Selection from – On the Improvement of the Understanding (Page 8)

Spinoza's Words: (on his happiness)

This, then, is the end for which I strive, to attain to
such a character myself, and to endeavor that many should attain to
it with me. In other words, it is part of my happiness to lend
a helping hand, that many others may understand even as I do, so
that their understanding and desire may entirely agree with my own.

In order to bring this about, it is necessary to understand as
much of nature as will enable us to attain to the aforesaid character,
and also to form a social order such as is most conducive to the
attainment of this character by the greatest number with the least
difficulty and danger.


Here he gives us the reason for his work. After years of effort his masterpiece Ethics is in his desk drawer. In the writing of it he has achieved an understanding for himself that he would share with us. He speaks of difficulty and danger. Yes, difficulty because the ideas are deep and unfamiliar and danger because, in his time, outside of the relative safety of the Republic of Holland a whisper of Spinoza's words made one a candidate for the Inquisition's torture chambers.