Ethics "Man As A Social Animal"

Linda Pastan

"Man As A Social Animal"

Context: Spinoza presents his philosophy in the form of mathematical problems, proceeding from definitions and axioms to propositions and corollaries. He believes, "Man is to man a God." In order to obtain that which is most useful to him. man should live in obedience to reason. By living in obedience to reason, he will be most useful to himself when he is useful to others. In spite of satirists who scorn, theologians who censure, and misanthropes who advocate a life of solitary simplicity, man's life is infinitely easier when he cooperates with other men. One difficulty is that man is not entirely reasonable; he does not live peaceably with his fellows. As Spinoza remarks of him:

. . . they are scarcely able to lead a solitary life, so that the definition of man as a social animal has met with general assent; in fact, men do derive from social life much more convenience than injury.