ished treatise De emendatione intellectus is the chief source of information concerning this method. Here he begins autobiographically after the manner of Descartes in his Discours. Experience has taught him that neither enjoyment, nor wealth, nor honor can be the highest good. He finds it, on the contrary, in the knowledge of the relation existing between our mind and nature as a whole. The pleasures of knowledge became his highest and strongest ambition, his ruling passion, and the glory conferred on existence through the possibility of participating in this joy is what made life worth living to him. It is for this very reason however that he institutes the inquiry as to the possibility of realizing this end, and he then indicates how he arrived at the definitions and axioms with which the “Ethics” begins.
Spinoza, the son of a Jewish merchant of Amsterdam, began his career as a Jewish theologian, inspiring great hopes among his brethren in the faith. He however gradually became increasingly critical of the ancestral ideas of faith and was finally ceremonially excommunicated from the synagogue. Thereafter he lived in the country for a while, moving thence to Rhynsberg, in the vicinity of Leyden, and finally to The Hague, occupied with study and the writing of his books. He provided a scanty living by grinding lenses. He enjoyed the active intellectual fellowship of a circle of young friends who studied his ethics, even while it only existed in manuscript. His life is a splendid example of happy resignation and inner devotion to intellectual labor.
The essay, Von Gott, Menschen und dessen Glück, written in his youth, is Spinoza’s first attempt to bring what he regarded as essential in religious ideas into inner harmony with the scientific conception of nature. Later on he