Understanding human emotions and how they link to each other. Based on Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza and the Buddha. Hierarchy of human emotions. Definition of most human emotions. Categorical Imperative.
JRliii the nature of the human mind and the human emotions liv
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The Road to Human Freedom
Spinoza, Buddha, et al.
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Like Freud, too, and Spinoza as well,
the Buddha believes that to
understand is to transcend.
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The fire of life must be put out. For
everything in this world is on fire with
the fire of desire, the fire of hate, and
the fire of illusion.
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The replacement of hate with love, but
better the replacement of both by
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Set aside, if you will, all traditional concepts of good and
evil, right and wrong, pagan and Judeo-Christian and
Moslem and Hindu or any religion that may be part of
your mental framework; don’t deny them or throw them
away, just set them aside for a short while.
Take a fresh approach, if you will, to the fundamental
questions such as: What is God? What is Man? What is
Truth? What is Love?
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Nothing comes to pass in nature which can be
understood as a flaw; for nature is always the same, and
everywhere one in the same in her results and effects
and power of action. True?
Nature’s laws and ordinances, in which all things come
to pass and change from one form to another, are
everywhere and always the same. True?
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So one might assume that there should be one and the
same method of understanding the nature of all things
whatsoever, namely, through nature’s universal laws and
Thus the passions of hatred, anger, envy, and so on,
considered in themselves, follow from this same
consistent pattern of results and effects and power of
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And we, therefore, for a little while anyway, will consider
human actions and desires in exactly the same manner
as though we were concerned with lines, planes and
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Mind and Body
No one knows how or by what means the mind moves
No one knows how the mind is “connected” to the body.
Body cannot determine mind to think, nor can mind
determine body to motion or rest.
One can say, “I will raise my hand,” and then raise a
hand. This is easy and simple. But one cannot “will” the
hand to rise.
Thus when people say that their minds “control” their
bodies, they are using words to describe a phenomenon
they do not really understand.
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Mind and Body
Since no one understands the connection, yet everyone
knows there is a total connection, it perhaps is safe to
assume, at least for most intents and purposes, that
body and mind are one and the same thing – a thing that
can be thought of from (1) the angle of thought or mind
or (2) the angle of action or bodily function.
This is important when we consider that a mental
decision and a bodily appetite are simultaneous, or one
and the same thing, which we call (1) decision when it is
thought and (2) a conditioned state when it is the body in
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Everyone shapes their actions according to their
Desire may be stimulated by almost anything.
Experience abundantly shows that people can govern
anything more easily than their tongues, and restrain
anything more easily than their appetites.
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Emotions do not have only one satisfying object, but are
able to derive satisfaction from almost any object
The most spiritual forms of human love have the same
emotional foundations as the most bestial forms of
Anything can, accidentally, be the cause of pleasure,
pain, or desire.
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Hope-Fear – Confidence-Despair
Hope is an inconstant pleasure in which we do not know
the result (in doubt).
Fear is an inconstant pain in which we do not know the
result (in doubt).
If the result becomes clear, hope becomes Confidence
(a more constant pleasure), and fear becomes Despair
(a more constant pain).
Joy is pleasure in the positive result of doubt.
Disappointment is pain in the negative result of doubt.
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Pity-Approval – Envy-Pride
Pity is pain arising from another’s hurt (if the other
Approval is pleasure toward a person who confers a
benefit on another (if the other resembles ourselves).
Envy is hatred, hence pain (but tinged with the pleasure
Pride is a pleasure of thinking too highly of one’s self (or
too poorly of a hated object).
Compassion is an imitation of a negative emotion in
Emulation is an imitation of the desire in others.
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Praise-Blame – Honor-Shame
Benevolence is a will or appetite for doing good that
arises from compassion.
Ambition is a will or appetite for doing good that arises
from emulation and usually ignores benevolence.
Kindliness is ambition that does not ignore
Praise is a pleasure one shows at the action of others.
Blame is a pain one shows at the action of others.
Honor is a pleasure one feels at the perception of praise
Shame is a pain one feels at the perception of blame
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Love is pleasure accompanied by the
idea of an external cause, and hatred
is pain accompanied by the idea of an
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The idea that our own likes and
dislikes should meet with universal
approval is really ambition. If
everyone thinks this way, then all
stand in each others way, and all
become mutually hateful.
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Jealousy is hatred combined with envy toward an object
Timidity causes a person to turn from what they wish
Bashfulness is timidity because of shame.
Consternation is the timidity of not knowing which is the
lesser evil to choose, when a choice must be made.
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Anger is the endeavor to injure someone we hate.
