Selection from – Ethics – Part IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions (Page 13)

Spinoza's Words: (a man of reason lives a life of true virtue)

Note I.β€”He who, guided by emotion only, endeavours to cause others to love what he loves himself, and to make the rest of the world live according to his own fancy and is, therefore, hateful. Again, as the good sought by men under the guidance of emotion is often such, that it can only be possessed by a single individual, it follows that those who love it are not consistent in their intentions.

But he, who endeavours to lead men by reason, does not act by impulse but courteously and kindly, and his intention is always consistent. The desire of well-doing, which is engendered by a life according to reason, I call piety. Further, the desire, whereby a man living according to reason is bound to associate others with himself in friendship... I have also shown in addition what are the foundations of a state; and the difference between true virtue and infirmity [is] that true virtue is nothing else but living in accordance with reason; while infirmity is nothing else but man's allowing himself to be led by things which are external to himself.


True virtue is a desire to do well for others, to act as a friend and not allowing oneself to be led by external things. The foundations of a good society are the acts of virtuous people.

To be driven by one's emotions rather than by reason is to act in a selfish manner. Virtue is available to all without contention.