Monday, April 20, 2015

Benedict de Spinoza, on the philosopher's mission


To love that which is eternal, infinite, and good.


"After experience had taught me that all things which frequently take place in ordinary life are vain and futile, and when I saw that all the things I feared, and which feared me, had nothing good or bad in them save in so far as the mind was affected by them; I determined at last to inquire whether there was anything which might be truly good, and able to communicate its goodness, and by which the mind might be affected to the exclusion of all other things; I determined, I say, to inquire whether I might discover and attain the faculty of enjoying throughout eternity continual supreme happiness.... I could see the many advantages acquired from honor and riches, and that I should be debarred from acquiring these things if I wished seriously to investigate a new matter.... But the more one possesses of either of them, the more the pleasure is increased, and the more one is in consequence encouraged to increase them; whereas if at any time our hope is frustrated, there arises in us the deepest pain. Fame has also this great drawback, that if we pursue it we must direct our lives in such a way as to please the fancy of men, avoiding what they dislike and seeking what pleases them.... But the love towards a thing eternal and infinite alone feeds the mind with a pleasure secure from all pain.... The greatest good is the knowledge of the union which the mind has with the whole of nature.... The more the mind knows, the better it understands its forces and the order of nature; the more it understands its forces or strength, the better it will be able to direct itself and lay down the rules for itself; the more it understands the order of nature, the more easily it will be able to liberate itself from useless things; this is the whole method."

—Benedict de Spinoza, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect




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