The Nature of Emotions in Spinoza's Ethics

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In his book on ethics, Spinoza spends some time focusing on the nature of emotions. The emotions that Spinoza first focused on were passive emotions that were not based on adequate ideas but on inadequate ideas. Explaining how easy it is for humans to be driven into certain directions governed by certain passions, showing the inability of humans to sometimes control their own passions. Spinoza did not just only want to describe these emotions but also wanted to show the strengths in human emotions. Setting up preparation into discussing exactly how the human mind can gain control over the emotions by acknowledging and understanding the difficulty it is for one to overcome them. It is known that Spinoza’s has rejected the idea of free will. The base of human freedom is not free will, it is reason. When one is governed by adequate ideas one is capable to governing ones passions. Spinoza shows why reason itself is capable of controlling ones emotions because, for Spinoza, reason itself is an emotive force, as an emotional power, explaining why it is so profoundly difficult to overcome ones passion and why truth itself can not liberate from one passion. Before Spinoza can explain the liberations from these passions he had to explain the strengths of the passions and what one can do to at least litigate the effects of being governed by passions. This lead to the detail discussions of virtue and what it really is and Spinoza’s new concept of what constitutes morality. This was coming out of the seventh century when virtue was defined as in acting in according to duties opposed on one by either a super natural source, for example God or a church. Or from even a modern stand point that if one has free will they must act in accordance’s ... ... middle of paper ... ... conscious of it. This gives ideas emotional power, which if they did not have there would be no way ones idea of good could possibly liberate one from something that is really evil. To conclude, theoretically any given power that an individual has, is surpassed by an infinite number of things. Which means humans are always prone to being controlled by external objects, therefore being governed by their passions rather than being governed by reason. These strengths of the emotions shows why it is so difficult to overcome the emotions without recourse to explain failure in terms of ones sinful nature or the abuse of free will, which Spinoza rejects. This does not mean that humans are inevitably defeated by their passions just that they inevitably affected by them. What is important to understand is the ability to form some sort of balance in the mist of suffering.

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