Part 2: The Nature and Origin of the Mind, God and Ideas
I now explain the results from God's essence, which are able to lead us, as it were by the hand, to the knowledge of the human mind and its highest blessedness.
Definition 1:Body is a mode which expresses in a certain determinate manner the essence of God, in so far as he is considered as an extended thing. (See Pt. 1, Prop. 25, Coroll.) Definition 2. A thing's essence is that which inseparable from the thing. being given, the thing is necessarily given also, and, which being removed, the thing is necessarily removed also.
Without a thing's essence, the thing cannot cannot exist nor be conceived.
Without the thing, the thing's essence also cannot exist nor be conceived.
Definition 3:Idea is the mental conception formed by the mind as a thinking thing.
Explanation: I say conception instead of perception, because 'perception' seems to imply that the mind is passive in respect to the object; whereas conception seems to express an activity of the mind.
Definition 4: An adequate idea is an idea which in itself, without relation to the object, has all the properties or intrinsic marks of a true idea.
Explanation: I say intrinsic, in order to exclude that mark which is extrinsic or the agreement between the idea and its object (ideatum).
Definition 5: Duration is the indefinite continuance of existing.
Explanation: I say indefinite, because it cannot be determined through the existence itself of the existing thing, or by its efficient cause, which necessarily gives the existence of the thing, but does not take it away.
Definition 6: I use reality and perfection as synonymous terms. Definition 7:Particular things are things which are finite and have a conditioned existence.
But if several individual things concur in one action, so as to be all simultaneously the effect of one cause, I consider them all as one particular thing.
1. Man's essemce does not involve necessary existence.
It may come to pass that this or that man does or does not exist.
2. Man thinks. 3. Modes of thinking, such as love, desire, or any passion, only happens when an idea of the thing loved, desired, etc. is in the same individual.
But the idea can exist without the presence of any other mode of thinking.
4. We perceive that a certain body is affected in many ways. 5. We feel and perceive no particular things, except bodies and modes of thought. Note: The Postulates are given after the conclusion of Prop. 13.
Proposition 1: Thought is an attribute of God, or God is a thinking thing. Proof: Particular thoughts are modes which express God's nature, in a certain conditioned manner (Pt. 1, Prop. 25, Coroll.).
God therefore possesses the attribute (Pt. 1, Def. 5) of which the concept is involved in all particular thoughts, which latter are conceived thereby.
Therefore, thought is one of God's infinite attributes, which express God's eternal and infinite essence (Pt. 1, Def. 6).
In other words, God is a thinking thing. Q.E.D.
Note: This proposition is also evident from the fact, that we are able to conceive an infinite thinking being.
For, in proportion as a thinking being is conceived as thinking more thoughts, so is it conceived as containing more reality or perfection.
Therefore a being, which can think an infinite number of things in an infinite number of ways, is necessarily infinite, in respect of thinking.
As, therefore, from the consideration of thought alone, we conceive an infinite being, thought is necessarily (Pt. 1, Def. 4 and 6) one of the infinite attributes of God.
Proposition 2: Extension is an attribute of God, or God is an extended thing. Proof: The proof of this proposition is similar to the proof of the last. Proposition 3: In God, there is necessarily the idea of his essence and also of all things which necessarily follow from his essence. Proof: God (by the Prop. 1 of this Part) can think an infinite number of things in infinite ways.
He (what is the same thing, by Prop. 16, Part 1) can form the idea of his essence, and of all things which necessarily follow from it.
All that is in God's power necessarily is (Pt. 1, Prop. 35).
Therefore, such an idea as we are considering necessarily is, and in God alone. Q.E.D. (Part 1, Prop. 15)
Note: People understand by the power of God, the free will of God and the right over all things that exist, which latter are accordingly generally considered as contingent.
For it is said that God has the power to destroy all things and to reduce them to nothing.
God's power is very often likened to the power of kings.
But we have refuted this doctrine (Pt. 1, Prop. 32, Corolls. 1 and 2).
We have shown (Part 1, Prop. 16) that God acts by the same necessity, as that by which he understands himself.
In other words, as it follows from the necessity of the divine nature (as all admit), that God understands himself, so also does it follow by the same necessity, that God performs infinite acts in infinite ways.
We further showed (Part 1, Prop. 34), that God's power is identical with God's essence in action.
Therefore, it is as impossible for us to conceive God as not acting, as to conceive him as non—existent.
If we pursue the subject further, I could point out that the power which is commonly attributed to God is not only human (as showing that God is conceived by people as a man, or in the likeness of a man), but involves a negation of power.
But I am unwilling to go over the same ground so often.
I can only beg the reader repeatedly to turn to what I have said in Part 1 from Prop. 16 to the end.
