Early Modern Philosophy

Benedict De Spinoza

How did Spinoza consider good and evil?

Spinoza sought to consider human actions and desires objectively, almost like mathematical questions. Virtuous actions result from understanding and are either self-preserving or altruistic, but the two are united: “Nothing is more useful to man than man.” He defined good as “what we certainly know to be useful to us,” and evil as “what we certainly know prevents us from being masters of some good.” Because God is perfect, He has no needs from which it follows that nothing is good or evil to Him. God’s blessing is not a reward for virtuous behavior, but an inevitable result of living according to reason or having “adequate knowledge.” Spinoza also held that citizens of a state cannot give up their right to attain their own well being.


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