Propositions 29-40: Harmony

Proposition 29. No individual thing, which is entirely different from our own nature, can help or check our power of activity, and absolutely nothing can do us good or harm, unless it has something in common with our nature. Proof: The power of every individual thing, and consequently the power of man, whereby he exists and operates, can only be determined by an individual thing (1.28), whose nature (2.6.) must be understood through the same nature as that, through which human nature is conceived.   Proposition 30. A thing cannot be bad for us through the quality which it has in common with our nature, but it is bad for us in so far as it is contrary to our nature. Proof: We call a thing bad when it is the cause of pain (4.8.), that is (by the Def., which see in 3.11 note), when it reduces or checks our power of action.   Proposition 31. In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature, it is necessarily good. Proof: In so far as a thing is in harmony with our nature, it cannot be bad for it.   Corollary: It follows, that, in proportion as a thing is in harmony with our nature, so is it more useful or better for us, and vice versâ, in proportion as a thing is more useful for us, so is it more in harmony with our nature.   Proposition 32. In so far as men are a prey to passion, they cannot, in that respect, be said to be naturally in harmony. Proof: Things, which are said to be in harmony naturally, are understood to agree in power (3.7.), not in want of power or negation, and consequently not in passion (3.3. note); wherefore men, in so far as they are a prey to their passions, cannot be said to be naturally in harmony. Q.E.D. Note: This is also self-evident.   Proposition 33. Men can differ in nature, in so far as they are assailed by those emotions, which are passions, or passive states; and to this extent one and the same man is variable and inconstant. Proof: The nature or essence of the emotions cannot be explained solely through our essence or nature (3. Def. 1., 2.), but it must be defined by the power, that is (3.7.), by the nature of external causes in comparison with our own;   Proposition 34. In so far as men are assailed by emotions which are passions, they can be contrary one to another. Proof: A man, for instance Peter, can be the cause of Paul's feeling pain, because he (Peter) possesses something similar to that which Paul hates (3.16), or because Peter has sole possession of a thing which Paul also loves (3.32. and note), or for other causes (of which the chief are enumerated in 3.55. note). Note: I said that Paul may hate Peter, because he conceives that Peter possesses something which he (Paul) also loves;   Proposition 35. In so far only as men live in obedience to reason, do they always necessarily agree in nature. Proof: In so far as men are assailed by emotions that are passions, they can be different in nature (4.33.), and at variance one with another.   Corollary 1: There is no individual thing in nature, which is more useful to man, than a man who lives in obedience to reason.   Corollary 2: As every man seeks most that which is useful to him, so are men most useful one to another. Note: What we have just shown is attested by experience so conspicuously, that it is in the mouth of nearly everyone: "Man is to man a God."   Proposition 36. The highest good of those who follow virtue is common to all, and therefore all can equally rejoice therein. Proof: To act virtuously is to act in obedience with reason (4.24.), and whatsoever we endeavour to do in obedience to reason is to understand (4.26.). Therefore (4.28.) the highest good for those who follow after virtue is to know God; that is (2.47. and note) a good which is common to all and can be possessed by all men equally, in so far as they are of the same nature. Q.E.D. Note: Someone may ask how it would be, if the highest good of those who follow after virtue were not common to all?   Proposition 37. The good which every man, who follows after virtue, desires for himself he will also desire for other men, and so much the more, in proportion as he has a greater knowledge of God. Proof: Men, in so far as they live in obedience to reason, are most useful to their fellow men (4.35; Coroll. 1). Another Proof: The good, which a man desires for himself and loves, he will love more constantly, if he sees that others love it also (3.31). Note 1: He who, guided by emotion only, endeavours to cause others to love what he loves himself, and to make the rest of the world live according to his own fancy, acts solely by impulse, and is, therefore, hateful, especially, to those who take delight in something different, and accordingly study and, by similar impulse, endeavour, to make men live in accordance with what pleases themselves.

[13] Honestas

  Note 2: In the Appendix to Part 1, I undertook to explain praise and blame, merit and sin, justice and injustice.             Proposition 38. Whatsoever disposes the human body, so as to render it capable of being affected in an increased number of ways, or of affecting external bodies in an increased number of ways, is useful to man; and is so, in proportion as the body is thereby rendered more capable of being affected or affecting other bodies in an increased number of ways; Proof: Whatsoever thus increases the capabilities of the body increases also the mind's capability of perception (2.14).   Proposition 39. Whatsoever brings about the preservation of the proportion of motion and rest, which the parts of the human body mutually possess, is good; contrariwise, whatsoever causes a change in such proportion is bad. Proof: The human body needs many other bodies for its preservation (2 Post. 4). Note: The extent to which such causes can injure or be of service to the mind will be explained in Part 5.   Proposition 40. Whatsoever conduces to man's social life, or causes men to live together in harmony, is useful, whereas whatsoever brings discord into a State is bad. Proof: For whatsoever causes men to live together in harmony also causes them to live according to reason (4.35), and is therefore (4.26, 4.27) good, and (for the same reason) whatsoever brings about discord is bad. Q.E.D.