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.   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.


1. Man's essemce does not involve necessary existence. 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. 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.). Note: This proposition is also evident from the fact, that we are able to conceive an infinite thinking being.   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. 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.   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).   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. Proof: This proposition is evident from Prop. 3 of this Part.   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) 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.   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. Corollary: Hence, God's power of thinking is equal to his realized power of action. 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.     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. 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. Note: I fear that I am unable to give any example which explains the thing I am speaking of, as it is unique. 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. 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.);   Proposition 10. The being of substance does not appertain to the essence of man.

[2] "Forma"

Proof: The being of substance involves necessary existence (Part 1, Prop. 7). Note: This proposition may also be proved from Heading 1.5. Corollary: It follows that man's essence is made up of certain modifications of God's  attributes. Note: Everyone must surely admit, that nothing can be or be conceived without God.