Propositions 59-66, Reason

Proposition 59. To all the actions, whereto we are determined by emotion wherein the mind is passive; we can be determined without emotion by reason. Proof: To act rationally, is nothing else (3.3 and Def. 2) but to perform those actions, which follow from the necessity, of our nature considered in itself alone. Another Proof: A given action is called bad, in so far as it arises from one being affected by hatred or any evil emotion. Note: An example will put this point in a clearer light.   Proposition 60. Desire arising from a pleasure or pain, that is not attributable to the whole body, but only to one or certain parts thereof, is without utility in respect to a man as a whole. Proof: Let it be assumed, for instance, that A, a part of a body, is so strengthened by some external cause, that it prevails over the remaining parts (4.6).   Note: As pleasure is generally (4.44. note) attributed to one part of the body, we generally desire to preserve our being with out taking into consideration our health as a whole:   Proposition 61. Desire which springs from reason cannot be excessive. Proof: Desire (Def. of the Emotions, 1) considered absolutely is the actual essence of man, in so far as it is conceived as in any way determined to a particular activity by some given modification of itself.   Proposition 62. In so far as the mind conceives a thing under the dictates of reason, it is affected equally, whether the idea be of a thing future, past, or present. Proof: Whatsoever the mind conceives under the guidance of reason, it conceives under the form of eternity or necessity (2.44. Coroll. 2), and is therefore affected with the same certitude (2.43. and note). Note: If we could possess an adequate knowledge of the duration of things, and could determine by reason their periods of existence, we should contemplate things future with the same emotion as things present;   Proposition 63. He who is led by fear, and does good in order to escape evil, is not led by reason. Proof: All the emotions which are attributable to the mind as active, or in other words to reason, are emotions of pleasure and desire (3.59). Note: Superstitions persons, who know better how to rail at vice than how to teach virtue, and who strive not to guide men by reason, but so to restrain them that they would rather escape evil than love virtue, have no other aim but to make others as wretched as themselves; wherefore it is nothing wonderful, if they be generally troublesome and odious to their fellow-men. Corollary: Under desire which springs from reason, we seek good directly, and shun evil indirectly. Proof: Desire which springs from reason can only spring from a pleasurable emotion, wherein the mind is not passive (3.59), in other words, from a pleasure which cannot be excessive (4.61.), and not from pain; Note: This Corollary may be illustrated by the example of a sick and a healthy man.   Proposition 64. The knowledge of evil is an inadequate knowledge. Proof: The knowledge of evil (4.8) is pain, in so far as we are conscious thereof. Corollary: It follows that, if the human mind possessed only adequate ideas, it would form no conception of evil.   Proposition 65. Under the guidance of reason we should pursue the greater of two goods and the lesser of two evils. Proof: A good which prevents our enjoyment of a greater good is in reality an evil. Corollary: We may, under the guidance of reason, pursue the lesser evil as though it were the greater good, and we may shun the lesser good, which would be the cause of the greater evil.   Proposition 66. We may, under the guidance of reason, seek a greater good in the future in preference to a lesser good in the present, and we may seek a lesser evil in the present in preference to a greater evil in the future.[15]

[15] "Maltim praesens minus prae majori futuro." (Van Vloten). Bruder reads: "Malum praesens minus, quod causa est faturi alicujus mali." The last word of the latter is an obvious misprint, and is corrected by the Dutch translator into "majoris boni." (Pollock, p. 268, note.)

Proof: If the mind could have an adequate knowledge of things future, it would be affected towards what is future in the same way as towards what is present (4.62). Corollary: We may, under the guidance of reason, seek a lesser evil in the present, because it is the cause of a greater good in the future, and we may shun a lesser good in the present, because it is the cause of a greater evil in the future.   Note: If these statements be compared with what we have pointed out concerning the strength of the emotions in this Part up to Prop. 18.