God, Man, And His Well-Being


God, Man, And His Well-Being

The Second Part

On Man and What Pertains to Him

Preface To The Second Part

[1] Because we have spoken in the First Part of God, and of the universal and infinite things, in this Second Part we shall now proceed to treat of particular and limited things – not all of them, since they are innumerable, but only of those that concern man. And first we shall consider what man is, insofar as he consists of certain modes (contained in those two attributes which we have noted in God).

[2] I say of certain modes because I do not at all think that man, insofar as he consists of a mind, soul, or body, is a substance. For we have shown previously, at the beginning of this book;

1. That no substance can begin;

2. That one substance cannot produce another;

and finally,

3. That there cannot be two equal substances.

[3] Since man, then, has not existed from eternity, is limited, and equal to many men, he cannot be a substance, so that whatever he has of thinking are only modes of the attribute of thought which we ascribe to God. And again, whatever he has of form, motion, etc., are similarly modes of that other attribute which is ascribed to God.

[4] And though some try to prove that man is a substance from the fact that the nature of man can neither exist nor be understood without those attributes which we ourselves concede to be substance, nevertheless, this has no other foundation than false suppositions.

For because the nature of matter or body has existed before the form of this human body existed, that nature cannot be peculiar to the human body, because it is clear that at that time when man did not exist, it could not have belonged to man’s nature.

[5] And we deny what they make a fundamental principle: that that belongs to the nature of a thing without which the thing can neither exist nor be understood. For we have already proven that without God no thing can either exist or be understood. I.e., God must first exist and be understood before these particular things exist and are understood. Also, we have shown that genera do not belong to the nature of definition but that such things, which cannot exist without others, also cannot be understood without them. Since this is so, what rule do we lay down, by which one will know what belongs to the nature of a thing?

The rule is this: That belongs to the nature of a thing without which the thing can neither exist nor be understood: but this is not sufficient; it must be in such a way that the proposition is always convertible, viz. that what is said also can neither be nor be understood without the thing.

We shall begin, then, to treat of these modes of which man consists at the start of the first chapter, which follows.


  1. Our soul is either a substance or a mode; not a substance, for we have already proven that there can be no limited substance in Nature. Therefore, a mode.

2.   Being a mode, then, it must be a mode either of substantial extension or substantial thought; not of extension because etc.; therefore, of thought.

3. Because substantial thought cannot be limited, it is infinitely perfect in its kind, and an attribute of God.

4. A perfect thought must have a knowledge, idea, mode of thinking, of each and every thing that exists, both of substances and of modes, without exception.

5. We say “that exists” because we are not speaking here of a knowledge, Idea, etc., which knows the whole of Nature, the connection of all beings according to their essences, without knowing their particular existence, but only of the knowledge, Idea, etc., of particular things which continually come into existence.

6. This knowledge, Idea, etc., of each particular thing which comes to exist, is, we say, the soul of this particular thing.

7. Each and every particular thing that comes to exist becomes such through motion and rest. The same is true of all modes in the substantial extension we call body.

8. The differences between [one body and another] arise only from the different proportions of motion and rest, by which this one is so, and not so, is this and not that.

9. From this proportion of motion and rest, then, there comes to exist also this body of ours, of which (no less than of all other things) there must exist a knowledge, Idea, etc., in the thinking thing. This Idea, knowledge, etc. then, is also our soul.

10. But our body had a different proportion of motion and rest when we were unborn children, and later when we are dead, it will have still another. Nevertheless, there was before our birth, and will be after our death, an Idea, knowledge, etc., of our body in the thinking thing, as there is now. But it was not, and will not be at all the same, because now it has a different proportion of motion and rest.

11. To produce in substantial thought an Idea, knowledge, mode of thinking, such as [this soul of] ours now is, not just any body whatever is required (for then it would have to be known differently than it is), but one which has this proportion of motion and rest and no other. For as the body is, so  is the soul, Idea, knowledge, etc.

12. So if such a body has and preserves its proportion – say of 1 to 3 – the soul and the body will be like ours now are; they will, of course, be constantly subject to change, but not to such a great change that it goes beyond the limits of from 1 to 3; and as much as it changes, so also the soul changes each time.

13. And this change, which arises in us from the fact that other bodies act on ours, cannot occur without the soul’s becoming aware of it, since it, too, changes constantly. And this change [i.e., in the soul] is really what we call sensation.

14. But if other bodies act on ours with such force that the proportion of motion [to rest] cannot remain 1 to 3, that is death, and a destruction of the soul, insofar as it is only an Idea, knowledge, etc. of a body having this proportion of motion and rest.

15. However, because it is a mode in the thinking substance, it has been able to know and love this [substance] also, as well as that of extension; and uniting itself with these substances (which always remain the same), it has been able to make itself eternal.

   *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *


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About Michael Johnson

michaeljohnson.studio thewindandthestones.com viewfromaburrow.com

One comment

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