Selection from – Ethics – Part II. On the Nature and Origin of the Mind (Page 11)

Spinoza's Words: (the mind has no free will)

Proposition. XLVIII. In the mind there is no absolute or free will; but the mind is determined to wish this or that by a cause, which has also been determined by another cause, and this last by another cause, and so on to infinity...

Note: Very many controversies have arisen from the fact, that men do not rightly explain their meaning, or do not rightly interpret the meaning of others. For, as a matter of fact, as they flatly contradict themselves, they assume now one side, now another, of the argument, so as to oppose the opinions, which they consider mistaken and absurd in their opponents.


Spinoza has been called a determinist because he denys the existence of human free will, as he does here. It is an unjustified charge. Because he sees no special plan for human beings in the universe he does not claim that a person's life is determined by something or someone else. Here he simply acknowleges the fact that human beings act without adequate knowledge of themselves or of their world and when they do stop to wonder at their own actions they ascribe a cause and can do an infinte regress to a cause of that cause.