Selection from – Ethics – Part IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions (Page 26)

Spinoza's Words: (money is necessary – but not a lot)

Here follows sentences culled from the next nine sections:

The advantage which we derive from things external to us, besides the experience and knowledge which we acquire from observing them, and from recombining their elements in different forms, is principally the preservation of the body... that all its parts may be nourished and rightly fulfil their functions.

For the due nourishment of the body we must use many foods of diverse nature. For the human body is composed of very many parts of different nature, which stand in continual need of varied nourishment.

Now for providing these nourishments the strength of each individual would hardly suffice. But money has furnished us with a token for everything: hence it is with the notion of money, that the mind of the multitude is chiefly engrossed: nay, it can hardly conceive any kind of pleasure, which is not accompanied with the idea of money as cause.

This result is the fault only of those, who seek money, not from poverty or to supply their necessary wants, but because they have learned the arts of gain, wherewith they bring themselves to great splendour... But they who know the true use of money, and who fix the measure of wealth solely with regard to their actual needs, live content with little.


No comment seems necessary. Spinoza declined several attempts of his friends to give him money. A merchant friend offered to bequeath him his fortune but Spinoza refused saying that the man's family should not be deprived of the money. When the man died his will established an annuity of 250 guldens for Spinoza. He accepted 150 guldens a year.