Cruelty is the endeavor to injure someone we hate,
especially if they have done nothing to deserve it.
Revenge is endeavor to repay in kind an injury done to
Gratitude is reciprocal love, or Thankfulness.
Hatred is increased by being reciprocated, and can on
the other hand be destroyed by love.
The Joy of Hatred or Revenge is always accompanied
by a certain pain.
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Wonder-Horror – Veneration-Devotion
Repentance is pain with one’s self as cause.
Complacency is pleasure with one’s self as cause.
Wonder is incomparable awe.
Horror is incomparable evil.
Veneration is awe at people who we regard as far
surpassing ourselves in achieving the level of our
Devotion is love joined with veneration and awe.
Contempt is the opposite of wonder or awe.
Derision springs from contempt of what we hate or fear.
Scorn is contempt of what we deem stupid or ridiculous.
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Good and Evil
Good is every kind of pleasure, especially those which
satisfy our longings.
Evil is every kind of pain, especially those which
frustrate our longings.
We don’t desire something because we think it is good,
we think it is good because we desire it.
We don’t hate something because we think it is evil, we
think it is evil because we hate it.
So every person, according to their emotions, judges a
thing to be good or evil, useful or useless.
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Desire – Pleasure – Pain
Desire is the actual essence of the human
being – the primitive or primary Emotion Number One.
Desire is the raw material that is modified into the more
Pleasure is Emotion Number Two. It is why emotions
feel good, when they feel good.
Pleasure is a transition from a lesser to a greater
Pain is the Third Emotion. It is why emotions feel bad,
when they feel bad.
Pain is a transition from a greater to a less perfection.
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The “Only” Three
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The “First Tier”
Love is pleasure with an external cause.
Hatred is pain with an external cause.
Inclination is pleasure with an accidental cause of the
Aversion is pain with an accidental cause of the pain.
Devotion is love (is pleasure) toward one whom we
Derision is pleasure in seeing a quality we despise in an
object we hate.
Hope is an inconstant pleasure.
Fear is an inconstant pain.
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The “Second Tier”
Confidence is pleasure caused by removal or lack of
some doubt. Confidence is a positive transition from
Despair is pain caused by removal or lack of some
doubt. Despair is a negative transition from Fear.
Joy is pleasure caused by removal of all doubt.
Disappointment is pain caused by removal of all doubt.
Approval is love (pleasure) at one who has done good
Indignation is hatred (pain) at one who has done evil to
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The “Third Tier”
Pity is pain at the misfortune of others.
Envy is hatred (pain) at another’s good fortune, and
pleasure at another’s evil fortune.
Sympathy is love (pleasure) at another’s good fortune,
and pain at another’s evil fortune.
Repentance is pain at something we have done that we
Regret is pain at the remembrance of something we
have done, or something that did not turn out well.
Self-abasement is pain at thinking too poorly of one’s
self and the power of our actions.
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The “Third Tier”
Self-approval is pleasure at the perception of ourselves
and the power of our actions.
Pride is the pleasure of thinking too highly of one’s self
Humility is pain arising from one’s feeling of one’s own
weakness of body or mind.
Partiality is the pleasure of thinking too highly of
someone because of love.
Disparagement is cutting someone because we think
too poorly of them.
Contempt is thinking so poorly of someone or something
that they’re not worth thinking about.
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The “Third Tier”
Gratitude is thankfulness, is pleasure, is love.
Benevolence is the desire to benefit one whom we pity.
Emulation is the desire of something because others
whom we admire have the same desire.
Anger is the desire (through hatred) to injure someone.
Revenge is the desire (trough hatred) to injure someone
who has injured us. A negative transition of anger.
Cruelty is when someone injures one whom we love or
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The “Third Tier”
Honor is pleasure at some act of our own which we
believe is praised by others.
Shame is pain at some act of our own which we believe
is condemned by others.
Daring is the desire to do something dangerous which
others fear to attempt.
Cowardice is the failure to do something because of
fear that others dare to do.
Ambition is the immoderate desire and love of power.
Avarice is the immoderate desire and love of riches.
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The “Third Tier”
Timidity is the desire to avoid a greater evil, which we
dread, by undergoing a lesser evil.
Consternation is not knowing what to do when faced
Courtesy is a desire to act in a way that will please
others or not displease them.
Luxury is the immoderate desire and love of living
Intemperance is the immoderate desire and love of
Lust is desire and love in the matter of sexual
intercourse (whether immoderate or not).
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Analytic and Synthetic Concepts
An “analytic” concept is one in which the predicate is part
of the subject. Obvious.
A tall man is a man.
An equilateral triangle is a triangle.
A “synthetic” concept is one that is not “analytic.”
