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Necessity and Nature in Spinoza's Philosophy$
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Don Garrett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780195307771

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195307771.001.0001

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“A Free Man Always Acts Honestly, not Deceptively”

“A Free Man Always Acts Honestly, not Deceptively”

Freedom and the Good in Spinoza’S ethics

(p.441) 16 “A Free Man Always Acts Honestly, not Deceptively”
Necessity and Nature in Spinoza's Philosophy

Don Garrett

Oxford University Press

Ethics 4p72 states: (1) “A free man always acts honestly, not deceptively.” It is also plausible to ascribe to him three further doctrines: (2) it is always good to act so as to best preserve one’s own being; (3) one can sometimes best preserve one’s own being by acting deceptively; and (4) it is never good to act contrary to the way in which the free man acts. Yet these four propositions taken together are inconsistent. This chapter argues that Spinoza accepts (1–3) but rejects (4), on the grounds that the actions that constitute the best actions to achieve a given ideal state are not always the same actions that one would perform if one were already in that ideal state.

Keywords:   Spinoza, ethics, honesty, deception, good, self-preservation, freedom, virtue, reason

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