The Emotions: Desire, Pain and Pleasure

Proposition 11: Whatever changes the power of activity in our body, the idea of it changes, helps or hinders the power of thought in our mind.

Proof: This proposition is evident from 2.7. or from 2.14.

Note: Thus we see, that the mind can undergo many changes, and can pass sometimes to a state of greater perfection, sometimes to a state of lesser perfection.

Beyond desire, pain, and pleasure, there is no other primary emotion.

Proposition 12: As far as it can, the mind endeavours to conceive things which increases the power of activity in the body.

Proof: So long as the human body is affected in a mode, which involves the nature of any external body, the human mind will regard that external body as present (2.17).

Love and Hate

Proposition 13: When the mind conceives things which change the body's power of activity, it endeavours to remember things which exclude those initial things.

Proof: The power of the mind and body is reduced whenever it conceives of things that reduces is power of activity (cf. 3. 12. Proof).

Corollary: It follows that the mind shrinks from conceiving things, which reduce the power of itself and of the body.

Note: This explains the nature of Love and Hate.

Proposition 14: If the mind has once been affected by two emotions at the same time, it will, whenever it is afterwards affected by one of these two, be also affected by the other.

Proof: If the human body has once been affected by two bodies at once, whenever afterwards the mind conceives one of them, it will straightway remember the other also (2.18).

Proposition 15: Anything can, accidentally, be the cause of pleasure, pain, or desire.

Proof: Let it be granted that the mind is simultaneously affected by two emotions, of which one neither increases nor diminishes its power of activity, and the other does either increase or reduce the said power (3. Post. 1).

Corollary: Simply from the fact that we have regarded a thing with the emotion of pleasure or pain, though that thing be not the efficient cause of the emotion, we can either love or hate it.

Proof: For from this fact alone it arises (3.14), that the mind afterwards conceiving the said thing is affected with the emotion of pleasure or pain, that is (3.11 note), according as the power of the mind and body may be increased or diminished, etc.

Note: Hence we understand how we can love or hate a thing without any cause for our emotion being known to us, merely from sympathy or antipathy.

Proposition 16: If Object A resembles Object B that gives the mind pain or pleasure, we shall still love or hate Object A even if it did not cause us pain or pleasure.

Proof: The point of resemblance was in the object (by hypothesis), when we regarded it with pleasure or pain, thus (3.14), when the mind is affected by the image thereof, it will straightway be affected by one or the other emotion, and consequently the thing, which we perceive to have the same point of resemblance, will be accidentally (3.15) a cause of pleasure or pain.


Proposition 17: If Object A gives us pain, but resembles Object B which gives us pleasure, we shall hate and love Object A at the same time.

Proof: The given thing is (by hypothesis) in itself a cause of pain, and (3.13. note), in so far as we imagine it with this emotion, we shall hate it.

Note: This disposition of the mind, which arises from two contrary emotions, is called vacillation.

Proposition 18. A man is as much affected pleasurably or painfully by the image of a thing past or future as by the image of a thing present.

Proof: So long as a man is affected by the image of anything, he will regard that thing as present, even though it be non—existent (2.17. and Coroll.), he will not conceive it as past or future, except in so far as its image is joined to the image of time past or future (2.44. note).

Note 1: I call a thing past or future, as we either have been or shall be affected by it.

Note 2: We can thus understand what is meant by the terms Hope, Fear, Confidence, Despair, Joy, and Disappointment.[5]

[5] Conscientiæ morsus—thus rendered by Mr. Pollock.

Proposition 19: He who conceives that the object of his love is destroyed will feel pain.

Proof: As far as possible, the mind endeavours to conceive those things which increase or help the body's power of activity (3.12.).

Proposition 20: He who conceives that the object of his hate is destroyed will also feel pleasure.

Proof: The mind (3.13.) endeavours to conceive those things, which exclude the existence of things whereby the body's power of activity is diminished or constrained; that is (3.13. note).

Proposition 21: He who conceives, that the object of his love is affected pleasurably or painfully, will himself be affected pleasurably or painfully. Proof: The images of things (as we showed in 3.19) which postulate the existence of the object of love, help the mind's endeavour to conceive the said object. Proposition 22: If we conceive that anything pleasurably affects some object of our love, we shall be affected with love towards that thing.

Proof: He, who affects pleasurably or painfully the object of our love, affects us also pleasurably or painfully—that is, if we conceive the loved object as affected with the said pleasure or pain (3.21).

Note: Prop. 21 explains to us the nature of Pity, which we may define as pain arising from another's hurt.

Proposition 23: He who conceives, that an object of his hatred is painfully affected, will feel pleasure.

Proof: In so far as an object of hatred is painfully affected, it is destroyed, to an extent proportioned to the strength of the pain (3.11. note).

Note: This pleasure can scarcely be felt unalloyed, and without any mental conflict.

Proposition 24: If we conceive that anyone pleasurably affects an object of our hate, we shall feel hatred towards him also. If we conceive that he painfully affects that said object, we shall feel love towards him.

Proof: This proposition is proved in the same way as III. xxii., which see.

Note: These and similar emotions of hatred are attributable to envy, which, accordingly, is nothing else but hatred, in so far as it is regarded as disposing a man to rejoice in another's hurt, and to grieve at another's advantage.

Proposition 25: We endeavour to affirm, concerning ourselves, and concerning what we love, everything that we can conceive to affect pleasurably ourselves, or the loved object.

Proof: That, which we conceive to affect an object of our love pleasurably or painfully, affects us also pleasurably or painfully (3.21.).

