Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/247

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
225
DISCIPLES OF DESCARTES.

controvertible as the principle itself. A number, as such, is the earliest definite idea; it is without regard to the characteristics of things, and merely, includes their existence. Apples, trees, men and beasts are all included. Larger growth does not increase the number, but draws from the first abstract idea a second, and letters are set in the place of numbers. The individual objects now lie far apart, but at all times we must be prepared to retrace their origin. To the building up of the whole intelligence, however, this would be a hindrance; here we have only to deal with pure thought—"

"And he who gets dizzy over it let him remain on the ground," jestingly interrupted Meyer. And Oldenburg inquired:

"Do you believe in the possibility of mathematical psychology?"

"Call it so if you like," continued Spinoza; "the conditions and laws of action of our intelligence and sensations have as definite rules as anything in nature; they are as ascertainable, they must be so; all that prevents us from being so to ourselves is—"

"And custom and passion put a stroke through the calculation," interposed Meyer. "In you Descartes is a second time Renatus.[1] If the master

  1. Descartes' Christian name was Renatus, and this pun is in a poem prefixed to the first work of Spinoza, which was edited and prefaced by Ludwig Meyer.