79.}
temporary,  torments,  for sins which by them could be no wise avoided.

Moreover,  the  tenour of all Holy Scripture seems to suppose and imply,

that  men  can  abstain  from  sins.  For it abounds in denunciations and

promises,  in  declarations  of  rewards  and  punishments,  all  of which

seem  to  militate  against  the  necessity  of sinning, and infer the possi-

bility  of  avoiding  punishment.  And  if  this  were denied, it would have

to  be  said,  that  the  human  mind  acts no less mechanically than the

human body {exactly}.

[L25A:3]

Next,  when  you  proceed  to  take  miracles and ignorance to be equiv-

alent,  you  seem  to  rely on  this  foundation, that the creature can and

should  have  perfect  insight into the power and wisdom of the Creator:

and   that   the   fact   is   quite  otherwise,  I  have  hitherto  been  firmly

persuaded.

[L25A:4] 
 
Lastly,  where  you  affirm that Christ's passion, death, and burial are to
                                                                 Bk.XIII:37Ep78.
be  taken  literally,  but His resurrection allegorically, you rely, as far as

I can see, on no proof at all. Christ's resurrection seems to be delivered

in  the  Gospel  as  literally  as  the rest.  And on this article of the resur-             JBYnote1

rection  the  whole  Christian  religion  and  its  truth  rest,  and  with  its

removal  Christ's  mission  and  heavenly  doctrine  collapse.   It cannot

escape  you,  how  Christ,  after He was raised from the dead, laboured

to  convince  His  disciples  of  the  truth of the Resurrection properly so

called.  To want to turn all these things into allegories is the same thing,

as  if  one  were  to busy one's self in plucking up the whole truth of the

Gospel history.     { EL:Endnote:Faith_versus_Philosophy }
 
[L25A:5] 

These few  points  I  wished again to submit in the interest of my liberty
       { better Faith }
of  philosophizing,  which  I  earnestly  beg  you  not  to  take  amiss.


Oldenburg to  Spinoza
Written in London, 11 Feb., 1676.

I  will  communicate  with  you shortly on the present studies and
                                                                                ] Bk.XIII:350388. [
experiments of the Royal Society, if God grant me life and health.
 

[End]   L25A(79)
 



From Bk.I:360. Taken with kind permission from Neff L42(37).
                                                           Bk.XIII:211200.
L42(37)—Spinoza to I. B.   ] to Johan Bouwmeester [
                             Voorburg, 10, Jun, 1666

[Concerning the best method, by which we may safely arrive at the knowledge of things.]

[L42:1]

Most  Learned  Sir  and  Dearest Friend,I have not been able hitherto to

answer your last letter, received some time back. I have been so hindered

by  various  occupations  and  calls  on  my  time, that I am hardly yet free

from them.  However, as I have a few spare moments, I do not want to fall

short of my duty,  but take this first opportunity of heartily thanking you for

your  affection and kindness towards me, which you have often displayed

in your actions, and now also abundantly prove by your letter.

[L42:2]

I  pass  on  to your question, which runs as follows: "Is there, or can there

be,  any  method by which we may, without hindrance, arrive at the know-

ledge  of  the  most  excellent  things?  or  are  our minds, like our bodies,

subject  to  the  vicissitudes  of  circumstance,  so  that  our  thoughts are
                                  chanceBk.XIX:1476.
governed  rather  by  fortune  than  by skill?"  I think I shall satisfy you, if I

show  that  there  must  necessarily be a method, whereby we are able to
      Bk.XIX:15118E5:IV(4)n:249, E2:XL:111.
direct our clear and distinct  perceptions, and that our mind is not, like our

body, subject to the vicissitudes of circumstance.

[L42:3] 
 
This conclusion may be based simply on the consideration that one clear

and  distinct perception,  or several such together, can be absolutely the
 Bk.XIX:13315; 14032.
cause  of  another  clear  and  distinct perception.  Now, all the clear and

distinct  perceptions,  which  we form, can only arise from other clear and

distinct perceptions, which are in us; nor do they acknowledge any cause

external  to  us.  Hence  it  follows  that  the clear and distinct perceptions,

which  we  form, depend solely on our nature, and on its certain and fixed
                                                                    Bk.XIX:1476chance.
laws;  in  other words, on our absolute power, not on fortunethat is, not

on  causes  which,  although also acting by certain and fixed laws, are yet

unknown  to  us,  and  alien  to  our  nature  and power.  As regards other

perceptions, I confess that they depend chiefly on fortune.  Hence clearly

appears,  what the true method ought to be like, and what it ought chiefly
                                                                                                ] intellect [
to consist innamely, solely in the knowledge of the pure understanding,
      Bk.XIII:212202;Bk.XIX:1294.
and  its  nature and laws.  In order that such knowledge may be acquired,

it is before all things necessary to distinguish between the understanding
       Bk.XIII:212201E2:XL(19)n2:113.
and  the  imagination, or between ideas which are true and the rest, such

as  the  fictitious,  the false, the doubtful, and absolutely all depend solely

on  the  memory.  For  the  understanding  of  these matters, as far as the

method requires, there is no need to know the nature of the mind through

its first cause;  it is sufficient to put together a short history of the mind, or
                                                               Bk.XIX:1319.
of perceptions, in the manner taught by Verulam ]i.e., Francis Bacon, in the Organon.[.