Proposition 26: We endeavour to affirm, concerning that which we hate, everything which we conceive to affect it painfully. Proof: This proposition follows from III. xxiii., as the foregoing proposition followed from 3.21. Note: Thus we see that it may readily happen, that a man may easily think too highly of himself, or a loved object, and, contrariwise, too meanly of a hated object. Proposition 27: If we conceive a thing which is like ourselves, which we have not assigned any emotion to, and that thing gets an emotion from us, we will be affected with the same emotion

Proof: The images of things are modifications of the human body, whereof the ideas represent external bodies as present to us (2.17).

Note 1: This imitation of emotions, when it is referred to pain, is called compassion (cf. 3.22. note);

Corollary 1: If we conceive that anyone, whom we have hitherto regarded with no emotion, pleasurably affects something similar to ourselves, we shall be affected with love towards him.

Proof: This is proved from the last proposition in the same manner as 3.22. is proved from 3.21.

Corollary 2: We cannot hate a thing which we pity, because its misery affects us painfully.

Proof: If we could hate it for this reason, we should rejoice in its pain, which is contrary to the hypothesis.

Corollary 3: We seek to free from misery, as far as we can, a thing which we pity.

Proof: That, which painfully affects the object of our pity, affects us also with similar pain (by the foregoing proposition).

Note 2: This will or appetite for doing good, which arises from pity of the thing whereon we would confer a benefit, is called benevolence, and is nothing else but desire arising from compassion. Proposition 28: We endeavour to bring about whatsoever we conceive to conduce to pleasure.

Proof: We endeavour to conceive that which we imagine to conduce to pleasure (3.12.).

Proposition 29: We shall also endeavour to do whatsoever we conceive men[6] to regard with pleasure, and contrariwise we shall shrink from doing that which we conceive men to shrink from.

[6] By "men" in this and the following propositions, I mean men whom we regard without any particular emotion.

Proof: From the fact of imagining, that men love or hate anything, we shall love or hate the same thing (3.27.).

Note: This endeavour to do a thing or leave it undone, solely in order to please men, we call ambition, especially when we so eagerly endeavour to please the vulgar, that we do or omit certain things to our own or another's hurt.

Proposition 30: If anyone has done something which he conceives as affecting other men pleasurably, he will be affected by pleasure, accompanied by the idea of himself as cause. Proof: He who conceives, that he affects others with pleasure or pain, will, by that very fact, himself be affected with pleasure or pain (3.27). Note: Love (3.13) is pleasure accompanied by the idea of an external cause.

[7] So Van Vloten and Bruder. The Dutch version and Camerer read, "an internal cause." "Honor" = Gloria.

[8] See previous endnote.

Proposition 31. If we conceive that anyone loves, desires, or hates anything which we ourselves love, desire, or hate, we shall thereupon regard the thing in question with more steadfast love, etc. Proof: From the mere fact of conceiving that anyone loves anything we shall ourselves love that thing (3.27). Corollary: From the foregoing, and also from 3.28 it follows that everyone endeavours, as far as possible, to cause others to love what he himself loves, and to hate what he himself hates: as the poet says: "As lovers let us share every hope and every fear: ironhearted were he who should love what the other leaves."[9]

[9] Ovid, "Amores," 2.19. 4,5. Spinoza transposes the verses.

"Speremus pariter, pariter metuamus amantes; Ferreus est, si quis, quod sinit alter, amat." Note: This endeavour to bring it about, that our own likes and dislikes should meet with universal approval, is really ambition (see 3.29 note). Proposition 32: If a person takes a delight in something that we also want, but which only one of us can have, we shall try to make that person not have it.

Proof: We see a person taking delight in a thing (3.27 and Coroll.) which we ourselves love.

Note: Human nature makes us:

The same property of human nature that makes men merciful, also makes men envious and ambitious.

Proposition 33: When we love a thing similar to ourselves we endeavour, as far as we can, to bring about that it should love us in return.

Proof: That which we love we endeavour, as far as we can, to conceive in preference to anything else (3.12).

Proposition 34. The greater the emotion with which we conceive a loved object to be affected towards us, the greater will be our complacency. Proposition 35. If anyone conceives, that an object of his love joins itself to another with closer bonds of friendship than he himself has attained to, he will be affected with hatred towards the loved object and with envy towards his rival.

Proof: In proportion as a man thinks, that a loved object is well affected towards him, will be the strength of his self-approval (by the last Prop.), that is (3.30 note), of his pleasure.

Note: This hatred towards an object of love joined with envy is called Jealousy, which accordingly is nothing else but a wavering of the disposition arising from combined love and hatred, accompanied by the idea of some rival who is envied.

Proposition 36: He who remembers a thing, in which he has once taken delight, desires to possess it under the same circumstances as when he first took delight therein.

Proof: Everything, which a man has seen in conjunction with the object of his love, will be to him accidentally a cause of pleasure (3.15).

Corollary: A lover will, therefore, feel pain if one of the aforesaid attendant circumstances be missing.

Proof: For, in so far as he finds some circumstance to be missing, he conceives something which excludes its existence.

Note: This pain, in so far as it has reference to the absence of the object of love, is called Regret.

Proposition 37. Desire arising through pain or pleasure, hatred or love, is greater in proportion as the emotion is greater.

Proof: Pain reduces a man's power of activity (3.11 note).

Proposition 38: If a man has begun to hate an object that he used to love so much that it totally destroys that love, he will hate it as much as he had loved it in the past.

Proof: If a man begins to hate that which he had loved, more of his appetites are put under restraint than if he had never loved it.

Next: Propositions 38-59