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What Freedom Means

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Chapter Summary

Spinoza's answer to the question whether human beings are free or not seems to be a very short one. Proposition 2 of Part 4 of the Ethics reads: "We are acted on, insofar as we are a part of Nature, which cannot be conceived through itself, without the others". In this sense of freedom, we humans are definitely not free since it is not the case that we exist only from the necessity of our nature alone, and are determined to act by ourselves alone. Two points should be stressed here: affects not only rest upon, but simply are bodily processes, namely processes which augment the body's force of existence; affects are, by the same token, the ideas of these bodily processes. This latter point is confirmed by the general definition of emotions by which Spinoza establishes the starting point for his discussion of human bondage and of human freedom.

Keywords: affects; bondage; emotions; Ethics; Freedom; human freedom; Spinoza



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