Selection from – Ethics – Part IV. Of Human Bondage, or the Strength of the Emotions (Page 27)

Spinoza's Words: (live life in harmony with the order of nature as a whole)

The last two sections of Part IV read a follows:

Proposition XXXI. Superstition seems to account as good all that brings pain, and as bad all that brings pleasure... He, who is led by fear and does good only to avoid evil, is not guided by reason.

Proposition XXXII. But human power is extremely limited, and is infinitely surpassed by the power of external causes; we have not, therefore, an absolute power of shaping to our use those things which are without us.

Nevertheless, we shall bear with an equal mind all that happens to us,, so long as we are conscious that we have done our duty, and that the power which we possess is not sufficient to enable us to protect ourselves completely; remembering that we are a part of universal nature, and that we follow her order.

If we have a clear and distinct understanding of this, that part of our nature which is defined by intelligence, will assuredly acquiesce in what befalls us, and in such acquiescence will endeavour to persist. For, in so far as we are intelligent beings, we cannot desire anything save that which is necessary, nor yield absolute acquiescence to anything, save to that which is true: wherefore, in so far as we have a right understanding of these things, the endeavour of the better part of ourselves is in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.


This, the concluding statements of Part IV on the strength of the emotions, is a swipe at religion as a product of fear and an acknowledgement of weakness of men to shape their own lives.

Nevertheless, says Spinoza, by remembering that we are part of nature and that nature is neither good or evil the rational man remains calm and acquiesces to that which he does not have the power to change. The way of intelligence is to live life in harmony with the order of nature as a whole.