Propositions 20 to 27by Spinoza
- The more every man endeavours, and is able to seek what is useful to him—in other words, to preserve his own being—the more is he endowed with virtue
On the contrary, in proportion as a man neglects to seek what is useful to him, that is, to preserve his own being, he is wanting in power.
- No one can desire to be blessed, to act rightly, and to live rightly, without at the same time wishing to be, act, and to live—in other words, to actually exist.
- No virtue can be conceived as prior to this endeavour to preserve one’s own being.
The effort for self-preservation is the first and only foundation of virtue. For prior to this principle nothing can be conceived, and without it no virtue can be conceived.
- Man, in so far as he is determined to a particular action because he has inadequate ideas, cannot be absolutely said to act in obedience to virtue.
He can only be so described, in so far as he is determined for the action because he understands.
- To act absolutely in obedience to virtue is in us the same thing as to act, to live, or to preserve one’s being (these three terms are identical in meaning) in accordance with the dictates of reason on the basis of seeking what is useful to one’s self.
- No one wishes to preserve his being for the sake of anything else. Proof= The endeavour, wherewith everything endeavours to persist in its being, is defined solely by the essence of the thing itself (3.7.).
From this alone, and not from the essence of anything else, it necessarily follows (3.6) that everyone endeavours to preserve his being. Moreover, this proposition is plain from 4.22. Coroll., for if a man should endeavour to preserve his being for the sake of anything else, the last—named thing would obviously be the basis of virtue, which, by the foregoing corollary, is absurd. Therefore no one, etc. Q.E.D.
- Whatsoever we endeavour in obedience to reason is nothing further than to understand;
Neither does the mind, in so far as it makes use of reason, judge anything to be useful to it, save such things as are conducive to understanding.
- We know nothing to be certainly good or evil, save such things as really conduce to understanding, or such as are able to hinder us from understanding.