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that word, has been removed. This deprives the ordinary man of what he finds a great comfort. It is not necessary to consider the origin of the conception of blame. But we may point out that man always wants to blame others for what he finds in himself. The matter goes much deeper than the influence of the primitive instinct of vengeance. Man is always trying to get rid of something which makes him unhappy. If this something happens to be a wrong, according to the ethical standard of the herd, he attempts to escape his personal responsibility for it. In punishing an offender, man is trying to get rid of a wrong which he feels is resident in himself. Hence the offender becomes a convenient scapegoat. And, by punishing the offender, man "bolsters up his self-respect,' as Dr William A. White has put it1. Of course, the instincts which prompt society to punishment are sublimated under present conditions. But the necessity of getting down to fundamentals is shown. Determinism, while ruling out the retaliatory theory of punishment, is in no way contrary to the deterrent theory. For the possibility of punishment is an additional motive in the case. And Spinoza himself maintains the need of punishment2.
The Ethics is divided into five parts. It is with the last three of these that we are mainly concerned. But we must give some preliminary attention to the first two. Part I is entitled 'Concerning God.' Now with Spinoza's theological views, as such, we have nothing to do. We may merely say that on few men have there been passed, in this particular respect, such divergent opinions. He has been abused and execrated, and the term 'atheist' has been applied to him. On the other hand, he has been styled, by one of his admirers, a ‘God-intoxicated man' (ein Gottbetrunkener Mensch). But Spinoza uses the term 'God' so often, and uses it in a sense which differs so much from that which it bears in common parlance, that we must, for the sake of intelligibility, give some description of what the Deus of Spinoza is, and also (what is perhaps easier to say) what the Deus of Spinoza is not. Spinoza rejects entirely the conception of a 'personal God.' To him, God bears no relation to an earthly monarch, whether despotic or constitutional3. In other words, he rejects every kind of anthropomorphic view of God, and this is a severe blow to man's narcissism. But, in beginning his work with God, he is not selecting any arbitrary starting-point. In Spinoza's view, we must begin with the whole, if we desire to comprehend any part thereof. For the nature of the part is derived from its relation to the whole.
1 Insanity and the Criminal Law, by William A. White, 1923.
And, on Spinoza's theory, God is "A being absolutely infinite, that is, a substance consisting of infinite attributes, each of which expresses eternal and infinite essence1." Of these attributes, two are known, or known in part, to us, namely those of extension and thought. God therefore is, among infinite other things, all extension and all thought. Whether Spinoza's distinction between extension and thought is, or can be, logically worked out, is a question which is beyond our present purpose to consider. Spinoza regards God as free, but not as exercising choice. All God's works are necessary, and the law of their necessity is the law of his own being. The acts of God do not arise from design. As there is no choice with God, there can be no deliberation. A God who contains the entire universe is self-sufficient. Neither intellect nor will appertains to the being of God2. In one place, Spinoza uses the word 'predetermined' with reference to the decrees of God3. But it is not certain whether this should not be 'determined,' for he is most clear in asserting that with God there is neither past nor future, no before or after1.
It would, however, be erroneous to say that Spinoza regards God as unconscious. It is true that God's consciousness bears no relation to human consciousness; but a proposition that it did so would be denied by quite orthodox theologians. Human consciousness is a state of a mental organism, corresponding in the attribute of thought to a state of the human body in the attribute of extension. But it is an essential part of Spinoza's theory that God is a thinking being who can think infinitely in infinite ways. Where Spinoza is unorthodox is that he does not regard God as exclusively, or even as mainly a thinking being. The consideration of this subject is much complicated by the fact that Spinoza has no term corresponding to the modern word 'consciousness.'
The old problem of fitting in the existence of evil with the conception of a perfect God is treated by Spinoza in a manner altogether unlike that in vogue in orthodox or semi-orthodox circles. He deals with it by simply denying its existence. So far as God is concerned, all things are perfect, in their kind. The contrast between good and bad has no meaning as applied to God. The terms "indicate nothing positive in things considered in themselves, nor are they anything else than modes of thought, or notions, which we form from the comparison of things mutually." What we regard, from our point of view, as good and bad will be considered later. And it will be seen how much Spinoza's view
has in common with that of the psycho-analytic theory. Unlike orthodox Christian writers, he makes no attempt to call relative evils absolute goods.
Spinoza also rejects the idea of personal immortality, in the ordinary sense. It is true that in Part v he does claim that we are, in a sense, eternal1. But he is most clear in asserting that the human mind does not survive the death of the human body, although he does not tell us wherein this death consists. Time after time, he rejects the idea of a future state of rewards and punishments, which depends upon what a man's conduct has been in this life. It is true that he uses the phrase 'eternal life.' But this is, to him, not a state to be attained in any future form of existence, but something which can be attained and enjoyed here and now. In other words, it consists in a complete adaptation to reality, thus closely resembling the object of psycho-analysis.
