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The Strength of the Emotions and the Power of the Intellect

The Strength of the Emotions and the Power of the Intellect

Chapter:
(p.195) Chapter 7 The Strength of the Emotions and the Power of the Intellect
Source:
Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination
Author(s):
Eugene Garver
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226575735.003.0008

Proposition 59 of Part 4 declares, “To every action to which we are determined from an affect which is a passion, we can be determined by reason, without that affect.” Even if that is true, which is far from obvious, it doesn’t seem enough to overcome what the title to Part 4 calls “human bondage, or the strength of the emotions,” and the declaration that “it is impossible that a man should not be a part of Nature, and that he should be able to undergo no changes except those which can be understood through his own nature alone, and of which he is the adequate cause” (4p4). In the battle between passion and reason, akrasia never suffers a final defeat. This chapter traces the development of Part 4 from human bondage to at least the possibility that an individual’s reason can become more powerful than his or her passions. The crucial idea is that when an external cause makes us more powerful than we could be through internal causes alone, it isn’t because those external causes are strong, but because our own resources are weak. Strong enough, they are more powerful then the things that surround us.

Keywords:   action, effect, passion, bondage, akrasia, reason, cause

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