[L42:4] 
 
I think that in these few words I have explained and demonstrated the true

method,  and  have,  at  the same time, pointed out the way of acquiring it.

It only remains to remind you,  that all these questions demand assiduous

study,  and  great  firmness  of  disposition  and  purpose.  In order to fulfil

these  conditions,  it  is of prime necessity to follow a fixed mode and plan           Hampshire:113 

of  living,  and  to set  before  one  some  definite aim.  But enough of this

for the present, &c.

                                                                                  Bk.XIII:211200.
[End] L42(37)—Spinoza to I. B.   ] to Johan Bouwmeester [
                             Voorburg, 10, Jun, 1666  


[ Note N1 ]: 


From Bk.I:364
EL:L49(43):364. The  rough  copy  of this letter is still preserved, and 
contains many strong expressions of Spinoza's indignation against 
Velthuysen, which he afterwards suppressed or mitigated. 
       ^Bk.XIII:35Ep43.
                                    Bk.XIA:6866, 67skepticism.
                                   Spinoza to Isaac Orobio.
                                 ]to Jacob Ostens[ Bk.XIII:237220.

   (A defence of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. (The Hague, 1671.))

[L49:1]

Most learned Sir,—You  doubtless  wonder  why  I  have kept you so

long  waiting.   I could hardly bring myself to reply to the pamphlet of

that  person,  which  you  thought  fit  to send me; indeed I only do so

now  because  of  my promise.   However, in order as far as possible

to  humour  my  feelings,  I  will fulfil my engagement in as few words

as  I  can,  and  will  briefly  show  how perversely he has interpreted

my  meaning;  whether through malice or through ignorance I cannot

readily say.   But to the matter in hand.

[L49:2] 

First  he  says, "that it is of little moment to know what nation I belong

to,  or  what  sort  of  life  I  lead."   Truly,  if  he   page 365   had   known,

he  would  not so easily have persuaded himself that I teach Atheism.
       Bk.XIII:237221; Bk.XIX:25344, 45, & 46.
For  Atheists are wont greedily to covet rank and riches, which I have
                                                             Bk.XIB:11549.
always  despised, as all who know me are aware.   Again, in order to

smooth  his  path  to  the  object  he  has in view, he says that, " I am

possessed  of  no  mean  talents,"  so  that  he  may,  forsooth,  more

easily  convince  his  readers,  that  I  have  knowingly and cunningly

with  evil  intent  argued  for  the  cause  of  the deists, in order to dis-

credit it.   This  contention  sufficiently  shows  that  he has not under-

stood  my  reasons.   For  who could be so cunning and clever, as to

be  able  to  advance  under false pretences so many and such good

reasons  for  a  doctrine  which he did not believe in?   Who will pass

for  an  honest writer in the eyes of a man, that thinks one may argue

as  soundly  for fiction as for truth?   But after all I am not astonished.
                                                              Bk.XIB:20112;Bk.XIII:238222.
Descartes  was  formerly  served  in  the  same way by Voët, and the

most honourable writers are constantly thus treated.

[L49:3]
  
He  goes  on  to  say,  "
In  order  to shun the reproach of superstition,

he  seems  to  me  to  have  thrown  off all religion."   What this writer

means  by  religion and what by superstition, I know not.   But I would

ask,  whether  a  man  throws off all religion,  who maintains that G-D

must  be  acknowledged  as  the highest  good,  and  must,  as such,
                                                                                 ] E5: XLI, XLII. [
be  loved  with  a  free  mind?  or,  again,  that the reward of virtue is

virtue itself, while the punishment of folly and weakness is folly itself?

or,  lastly,  that  every  man  ought to love his neighbour, and to obey

the  commands  of  the  supreme  power?   Such doctrines I have not

only  expressly  stated,  but  have  also  demonstrated  them  by very
                                                                Bk.XX:2466.
solid reasoning.   However, I think I see the mud wherein this person

sticks.   He  finds  nothing  in  virtue  and  the understanding in them-

selves  to  please him, but would prefer to live in accordance with his
                                                               ] Bk.XIII:344384E5:XLII(5)n:270 [
passions,  if  it  were  not  for the single obstacle that he fears punish-

ment.  He  abstains  from  evil  actions,   and  obeys  the  divine  com-

mands  like  a slave,   with  unwillingness  and  hesitation,  expecting

as  the  reward  of  his bondage to be recompensed by God with gifts

far  more  pleasing  than  divine love, and greater in proportion to his
                                                                   Bk.XIII:238224E5:XLI(5)n:269.
dislike  to  goodness  and  consequent  unwillingness  to  practise  it.

