Spinoza, Benedict De
Spinoza, Benedict De (Baruch), the most ingenious, acute, and remarkable of the metaphysicians of the 17th century; equally notable for the simplicity, disinterestedness, and purity of his life, and for the rigorous form and unhesitating audacity of his speculations. "Everything in Spinoza appears extraordinary," says Saisset — "himself, his style, and his philosophy." There is, perhaps, no other instance of a philosopher who so completely developed and systematized his scheme as to leave scarcely the possibility of addition or change. Others have been more original in their principles; scarcely any have been more self inspired in their deductions and in the organization of their systems. None have been more sincere, more earnest, and more assured in their procedure. None have more confidently assumed their premises; none have more rigidly pursued the consequences of their data to their extremest results. Spinoza left no disciples. He has had few followers, and hardly a single imitator. Yet he was a power in the realm of abstract thought, and remains a landmark in the history of philosophy. He pressed the tendencies of his predecessors far beyond their ventures. He was a terror and a torment to the next generation. He exercised a potent influence on metaphysical progress, not by making discoveries, but by provoking eager, and too often virulent, antagonism. For a century the name as well as the dogmas of Spinoza were regarded with unmitigated abhorrence. He was denounced from the pulpit on every possible occasion. He was presented as an object of bitter contempt in pamphlet and essay and ponderous volume. Bayle held him up to the scorn of his readers as "a systematical atheist." Leibnitz gentle to all others, had little gentleness for him, and constructed his own philosophy to refute his errors and to correct the tendencies of his scheme. Berkeley endeavored to rectify and Christianize his theory of mind and of matter; and Hume imitated his assumptions and endeavored to imitate his deductions. For coherence of logical evolution, for unshrinking and undeviating misapplication of mathematical demonstration to speculative topics, for impassive and colorless reasoning in abstract formulas, for fearlessness in the acceptance of conclusions, no other ontologist can be compared to Spinoza. The peril threatened by his doctrines justified the fervor of resistance with which they were encountered. It did not excuse the bitterness and intemperance with which they and their author were assailed. A milder and juster criticism has in later years been manifested There is, indeed, some danger that the vicious tendencies of his system may be insufficiently apprehended in the kindlier consideration of the man whose life was innocent and free from blame, and who was fearfully misled in his ardent prosecution of truth by devious and mistaken paths. The approach and the recent occurrence of the anniversary of Spinoza's death, after the lapse of two centuries, revived interest in the man and in his labors. Treatises on his life and doctrine were multiplied. His works were republished with diligent care. New and unedited fragments were discovered and given to the world. At the bicentenary celebration at the Hague he was commemorated, in a striking address, by Ernest Rénan, in some respects his counterpart in the 19th century. The praise of one who, living, and long after death, had been contemned of nearly all men went abroad into every land, and found sympathizing echoes wherever it went. These alternate fits of chill and fever are frequent in the history of opinion. In the case of such a philosopher as Spinoza, unmeasured praise is even more alarming than unmitigated censure. What is required is a cool and just estimate, which shall explain the origin and character of his philosophy shall expose its invalidity and its mischievous tendency, and shall yet deal tenderly with the great thinker, and acknowledge the serene virtues of the man. It would be a fearful judgment for the soberest and soundest of reasoners if they were held responsible for all their thoughts and for all the possible tendencies of their thoughts. Something of the mercy which all men may require should be shown in the estimation of our fellowmen when their speculations — honest, and free from malice or intention to misguide — wander most widely and most hazardously from the truths that we revere and the dogmas that we regard as orthodox.
