Selection from – Ethics – Part II. On the Nature and Origin of the Mind (Page 12)

Spinoza's Words: (the conclusion to Part II - why his doctrine is good)

What he has attempted to teach us in Part II has a bearing on conduct. He thinks he has presented a good doctrine for the following reasons –

1. Inasmuch as it teaches us to act solely according to the decree of (Deus sive Natura)... Such a doctrine not only completely tranquilizes our spirit, but also shows us where our highest happiness or blessedness is, namely, solely in the knowledge of (Deus sive Natura).

2. Inasmuch as it teaches us, how we ought to conduct ourselves with respect to the gifts of fortune, or matters which are not in our power... For it shows us that we should await and endure fortune's smiles or frowns with an equal mind, seeing that all things follow from the eternal decree of (Deus sive Natura) by the same necessity, as it follows from the essence of a triangle, that the three angles are equal to two right angles.

3. This doctrine raises social life, inasmuch as it teaches us to hate no man, neither to despise, to deride, to envy, or to be angry with any. Further, as it tells us that each should be content with his own, and helpful to his neighbour, not from any womanish pity, favour, or superstition, but solely by the guidance of reason, according as the time and occasion demand, as I will show in Part III.

4. Lastly, this doctrine confers no small advantage on the commonwealth; for it teaches how citizens should be governed and led, not so as to become slaves, but so that they may freely do whatsoever things are best.

I have thus fulfilled the promise made at the beginning of this note, and I thus bring the second part of my treatise to a close. I think I have therein explained the nature and properties of the human mind at sufficient length, and, considering the difficulty of the subject, with sufficient clearness. I have laid a foundation, whereon may be raised many excellent conclusions of the highest utility and most necessary to be known, as will, in what follows, be partly made plain.


In this conclusion to Part II Spinoza anticipates some of the ethical ideas that will be elaborated in the succeeding Books. Accepting that (Deus sive Natura) does not act to favor or disfavor us can lead to peace of mind and a kind of happiness can be achieved in understanding more about (Deus sive Natura).

Reason teaches us that things follow a certain necessity and it is good to help our fellow human beings and not to hate or envy. Sub specie aeternatatus (viewing things in the light of eternity) produces a tranquility that reduces mental anxiety. And lastly, all of foregoing helps to create a free and peaceful society.