Defintions of the emotions

  1. Desire is the actual essence of man, in so far as it is conceived, as determined to a particular activity by some given modification of itself.
    • Explanation: We have said above, in the note to Prop. 9 of this part, that desire is appetite, with consciousness thereof.
    • Further, that appetite is the essence of man, in so far as it is determined to act in a way tending to promote its own persistence.
    • But, in the same note, I also remarked that, strictly speaking, I recognize no distinction between appetite and desire.
    • For whether a man be conscious of his appetite or not, it remains one and the same appetite.
    • Thus, in order to avoid the appearance of tautology, I have refrained from explaining desire by appetite;
    • but I have take care to define it in such a manner, as to comprehend, under one head, all those endeavours of human nature, which we distinguish by the terms appetite, will, desire, or impulse.
    • I might have said, that desire is the essence of man, in so far as it is conceived as determined to a particular activity; but from such a definition (cf. 2.23.) it would not follow that the mind can be conscious of its desire or appetite.
    • Therefore, in order to imply the cause of such consciousness, it was necessary to add, in so far as it is determined by some given modification, etc.
    • For, by a modification of man's essence, we understand every disposition of the said essence, whether such disposition be innate, or whether it be conceived solely under the attribute of thought, or solely under the attribute of extension, or whether, lastly, it be referred simultaneously to both these attributes.
    • By the term desire, then, I here mean all man's endeavours, impulses, appetites, and volitions, which vary according to each man's disposition, and are, therefore, not seldom opposed one to another, according as a man is drawn in different directions, and knows not where to turn.
  2. Pleasure is the transition of a man from a less to a greater perfection.
  3. Pain is the transition of a man from a greater to a less perfection.
    • Explanation: I say transition: for pleasure is not perfection itself.
    • For, if man were born with the perfection to which he passes, he would possess the same, without the emotion of pleasure.
    • This appears more clearly from the consideration of the contrary emotion, pain.
    • No one can deny, that pain consists in the transition to a less perfection, and not in the less perfection itself:
    • for a man cannot be pained, in so far as he partakes of perfection of any degree.
    • Neither can we say, that pain consists in the absence of a greater perfection.
    • For absence is nothing, whereas the emotion of pain is an activity; wherefore this activity can only be the activity of transition from a greater to a less perfection—in other words, it is an activity whereby a man's power of action is lessened or constrained (cf. 3.11. note).
    • I pass over the definitions of merriment, stimulation, melancholy, and grief, because these terms are generally used in reference to the body, and are merely kinds of pleasure or pain.
  4. Wonder is the conception of anything, wherein the mind comes to a stand, because the particular concept in question has no connection with other concepts (cf. 3.52 and note).
    • Explanation: In the note to 2.18. we showed why the mind, from the contemplation of one thing, straightway falls to the contemplation of another thing: because the images of the two things are so associated and arranged, that one follows the other.
    • This state of association is impossible, if the image of the thing be new; the mind will then be at a stand in the contemplation thereof, until it is determined by other causes to think of something else.
    • Thus, the conception of a new object, considered in itself, is of the same nature as other conceptions.
    • Hence, I do not include wonder among the emotions.
    • I do not see why I should include it.
    • As this distraction of the mind arises from no positive cause drawing away the mind from other objects, but merely from the absence of a cause, which should determine the mind to pass from the contemplation of one object to the contemplation of another.
      • Therefore, I recognize only three primitive or primary emotions (as I said in the note to 3.11.):
        1. Pleasure
        2. Pain
        3. Desire
      • I have spoken of wonder simply because it is customary to speak of certain emotions springing from the three primitive ones by different names, when they are referred to the objects of our wonder.
      • I am led by the same motive to add a definition of contempt.
  5. Contempt is the conception of anything which touches the mind so little, that its presence leads the mind to imagine those qualities which are not in it rather than such as are in it (cf. 3.52. note).
    • The definitions of veneration and scorn I here pass over, for I am not aware that any emotions are named after them.
  6. Love is pleasure, accompanied by the idea of an external cause. Explanation: This definition clearly explains the essence of love.
    • The definition given by those authors who say that love is the lover's wish to unite himself to the loved object expresses a property, but not the essence of love.
    • They have not sufficiently discerned love's essence.
    • They have been unable to acquire a true conception of its properties.
