Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology
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Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
 
From Ethics

Baruch Spinoza 1632–1677
 
A MAN’S 1 inability to moderate and control his passions I call servitude … The common vulgar opinion seems to be quite otherwise. For most people seem to believe that they are free just in so far as they may obey their lusts, and that they renounce their rights in so far as they are constrained to live according to the precepts of divine law. Wherefore they believe that Piety and Religion [that is to live according to Reason and the knowledge of God] and whatever else regards fortitude of mind, are burdens which they hope to get rid of at death, when they will receive the reward of their servitude, that is of their piety and religion. And it is not only by this hope, but also and principally by the fear of terrible punishments after death, that they are induced to live by the precepts of divine law as far as their meagre and impotent spirit will carry them. And had they not this hope and fear, but believed rather that the mind perished with the body, and would not survive it when they die miserably worn out by the burden of their piety, they would surely return to their inborn disposition, and wish to govern all things by their lusts, submitting everything to the government of fortune rather than to themselves. All this appears to me no less absurd than that a man, because he did not believe that he could keep his body alive for ever by wholesome diet, should stuff himself with poisons and deadly food: or, deeming his mind not to be eternal and immortal, should therefore wish to be mad, and live without reason.  1
 
Note 1. Spinoza. The first sentence is the opening of 4th part of the Ethics De Servitute humana: the rest from Eth. v. 41. [Trans. R. Bridges.] [back]
 
 
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