I. Life. — Baruch van Spinoza was born at Amsterdam, then the great commercial city of Holland, on Nov. 24, 1632. It was a strange nativity for a philosopher. He was a queer product in the land of dikes and canals, polders and docks, and in a community of money making Dutch traders. The time, too, was a strange one for the appearance of a contemplative recluse. The Continent was involved in wars of religion, wars of succession, and wars of ambition. Germany was convulsed and desolated by the Thirty Years' War, which had not run out half its dreadful course. Gustavus Adolphus had fallen a week or two before. Discords, uproars, contentions, were abroad throughout Europe. Spinoza was born of a pure blooded Jewish family which had left Portugal and sought in the Netherlands a refuge from religious persecution. His father was in comfortable circumstances, and dwelt in a good house near the Portuguese synagogue, where dealers in old clothes and junk now congregate; but the locality was then a respectable and segregated part of the city. It was on the outskirts of the town, between the Amstel and the present network of docks about the Eastern Basin. The young Israelite, "in whom there was no guile," early gave evidence of the quickness and perspicacity of his genius; but he was fragile in health and in frame. As he exhibited great avidity for an acquaintance with the Latin language, he was initiated into its mysteries, and was favored with the instructions of Francis van den Ende, subsequently a political refugee in France, and ultimately executed in that country on the charge of treasonable practices. Van den Ende had a daughter without grace of form or feature, but cultivated, sprightly, and intellectual, who is represented as having secured the devotions of her father's pupil The story has been rejected as a legend, on the ground of the girl's juvenility. It is rendered more doubtful by the boy's but malitia supplet oetatem. Whether true or not, there was no repetition of Abelard and Eloise. This remains the solitary charge of amatory inclinations brought against Spinoza. From such suspicions he is even freer than Gibbon. After having acquired a competent knowledge of Latin, he devoted himself to the study of theology and of Hebrew, and won the approval of the rabbi Morteira. The fruits of these studies were revealed afterwards in the Tractatus Theologico-politicus. A predisposition to scepticism is supposed to have been implanted in his mind by his teacher, Van den Ende. His theological inquiries were certainly not prosecuted in a submissive or credulous spirit. He had an absorbing and undivided love of truth, or what he deemed to be truth. He pursued his speculations and deductions with entire fearlessness and sincerity; he accepted their results with perfect conviction. He acquired a thorough knowledge of the Rabbinical literature and of the Hebrew philosophers of the Middle Age, and seems to have conceived a special attachment for Maimonides. He was thus led to a thoroughly rationalistic interpretation of the Scriptures and of the dogmas of his hereditary creed. He accordingly contracted a repugnance to the doctrinal authority of the synagogue, and a distaste for theological investigation within the lines of Mosaism. He turned aside from this severe mistress to the easier yoke of philosophy which allowed ampler range for the divagations of his restless mind. While still undecided, he fell in with the works of Des Cartes, from which he afterwards declared himself to have derived all his knowledge of philosophy. It was a memorable contact and a notable admission. He was particularly struck with the position of Des Cartes that nothing should be accepted as true without sufficient reasons. This, of course, precluded any childlike and uncritical reception of the traditions of the Targum and the Cabala, and any unquestioning submission to the precepts of religion, which "walks by faith, and not by sight." He became meditative, reserved, retiring, self contained. Such he was, probably, by natural temperament. The mind that broods over recondite speculations, whose "thoughts wander through eternity," and whose habitual associations are with the abstract, the impalpable, and the divine, narrows its communion with men, and finds few companions to share or to welcome its abstruse deductions or imaginations. He withdrew himself more and more from the Jewish doctors; he rarely attended the services of the synagogue; he became
"Parcus deorum cultor et infrequens, Insanientis dum sapientiae Consultus."
The suspicions and the anger of his despised coreligionists were aroused. Their fanaticism was inflamed by the apprehended loss of a brilliant votary. Nor was indignation diminished by the fear that he purposed giving his adhesion to Christianity. This he never did. He always spoke reverently and dispassionately of the New Covenant; but Christianity, as an authoritative creed, was inconsistent with the scheme of philosophy which he elaborated for himself. Spinoza belonged to that class of eminent thinkers — like Grotius, Locke, Leibnitz, Kant — who were profoundly religious in spirit, but not confined within formal theological boundaries. The Jews were so anxious to retain him in their sect so desirous of avoiding the scandal of his renunciation of their religion that they offered him a pension of a thousand florins to remain with them, and to attend the synagogue occasionally. The bribe was refused. It was addressed to a spirit never mercenary, and more likely to be repelled than attracted by pecuniary temptations. As he could not be seduced by gain, an attempt was made to remove him permanently out of the way. As he came from the theater or from the old Portuguese synagogue — for the accounts differ — an attempt was made to assassinate him. He preserved the vestments which had been pierced by the murderer's dagger.
"See what a rent the envious Casca made!"
Corruption and violence having equally failed to prevent Spinoza's desertion of the synagogue, he was solemnly cut off from the chosen people. The excommunication seems to have severed him from the members of his own family, and he was reduced entirely to his own resources. The Jewish law has always required the acquisition of some handicraft as an assured means of support in case of necessity. Spinoza, accordingly, learned the art of grinding optical glasses, and depended upon this for his future maintenance. He applied himself also to drawing. He withdrew from Amsterdam, where all his surroundings were embarrassing, and found a lodging with a friend in the country. How long he remained in the neighborhood of his native city is uncertain. In 1664 he removed to Rhinsburg, a small place between Leyden and the mouth of the Rhine, which is there a mean and sluggish stream, muddying through the fat and hollow land. He remained at Rhinsburg through the winter, and then changed his abode to Voorburg, a small town three miles from the Hague. Some three years thereafter he was induced to transfer his residence to the Hague itself, where he spent the short remainder of his life. From the time of his departure from Amsterdam his existence passed in secluded industry, mechanical and philosophical. By grinding lenses for optical instruments — an occupation much increased by the recent discovery of telescopes and microscopes — he secured a very modest but independent support. The rest of his time was assiduously employed in meditating his metaphysical scheme, or in pleasant conversation with the few friends who enjoyed his intimacy, or with admiring visitors.