All concepts that we know only through experience of
ourselves or others are “synthetic.” Inferred.
Tuesday was a wet day.
Napoleon was a great general.
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Empirical and “a priori” Concepts
An “empirical” concept is something we cannot know
except by the help of the five senses, either our own or
that of someone else whose testimony we accept.
Experience of the senses. Observation.
The facts of history and geography are empirical.
So are the laws of science, whenever our knowledge of
their truth depends on observational data.
An “a priori” concept is seen to have a basis other than
experience. 2 + 2 = 4
Experience of certainty. Logic.
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Baruch de Spinoza. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (written 1665-
1670, published 1670) (translated by R. H. M. Elwes, 1889).
Baruch de Spinoza. Ethica in Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata
(written 1662-1675, published 1677).
W. H. White and A. Stirling. Ethics (1894).
Bertrand Russell. A History of Western Philosophy (1945).
Dagobert D. Runes. Spinoza: The Road to Inner Freedom (The
Ethics) (written by Spinoza 1662-1675, translated by Elwes, edited
by Runes, published 1957).
Joseph Ratner (Ed.). The Philosophy of Spinoza (1926)
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The complete understanding of
emotions and of their causation
deprives them of their overmastering
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The Categorical Imperative
“You must do so-and-so if you wish to achieve such-
and-such an end.”
“A certain kind of action is objectively necessary,
without regard to any end.”
The categorical imperative is synthetic and “a priori.”
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The Categorical Imperative
The Categorical Imperative
“Act only according to a maxim by which you can at
the same time will that it shall be a general law.”
Or, stated another way, “Act as if the maxim of your
action were to become through your will a general
Theft and murder, for example, are condemned by the
Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
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Today, after having been one of the liberating thinkers of
mankind who was read but not honored, he is honored
but not read.
Spinoza implies that even at the risk of keeping our
heads empty, it is necessary we keep our minds simple
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The necessary condition of human morality is
responsibility, not irresponsibility; reliability, not
unreliability; certainty, not uncertainty; a firm will, not a
Moralizing rules and theological ritual are anything but
the true road to ethics.
The very elements in people’s nature which cause them
to fall are the means by which they can make
Pit one emotion against another and the stronger will not
merely win, it will win-over the weaker.
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In marriage, legal or religious or social ceremonial law
can at best secure man or woman wealth and social
Happiness or blessedness lie beyond the powerful reach
of these laws.
Natural love, or love free from all ceremonial coercions,
is not merely a questionable source of marital happiness:
it is the only source.
It must be among our chief ethical rules to see that we
build the lofty structure of human society on the sure and
simple foundations of the human organism.
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A passage from a less
to a greater
A passage from a
greater to a less
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The pursuit of happiness requires
that we turn our back on it. If
happiness does come it is always as a
by-product, never the end product.
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If we did not desire, we would not be
frustrated; if we felt no attachment,
we would not be anxious; if we were
not involved with things, their
transience or imperfection could not
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The Buddha possesses nothing, thirsts
for nothing. His symbol is the lotus, a
flower which springs from the filthiest
waters; but it floats on the surface and
is never wetted by them; it remains
untouched, cool and self-contained,
complete and perfect, a jewel floating
upon the waters.
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8-Fold Noble Path
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“For my part, when I enter most
intimately into what I call myself, I
always stumble on some particular
perception or other, of heat or cold,
light or shade, love or hatred, pain or
pleasure. I never can catch myself at
any time without a perception and
never can observe anything but the
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Darshana – a particular point of view.
Synthesize the various darshanas into
one comprehensive word view, the
understanding of which will bring
emancipation. I believe in everything.
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The Nature of Human Knowledge
Three forms of human knowledge
Understanding, also called perception
Intuition, also called wisdom
A universe of knowledge in three buckets: what you
believe you know or don’t know; what you know because
it is purely logical (2 x 2 = 4); and what you know you
know because it is common to all men and women.
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Spinoza conceives of human beings as
mechanisms in nature that are
motivated by self-preservation and
individual advantage, and who, by the
mutual employment of reason, can
improve their way of life.
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Ethics, for Spinoza, is a knowledge of
“the right way of living,” that allows
people to rise above temporary desires
and reach a natural participation in an
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Spinoza seeks improvement of the
mind not just as a theoretical
exercise, but as a remedy against
three ethical hindrances – the
overvaluing of wealth, fame, and
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The human mind and the human body
are one. Therefore thoughts and
emotions are one, therefore ethics
includes both mental and physical.
Spinoza’s concept of ethics,
therefore, emphasizes the connection,
not the separation, between the mind
and the body.