on good and evil

in the state of nature, wrong doing is impossible; or if anyone does wrong, it is to himself, not to another. For no one by law of nature is bound to please another, unless he chooses, nor to hold anything to be good or evil, but what he himself, according to his own temperament, pronounces to be so; and to speak generally, nothing is forbidden by the law of nature, except what is beyond everyone’s power.

[..]men are chiefly guided by appetite, without reason; yet for all this they do not disturb the course of nature, but follow it of necessity. And therefore a man ignorant and weak of mind, is no more bound by natural law to order his life wisely, than a sick man is bound to be sound of body.

Spinoza in his posthumous work, the political treatise

Additional reading:


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

18 thoughts on “on good and evil

  1. You are going big on Spinoza. Sounds like Rousseau except different.


  2. More interesting thoughts. Good stuff, my friend.


  3. Hariod Brawn says:

    Rich. Brilliant. 🙂


  4. Swarn Gill says:

    I’m not so certain that “no one by law of nature is bound to please another”. I mean as an evolved primate species who is social, and whose behavior is centered around reciprocal altruism to build bonds so that we choose to cooperate instead of going it alone to improve our chances of survival, nature does kind of tie groups of us together. But overall I agree with the general meaning of the passage. Good stuff. Interesting reading. 🙂


    • makagutu says:

      In your response you say we choose…. and that is the point he is making that without choosing to live in society, we have no obligation to like our neighbours. Question is do we have a choice? That to me is the bigger question.
      It sure was interesting reading and even his conclusion that the only worship he knows is the love of justice and charity, that this is the only message of scripture is, I think, undoubtedly acceptable to many.

      Liked by 1 person

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