The Power of the Understanding, or of Human Freedom

Propositions 67-73, Freedom

AXIOMS

1. If two contrary actions are started in the same subject, a change must necessarily take place, either in both, or in one of the two, and continue until they cease to be contrary. 2. The power of an effect is defined by the power of its cause, as its essence is explained or defined by the essence of its cause. (This axiom is evident from 3.7.)

PROPOSITIONS

Proposition 1. As thoughts and the ideas of things are arranged and associated in the mind, so are the modifications of body or the images of things precisely in the same way arranged and associated in the body. Proof: The order and connection of ideas is the same (2.7.) as the order and connection of things. Proposition 2. If we remove a disturbance of the spirit, or emotion, from the thought of an external cause, and unite it to other thoughts, then will the love or hatred towards that external cause, and also the vacillations of spirit which arise from these emotions, be destroyed. Proof: That, which constitutes the reality of love or hatred, is pleasure or pain, accompanied by the idea of an external cause (Def. of the Emotions, 6.7.). Proposition 3. An emotion, which is a passion, ceases to be a passion, as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea thereof. Proof: An emotion, which is a passion, is a confused idea (by the general Def. of the Emotions). Corollary: An emotion therefore becomes more under our control, and the mind is less passive in respect to it, in proportion as it is more known to us. Proposition 4. There is no modification of the body, whereof we cannot form some clear and distinct conception. Proof: Properties which are common to all things can only be conceived adequately (2.38). Corollary: Hence it follows that there is no emotion, whereof we cannot form some clear and distinct conception. Note: Everything is followed by an effect (1.36),. Proposition 5. An emotion towards a thing, which we conceive simply, and not as necessary, or as contingent, or as possible, is, other conditions being equal, greater than any other emotion. Proof: An emotion towards a thing, which we conceive to be free, is greater than one towards what we conceive to be necessary (3.49.), and, consequently, still greater than one towards what we conceive as possible, or contingent (4.11.). Proposition 6: The mind has greater power over the emotions and is less subject thereto, in so far as it understands all things as necessary. Proof: The mind understands all things to be necessary (1.29.) and to be determined to existence and operation by an infinite chain of causes. Note: The more this knowledge, that things are necessary, is applied to particular things, which we conceive more distinctly and vividly, the greater is the power of the mind over the emotions, as experience also testifies. Proposition 7: Emotions which are aroused or spring from reason, if we take account of time, are stronger than those, which are attributable to particular objects that we regard as absent. Proof: We do not regard a thing as absent, by reason of the emotion wherewith we conceive it, but by reason of the body, being affected by another emotion excluding the existence of the said thing (2.17). Proposition 8: An emotion is stronger in proportion to the number of simultaneous concurrent causes whereby it is aroused. Proof: Many simultaneous causes are more powerful than a few (3.7.): therefore (4.5.), in proportion to the increased number of simultaneous causes whereby it is aroused, an emotion becomes stronger. Q.E.D. Note: This proposition is also evident from 5. Ax. 2. Proposition 9: An emotion, which is attributable to many and diverse causes which the mind regards as simultaneous with the emotion itself, is less hurtful, and we are less subject thereto and less affected towards each of its causes, than if it were a different and equally powerful emotion attributable to fewer causes or to a single cause. Proof: An emotion is only bad or hurtful, in so far as it hinders the mind from being able to think (4.26. and 4.27). Proposition 10: So long as we are not assailed by emotions contrary to our nature, we have the power of arranging and associating the modifications of our body according to the intellectual order. Proof: The emotions, which are contrary to our nature, that is (4.30.), which are bad, are bad in so far as they impede the mind from understanding (4.27.). Note: By this power of rightly arranging and associating the bodily modifications we can guard ourselves from being easily affected by evil emotions.

[16] Continuo. Rendered "constantly" by Mr. Pollock on the ground that the classical meaning of the word does not suit the context.

Proposition 11: In proportion as a mental image is referred to more objects, so is it more frequent, or more often vivid, and occupies the mind more. Proof: In proportion as a mental image or an emotion is referred to more objects, so are there more causes whereby it can be aroused and fostered, all of which (by hypothesis) the mind contemplates simultaneously in association with the given emotion. Proposition 12: The mental images of things are more easily associated with the images referred to things which we clearly and distinctly understand, than with others. Proof: Things, which we clearly and distinctly understand, are either the common properties of things or deductions therefrom (see definition of Reason, 2.40. note 2), and are consequently (by the last Prop.) more often aroused in us. Proposition 13: A mental image is more often vivid, in proportion as it is associated with a greater number of other images. Proof: In proportion as an image is associated with a greater number of other images, so (2.18) are there more causes whereby it can be aroused. Q.E.D.