    • Accordingly, their definition is very obscure.
    • However, when I say that it is a property of love, that the lover should wish to unite himself to the beloved object, I do not here mean by wish consent, or conclusion, or a free decision of the mind (for I have shown such, in 2.48., to be fictitious).
    • Neither do I mean a desire of being united to the loved object when it is absent, or of continuing in its presence when it is at hand.
    • For love can be conceived without either of these desires.
    • I mean wish to be the contentment in the lover, from the presence of the beloved object, whereby the lover's pleasure is strengthened or at least maintained.
  7. Hatredis pain accompanied by the idea of an external cause. Explanation: These observations are easily grasped after what has been said in the explanation of the preceding definition (cf. also 3.13 note).
  8. Inclination is pleasure, accompanied by the idea of something which is accidentally a cause of pleasure.
  9. Aversion is pain accompanied by the idea of something which is accidentally the cause of pain (cf. 3. 15. note).
  10. Devotionis love towards one whom we admire. Explanation: Wonder (admiratio) arises from a thing's novelty (as we have shown, 3.52.).
    • If, therefore, the object of our wonder is often conceived by us, we shall cease to wonder at it.
    • Thus we see, that the emotion of devotion readily degenerates into simple love.
  11. Derisionis pleasure arising from our conceiving the presence of a quality which we despise, in an object which we hate.
    • Explanation: In so far as we despise a thing which we hate, we deny existence thereof (3.52. note), and to that extent rejoice (3.20.).
    • But since we assume that man hates that which he derides, it follows that the pleasure in question is not without alloy (cf. 3.47 note).
  12. Hopeis an inconstant pleasure, arising from the idea of something past or future, whereof we to a certain extent doubt the issue.
  13. Fear is an inconstant pain arising from the idea of something past or future, whereof we to a certain extent doubt the issue (cf. 3.18. note). Explanation: It follows that there is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.
    • He who depends on hope and doubts on the issue of anything, is assumed to conceive something which excludes that thing's existence in the future.
      • Therefore he feels pain to this extent (cf. 3.29.).
    • Consequently, while dependent on hope, he fears for the issue.
    • On the contrary, he who fears or doubts the issue of something which he hates, also conceives something which excludes the existence of the thing in question.
    • He feels pleasure to this extent.
    • Consequently, to this extent he hopes that it will turn out as he desires (3.20.).
  14. Confidenceis pleasure arising from the idea of something past or future, wherefrom all cause of doubt has been removed.
  15. Despairis pain arising from the idea of something past or future, wherefrom all cause of doubt has been removed.
    • Explanation: Thus confidence springs from hope, and despair from fear, when all cause for doubt as to the issue of an event has been removed.
    • This comes to pass, because man conceives something past or future as present and regards it as such, or else because he conceives other things, which exclude the existence of the causes of his doubt.
    • For, although we can never be absolutely certain of the issue of any particular event (2.31. Coroll.), it may nevertheless happen that we feel no doubt concerning it.
    • For we have shown, that to feel no doubt concerning a thing is not the same as to be quite certain of it (2.49. note).
    • Thus it may happen that we are affected by the same emotion of pleasure or pain concerning a thing past or future, as concerning the conception of a thing present.
    • This I have already shown in 3.18., to which, with its note, I refer the reader.
  16. Joy is pleasure accompanied by the idea of something past, which has had an issue beyond our hope.
  17. Disappointmentis pain accompanied by the idea of something past, which has had an issue contrary to our hope.
  18. Pity is pain accompanied by the idea of evil, which has befallen someone else whom we conceive to be like ourselves (cf. 3.22. note, and 3.27. note).
    • Explanation: There seems to be no difference between pity and sympathy (misericordia), unless perhaps:
      • 'pity' refers to a particular action, and
      • sympathy refers to a disposition.
  19. Approval is love towards one who has done good to another.
  20. Indignation is hatred towards one who has done evil to another. Explanation: These terms are employed in senses somewhat different from those usually assigned.
    • But my purpose is to explain, not the meaning of words, but the nature of things.
    • I therefore use such terms, as may convey my meaning without any violent departure from their ordinary signification.
    • One statement of my method will suffice. As for the cause of the above-named emotions see 3.27. Coroll. i., and 3.22. note.
  21. Partiality is thinking too highly of anyone because of the love we bear him.
  22. Disparagement is thinking too meanly of anyone because we hate him. Explanation: Thus partiality is an effect of love, and disparagement an effect of hatred:
    • so that partiality may also be defined as love, in so far as it induces a man to think too highly of a beloved object.
