Selection from – Ethics – Part IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions (Page 22)

Spinoza's Words: (on perfecting the understanding and blessedness)

IV. Thus in life it is before all things useful to perfect the understanding, or reason, as far as we can, and in this alone man's highest happiness or blessedness consists, indeed blessedness is nothing else but the contentment of spirit, which arises from the intuitive knowledge of (Deus sive Natura): now, to perfect the understanding is nothing else but to understand (Deus sive Natura).

Wherefore of a man, who is led by reason, the ultimate aim or highest desire, whereby he seeks to govern all his fellows, is that whereby he is brought to the adequate conception of himself and of all things within the scope of his intelligence.


Here Spinoza relates reason, happiness or blessedness, and understanding (Deus sive Natura). [Let me remind the reader that I substitute (Deus sive Natura) wherever Spinoza writes God and means his own conception. In Latin sive means "or."]

Here he uses the word "intuitive" as he refers to the knowledge of (Deus sive Natura). He is refering to knowledge of the third kind. More of that later.

From this passage one can say that Spinoza believes the highest goal for human beings is the advancement of science.