Prop XXXI, Part One
- Prop XXXI. The intellect in function, whether finite or infinite, as
will, desire, love, &c., should be referred to passive nature and not
to active nature.
Proof - By the intellect we do not (obviously) mean absolute thought,
but only a certain mode of thinking, differing from other modes, such
as love, desire, &c., and therefore (Def. v.) requiring to be
conceived through absolute thought. It must (by Prop. xv. and Def.
vi.), through some attribute of God which expresses the eternal and
infinite essence of thought, be so conceived, that without such
attribute it could neither be nor be conceived. It must therefore be
referred to nature passive rather than to nature active, as must also
the other modes of thinking. Q.E.D.
Note - I do not here, by speaking of intellect in function, admit
that there is such a thing as intellect in potentiality: but, wishing
to avoid all confusion, I desire to speak only of what is most
clearly perceived by us, namely, of the very act of understanding,
than which nothing is more clearly perceived. For we cannot perceive
anything without adding to our knowledge of the act of understanding.
Hmmmm. This one is a bit tougher.
I'll repeat the "Note" from Prop XXIX just to get the ball moving.
Note--Before going any further, I wish here to explain, what we
should understand by nature viewed as active (natura naturans), and
nature viewed as passive (natura naturata). I say to explain, or
rather call attention to it, for I think that, from what has been
said, it is sufficiently clear, that by nature viewed as active we
should understand that which is in itself, and is conceived through
itself, or those attributes of substance, which express eternal and
infinite essence, in other words (Prop. xiv., Cor. i., and Prop.
xvii., Cor. ii.) God, in so far as he is considered as a free cause.
By nature viewed as passive I understand all that which
follows from the necessity of the nature of God, or of any of the
attributes of God, that is, all the modes of the attributes of God,
in so far as they are considered as things which are in God, and
which without God cannot exist or be conceived.