European Journal of Philosophy 28 (1):33-47 (2020)

Sanem Soyarslan
North Carolina State University
In the Ethics Spinoza defines certain traditional virtues such as humility and repentance as species of sadness and denies that they are virtues. He nonetheless holds that they can turn out to be useful as a means towards virtue—in fact, the greatest virtue of blessedness—in the life of someone who is not guided by reason. In this paper, I examine Spinoza’s relatively overlooked claim regarding the usefulness of sad passions as a means towards blessedness. In taking up Spinoza’s treatment of humility as my case study, I show that there is a tension between this claim and his other explicit commitments in the Ethics. More specifically, after considering his views regarding the consequences of humility—including, most notably, its susceptibility to envy—and conditions of achieving blessedness, I show that humility cannot effectively be said to bring about cooperation and push “weak-minded” people in the right direction so that, in the end, they may be free and enjoy blessedness. I conclude by suggesting that if we must rely on passions as a means towards virtue in the Spinozistic universe, we must rely not on debilitating sad passions such as humility, but on joy-based social passions such as love.
Keywords humility  Spinoza  passions
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DOI 10.1111/ejop.12422
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References found in this work BETA

A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Critica 16 (48):110-112.
From Ordinary Life to Blessedness, The Power of Intuitive Knowledge in Spinoza's Ethics.Sanem Soyarslan - 2014 - In Matthew Kisner & Andrew Youpa (eds.), Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 236-257.

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Spinoza’s Critique of Humility in the Ethics.Sanem Soyarslan - 2018 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 56 (3):342-364.

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