網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

good and evil, so long as they remained free1. This might be taken in the sense of the "golden age of innocence"."

It is not necessary for us to deal with the final propositions of this part in detail. Suffice it to say that nothing could exceed the care which Spinoza takes to demonstrate that his system would result in the greatest possible happiness of society. He contends that the wise man can never gain anything by making himself unhappy, but that he may delight himself with all ordinary pleasures. He adds the most important qualification that this must only be done so long as no hurt to his fellow men results. Perfectus and realitas are the same. Perfectus consists in complete adaptation to reality. We see the social superiority of Spinoza's system over that of Nietchze's 'will to power,' and his 'slave and master morality.' Spinoza's whole argument is a glorification of the free man, that is the man who is led by reason, the fully analysed man. A free man thinks of nothing less than of death, and his wisdom is a meditation not of death but of life. As Renan has put it, "Reason leads death in captivity, and to work for her is to work for eternity." Finally, Spinoza sums up all his maxims of social ethics, and restates them in an appendix.

We have seen that the first and second parts of the Ethics contain the essentials of Spinoza's philosophy. The third and fourth parts are particular applications of the principles laid down in the two former parts. It might almost seem that he had intended to close his work with Part IV, and that the final part was only added as an after-thought 5. However this may be, it is certain that we could ill have spared this final section, although its interpretation raises problems of great difficulty, problems with which we are not concerned here. Had he left the work as it stands up to the end of the fourth part, his philosophy might be said to have a distinctly pessimistic cast. But in the magnificent final part he deals with the Freedom of Man as derived from the intellect, and to him may well be applied the title "serenest of the progeny of God." I hope also to show that there is much in this fifth part which is well worthy of the attention of students of psycho-analysis.

Having dealt faithfully with what he regards as the errors of Descartes he proceeds to develop his thesis, that as the power of the mind is defined by intelligence alone, the remedies for the emotions are to be determined from mere knowledge of the mind, and that from that knowledge we can deduce all things which relate to the blessedness of

1

2 Ernest Jones, Papers on Psychoanalysis, p. 633. 4 IV, 67.

• v, Preface.

IV, 68.

3 IV, 45, note 2.

5 Sir Frederick Pollock on Spinoza, Chap. IX.

the mind. He starts with an important axiom1. If in the same subject two contrary actions are excited, a change must take place in both or in one of them until they cease to be contrary. Here we have a distinct suggestion of the processes of repression and of sublimation. And he further develops this idea of sublimation. For, says he, if we remove disturbance of the mind or emotion from the thought of an external cause and unite it to other thoughts, then love or hatred towards the external cause, as well as waverings of the mind which arise from these emotions, are destroyed2. An emotion which is a passion ceases to be a passion as soon as we form a clear and distinct idea of it3. (The distinction between active and passive will be remembered.) From this he shows that the more an emotion becomes known to us, the more it is in our power, and the less the mind is passive to it (autognosis, as we should say to-day). There is no emotion of which we cannot (not of which we do not) form some clear and distinct conception. Every one, therefore, has the power of understanding himself and his emotions. An emotion can be separated from the thought of an external cause, and united to true thoughts (sublimation again). All desires are only passions in so far as they arise from inadequate ideas. And the remedy for emotions consists in a true knowledge of them. Having again demonstrated the immense value of determinism, by showing that in so far as the mind understands all things as necessary it has more power over the emotions, or is less passive to them, he indicates that we cannot pity things which are necessary in the course of nature. We do not pity an infant for having been born helpless. But we should pity an infant, if most men were born full-grown 5. We say, vaguely, that we are all 'miserable sinners.' But no one seriously thinks the less of himself or of any other person on that account. When a man really believes that he is the greatest sinner in the world, we then do pity him, and locate him in a mental hospital.

Spinoza discusses the power which we have of bringing it about that we are not easily affected by evil emotions, that is by emotions which are contrary to our well-being, for he will not, of course, admit that any emotion is absolutely evil. He realizes that many people have no perfect knowledge of their emotions. He recommends that we should conceive some manner of living aright, or certain rules of life, commit them to memory, and apply them continuously to the individual things which come in our way frequently in life, so that our imagination may

[blocks in formation]

be deeply affected with them, and that they may be always ready for us. Thus he realizes the immense importance of good habit formation. Some ethical rules, religious or other, will always be wanted for the many. Where people found that their religion tended to a satisfactory manner of life, Spinoza never advised them to change their religion. He attempted to form no sect. There are many people who find that religion assists them to form a satisfactory adaptation to reality. If the religion happens to be one which possesses a definite code of morals so much the better. When people find such a religion satisfactory or helpful, there is no more to be said. It is the sick with whom we have to deal, and not with the well, although their standard of health may not be the same as ours. I mention this point, because determinism, and other parts of Spinoza's theory, has been objected to, as has psycho-analysis, on account of its supposed destructive effect upon religion and morality.

