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The Life Of Free Persons Guided By Reason

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Chapter Summary

Leading a life guided by reason and being a free person are possibilities that Spinoza treats in the second half of the fourth part of his Ethics under the heading "On Human Bondage". A life of human bondage is primarily determined by emotions of distress. Such a life is not necessary, even though distress is something that cannot be avoided. A human life needn't be characterized throughout by the lack of freedom; one can also lead a life of reason. Emotions still play a role in a reasonable life, but, insofar as they can be divided into active and passive emotions, the ones that can be characterized as actions predominate. People who are determined by emotions of distress are failing to act exclusively in the interest of their self-preservation; people whose lives are guided by reason succeed for the most part in promoting their own being.

Keywords: distressful consequences; Ethics; free person; human bondage; human life; individual reason



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