    • Contrariwise, disparagement may be defined as hatred, in so far as it induces a man to think too meanly of a hated object. Cf. 3.26. note.
  23. Envy is hatred, in so far as it induces a man to be pained by another's good fortune, and to rejoice in another's evil fortune.
    • Explanation: Envy is generally opposed to sympathy, which, by doing some violence to the meaning of the word, may therefore be thus defined.
  24. Sympathy (misericordia) is love, in so far as it induces a man to feel pleasure at another's good fortune, and pain at another's evil fortune.
    • Explanation: Concerning envy see the notes to 3.24 and 32.
    • These emotions also arise from pleasure or pain accompanied by the idea of something external, as cause either in itself or accidentally.
    • I now pass on to other emotions, which are accompanied by the idea of something within as a cause.
  25. Self-approval is pleasure arising from a man's contemplation of himself and his own power of action.
  26. Humility is pain arising from a man's contemplation of his own weakness of body or mind. Explanation: Self-complacency is opposed to humility, in so far as we thereby mean pleasure arising from a contemplation of our own power of action.
    • But, in so far as we mean thereby pleasure accompanied by the idea of any action which we believe we have performed by the free decision of our mind, it is opposed to repentance, which we may thus define.
  27. Repentance is pain accompanied by the idea of some action which we believe we have performed by our mind's free decision. Explanation: The causes of these emotions are in 3.51 note, and 3.53, 3.54, 3.55 and note.
    • The mind's free decision is in 2.35. note.
    • All 'wrong' actions are followed by pain.
    • All 'right' actions are followed by pleasure.
    • This depends greatly on education.
    • Parents have caused the wrong actions to be associated with pain and the right actions with pleasure by:
      • reprobating, and frequently chiding their children because of, wrong actions, and
      • persuading them towards, and praising, right actions.
    • This is confirmed by experience.
    • Custom and religion are not the same among everyone.
      • Some consider sacred what others consider profane.
      • What some consider honourable, others consider disgraceful.
    • A person feels repentance or glories for a given action according to his education.
  28. Pride is thinking too highly of one's self from self-love. Explanation: Pride is different from partiality.
    • Partiality is used to refer to an external object.
    • But pride is used of a man thinking too highly of himself.
      • However, as partiality is the effect of love, so is pride the effect or property of self-love.
      • Self-love can thus be defined as love of self or self-approval, as it leads a man to think too highly of himself.
        • Self-love has no opposite.
        • No one thinks too meanly of himself because of self-hatred.
          • No one can conceive himself incapable of doing this or that.
          • For whatsoever a man imagines that he is incapable of doing, he imagines this of necessity.
          • By that notion he is so disposed, that he really cannot do that which he conceives that he cannot do.
          • For, so long as he conceives that he cannot do it, so long is he not determined to do it.
          • Consequently so long is it impossible for him to do it.
    • But if we consider only opinions, it is possible for a person to think too meanly of himself.
      • A man, sorrowfully regarding his own weakness, might imagine himself despised by all men, while the rest of the world do not.
      • A man may think too meanly of himself, if he deny of himself in the present something in relation to a future time of which he is uncertain.
      • For instance, if he say that he is unable to form any clear conceptions, or that he can desire and do nothing but what is wicked and base, etc.
    • We may also say, that a man thinks too meanly of himself, when we see him from excessive fear of shame refusing to do things which others, his equals, venture.
    • We can, therefore, set down as a contrary to pride an emotion which I will call self—abasement, for as from self—complacency springs pride, so from humility springs self—abasement, which I will accordingly thus define.
  29. Self-abasement is thinking too meanly of one's self by reason of pain.
    • Explanation: We are nevertheless generally accustomed to oppose pride to humility, but in that case we pay more attention to the effect of either emotion than to its nature.
    • A 'proud man':
      • boasts too much (3.30. note),
      • talks only of his own virtues and other people's faults,
      • wishes to be first.
      • goes through life with a style and pomp suitable to those far higher than him.
    • A 'humble man':
      • too often blushes,
      • confesses his faults,
      • sets forth other men's virtues,
      • walks with bent head, and
      • is negligent of his attire.
    • Humility and self-abasement are extremely rare.
      • Human nature, in itself, strives against them as much as it can (see 3.13. 54.).
      • Hence those, who are believed to be most self-abased and humble, are generally in reality the most ambitious and envious.
  30. Honour is pleasure accompanied by the idea of some action of our own, which we believe to be praised by others.
  31. Shame is pain accompanied by the idea of our own action which we believe to be blamed by others.

