Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 1


by Spinoza
4 minutes  • 824 words

How a community governed as a Monarchy or Aristocracy should be organised as to not degenerate into a Tyranny.

1 Philosophers look at the vices and deride, berate, and execrate them.

They believe:

  • that they are thus performing a sacred duty.
  • that they are wisest when they have learnt how to:
    • shower extravagant praise on a human nature that does not exist
    • revile the actual human nature.

They conceive men not as they are, but as they would like them to be.

As a result, they have written about satire and not ethics.

They have never worked out a practical political theory.


  • theory is at variance with practice in all practical sciences, especially in political theory.
  • theoreticians or philosophers are the least fit for governing a state

2 Statesmen, on the other hand, are believed to aim at men’s undoing rather than their welfare.

They have a reputation for cunning rather than wisdom.

There will be vices as long as there are men.

Politicians seek to anticipate human wickedness. They employ arts which:

  • they have learnt from long experience and which men
  • men habitually practise when guided by fear rather than by reason

Politicians appear to be the enemies of religion, especially to theologians.

  • Theologians believe that sovereign powers should deal with public affairs according to the same moral principles as are binding on the private individual.

Yet statesmen, guided by experience, have written about political matters much more effectively than philosophers.

3 Experience has revealed every conceivable form of commonwealth’ where men may live in harmony, and also the means whereby a people may be governed or restrained within fixed bounds.

So I do not believe that our researches in this field can lead us to anything not at variance with experience and practice that has not already been discovered and tried.

Men cannot live without some common code of law. Such codes have been instituted and public affairs conducted by men of considerable intelligence, both astute and cunning.

So it is hardly credible that we can conceive anything of possible benefit to the community that opportunity or chance has not already suggested and that men engaged in public affairs and concerned for their own security have not already discovered.

4 Therefore, I do not propose anything totally new.

Instead I will demonstrate the things as are in closest agreement with practice, deducing them from human nature as it really is.

I have taken great care not to deride or execrate human actions, but to understand them.

So I have regarded human emotions such as love, hatred, anger, envy, etc. not as vices, but as its properties in the same way as heat, cold, storm, thunder, etc. pertain to the nature of the atmosphere.

These things, though troublesome, are inevitable. They have definite causes.

5 Men are:

  • necessarily subject to passions
  • so constituted that they pity the unfortunate, envy the fortunate, and are more inclined to vengeance than to compassion.

Furthermore, each man wants others to live according to his way of thinking, approving what he approves and rejecting what he rejects.

Consequently, since all men want preeminence, they fall to quarrelling.

He who emerges victorious is more elated at having hindered someone else than at having gained an advantage for himself, even if religion teaches that each should love his neighbour as himself.

Such a Golden Rule is effective:

  • when a person is near death – when sickness has subdued the passions and a man lies helpless
  • in places of worship where men have no dealings with one another

But it has no weight in law-court or palace, where it would be needed most of all.

Reason can do much to control and moderate the passions.

But at the same time, the path taught by reason is very difficult. Those who believe that ordinary people can be persuaded to live solely according to reason are dreaming.

6 So if the safety of a state6 is dependent on some man’s good faith, and its affairs cannot be properly administered unless those responsible for them are willing to act in good faith, that state will lack all stability.

If it is to endure, its government must be so organised that its ministers cannot be induced to betray their trust or to act basely, whether they are guided by reason or by passion.

Nor does it matter for the security of the state what motives induce men to administer its affairs properly, provided that its affairs are in fact properly administered.

Freedom of spirit or strength of mind is the virtue of a private citizen: the virtue of a state is its security.

7 All men, whether barbarian or civilised, enter into relationships with one another and set up some kind of civil order.

One should not look for the causes and natural foundations of the state in the teachings of reason, but deduce them from the nature and condition of men in general.

Any Comments? Post them below!