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The Ethics (1677)

by Benedict de Spinoza

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,134285,098 (4.07)29
Published shortly after his death, the Ethics is undoubtedly Spinoza's greatest work - an elegant, fully cohesive philosophical system that strives to provide a coherent picture of reality, and to comprehend the meaning of an ethical life. Following a logical step-by-step format, it defines in turn the nature of God, the mind, the emotions, human bondage to the emotions, and the power of understanding - moving from a consideration of the eternal, to speculate upon humanity's place in the natural order, the nature of freedom and the path to attainable happiness. A powerful work of elegant simplicity, the Ethics is a brilliantly insightful consideration of the possibility of redemption through intense thought and philosophical reflection.… (more)
  1. 40
    Discourse on Method by René Descartes (caflores)
    caflores: Descartes es más claro y breve, pero Spinoza lleva la racionalidad más lejos.

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» See also 29 mentions

English (17)  Spanish (6)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
My expectations for this book were very high, and sadly it fell well short of what I hoped to find. I had been exposed to Spinoza’s ideas through other people discussing them, but this was my first attempt at reading his work directly. On the positive side, Spinoza is a unique thinker, and his approach of using proofs along the lines of geometrical proofs is challenging and for those interested in the subject, it is worth the effort to experience a different approach. The Penguin Classics edition also offers a supporting introduction to better help the reader understand Spinoza and what he was trying to accomplish. There are no notes though, as the logic-based method that Spinoza would not benefit much from notes.

There are significant issues in reading this work, though. There is a huge amount of references as Spinoza builds his case similar to what Euclid did, so one needs to refer back to previous propositions and associated definitions, axioms, demonstrations, etc. when attempting to follow Spinoza’s proofs. This challenge is undoubtedly made more difficult because this is a translation into English of the original Latin. The logic itself is problematic too, as there appeared to be cases where circular reasoning was used, and assertions which were not supported, and arguments which didn’t use logic at all, instead indicating that things were “absurd” or “no one would be able to doubt” and those are not logical arguments.

One of the biggest and clearest areas where there is an issue is around the concepts of infinite and infinity. In looking at the following statement:

If corporeal substance is infinite, they say, let us conceive it to be divided two parts. Each part will either be finite or infinite. If the former, than an infinite is composed of two finite parts, which is absurd. If the latter [NS: i.e., if each part is infinite], then there is one infinite twice as large as another, which is also absurd.”

Certainly, his statement that an infinite could be composed of two finite parts “is absurd” is correct, but he makes the mistake of thinking that you can’t divide an infinite into two (or more) infinites, and he totally ignores the idea of dividing an infinite into a finite piece and an infinite piece. Examples of both an infinite being made up of multiple infinites or of multiple finites along with at least one infinite are easily seen in Math, and there are signs in his argument that he thinks of infinity as a number, and not a concept of “being without end”.

The above mentioned problems occur fairly early on in his work, and thus the foundations on which he builds the rest of the work are built on incorrect definitions and propositions, or at least ones which are not supported logically. I was not able to get past these issues, and so I did not enjoy the overall work as much as I might have. Perhaps I will revisit this work again in the future, to get more out of what he was attempting to do. I will certainly not read it again with overly high expectations. ( )
  dave_42 | Jun 26, 2020 |
nice book by a nice guy imo ( )
  theodoram | Apr 7, 2020 |
This book was very hard to understand. I thought it might be easier since I heard it uses math proofs to work its way to explain the universe, but that just made it more difficult for me. So what was this book talking about?

I think this was a guys way of trying to answer the questions "why do bad things happen to good people?" The answer he comes up with is that God does not have feelings or other human characteristics because God is Nature. Nature has a set of rules that produce a set of outcomes that can only happen one way. From what I read it seems that Spinoza was against the concept of Free Will.

Also, I wasn't too keen on his reasoning for why God exists. "God Exists because god's essence is existence. God's essence is perfect, there-for god exists." to paraphrase it.