Hence  it  comes  to  pass,  that he believes that all, who are page 366

not  restrained  by  this  fear,  lead  a  life  of licence and throw off all

religion.   But  this  I pass over, and proceed to the deduction, where-

by  he  wishes  to show,   that "with covert and disguised arguments

I teach atheism."    The foundation of his reasoning is,  that he thinks
                         Bk.XIB:252156.
I take away freedom from G-D, and subject Him to fate. This is flatly

false.   For  I  have  maintained,  that  all  things  follow  by inevitable
                                                              {that is Nature}
necessity  from  the  nature of G-D ^, in the same way as all maintain

that  it  follows  from the nature of G-D, that He understands Himself:

no  one  denies that this latter consequence follows necessarily from

the  divine  nature,  yet no one conceives that God is constrained by

any  fate;  they  believe that He understands Himself with entire free-

dom,  though  necessarily.   I  find  nothing  here,  that cannot be per-

ceived  by everyone; if, nevertheless, my adversary thinks that these

arguments  are  advanced  with  evil intent, what does he think of his

own  Descartes, who asserted that nothing is done by us, which has

not  been pre-ordained  by God, nay, that we are newly created as it

were  by  God every moment, though none the less we act according

to our own free will?   This,  as Descartes himself confesses, no one
{ Pragmatism - Cash Value }
can understand.
 
[L49:4]

Further,  this  inevitable  necessity  in  things  destroys neither divine

laws  nor  human.   For moral principles, whether they have received

from  God  the  form  of  laws  or not, are nevertheless divine and sal-

utary.   Whether  we  accept  the good, which follows from virtue and

the divine love,  as  given  us  by  God  as  a  judge, or as emanating            Same end results.

from  the  necessity  of  the  divine  nature,  it  is  not  in  either  case

{pragmatically} more  or  less to be desired;  nor  are the evils which

follow from evil actions less to be feared, because they follow neces-
                                                         {Determinism}
sarily:  finally,  whether we act under necessity or freedom, we are in        Durant:185, Bk.XIV:2:288.

either  case  led by hope and fear.   Wherefore the assertion is false,

"that I maintain that there is no room left for precepts and commands."

Or  as  he  goes on to say, "that there is no expectation of reward or
                                   ] EL:Shirley:335365:276276 [
punishment,  since  all  things  are  ascribed  to  fate, and are said to

flow with inevitable necessity from G-D."

[L49:5]

I  do  not  here inquire, why it is the same, or almost the same to say

that  all  things  necessarily flow from G-D, as  page 367  to say that God              referred to G-D

is  universal;  but  I would have you observe the insinuation which he

not  less  maliciously  subjoins,  "that I wish that men should practise

virtue,  not  because of the precepts and law of G-D or through hope
            ] Bk.XIII:344384E5:XLII(5)n:270 [
of reward and fear of punishment, but, &c.   Such  a  sentiment you

will  assuredly  not  find  anywhere  in  my  treatise:  on  the contrary,

I  have  expressly  stated  in Chap. IV., that the sum of the divine law

(which,  as  I  have  said  in Chap. II., has been divinely inscribed on
                                                                            {know G-D}                   {WHY?}                                              
our hearts), and its chief precept is, to love G-D as the highest good:           True Thoughts

not,  indeed,  from the fear of any punishment, for love cannot spring

from  fear;  nor  for  the  love  of  anything,  which  we  desire  for our

own  delight, for then we should love not G-D {the TOTALITY of all things},              Idolatry 

but the object  of our desire.

[L49:6] 

I  have  shown in the same chapter, that God revealed this law to the

prophets,  so  that,  whether  it  received from God the form of a com-

mand,  or  whether  we  conceive  it  to  be  like  G-D's other decrees,

which  involve  eternal  necessity and truth, it will in either case {prag-

matically} remain  G-D's  decree  and  a  salutary principle.   Whether

I  love  G-D  in  freedom,  or whether I love Him from the necessity of

the  divine  decree,  I  shall  nevertheless love G-D, and shall be in a

state  of salvation {PcM}.  Wherefore,  I  can now declare here, that

this  person  is one of that sort, of whom I have said at the end of my
              Bk.XIII:240227.
preface { TTP1:P(52):11 }, that I would rather that they utterly neglected

my  book,  than that by misinterpreting it after their wont, they should

become  hostile,  and  hinder  others  without  benefiting themselves.

