Selection from – On the Improvement of the Understanding (Page 3)

Spinoza's Words: (about those worldly "goods")


By sensual pleasure the mind is enthralled to the extent of quiescence, so that it is quite incapable of thinking of any other object... The attainment of riches and fame is not followed as in the case of sensual pleasures by repentance, but, the more we acquire, the greater is our delight (but) if our hopes happen to be frustrated we are plunged into the deepest sadness. Fame has the further drawback that it compels its votaries to order their lives according to the opinions of their fellow-men, shunning what they usually shun, and seeking what they usually seek.



These things which people call "good" have their drawbacks. Sensual pleasures pursued brings ennui and can result in diminished health. Riches may be lost to vagaries of chance. Fame puts one in the hands of others.