    Explanation: See the note to 3.30.

    • There is a difference between shame and modesty.
      • Shame is the pain following the deed we are ashamed of.
      • Modesty is the fear or dread of shame, which restrains a man from committing a base action.
      • Modesty is usually opposed to shamelessness.
      • But the shamelessness is not an emotion.
    • However, the names of the emotions are regard more to their exercise than to their nature.
    • I have explained the emotions arising from pleasure and pain.
    • I will now explain the emotions which I refer to desire.

  32. Regret is the desire or appetite to possess something.
    • It is kept alive by the remembrance of the said thing.
    • It is constrained by the remembrance of other things which exclude the existence of it, at the same time.

    Explanation: When we remember a thing, we are disposed to contemplate it with the same emotion as if it were present.

    • But this disposition, while we are awake, is generally checked by the images of things which exclude the existence of the thing we remember.
    • Thus, when we remember something which gave us a certain pleasure, we try to regard it with the same pleasure as though it were present.
    • But this endeavour is at once checked by the remembrance of things which exclude the existence of the thing in question.
    • Wherefore regret is, strictly speaking, a pain opposed to that of pleasure, which arises from the absence of something we hate (cf. 3.47. note).
    • But, as the name regret seems to refer to desire, I set this emotion down, among the emotions springing from desire.
  33. Emulationis the desire of something, engendered in us by our conception that others have the same desire.

    Explanation: A person imitates another person's emotion if he:

    • runs away, because he sees others running away,
    • fears, because he sees others in fear,
    • withdraws his own hand and moves his body as if it were burnt, after seeing another man who has just burnt his hand.

    But such a person does not to emulate another, because we only emulate honourable, useful, or pleasant people.

    • The cause of emulation is in cf. 3.27. and note.
    • The reason why this emotion is generally coupled with envy is in 3.32. and note.

  34. Thankfulnessor Gratitude is the desire or zeal springing from love, whereby we endeavour to benefit him, who with similar feelings of love has conferred a benefit on us. Cf. 3.39 note and 40.
  35. Benevolence is the desire of benefiting one whom we pity. Cf. 3.27 note.
  36. Anger is the desire, whereby through hatred we are induced to injure one whom we hate, 3.39.
  37. Revenge is the desire whereby we are induced, through mutual hatred, to injure one who, with similar feelings, has injured us. (See 3.40 Coroll. 2 and note.)
  38. Cruelty or savageness is the desire, whereby a man is impelled to injure one whom we love or pity. Explanation: Cruelty is opposed to clemency.
    • Clemency is not a passive state of the mind, but a power whereby man restrains his anger and revenge.
  39. Timidity is the desire to avoid a greater evil, which we dread, by undergoing a lesser evil. Cf. 3.39. note.
  40. Daring is the desire, whereby a man is set on to do something dangerous which his equals fear to attempt.
  41. Cowardiceis attributed to one, whose desire is checked by the fear of some danger which his equals dare to encounter.

    Explanation: Cowardice is, therefore, nothing else but the fear of some evil, which most men are wont not to fear.

    • Hence I do not reckon it among the emotions springing from desire.
    • Nevertheless, I have chosen to explain it here, because, in so far as we look to the desire, it is truly opposed to the emotion of daring.

  42. Consternation is attributed to one, whose desire of avoiding evil is checked by amazement at the evil which he fears. Explanation: Consternation is, therefore, a species of cowardice.
    • But consternation arises from a double fear.
      • It may be more conveniently defined as a fear which keeps a man so bewildered and wavering, that he is unable to remove the evil.
      • I say bewildered, in so far as we understand his desire of removing the evil to be constrained by his amazement.
      • I say wavering, in so far as we understand the said desire to be constrained by the fear of another evil, which equally torments him: whence it comes to pass that he knows not, which he may avert of the two.
        • On this subject, see 3.39. note, and 3.52. note.
        • Concerning cowardice and daring, see 3.51. note.
  43. Courtesy, or deference (Humanitas seu modestia),is the desire of acting in a way that should please men, and refraining from that which should displease them.
  44. Ambition is the immoderate desire of power.

    Explanation: Ambition is the desire whereby all the emotions (cf. 3.27. and 31) are fostered and strengthened.

    • Therefore this emotion can be overcome with difficulty.
    • As long as a man is bound by any desire, he is necessarily bound by this at the same time.
    • Cicero says:
      • "The best men are especially led by honour.
      • Even philosophers, when they write a book contemning honour, sign their names thereto."
  45. Luxuryis excessive desire, or even love of living sumptuously.
  46. Intemperanceis the excessive desire and love of drinking.
  47. Avariceis the excessive desire and love of riches.
  48. Lust is desire and love in sexual intercourse.

    Explanation: It is still called lust whether it is excessive or not.

  49. These last five emotions (as I have shown in 3.41.) have opposites, for deference is a species of ambition. Cf. 3.29. note.

General Definition Of The Emotions

Emotion is called a passivity of the soul.

The mind's essence consists in the fact (2.11., 2.13.), that it affirms the actual existence of its own body.