Hatred must be overcome by love and nobleness, and not requited by mutual hatred1. If we always have in mind a regard for our advantage and the good which arises from mutual friendship and common intercourse, and remember that men, like other things, act according to the necessity of nature, then anger, although not perhaps easily overcome, would be overcome, even if with wavering of the mind. I cannot better describe the peace of mind induced by the full appreciation of the psycho-analytic theory.

Spinoza deals with the process of rationalization, giving various examples2. A poor man who is greedy will not cease to talk of the abuse of money and the evils of riches. He rationalizes, but is really actuated by unconscious motives.

Some propositions follow which deal with the nature of God3. The principle is laid down that God is free from passions (a perfectly orthodox opinion1, even if not consistently worked out by the orthodox). The word rendered as 'free from passions' is impassibilis, i.e. impassive or incapable of suffering. On Spinoza's theory of passio this amounts to the same thing. But the point would not be clear to an English reader. Spinoza then deals with the old difficulty of God being the cause of pain 5. He points out that, in so far as we understand the causes of pain, it ceases to be a passion, and therefore in so far as we understand God to be the cause of pain, we rejoice. Then follows the famous proposition which asserts that he who loves God cannot endeavour to bring it about that God should love him in return. This is not the place to enter into

[blocks in formation]

the tremendous implications of this most pregnant saying. It is the basis of what Spinoza means by amor intellectualis Dei, with which he concludes the Ethics. We cannot enter into this. Suffice it to say that this intellectual love of God (which can easily be translated into psychoanalytic terms) is the secret of that peace, of which we may paradoxically say that it passes understanding because it is based on understanding. Spinoza, in his pious fashion, goes so far as to adopt Christian phraseology, speaking of the "beatific vision of God1." There is nothing in nature which is contrary to this intellectual love, or which can remove it2.

Finally, he deals with the problem of immortality. The mind can imagine nothing, nor recollect past things, save while in the body3. But in God there is necessarily granted the idea which expresses the essence of the human body sub specie aeternitatis. Spinoza expressly guards against the confusion of eternity with duration of time. The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the human body, but there is some part of it which remains eternal5. But he carefully guards against the supposition that he is maintaining a conception of any kind of personal survival after death. We feel and know that we are eternal. We do not remember that we have existed before. But we feel that our mind, in so far as it involves the essence of the body sub specie aeternitatis, is eternal, and its existence cannot be defined by time, or explained by duration. In other words, the mind is eternal as being part of God, but this in no way implies the survival of personality.

We endeavour to change the body of an infant (body and mind are the same) so that it is capable of many things, and is referred to a mind which is most conscious of God, itself, and other things. This is how infantile conditions are dealt with by psycho-analysis.

Piety and religion, in Spinoza's language, do not depend at all upon any idea of personal immortality, but upon reason'. He shows how contrary this is to the vulgar idea of blessedness being the future reward of virtue. Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but is virtue itself (or power). The more the mind rejoices in this divine love or blessedness the more it understands, the more power it has over the emotions, and the less passive it is to emotions which are evil. And I cannot better sum up the whole of my argument than in the final words of the Ethics. "Thus I have completed all that I wished to show concerning the power of the mind over the emotions, or the freedom of the mind. From which

[blocks in formation]

it is clear how much a wise man is in front of and how stronger he is than an ignorant one who is guided by lust alone." (He uses lust, libido, in a much wider sense than that in which he employed it previously.) "For an ignorant man besides being agitated in many ways by external causes, never enjoys one true satisfaction of the mind: he lives, moreover, almost unconscious of himself, God, and things, and as soon as he ceases to be passive, ceases to be. On the contrary, the wise man, in so far as he is considered as such, is scarcely moved in spirit; he is conscious of himself, of God, and of things, by a certain eternal necessity, he never ceases to be, and always enjoys satisfaction of mind. If the road I have shown to lead to this is very difficult, it can yet be discovered. And clearly it must be very hard when it is so seldom found. For how could it be that it is neglected practically by all, if salvation were close at hand and could be found without difficulty? But all excellent things are as difficult as they are rare."

I must express the debt which I owe to Sir Frederick Pollock's great work, Spinoza, His Life and Philosophy. I also desire to make due acknowledgment of the assistance which I have received from the kindly criticisms of Professor Carveth Read, and the Rev. Lawrence Clare, of Birmingham.

« 上一頁繼續 »