Propositions 11 to 20

by Spinoza Icon

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.

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.

13. A mental image is more often vivid, in proportion as it is associated with a greater number of other images.

14. The mind can bring it about, that all bodily modifications or images of things may be referred to the idea of God.

15. He who clearly and distinctly understands himself and his emotions loves God, and so much the more in proportion as he more understands himself and his emotions.

16. This love towards God must hold the chief place in the mind. Proof= For this love is associated with all the modifications of the body (5.14.) and is fostered by them all (5.15).

Therefore (5.11.), it must hold the chief place in the mind. Q.E.D.

17. God is without passions, neither is he affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain.

18. No one can hate God. Proof= The idea of God which is in us is adequate and perfect (2.46, 2.47).

19. He, who loves God, cannot endeavour that God should love him in return.

20. This love towards God cannot be stained by the emotion of envy or jealousy.

Contrariwise, it is the more fostered, in proportion as we conceive a greater number of men to be joined to God by the same bond of love.

Note= We can in the same way show, that there is no emotion directly contrary to this love, whereby this love can be destroyed. Therefore we may conclude, that this love towards God is the most constant of all the emotions, and that, in so far as it is referred to the body, it cannot be destroyed, unless the body be destroyed also. –> As to its nature, in so far as it is referred to the mind only, we shall presently inquire. I have now gone through all the remedies against the emotions, or all that the mind, considered in itself alone, can do against them. Whence it appears that the mind’s power over the emotions consists=

  1. In the actual knowledge of the emotions (5.4. note).

  2. In the fact that it separates the emotions from the thought of an external cause, which we conceive confusedly (5.2. and 5.4. note).

  3. In the fact, that in respect to time, the emotions referred to things, which we distinctly understand, surpass those referred to what we conceive in a confused and fragmentary manner (5.7.).

  4. In the number of causes whereby those modifications[17] are fostered, which have regard to the common properties of things or to God (5.9.11.). [17] Affectiones. Camerer reads affectus——emotions.

  5. Lastly, in the order wherein the mind can arrange and associate, one with another, its own emotions (5.10 note and 5.11, 5.13, 5.14).

But, in order that this power of the mind over the emotions may be better understood, it should be specially observed that the emotions are called by us strong, when we compare the emotion of one man with the emotion of another, and see that one man is more troubled than another by the same emotion; or When we compare the various emotions of the same man and find that he is more affected by one emotion than by another. For the strength of every emotion is defined by a comparison of our own power with the power of an external cause.

The mind’s power is defined by knowledge only.

Its infirmity or passion is defined only by the privation of knowledge. Therefore, it follows that that mind is most passive, whose greatest part is made up of inadequate ideas.

So that it may be characterized more readily by its passive states than by its activities. On the other hand, that mind is most active, whose greatest part is made up of adequate ideas, so that, although it may contain as many inadequate ideas as the former mind, it may yet be more easily characterized by ideas attributable to human virtue, than by ideas which tell of human infirmity. Spiritual unhealthiness and misfortunes can generally be traced to excessive love for something= which is subject to many variations, and which we can never become masters of. No one is solicitous or anxious about anything, unless he loves it. Wrongs, suspicions, enmities, etc. only arise in regard to things that no one can be really a master of. Thus, we may readily conceive the power which clear and distinct knowledge, and especially that third kind of knowledge (2.47. note), founded on the actual knowledge of God, possesses over the emotions= if it does not absolutely destroy them, in so far as they are passions (5.3. and 5.4 note). At any rate, it causes them to occupy a very small part of the mind (5.14.). Further, it begets a love towards a thing immutable and eternal (5.15.), whereof we may really enter into possession (2.45.).

Neither can it be defiled with those faults which are inherent in ordinary love. But it may grow from strength to strength, and may engross the greater part of the mind, and deeply penetrate it. I have briefly described all the remedies against the emotions. Anyone can see this for himself, if he has attended to= what is advanced in the present note, and the definitions of the mind and its emotions, and Propositions 1 and 3 of Part 3. We now pass on to those matters, which appertain to the duration of the mind, without relation to the body.