The third part of the “Ethica” book is a little redundant.
However, there are such beautiful passages that it is worth not skipping even a line.
What have I learned from Spinoza?
• Delicate souls existed and he was one of them.
• We can dedicate to joy, without remorse and blows. Here’s how I used Ethica the other day:
I found 5 euros on the floor the other day: the first thing I thought was “so lucky!”; then I immediately felt guilty about my luck: maybe someone who needs it lost the money? Perhaps to buy the only meal for the day?. Considering this, I thought of giving the money to the Church as an act of freeing my deep sense of guilt. Finally, I decided, thanks to Spinoza, to enjoy it in joy! If I don’t hurt anyone, I can enjoy the situation. And I happily bought some mandarins, my favourite fruit of the season and I ate them with taste.
• Spinoza did bad marketing by calling his text “Ethica”. He had to call it “Trust me: I know how you can be happy forever.”
• Confusion about feelings is normal. We need to clarify ideas, and then everything becomes clear: unconditional acceptance of Reality, of Nature, of Divinity.
• We must appreciate, love and respond with love continuously and repetitively (“love defeats hatred”, PROPOSITION XLIII).
• I wasted money and time in so many self-development books: it was enough to put the compulsory reading of SPINOZA in the high school program. I realize today that I based my adolescence on the philosophers of sadness and not of joy! My philosophy program ended with Kierkegaard …. and the teacher skipped Spinoza from the program.
• I like Deleuze even more and his Spinoza series is better than much else on youtube (not all videos are the same ….)
- We should be guided by the simple criterion of what increases and decreases our puissance to act, listen to the desire and act accordingly.
The other day I was in the park. While my boring friend was speaking, I thought about Spinoza and I used the Ethics as a diagnostic tool: is this experience increasing or decreasing my power of action (puissance d’agir)? Answer: decreasing. He complains about his work, he unloads his stress on me…What can I do to preserve my puissance to act? To think about Spinoza! A good loop …
The fourth part of Ethics, I liked it all:
“Man’s inability to regulate and suppress his feelings, I call it Bondage. Indeed, the man subjected to the feelings does not depend on himself, but on the fortune, in the power, he is, to the point that he is often constrained, although he sees what is better. For him, however, to do the worst”.
« L’impuissance de l’homme à régler et à réprimer ses sentiments, je l’appelle Servitude. En effet, l’homme soumis aux sentiments ne dépend pas de lui-même, mais de la fortune, au pouvoir de laquelle il se trouve, au point qu’il est souvent contraint, encore qu’il voie ce qui est meilleur pour lui, de faire cependant le pire » (p. 252).
“No divine power, nor any other than an envious one, takes pleasure in my helplessness and my inconvenience and holds us for virtue tears, sobs,  fear and other manifestations of this kind, which are signs of a helpless soul. But on the contrary, the more we are affected with greater joy, the more we pass to greater perfection, that is to say, it is all the more necessary to participate in Nature divine”
« Aucune puissance divine, ni aucun autre qu’un envieux ne prend plaisir à mon impuissance et à mon désagrément et ne nous tient pour vertu les larmes, les sanglots, la crainte et autres manifestations de ce genre, qui sont des signes d’une âme impuissante. Mais au contraire, d’autant nous sommes affectés d’une plus grande joie, d’autant nous passons à une perfection plus grande, c’est-à-dire qu’il est d’autant plus nécessaire que nous participions de la nature divine » (p. 252)
The 5 section of the Ethics, the last part of the text, is a crash course in happiness.