No one will be able to follow my meaning, unless he is careful not to confound God's power with the human power and right of kings.
Proposition 4: The idea of God, from which an infinite number of things follow in infinite ways, can only be one. Proof: Infinite intellect comprehends nothing except God's attributes and his modifications (Part 1, Prop. 30).
Now God is one (Part 1, Prop. 14, Coroll.).
Therefore the idea of God, wherefrom an infinite number of things follow in infinite ways, can only be one. Q.E.D.
Proposition 5: The actual being of ideas owns God as its cause, only as he is considered as a thinking thing, not as he is unfolded in any other attribute.
That is, the ideas both of the attributes of God and of particular things do not own as their efficient cause their objects (ideata) or the things perceived, but God himself in so far as he is a thinking thing.
Proof: This proposition is evident from Prop. 3 of this Part.
We there drew the conclusion, that God can form the idea of his essence, and of all things which follow necessarily therefrom, solely because he is a thinking thing, and not because he is the object of his own idea.
Wherefore the actual being of ideas owns for cause God, in so far as he is a thinking thing. It may be differently proved as follows:
The actual being of ideas is (obviously) a mode of thought, that is (Part 1, Prop. 25, Coroll.) a mode which expresses in a certain manner the nature of God, in so far as he is a thinking thing.
It therefore (Part 1, Prop. 10) involves the conception of no other attribute of God.
Consequently (by Part 1, Ax. 4) it is not the effect of any attribute except thought.
Therefore the actual being of ideas owns God as its cause, as he is considered as a thinking thing, etc. Q.E.D.
Proposition 6. The modes of any given attribute are caused by God, as he is considered through the attribute of which they are modes, and not as he is considered through any other attribute. Proof: Each attribute is conceived through itself, without any other (Part 1, Prop. 10)
Wherefore the modes of each attribute involve the conception of that attribute, but not of any other.
Thus (Part 1, Ax. 4) they are caused by God, only in so far as he is considered through the attribute whose modes they are, and not in so far as he is considered through any other. Q.E.D.
Corollary: Hence the actual being of things, which are not modes of thought, does not follow from the divine nature, because that nature has prior knowledge of the things.
Things represented in ideas follow, and are derived from their particular attribute, in the same way, and with the same necessity as ideas follow (according to what we have shown) from the attribute of thought.
Proposition 7. The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things. Proof: This proposition is evident from Part 1, Ax. 4.
For the idea of everything that is caused depends on a knowledge of the cause, whereof it is an effect.
Corollary: Hence, God's power of thinking is equal to his realized power of action.
Whatsoever follows from God's infinite nature in the world of extension (formaliter), follows without exception in the same order and connection from the idea of God in the world of thought (objective).
Note: I will recall that whatsoever can be perceived by the infinite intellect as constituting the essence of substance, belongs altogether only to one substance.
Consequently, substance thinking and substance extended are one and the same substance, comprehended now through one attribute, now through the other.
So, also, a mode of extension and the idea of that mode are one and the same thing, though expressed in two ways.
This truth seems to have been dimly recognized by those Jews who maintained that God, God's intellect, and the things understood by God are identical.
For instance, a circle existing in nature, and the idea of a circle existing, which is also in God, are one and the same thing displayed through different attributes.
Thus, whether we conceive nature under the attribute of extension, or under the attribute of thought, or under any other attribute, we shall find the same order, or one and the same chain of causes—that is, the same things following in either case.
God is the cause of an idea, such as the idea of a circle, as he is a thinking thing.
and of a circle, in so far as he is an extended thing, simply because the actual existence of the idea of a circle can only be perceived as a proximate cause through another mode of thinking.
and that again through another, and so on to infinity.
so that, so long as we consider things as modes of thinking, we must explain the order of the whole of nature, or the whole chain of causes, through the attribute of thought only.
And, in so far as we consider things as modes of extension, we must explain the order of the whole of nature through the attributes of extension only; and so on, in the case of the other attributes.
Wherefore of things as they are in themselves God is really the cause, inasmuch as he consists of infinite attributes.
I cannot for the present explain my meaning more clearly.
Proposition 8: The ideas of particular things, or of modes, that do not exist, must be comprehended in the infinite idea of God, in the same way as the formal essences of particular things or modes are contained in God's attributes. Proof: This proposition is evident from the last proposition.
It is understood more clearly from the preceding note.
Corollary: Hence, so long as particular things do not exist, except in so far as they are comprehended in the attributes of God, their representations in thought or ideas do not exist, except in so far as the infinite idea of God exists.
When particular things are said to exist, not only in so far as they are involved in the attributes of God, but also in so far as they are said to continue, their ideas will also involve existence, through which they are said to continue.
Note: I fear that I am unable to give any example which explains the thing I am speaking of, as it is unique.