The only incidents in this monotonous life which deserve mention are his visit to Utrecht to meet the great Condé, and his refusal of a professorship at Heidelberg. The first occurrence was due to an invitation from Stoupe, a Swiss colonel, commandant in Utrecht during Louis XIV's Dutch war. Stoupe sent Spinoza a passport through the French lines, accompanied with the declaration of the prince de Conde's solicitude to make his acquaintance. Conde was in Utrecht in 1672, but he was suffering from a severe wound in the wrist, received at the passage of the Rhine. He was in no condition to meet the Hebrew philosopher, and he set off for his seat at Chantilly as soon as he was able to travel. Spinoza, however, after some delay, accepted Stoupe's invitation, perhaps with the hope of a secure refuge in France in case of his being driven out of Holland on account of his opinions. He did not see Codd, who had left Utrecht before his arrival. When he got back to the Hague, he found much fermentation among the people, who regarded his visit to the French quarters as the visit of a spy, and as a proof of treasonable negotiations. Van der Spyck, with whom he lodged at the time, was alarmed by the popular commotion, and by the menace of danger to his house and to his lodger. Spinoza reassured him, stating that he could satisfactorily explain his journey to Utrecht; but that if the rabble approached the door, he would go straight to them, even if they should tear him to pieces, as they had torn the De Witts. The massacre of the De Witts occurred on Aug. 22, 1672. Codd was wounded on June 12 in that year. Thus the proximate date of Spinoza's visit to Utrecht may be determined.
The second incident was the offer, in 1673, of a professorship by the elector-palatine. The invitation was conveyed in the most gratifying and flattering manner. The chair of philosophy was offered. Entire freedom of speculation was accorded, on the understanding that there should be no offense to the recognized religion. It was a strange proposal, with a strange condition. It displayed the toleration of rationalistic tendencies which is so characteristic of Germany in our day. Yet it is not easy to discern how Spinozism could be taught without grave infringement of any form of Christianity. The invitation was declined in a graceful and piquant manner, because Spinoza had no disposition to teach instead of studying philosophy, could not determine the limits of the freedom conceded, and preferred the quiet of his private and solitary life to distinctions and emoluments.
This retired and equable existence was his delight. It was never broken at the Hague, except by intemperate denunciations of his supposed opinions, which amused more than they disquieted him, though they prevented him from giving his Ethics and other lucubration's to the public. The clamor which had been raised in Holland and throughout Europe by the publication of his Tractatus Theologico-politicus, and the apprehension of louder clamor and more vehement opposition, induced him to withhold his Ethics from the world, when already preparing to give it to the press.
The later years of Spinoza were rendered easy and comfortable by a modest annuity bequeathed to him by a friend. He had declined the chair at Heidelberg without regard to its revenues. He refused to dedicate a treatise to Louis XIV, even with the prospect of a royal pension. Simple, upright, independent, incorruptible, self sustained, of few and humble wants, he declined all favors which might in any way compromise his perfect moral and intellectual freedom. Yet in his later years he was provided for without the necessity of his own labor, and was remitted to the enjoyment of his tranquil speculative activity Simon De Vries, of Amsterdam, presented him with two thousand florins, to enable him to live more at his ease. He rejected the gift, saying that he had no need of it, and that the possession of so large a sum would certainly interfere with his studies. When Simon approached his end, he determined to bequeath all his worldly goods to Spinoza, being himself without wife or child. Spinoza remonstrated with his friend, maintaining that the estate ought to be left to the decedent's brother at Schiedam. This was accordingly done, on the condition that the brother should bestow a pension for life on Spinoza. Five hundred florins a year was the amount proposed by the heir. Spinoza pronounced the sum excessive, and insisted on its reduction to three hundred florins. So small a sum sufficed for his maintenance, and for the satisfaction of his truly philosophic wants.