In Part II we are brought face to face with Spinoza's metaphysic. We come to the problem of the psycho-physical relation. There is a sharp distinction between the two main forms of human experience, but there is also a constant connection between them. Spinoza does not look for any explanation of the correspondence of two such dissimilar things as mind and body; he simply says that they are the same thing, and that they differ only in being two aspects of the same thing. There is thus no mystery about the parallelism or the mutual interaction of mind and body. The mystery is resolved into an elementary fact. To ask why mind should correspond with matter is like asking why the convexity of a curve should answer to the concavity. Mind and body are distinguishable but not separable2. It is not necessary for us to spend any more time on this most fascinating of problems. Psycho-analysis is not dependent upon any particular view of the psycho-physical relation. For our present purpose, it suffices that we should carefully keep in mind the essential identity of mind and body, from Spinoza's point of view. I would remark, in passing, that the words objective and subjective were used in Spinoza's day with exactly opposite meanings to those which are now attached to them. Or we may more correctly say that Spinoza's objectivus is more or less equivalent to the modern term subjective. The corresponding term, when we consider a thing, as we should now say, objectively is formaliter. Some of Spinoza's propositions are unintelligible, if this point is not remembered.
It is in Part II that we get our first suggestions of modern psychological theories. Spinoza tells us that if the human body has once been affected at the same time by two or more bodies, when the mind after2 Spinoza, Sir Frederick Pollock, Chap. vi.
1 v, 23, note.
wards remembers any one of them it will straightway remember the other1. From this, he explains what memory is, and how one passes from the thought of one thing to the thought of another. Free association depends upon this.
Intellect and will are, on Spinoza's view, one and the same thing2. He holds that will and intellect are nothing but individual volitions and ideas. But an individual volition and an idea are one and the same thing. Hence intellect and will are identical. This definitely contradicts the theories upon which depends the conception of what is called 'moral imbecility,' that is to say, irregularity of conduct without intellectual disorder. The legal definition of a 'moral imbecile' does, however, require proof of a permanent mental defect coupled with strong vicious or criminal propensities. But most of those who accept the conception of 'moral imbecility' do not, in fact, agree with this legal definition.
Spinoza concludes this second part with a disquisition upon the advantages of determinism. It is needless to quote this, except to show that he completely routs those who contend that the acceptance of determinism would be inimical to social welfare. For, as he points out, and all determinists will agree, the doctrine, besides bringing complete peace to the mind, has this advantage also, that it teaches us in what our greatest happiness or blessedness consists, namely in the knowledge of God, by which we are induced to do those things to which love and piety persuade us4. Not for the sake of any future reward, but because virtue and the serving of God is the happiness itself and the greatest liberty. It teaches us that we should expect and bear both faces of fortune with an equal mind, for all things follow by the eternal decree of God: and he illustrates this by his favourite example, that of the three interior angles of a triangle necessarily making two right angles. Spinoza also points out how determinism confers advantages upon social as well as upon individual life, inasmuch as it teaches us not to despise, hate or ridicule any one, to be angry with and envy no one5. Further, it teaches us that each one should be satisfied with what he has, and should be ready to help his neighbour, from the guidance of reason. Can more than this be claimed for psycho-analysis? As regards social offenders, the insight given by psycho-analysis certainly teaches us not to despise or to be angry with them, but to endeavour to understand them and their actions.
1 II, 18. Also De Intell. Emend. 81-84.
2 II, 49, note.
II, 49, note.
3 Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, Sect. 1 (d).
In Part III Spinoza commences to deal with the subject which most directly interests us, namely the origin and nature of the emotions. And it is here that he explains his adoption of the geometrical method. He points out that most of those who have written on the emotions have regarded them as being something outside nature. Writers have, as he says, conceived man in nature as a kingdom within a kingdom, and have believed that man disturbs rather than follows the order of nature, in that he has absolute power in his actions, and is not determined in them by anything else than himself1. This view is, of course, a necessary corollary from the anthropocentric idea of the universe. For although man sometimes describes himself as a 'worm,' he really believes himself to be the most important thing in creation. Men have attributed the cause of human weakness and inconstancy, not to the ordinary power of nature, but to some defect in human nature, which defect they deplore, ridicule, or, most frequently, abuse. Spinoza, however, maintains that nothing happens in nature which can be attributed to a defect of it, nature being always the same and one everywhere. And he holds that man's emotions can only be understood by means of the universal rules of nature. He contends that such emotions as hate, envy, etc., follow from the same necessity of nature as do other individual things. He holds, in short, that the emotions are exactly like any other natural phenomena, and follow natural laws, which laws it is our task to study. He admits that many emotions are opposed to reason. But he deprecates considering things opposed to reason as being vain, absurd or disgusting2. Hence he defends his geometrical method, because he wishes to deal with human actions and desires exactly as if he were dealing with lines, planes, and bodies. It is not so much that he regards the geometrical method as the best, absolutely, but that he is determined to conduct the investigation of human conduct in a scientific spirit. Such, also, is the aim of psycho-analysis. In his uncompleted treatise, De Intellectus Emendatione, Spinoza urges that, while it is our duty to make as many concessions as possible to the vulgar, by speaking in a manner comprehensible to them3, it is only by regarding man as a part of universal nature that the understanding can be so purified as to attain the greatest perfection for human society. This is just what psycho-analysts contend, that we shall only have the power to control human emotions, in so far as we endeavour by study to understand them. In so far, says Spinoza,
1 III, Preface.
8 De Intell. Emend. 17.
4 Ibid. 14, 16.