Spinoza’s understanding of freedom is closely related to such notions as emotions, necessity, wisdom, and virtue. By freedom, the philosopher means an individual’s ability to separate himself or herself from emotions and focus on one’s mind (Ethics V, Pr. 42, Sch., p. 18). Based on this definition, it becomes possible to analyze how Spinoza relates freedom to other significant concepts of humans’ existence. Speaking of virtue, the philosopher remarks that it is blessedness (Ethics V, Pr. 42, p. 18).
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Thus, the mind that is capable of understanding love to God is free because it has the power to control lust (Ethics V, Pr. 42, p. 18). The connection between freedom and virtue is, thus, in the possibility to discern good from bad and the choice to live righteously. The relation of freedom to wisdom is realized through people’s decision to contemplate life rather than death. Spinoza notes that a truly free person thinks about death “least of all things” (Ethics IV, Pr. 67, p. 15). Also, the man who is free and wise tends not to obtain favors from ignorant people surrounding him (Ethics IV, Pr. 70, p. 15).
Considering freedom as being related to emotions, Spinoza contemplates the body-mind opposition. He notes that a free individual is the one whose body can “determine the mind to think” (Ethics III, Pr. 2, p. 6). Thus, the philosopher does not assume the possibility of freedom of emotions, viewing the mind and body as an indivisible entity. Spinoza’s opinion on freedom as being related to necessity is closely associated with his explanation of freedom-emotion relations. The philosopher remarks that necessity is what evokes emotions (Ethics III, Preface, p. 5). Thus, people driven by necessity are regarded as the ones not having freedom.
Spinoza, Baruch. Ethics.