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Prejudices in “Ethics” by Spinoza Essay

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Updated: May 19th, 2021

The first prejudice is that people believe that all things in Nature “are like themselves in acting with an end in view” (Ethics I, App., p. 239). The argument against this prejudice is that people are ignorant and do not realize that there are certain reasons for their desires. This argument relates to Proposition 32. According to this Proposition, “will cannot be called a free cause, but only a necessary cause” (Ethics I, Pr. 32, p. 235). Spinoza explains that will and intellect are nothing more than a concrete thinking mode. As a result, no volition can be regulated to act if it is not governed by another cause (Ethics I, Pr. 32, p. 235).

The second prejudice is that people always search for the “final causes of things done,” and they are content when they find these causes rather than doubting them (Ethics I, App., p. 239). Spinoza’s argument against this prejudice is that such a manner of thinking leads to judging other people’s minds by one’s own opinions (Ethics I, App., p. 239). This argument relates to Proposition 9 that states that the more “reality or being” a thing has, the more attributes pertain to it (Ethics I, Pr. 9, p. 221).

Thus, it is impossible not to doubt final causes since there is no guarantee that they are. This argument also relates to Proposition 30, stating that the final intellect has to comprehend the attributes of God “and nothing else” (Ethics I, Pr. 30, p. 234). Spinoza argues that the infinite intellect should strive to understand the attributes of God, whereas the men are looking for the causes of things, which he considers wrong.

Work Cited

Spinoza, Baruch. Complete Works. Edited by Michael L. Morgan, Hackett Publishing Company, 2002.

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