Selection from – Ethics – Part V. On the Power of the Intellect; or of Human Freedom (Page 1)

Spinoza's Words: (reason can control the emotions and lead to human freedom)


At length I pass to the remaining portion of my Ethics, which is concerned with the way leading to freedom. I shall therefore treat therein of the power of the reason, showing how far the reason can control the emotions, and what is the nature of Mental Freedom or Blessedness; we shall then be able to see, how much more powerful the wise man is than the ignorant.


This is the purpose of his life. A huge promise. Freedom from human bondage to the emotions is the blessedness that relieves a person from the mental anxiety that makes life so difficult.

The rest of the rather long Preface is given over to objections to Rene Descates' idea about the pineal gland being the seat of emotions. Descartes' scientifc and philosophic writings were the intelectual rage of Europe. Spinoza, at the urging of the discussion circle of his friends, had written The Principles of Cartesian Philosophy (1663), a commentary on the Frenchman's work. It was, in reality, a text book on Descartes' philosophy and the only work published under Spinoza's own name in his lifetime. It brought him to the attention to many intellectuals including Gottfried Leibniz, the German mathematician, and Henry Oldenburg, the secretary of the Royal Society in London.