LVI – “One who knows does not speak”

One who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know.

Block the openings;

Shut the doors.

Blunt the sharpness;

Untangle the knots;

Soften the glare;

Let your wheels move only along old ruts.

This is known as mysterious sameness.

Hence you cannot get close to it, nor can you keep it at arm’s length; you cannot bestow benefit upon it, nor can you do it harm; you cannot ennoble it, nor can you debase it.

Therefore it is valued by the empire.


“It” is an odd word.

What is it we are talking about, but it? One it upon the other. What is it? What is it? That stirs within me? That makes a pensive shadow or loosens every muscle in my face? What is it that makes me smile or frown? The substance of the unconscious-memory, a thought? What is it; what’s its movement?



O my soul

To be dispersed across the hills

Softly as the undulating mist

Which stretches out and dissipates

Through heather banks and bracken

Brushes over shallow valleys’ streams

And drifts up to a highland expanse

To be gathered into sweeping cloud,

A whirl, plunging over the ridge.





III. Of the affects. Definitions (D1-3)

D1: I call that cause adequate whose effect can be clearly and distinctly perceived through it. But I call it partial or inadequate, if its effect cannot be understood through it alone.

God then is the only adequate cause and there can be no other.

D2: I say that we act when something happens, in us or outside of us, of which we are the adequate cause, that is (by D1), when something in us or outside us follows from our nature, which can clearly and distinctly understood through it alone. On the other hand, I say that we are acted on when something happens in us, or something follows from our nature, of which we are only a partial cause.

It is incredible to imagine that I am, so to say, an “unmoved mover”. And I need not be, to be free; I need only act according to my nature of which “I” am only a partial cause.

D3: By affect I understand affections of the body by which the body’s power of acting is increased or diminished, aided or restrained, and at the same time, the ideas of these affections.

Therefore, if we can be the adequate cause of any of these affections, I understand by the affect an action; otherwise, a passion.

“We” do not cause our body and its… passions. But these passions may be affects of the adequate cause. They can diminish or aid us, but according to what?



LV – “One who possesses virtue in abundance”

One who possesses virtue in abundance is comparable to a new born babe:

Poisonous insects will not sting it;

Ferocious animals will not pounce on it;

Predatory birds will not swoop down on it.

Its bones are weak and its sinews supple yet its hold if firm.

It does not now the union of male and female yet its male member will stir:

This is because its virility is at its height.

It howls all day yet does not become hoarse;

This is because its harmony is at its height.

To know harmony is called the constant;

To know the constant is called discernment.

To try to add to one’s vitality is called ill-omened;

For the mind to egg on the breath is called violent.

A creature in its prime doing harm to the old

Is known as going against the way.

That which goes against the way will come to an early end.


In all this, to know the constant is called discernment. This constant is knowing harmony; knowing harmony is the constant. We know harmony, that is constant. It is a question of, in action, discerning harmony. That is the way.

The example of violence is doing harm to the old

But, for the mind to egg on the breath is called violent – ?  Violent thought is not though which calms the breathing, but thought which quickens the breathing. The violent intake of air should add to one’s vitality. The bad omen: gearing up for the fight.

The Ethics, 2. Of the mind, Definitions (D5, 6 and 7)

D5: Duration is an indefinite continuation of existing.

Exp.: I say indefinite because it cannot be determined at all through the very nature of the existing thing, nor even by the efficient cause, which necessarily posits the existence of a thing, and does not take it away.

An efficient cause does not end the existence of a thing: duration is indefinite. There’s no knowing, until it endures no more there is the duration of a thing. It is intrinsic to no thing to be “timed out”, so to say.

D6: By reality and perfection I understand the same thing.

There can be no more perfect sentence – or less.

D7: By singular things I understand things that are finite and have a determinate existence. And if a number of individuals so concur in one action that together they are all the cause of one effect, I consider them all, to that extent, as one singular thing.

The revolutionary class lässt grüssen! (sentence 2). Otherwise, I ask myself what will happen with these singular things in the developing philosophy.




The Ethics, 2. Of the mind. Definitions (D3 & 4)

D3: By idea I understand a concept of the mind which the mind forms because it is a thinking thing.

Exp.: I say concept rather than perception, because the word perception seems to indicate that the mind is acted upon by the object. But concept seems to express an action of the mind.

After Kant, I can scarcely understand this in any other than that concepts are a priori. In what way, though, do concepts exist, prior to perceptions? It would seem that it cannot be as words. As impulses to classification/judgment/schemata? Here Spinoza is geometrical: concepts shape perception (in numbers, patterns and words).

D4: By adequate idea I understand an idea which, insofar as it is considered in itself, without relation to an object, has all the properties, or intrinsic denominations of a true idea.

Exp.: I say intrinsic to exclude what is intrinsic, namely the agreement of an idea with its object.

I am not sure at this stage what the “properties of a true idea” (intrinsically) might be. That it should not be self-contradictory (four-sided circle; eternal time)?



The Ethics, 2. Of the mind, Definitions (D1 & 2)

D1: By body I understand a mode that in a certain and determinate way expresses God’s essence insofar as he is considered an extended thing.

A body is an expression of God’s essence. How do we think this? What is the relation of the expressed to the “expressor”? It must be internal or immanent; the expressed is not subordinate or external to God, but belongs to God’s essence.

D2: I say that to the essence of any thing belongs that which, being given, the thing is [NS: also] necessarily posited and which, being taken away, the thing is necessarily [NS: also] taken away; or that without which the thing can neither be nor be conceived, and which can neither be nor be conceived without the thing.

If you are defining something, you are verbalising its essence, so to say. Anything which you then say about its essence – include in its definition – is necessary to that thing. The thing (A) cannot be defined without reference to thing (B); so B belongs “necessarily” to the essence of A. Shoes (A) have soles (B).