Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/385

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363
MICROCOSMOS.

signification," said Oldenburg. "Of two people who pursue each other with inextinguishable hatred we say they are enemies like spiders."

"Your lord and master, Descartes," said Spinoza, "could have learned a great deal from these spiders. He would probably have then not brought forward a false proof of a true thing. He tries to prove the existence of God from the fact that we, who have an idea of him, exist. He takes two axioms to prove this. Firstly, 'That which can perform the greater and more difficult can also perform the lesser and less difficult.' Secondly, 'It is greater to create and preserve the substance than the attributes and qualities of the substance.' I do not know what he means by that. What does he call easy, what difficult? Nothing is absolutely easy or difficult in itself, but can only be called so with regard to its cause. We want no other example but this spider; with very little trouble it spins a web that men could not make without very great difficulty. On the other hand men do many things with ease that would perhaps be impossible to angels. What can be called absolutely easy or difficult? It would in this way be easily imaginable that men may exist without necessarily supposing the existence of God. But the existence of God, as we have said, follows necessarily and consequently on the idea of him."

Spinoza held a lengthier discussion with Olden-