Selection from –Political Treatise - Chapter III, of the right of supreme authorities (Page 3)

Spinoza's Words – (on the power and rights of the commonwealth)

book coverFirst of all, it must be considered, that commonwealth will be most powerful and most independent, which is founded and guided by reason. For the right of the commonwealth is determined by the power of the multitude, which is led, as it were, by one mind. But this unity of mind can in no wise be conceived, unless the commonwealth pursues chiefly the very end, which sound reason teaches is to the interest of all men.

Secondly, rewards or threats do not fall within the rights of the commonwealth for by what rewards or threats can a man be brought to believe anything contrary to his sense or thought?

Thirdly and lastly, those things are not within the commonwealth's right, which cause indignation in the majority... So much for the right of supreme authorities over subjects.


Spinoza thinks the civil state must be founded and guided by reason and not by threats. It does not have the right to rule against the will of the majority of its citizens.