Spinoza was small in frame, lean, sickly, and for twenty years threatened with consumption. His habits were always singularly abstemious, but care and watchfulness in regard to his diet were required in his later life. Death came to him gently and unexpected. One Sunday, in February 1677, when his hosts returned home from the afternoon services, they found him dead, and the physician, in whose presence he had died, departed. He had come down stairs at noon, and had conversed freely with them in regard to the morning sermon which they had heard. Unseemly litigation sprang up over his remains, and after his remains were committed to the ground. Petty accounts for shaving, for furnishing drugs, for drawing up the inventory of his beggarly chattels, were hastily and urgently presented. His sister Rebecca, who seems to have utterly slighted him while alive, claimed the inheritance of his effects, but refused to pay his small debts without being assured that a surplus would be left after this were done. All claims were paid by De Vries, of Schiedam, who seems also to have defrayed the funeral expenses. His property was sold by public vendue, and brought only three hundred and ninety florins and fourteen sous, after deducting some ten florins for the expenses of sale. It consisted of a meager supply of plain clothing, two silver buckles, a few books and stamps, some polished glasses and implements for polishing them. He left behind what was more than worldly wealth — the memory of a pure, simple, unambitious, modest, and innocent life, industriously employed in high and earnest speculation, void of offense towards God or man, except for that most dangerous of all offenses — sincere but pernicious error in regard to the highest principles and to the highest objects of human interest. What finite mind shall undertake to weigh in the balance honesty of motive and sincerity of conduct against intellectual delusions? Spinoza was buried with decent respect at the Hague, Feb. 21, 1677.
II. Works. — There is inevitable perplexity and confusion in any attempt to enumerate the works of Spinoza with any design of exhibiting their chronological succession or the development of his philosophical views. His most important productions were not given to the world till after his death, and some have been discovered and edited only in recent years. But one work of any note was published by himself. Yet, before its publication. his most characteristic tenets were already entertained by him, and were gradually molding themselves into shape, and receiving further development and increased precision till the very moment of his death. Taking his collected works as they are now presented to us, it is usually impossible to fix the dates at which his conclusions were reached, or to indicate the relation in time which they bear to the general body of his doctrine. This uncertainty, however, is rendered less annoying by the remarkable consonance or consistency, or, rather, by the inflexible rigidity and dry precision, of his system from its first conception to its final exposition. His Ethics constitutes his philosophy proper. They had been commenced before his first published work, though they were not published till after he had passed away. About the same time with their conception was printed his first work, a summary of the Cartesian philosophy. In this the geometrical procedure, so characteristic of his mode of reasoning and so rigorously but provokingly employed in his Ethics, is already used. Before either of these works was composed, he had probably written his short tractate On God, Man, and Happiness, which was edited for the first time in very late years. In this recently recovered production are already discernible the cardinal principles more fully, and in some respects diversely, elaborated in his later treatises. It would appear that Spinoza's philosophy revealed itself to him, in its first manifestation, virtually such as it was in its ultimate realization. It is so simple in essence, though so elaborate in detail, that this may well have been so. There was no elasticity, no mutability, in the essential thought, and therefore growth or serious alteration was foreign to its nature. The geometrical procedure was in intimate harmony with this changeless character of principle and reasoning, and its adoption may have as readily predetermined the philosophy as have been induced by it. Of course, under these circumstances, the chronological order of the production of the several works of Spinoza, or even of their rudimentary contemplation, ceases to be of any marked philosophical import, and his chief works may be noted simply in the order of their appearance. In 1663, when Spinoza was thirty- one years of age, was issued from the press Renati Des Cartes Principiorum Philosophic Pars I et II More Geometrico Demonstratoe. He had already exchanged his Hebrew name of Baruch for the Latin name of Benedict. This treatise was merely a synopsis and logical presentation of the Cartesian philosophy, originally drawn up for a friend. It is no part of his own philosophy. Nevertheless, it is worthy of note that Spinoza's metaphysical career began with a systematization of Cartesianism, and that the geometrical method is employed in his earliest publication. The dawn of his peculiar dogmas may also be detected in it. In 1670 appeared his Tractatus Theologico-politicus, which aroused a storm of violent denunciation, and was the chief cause of his being regarded by his contemporaries as the prince of atheists. To this treatise attention was necessarily confined in his own day, as it was the only exhibition of his views offered to the public; but there was no reason for its engrossing so exclusively the consideration of the ensuing century. It is not surprising that polemics should have attached themselves chiefly to this work, for it is much more level to the general apprehension than either the Ethics or the Reformation of the Understanding, as it deals not with the rarefied abstractions of ontology, but with the received notions in regard to prophecy, the inspiration and interpretation of the Scriptures, and kindred topics which lie at