[L49:7]

Though  I  think  I have said enough to prove what I in tended, I have

yet  thought  it  worth  while to add a few observations—namely, that

this  person  falsely  thinks,  that  I  have  in  view  the  axiom of theo-

logians,  which  draws  a  distinction between the words of a prophet

when  propounding  doctrine,  and the same prophet when narrating

an  event.   If  by  such  an  axiom  he means that which in Chap. XV.
                                          Bk.XIII:240228.
I attributed to a certain R. Jehuda Alpakhar, how could he think that I
                                                Bk.XIII:240229.
agree  with  it,  when  in  that  very  chapter I reject it as false?   If he

does not mean this,  I confess I am as yet in ignorance as to what he

does mean, and, therefore, could not have had it in view.

[L49:8]

Again,  I  cannot  see  why  he  says,  that  all  will  adopt my   page 368

opinions,  who  deny  that reason and philosophy should be the inter-

preters  of  Scripture;  I  have  refuted  the  doctrine  of such persons,
                                 Bk.XIII:241230.
together with that of Maimonides.

[L49:9]

It  would  take  too  long  to  review  all the indications he gives of not

having  judged  me altogether calmly.   I therefore pass on to his con-

clusion,  where  he says, "that I have no arguments left to prove, that

Mahomet was not a true prophet."  This he endeavours to show from

my opinions, whereas from them it clearly follows, that Mahomet was

an  impostor,  inasmuch  as  he  utterly  forbids  that  freedom, which

the  Catholic  religion  revealed  by  our  natural  faculties and by the

prophets  grants,  and  which  I  have shown should be granted in its

completeness.   Even  if  this were not so, am I, I should like to know,

bound  to  show  that  any  prophet  is false?   Surely the burden lies

with  the  prophets, to prove that they are true.   But if he retorts, that

Mahomet  also  taught  the  divine  law, and gave certain signs of his

mission,  as  the  rest  of  the prophets did, there is surely no reason

why   he   should   deny,   that   Mahomet  also  was  a  true  prophet.

[L49:10]

As  regards  the  Turks  and  other non-Christian nations; if they wor-

ship  G-D  by  the  practice of justice and charity towards their neigh-

bour,  I  believe  that  they have the spirit of Christ, and are in a state

of   salvation,   whatever  they  may  ignorantly { idolatrously } hold with

regard  to Mahomet and oracles.

[L49:11]

Thus you see, my friend, how far this man has strayed from the truth;

nevertheless,  I  grant  that  he  has  inflicted  the  greatest injury, not

on  me  but  on  himself,  inasmuch  as  he has not been ashamed to

declare, that "under disguised and covert arguments I teach atheism."

[L49:12] 

I  do  not think, that you will find any expressions I have used against

this  man  too  severe.   However,  if  there  be  any of the kind which

offend  you,  I  beg, you to correct them, as you shall think fit.   I have

no  disposition  to  irritate  him,  whoever  he may be, and to raise up

by  my  labours  enemies against myself; as this is often the result of

disputes   like  the  present,  I  could  scarcely  prevail  on  myself  to

reply—nor  should  I have prevailed, if I had not promised.   Farewell.

I  commit  to  your  prudence  this  letter,   and  myself,  who  am,  &c.
 

                                                                              
                                                                                 {
Signature added.}
 
Spinoza to Isaac Orobio
The Hague, 1671


[EndEL:L49(43):368
 
 
 



 
Footnotes to The Letters:
 

From EL:Bk.I:307


From EL:Bk.I:3082


EL:Endnote:335365 - From Shirley's Bk.XIII:335365 on L22(74):299Determinism.


EL:Endnote:33235 - From Nadler's Bk.XX:33235 on EL:L23(75):301Complaining that you are Clay. 


EL:Endnote:26044 - From Herman De Dijn's Bk.III:26044Clay. 


EL:Endnote:276276 - From Samuel Shirley's Bk.XIII:276276 on LT:L60(56):385Freedom. 


EL:JBY Endnote: The sins of the fathers.  See Calculus:3.1c.  


EL:JBY Endnote: Faith versus Philosophy 

EL:JBY Endnote 302:J1—Clay.  


Man is a Robot—Mark Twain.


 
   
 


Since November 6, 1997  hits.

 

Elwes's Introduction
Revised: August 28, 2006 

josephb@yesselman.com

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