I thought there were some interesting ideas about the divine and world around us being one. I also agree with the idea that God doesn't care who wins a Football game.

I wouldn't recommend this book unless you are a philosophy buff or really into 17th century geometry proofs used for non-math. ( )
  nmorse | Dec 3, 2019 |
I really enjoyed this book. Spinoza uses a distinct style to enumerate all of his proofs of the nature of reality. Starting like Euclid with a few definitions and axioms, Spinoza expands upon these with well reasoned arguments to determine many things.

The book is split into five major parts. The first part talks about the existence of a being called God that is perfect and infinite and takes no part in human affairs. The second part is concerned with the human mind and it's limitations. The third part talks about human nature. The fourth part talks about how those aspects of human nature limit ourselves to being swayed by our passions. The fifth and final part talks about how we can overcome that with the rational mind.

Overall it is a brilliant work and I cannot praise it enough. I will read it again if I have time. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
O panteísmo de Spinoza e o Deus de Nietzsche são de alguma forma a mesma coisa. Mas Nietzsche não era ateu? Sim, mas disse que, se houvesse um único Deus verdadeiro, Ele invariavelmente cuidaria da dança do cosmos, das colisões, dos impactos e da busca pela sobrevivência. Não é este o Deus de Spinoza, que é tudo, em todo lugar e em todo o mundo? Einstein, quando perguntado por um rabino sobre sua visão de Deus, disse: "Acredito no Deus de Spinoza, que se revela na harmonia de tudo que existe, não num Deus que se preocupe com o destino e as ações humanas". No entanto, até Stephen Hawking, que definitivamente não era teísta, perguntou respeitosamente "Quem acendeu as equações e detonou a explosão?" Obviamente, o Big Bang implica que o universo teve um começo, o que é antagônico à visão de Spinoza, se é que não corrobora a criação ex-nihilo do monoteísmo ortodoxo. Spinoza propôs que tudo é infinito e nada é finito. Mas e quanto ao tamanho do meu sapato? Como ele pode ser tão infinito quanto, digamos, a distância da luz? Spinoza afirma que é a imaginação ou a distinção de coisas que tornam as coisas finitas. Mas de acordo com ele, nada é finito. O que Paulo diz de Pedro nos revela mais sobre Paulo do que sobre Pedro. O que Spinoza diz sobre o mundo revela menos sobre o mundo do que sobre, digamos, Marilena Chauí... ( )
  jgcorrea | Dec 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Verket er bygget opp rundt læresetninger, bevis og anmerkninger. Det er inndelt i fem deler som handler om Gud, om sjelens natur og opprinnelse, om følelsenes opprinnelse og natur, om menneskelig slaveri eller følelsenes makt og om hvordan fornuften kan frigjøre mennesket. Dette er Spinozas hovedverk. Bokas innledning setter verket inn i sin sammenheng.

» Add other authors (64 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Benedict de Spinozaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boyle, AndrewTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cīrule, BrigitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Curley, EdwinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elwes, Robert Harvey MonroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hampshire, StuartIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parkinson, G. H. R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parkinson, G. H. R.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suchtelen, Nico vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zariņš, VilnisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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By cause of itself I understand that whose essence involves existence, or that whose nature cannot be conceived except as existing.
In 1492, the year of the discovery of Africa, the shadow of religious persecution fell across the Iberian peninsula.
There is no singular thing in Nature which is more useful to man than a man who lives according to the guidance of reason
Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself; nor do we enjoy it because we restrain our lusts; on the contrary, because we enjoy it, we are able to restrain them.
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pt. 1. Concerning God

pt. 2. Of the nature and origin of the mind

pt. 3. Concerning the origin and nature of the emotions

pt. 4. Of human bondage, or the nature of the emotions

pt. 5. Of the power of the intellect, or of human freedom
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Penguin Australia

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