the foundation of revealed religion. The Tractatus Theologico-politicus was pure and bold rationalism. It was to the 17th century what Strauss's Life of Jesus has been to the 19th; and the latter may be considered as only the development of the former. It is true that genuine Spinozism is implied in this work; but this is not its prominent characteristic. The most obvious points, which at once provoked antagonism, are briefly indicated by Henry Oldenburg in a letter dated Nov. 15, 1675. He specifies the confusion of God with nature, the rejection of the authority and worth of miracles, the concealment of his views of the incarnation, of the satisfaction, and of the nature of Christ. These important subjects are, however, not what is most prominent in the treatise, whose special purpose is expressed in its full title: A Theologico-political Treatise, containing Several Dissertations, in which it is Shown that the Freedom of Philosophy is not only Compatible with the Maintenance of Piety and with Public Tranquillity, but that it cannot be Violated without Violating at the same time both Piety and Public Tranquillity. The work was a revelation of the general movement of the century. In 1644 John Milton asserted the freedom of the press in his Areopagitica; in 1647 Jeremy Taylor produced his Liberty of Prophesying, advocating freedom of religious ministrations; in 1670 appeared Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-politicus, urging unrestricted freedom of philosophy, and especially in regard to the interpretation of the Scriptures. In 1689 Locke published the first of his Letters on Toleration, urging entire religious freedom. The closing years of the century were preeminently the age of the freethinkers. Spinoza's treatise may therefore be considered as a manifestation of the spirit of the time, not as an abnormal phenomenon. Spinoza was only one of a throng:
"he above the rest, In shape and gesture proudly eminent. ...by merit raised To that bad eminence."
We cannot enter into the details of this treatise, significant as they are. They are not Spinoza's philosophy, though they are concomitants of his philosophy. The treatise, though first in order of publication, was a consequence rather than a cause of his philosophy, which was not fairly exhibited during his lifetime. The Ethica, which is his philosophy, was apparently constructed between 1662 and 1665, but not published till 1677, among his Opera Posthuma, which contained, besides his Tractatus Politicus, his Tractatus de Intellectus Emendatione, Epistoloe Doctorum Virorum, and his Compendium Grammaticoe Linguoe Hebraicoe. His Reformation of the Understanding and his Ethics will be noticed under the head of his Philosophy; so will the Letters, as far as may be found expedient, for they are chiefly comments upon his doctrine. The Tractatus Politicus was perhaps suggested by The Leviathan of Hobbes, but differs greatly from it in spirit and conclusion, though largely accordant with it in general procedure. Hobbes favored despotic authority, Spinoza upheld regulated and rational freedom under every form of government. Arbitrary restraints were foreign to his mental and moral habits, and had been rendered repugnant to him by the bitter experiences of himself and of his teacher, Van den Ende. The Hebrew Grammar requires no further commemoration. Several other works have been ascribed, correctly or incorrectly, to Spinoza. Some of them have been lost. A number of marginal notes have been preserved and published. A little treatise of much interest was discovered and printed several years ago. This is the Korte Verhandeling van God, de Mensch en deszelfs Welstand. It is preserved in the Dutch version, not in the original text. The chief value of the essay is that it contains clear indications of the peculiar doctrines of Spinoza, and gives the earliest view of them. It was probably composed before 1661; possibly as early as 1654-5. In the latter case, Spinoza would have been only twenty-two or twenty-three at the time. It thus reveals the precocity of his scheme and the singular consistency of his intellectual development. The chronological order of Spinoza's works thus appears to have been almost exactly the reverse of their order of publication. There is a somewhat analogous indication in the development of his philosophy. His conclusions seem to have been first settled, then principles discovered for them, then definitions and axioms invented, and then demonstrations devised. This will explain the error of the dogmas, the arbitrariness and invalidity of the premises, and their singularly logical evolution into the anticipated results.
3. Philosophy. — With an author so systematic as Spinoza, so curious in the establishment of all details, so methodically scrupulous in their demonstration and concatenation, it is impossible to deal, in a work of this kind, otherwise than by a summary treatment of his most distinctive principles. A full and formal examination would demand as close and as minute a criticism as was bestowed by Leibnitz upon Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, Book by book, paragraph by paragraph, would have to be tested. For such a proceeding there is no room here. A bird's eye view must suffice. The details of any philosophy are, however, of secondary importance. If correctly established, they flow of necessity from the principles; if incorrectly deduced, they may discredit the philosopher, but they are no fair exhibition of the philosophy, and may be disregarded in a brief estimate of its character and value. The method is the chief concern. The principles come next, and they are usually determined, in large measure, by the method. All, then, that can be attempted at present will be to point out the characteristic procedure of Spinoza, and his fundamental principles. These determine and distinguish the philosophy, in its essence, its type, and its worth. For the purpose contemplated two of Spinoza's works will suffice — the Reformation of the Understanding, which presents a fragmentary view of his method, and the Ethics, which contain his philosophy. The Letters are chiefly elucidations of the doctrine.
