Selection from – Ethics – Part IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions (Page 24)

Spinoza's Words: (give love, friendship, have patience, have the State give aid to the poor)

Here follows sentences culled from the next nine sections:

As we know not anything which is more excellent than a man led by reason, no man can better display the power of his skill and disposition, than in so training men, that they come at last to live under the dominion of their own reason.

Minds are not conquered by force, but by love and high-mindedness.

It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship.

But for [teaching] there is need of skill and watchfulness. For men are diverse... [and] those who live under the guidance of reason are few. No small force of character is therefore required to take everyone as he is, and to restrain one's self from imitating the emotions of others... It is better to bear patiently the wrongs they may do us, and to strive to promote whatsoever serves to bring about harmony and friendship.

Men are also gained over by liberality, especially such as have not the means to buy what is necessary to sustain life. However, to give aid to every poor man is far beyond the power and the advantage of any private person. For the riches of any private person are wholly inadequate to meet such a call. Again, an individual man's resources of character are too limited for him to be able to make all men his friends. Hence providing for the poor is a duty, which falls on the State as a whole, and has regard only to the general advantage.


The ethics that arise from reason are superb in their direction toward a better society. Advanced for his time, Spinoza advocates State welfare for the poor.