However, I will try to illustrate it as far as possible.
The nature of a circle is such that if any number of straight lines intersect within it, the rectangles formed by their segments will be equal to one another.
Thus, infinite equal rectangles are contained in a circle.
Yet none of these rectangles can be said to exist, except in so far as the circle exists.
nor can the idea of any of these rectangles be said to exist, except in so far as they are comprehended in the idea of the circle.
Let us grant that, from this infinite number of rectangles, only two exist.
The ideas of these two not only exist, in so far as they are contained in the idea of the circle, but also as they involve the existence of those rectangles.
Wherefore they are distinguished from the remaining ideas of the remaining rectangles.
Proposition 9: The idea of an individual thing actually existing is caused by God, not as he is infinite, but as he is considered as affected by another idea of a thing actually existing, of which he is the cause, as he is affected by a third idea, and so on to infinity. Proof: The idea of an individual thing actually existing is an individual mode of thinking.
It is distinct from other modes (by the Corollary and note to Prop. 8 of this part).
Thus (by Prop. 6 of this part) it is caused by God, as a thinking thing, but not (by Prop. 28 of Part 1) as an absolute thinking thing, only as he is considered as affected by another mode of thinking; and he is the cause of this latter, as being affected by a third, and so on to infinity.
Now, the order and connection of ideas is (by Prop. 7 of this book) the same as the order and connection of causes.
Therefore, of a given individual idea another individual idea, or God, in so far as he is considered as modified by that idea, is the cause;
and of this second idea God is the cause, in so far as he is affected by another idea, and so on to infinity. Q.E.D.
Corollary: Whatsoever takes place in the individual object of any idea, the knowledge thereof is in God, in so far only as he has the idea of the object. Proof: Whatsoever takes place in the object of any idea, its idea is in God (by Prop. 3 of this part), not as he is infinite, but as he is considered as affected by another idea of an individual thing (by the last Prop.);
But (by Prop. 7 of this part) the order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.
Therefore, the knowledge of that which takes place in any individual object will be in God, in so far only as he has the idea of that object. Q.E.D.
Proposition 10. The being of substance does not appertain to the essence of man.
In other words, substance does not constitute the actual being of man.
Proof: The being of substance involves necessary existence (Part 1, Prop. 7).
Therefore, if the being of substance appertains to the essence of man, substance being granted, man would necessarily be granted also (2. Def. 2).
Consequently, man would necessarily exist, which is absurd (2. Ax. 1).
Therefore, etc. Q.E.D.
Note: This proposition may also be proved from Heading 1.5.
It shows that there cannot be two substances of the same nature.
For as there may be many men, the being of substance is not that which constitutes the actual being of man.
Again, the proposition is evident from the other properties of substance, that substance is in its nature infinite, immutable, indivisible, etc., as anyone may see for himself.
Corollary: It follows that man's essence is made up of certain modifications of God's attributes.
For (by the last Prop.) the being of substance does not belong to man's essence.
That essence therefore (by 1.15) is something which is in God.
Without God, it can neither be nor be conceived, whether as a modification (1.25. Coroll.), or a mode which expresses God's nature in a certain conditioned manner.
Note: Everyone must surely admit, that nothing can be or be conceived without God.
All men agree that God is the one and only cause of all things, both of their essence and of their existence.
That is, God is not only the cause of things in respect to their being made (secundum fieri), but also in respect to their being (secundum esse).
At the same time many assert, that that, without which a thing cannot be nor be conceived, belongs to that thing's essence.
Wherefore they believe that either:
God's nature appertains to the essence of created things, or
created things can exist or be conceived without God.
Otherwise, they probably hold inconsistent doctrines.
I think the cause for such confusion is mainly that they do not keep to the proper order of philosophic thinking.
God's nature should be reflected on first, as it is prior both in the order of knowledge and the order of nature.
taken to be last in the order of knowledge, and
put into the first place 'the objects of sensation'.
Hence, while they are considering natural phenomena, they give no attention at all to the divine nature.
When they apply their mind to the study of the divine nature afterwards, they are unable to bear in mind the first hypotheses, with which they have overlaid the knowledge of natural phenomena, as such hypotheses are no help towards understanding the divine nature.
So it is easy to see that these persons contradict themselves freely.
However, I pass over this point.
My intention here was only to give a reason for not saying, that that, without which a thing cannot be or be conceived, belongs to the essence of that thing:
Individual things cannot exist or be conceived without God.
Yet God does not appertain to their essence.
I said that "I considered as belonging to the essence of a thing that, which being given, the thing is necessarily given also, and which being removed, the thing is necessarily removed also.
or that without which the thing, and which itself without the thing can neither be nor be conceived." (2. Def. 2)