The treatise on the Reformation of the Understanding was a posthumous work, and was left a fragment. Its composition, in its first draft, probably dates back to the period following the commencement of the Ethics, to which work it may serve as an introduction. Unfinished, as it is, it may explain the philosophical tendencies, the philosophical relations, and the philosophical procedure of its author. Spinoza had been inducted into speculative pursuits by the study of the works of Des Cartes. His first publication was an abstract of Cartesianism. He was Cartesian by descent, Cartesian by intellectual habit, and remained Cartesian to the end. He was, indeed, hyper-Cartesian, as Leibnitz recognized. He only pushed the Cartesian method and the Cartesian doctrine to their furthest consequences. There are two leading dogmas of Des Cartes — one concerned with his method, the other with his doctrine. The former is that a clear idea is a true one, since the mind contains within itself the germs of truth, in the form of innate ideas. The latter is that mind and matter constitute the universe, as thought and extension; that they are entirely diverse, and cannot act upon each other. SEE DES CARTES. These two dogmas constitute the starting points of Spinozism, in procedure and in system. "To have a certain knowledge of the truth," says Spinoza, "it is sufficient to have a clear idea" (comp. Ethics, pt. 2, prop. 43). "Ideas which are clear and distinct can never be false." What is clear, then, is certain; what is certain, is true; and the mind is both the source and the judge of true knowledge. This is Cartesianism. Spinoza recognized four different kinds of knowledge, according to their origin and according to their adequacy. Intuition, the highest grade, is alone wholly satisfactory (comp. Ethics, pt. 2, prop. 40). The influence of Platonism upon both Des Cartes and Spinoza is here manifest. Nothing is true which is not presented as a clear and adequate idea. A clear and adequate idea is necessarily true. The invalidity of these assumptions need not be insisted. upon. They are the foundation of Spinoza's method.
The object of life is to attain a knowledge of the truth — of the truth of being, of absolute truth. All other aims are relatively unimportant. Everything but this is merely secondary. Worldly temptations, worldly enjoyments, wealth, power, honors, indulgences, distract the mind, and unfit it for such high contemplations, and for their earnest prosecution. They should be renounced, in order to secure the serene temperament and the unclouded vision and the unselfish devotion which the genuine pursuit of truth demands. Thus only can the attainment of clear, and therefore of true, ideas be expected. But, besides the knowledge of principles, which are the data of reasoning, the knowledge of the consequences of these principles, and of the reciprocal relations of such consequences, must be acquired. First principles, or disconnected ideas, are the beginning of knowledge, not its body. All possible consequences are evolved from them, but they must be traced in their relations and their interdependences. This must be done by the strictest reasoning, without suffering the interference of any obscure, vague, or imperfect notions. Such reasoning must be distinct and conclusive in all its stages, coercive of assent, and rigidly demonstrative. The strictest form of demonstration is geometrical, hence geometrical reasoning alone can suffice for the requirements of a true exposition of true doctrine. It will be noted that Spinoza does not pursue the course of investigation, but the course of development. He always proceeds a priori. His principles, whether admissible or not, are data, are assumptions. The sufficient proof of their truth with him is their lucidity. Thence every position is reached simply by deduction. Pascal, one of the greatest of mathematicians, had luminously shown the inapplicability of mathematical reasoning to unmathematical topics. But the Cartesian dogma of clear ideas being necessarily true engrossed the mind of Spinoza, and determined his whole method. Cartesianism was dominant throughout Europe. The brightest minds were occupied in questioning Cartesianism, in refuting objections, removing discords, supplying deficiencies, and assuring its coherence and completeness. In one fundamental respect Cartesianism was unsatisfactory and inexplicable. There was a serious flaw in a cardinal doctrine which exacted redress. The universe consisted of thought and extension, mind and matter. Everything fell under one or the other category, or was composed of both. But mind and matter were asserted to be wholly distinct and incommunicable. Neither was capable of acting on the other. How were the functions of life, the actions of rational beings, the conduct of creatures capable of spontaneous movement, to be accounted for? Here was the knot which Cartesianism could not untie, which must be untied before Cartesianism could be completely valid. The same knot, in a disguised form, is still perplexing speculation. Various solutions of the difficulty were proposed; all have proved