melting & burning


Spinoza on being
January 13, 2014, 9:45 am
Filed under: quote | Tags: , ,

From Miguel de Unamuno’s Tragic Sense of Life (text here)

To be a man is to be something concrete, unitary, and substantive; it is to be a thing—res. Now we know what another man, the man Benedict Spinoza, that Portuguese Jew who was born and lived in Holland in the middle of the seventeenth century, wrote about the nature of things. The sixth proposition of Part III. of his Ethic states: unaquoeque res, quatenus in se est, in suo esse perseverare conatur—that is, Everything, in so far as it is in itself, endeavours to persist in its own being. Everything in so far as it is in itself—that is to say, in so far as it is substance, for according to him substance is id quod in se est et per se concipitur—that which is in itself and is conceived by itself. And in the following proposition, the seventh, of the same part, he adds: conatus, quo unaquoeque res in suo esse perseverare conatur, nihil est proeter ipsius rei actualem essentiam—that is, the endeavour wherewith everything endeavours to persist in its own being is nothing but the actual essence of the thing itself. This means that your essence, reader, mine, that of the man Spinoza, that of the man Butler, of the man Kant, and of every man who is a man, is nothing but the endeavour, the effort, which he makes to continue to be a man, not to die. And the other proposition which follows these two, the eighth, says: conatus, quo unaquoeque res in suo esse perseverare conatur, nullum tempus finitum, sed indefinitum involvit—that is, The endeavour whereby each individual thing endeavours to persist involves no finite time but indefinite time. That is to say that you, I, and Spinoza wish never to die and that this longing of ours never to die is our actual essence.

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