Selection from – Ethics – Part V. On the Power of the Intellect; or of Human Freedom (Page 5)

Spinoza's Words: (all may gain a love of (Deus sive Natura) but not expect it to love them back)

Proposition XIX. He, who loves (Deus sive Natura), cannot endeavour that (Deus sive Natura) should love him in return.

Proposition XX. This love towards (Deus sive Natura) cannot be stained by the emotion of envy or jealousy: contrariwise, it is the more fostered, in proportion as we conceive a greater number of men to be joined to (Deus sive Natura) by the same bond of love.

This love towards (Deus sive Natura) is the highest good which we can seek for under the guidance of reason, it is common to all men, and we desire that all should rejoice therein.


This is the most beautiful pair of Spinoza's propositions. We recognize at once the truth of what he is saying. In stark beauty he says Love the World, all that is, but give up any hope that (Deus sive Natura) will take any notice your love. It is not its nature to love or hate. It just is. And all can gain this love. Once obtained it can never be lost. No one can take it away. This is the grandest of loves and Spinoza wants all who reason to embrace it and rejoice together.

Aldo Leopold expressed that love in a lesser way when in the 1940s he advocated a harmony between man and the soil and, with his words, began the environmental movement. He advocated a Land Ethic; warning that we could not live without it. Spinoza is telling us about a Cosmic Ethic, a harmony between man and the universe. Men of reason know they cannot truly live without it.