extravagant and inadequate. SEE LEIBNITZ; SEE MALEBRANCHE. Spinoza accepted the postulates of Des Cartes, and appreciated the difficulty which rent Cartesianism from crown to sole. If he could only obtain clear ideas of mind and matter, their relations to each other would be discerned and the problem would be solved. Mind and matter constitute the universe; they are variously conjoined; they suffer concurrent modifications; they act continually in harmony, yet they cannot act upon each other. The only conclusion consonant with these positions is that mind and matter are essentially one and the same; that they are diverse aspects of a single existence, and that they are distinguished by merely apparent and accidental differences. If the same, they must be, and must have been, the same at all times and throughout all eternity, through all their changes and in all their forms. There is no longer any need of explaining their reciprocal interaction, for there is no interaction. There is no necessity for any divine preordination or divine cooperation to bring about material changes coincidently with mental determinations, because, as the universe is reduced to absolute unity, the Divinity is itself embraced in that unity — is, indeed, that unity. There is inconclusiveness in the reasoning, no doubt; if there were no inconclusiveness, Spinozism would be true. It is not meant to be asserted that Spinoza consciously pursued the course of reasoning here presumed, or has anywhere formally developed it. The foundations of his philosophy are intuitive, according to his own principles. But from his essay on the Reformation of the Understanding, from the constitution of his Ethics, from the whole complexion of his scheme, from the Cartesianism which furnish his point of departure and the correction of Cartesianism which he submitted as his system, it is certain that he must have instinctively pursued this or a like line of reasoning.
Everything is thus swallowed up in the divinity. God is all, and all is God — not interchangeably — for that would be materialistic theism, which is practical atheism; but with the precedence and exclusiveness of the divine, and that is idealistic pantheism. Things are not preordained, or predetermined, or prearranged, but preinvolved. Whatever phenomena arise, whatever changes occur, they are the transitory manifestations of some modification of the divine activity. There is mutation of accidents, there is no mutation of essence. The waves swell and roar upon the ocean, the bubbles burst upon the waves, but the ocean remains identically the same—
"Such as creation's dawn beheld."
But there is no creation, there is only transfiguration through the incessant evolution and revolution of one eternal being. All possibilities are contained in this being, and all possibilities come into act, not coincidently or contemporaneously, but in diverse order and position. There is but one existence, one substance, but infinite forms. "There cannot be, and we cannot conceive, any other substance than God." "Whatever is, is in God; and nothing can be, nor can be conceived, without God" (Ethics, pt. 1, prop. 14, 15). These are foregone conclusions. They are involved in the third and sixth definitions of the first part. The definitions are assumptions, and arbitrary assumptions. All Spinozism is latent in Spinoza's definition of substance, as all possibilities and eventualities are enclosed in the Spinozistic Divinity. But Spinoza's definition of substance is altogether alien from the definitions and conceptions of the Greek and other philosophers. With the latter, substance is shadowy and almost inapprehensible, the final residuum after everything conceivable has been separated from the aggregate of accidents, properties, and other constituents. With Spinoza, it is the cause and body of those accidents and properties, and of what else there may be. In both cases, it is true, it is the foundation, the underlying aliquid necessarium — τὸ ὑποκείμενον. With Spinoza it is everything, with the rest it is nothing that can be conceived. From the unity of substance and the concomitant universality of the Divinity, all Spinozism follows of necessity, and its pantheistic character is also a necessary consequence, with or without geometrical deduction. We have exhibited only the roots of the doctrine; the trunk, the branches, the leaves, the blossoms, and the fruit all spring from them. We have not the space to pursue Spinoza through all the intricacies of his system. It is only necessary to add to the explanations already given that the Ethics of Spinoza include ontology, psychology, and deontology. The treatise is distributed into five parts: I. On God; II. On the Nature and Origin of the Soul; III. On the Nature and Origin of the Passions; IV. On the Slavery of Man, or the Strength of the Passions; V. On the Power of the Understanding, or the Liberty of Man. This freedom is very delusive. Man has no freedom of volition or of action. The only freedom accorded by Spinoza is freedom from other constraint than the necessities of his nature (Ethics, pt. 2, prop. 48; pt. 3, def. 2, prop. 2, etc.).
