The Preconditions of the MoraL Life
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We have seen that the Ethics of Spinoza falls, in general, under his ‘second kind of knowledge,’ Ratio, so that the ‘man’ to which reference is made in Parts II. to V. is the commune ‘man’ rather than this or that man, though, of course, since the commune is that which is the ‘common property’ of all men, the principles educed are applicable to this or that man. But the commune ‘man’ is not an existing individual,1 universal or singular, but an ens rationis, whereas the moral life is lived by individual men. Thus we found it necessary in dealing with the exemplar by approximation to which men are morally good, and by recession from which morally bad, to identify this with the individual eternal nature of this or that man — his own true individual essence as creatum — for so only, on Spinoza’s own principles, can moral goodness or badness be validly imputed. For the emanatum must be compared, not with some nature beyond his own individual scope, to the character of which he thus cannot attain, but with his own eternal and perfect essence.2
KeywordsSocial Property Cultural Development Absolute Power Moral Life Natural Power
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