In the rigorous demonstrations of Spinoza, though the validity of the demonstration may be sometimes contested, there are many acute and profound observations. Nothing can be more surprising or more inspiriting than his deduction and enforcement of every duty and of every virtue in the fifth part. There is a nice distinction between Natura, naturans and Natura naturata which has become so celebrated and is often so convenient that it should not be left without notice (Ethics, pt. 1, prop. 29, Schol.). With Spinoza, Natura naturans is the divine substance considered an operating cause; Natura naturata the divine substance considered as effect or modification. With philosophers of dissimilar tenets, Natura naturans
signifies nature in her silent operation producing the appropriate results; and Natura naturata the results of such operation.
There is ample temptation for further comment and for abundant reflection, but these must be reluctantly renounced. From the brief survey of the essential character of Spinozism, it will be evident that the doctrine is the purest and completest pantheism — the purest in every sense. It is pantheism, and has consequently affinities and correspondences with all fashions of pantheism. It is inevitably opposed to all revealed religion, vet it is steeped through and through in the Divinity; but in an endless, formless, indiscriminate, impersonal, and mistaken Divinity. It is the reductio ad absurdum of Cartesianism. It therefore instituted no sect and invited no acolytes. The philosophy became a target and a butt, and when new forms of error menaced religion it passed away, and has been too little remembered. The memory of the clear spirit, the noble nature, and the unspotted life" of Spinoza should not be allowed to sink into oblivion.
IV. Literature. — B. de Spinoza Opera Omnia, ed. Paulus (Jena, 1802-3); id. ed. Gfrörer (Stuttg. 1830); id. ed. Bruder (Lips. 1843-46); Saisset, Oeuvres de Spinoza (Par. 1842); Prat, Oeuvres Completes de Spinoza (ibid. 1866); Van Vloten, Ad B. de Spinoza Opera quoe Supersunt Omnia Suppl. (Amst. 1869); Schaarsmidt, B. de Spinoza, Korte Verhandeling van God, de Mensch en deszelfs Welstand (ibid. 1869); Sigwart, B. de Spinoza's Kurzer Tractat von Gott, dem Menschen und dessen Gluckseligkeit (Tub. 1870); Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-politicus (Lond. 1877); Janet, Spinoza, Dieu, l'Homme, et la Beatitude (Par. 1878); Bayle, Dict. Hist. Crit. s.v. "Spinoza;" Dietz, Ben. von Spinoza, nach Leben und Lehren (Leips. 1783); Jacobi, Ueber die Lehre des Spinoza (ibid. 1785); Philipson, Leben B. von Spinoza (Mannh. 1790); Heine, Rev. des Deux Mondes, Nov. 1834; Martin, Diss. de Phil. B. de Spinoza (Par. 1836); Auerbach, Spinoza, ein hist. Roman (Stuttg. 1837); id. Spinoza, ein Denker-Leben (Mannh. 1855); Thomas, Spinoza als Metaphysiker (Königsb. 1840); Saintes, Hist. de la Vie et des Oeuvres de Spinoza (Par. 1843); Saisset, Hist. du Spinozisme; Hebler, Spinoza's Lehre, etc. (Berne, 1850); Von Orelli, Spinoza's Leben und Lehre (Aarau, 1850); Van Vloten, Baruch d'Espinoza (Amst. 1862); Saisset, Maimonide et Spinoza, in the Rev. des Deux Mondes, 1862; Van der Linde, Spinoza, sein Leben, etc. (Götting. 1862); Lehmann, Spinoza, sein Lebensbild, etc. (Würzb. 1864); Fischer, B. Spinoza's Leben und Charakter (Mannh. 1865); Nourrisson, Spinoza et le Naturalisme Contemporain (Par. 1866); Janet, Spinoza et le
Spinozisme, in the Rev. des Deux Mondes, 1867; Arnold, A Word More about Spinoza, in Macmillan's Mag. 1868; Hann, Die Ethik Spinoza's und die Philosophie Des Cartes (Innsbr. 1876); Camerer, Die Lehre Spinoza's (ibid. 1877); Rothschild [Rabbi], Spinoza (ibid. 1877); Ginsburg, Leben Spinoza's (Leips. 1876); Willis, B. de Spinoza, his Ethics, Life, and Correspondence (Lond. 1870); Rénan, Address at the Opening of Spinoza's Monument at the Hague, Feb. 21, 1877. See the Contemporary Rev. March, 1877; Lond. Quar. Rev. 1877; Frohschammer, Die Bedeutung der Einbildungskraft in der Philosophie Kant's und Spinoza's (1879); Fürst, Bibl. Jud. 3, 358 sq. (G.F.H.)