— Baruch Spinoza
Ch. 1, Introduction; section 1
Political Treatise (1677)
Original: (la) Affectus, quibus conflictamur, concipiunt philosophi veluti vitia, in quae homines sua culpa labuntur; quos propterea ridere, flere, carpere vel (qui sanctiores videri volunt) detestari solent. Sic ergo se rem divinam facere, et sapientiae culmen attingere credunt, quando humanam naturam, quae nullibi est, multis modis laudare et eam, quae revera est, dictis lacessere norunt. Homines namque non ut sunt, sed ut eosdem esse vellent, concipiunt; unde factum est, ut plerumque pro e t h i c a satyram scripserint, et ut nunquam p o l i t i c a m conceperint, quae possit ad usum revocari; sed quae pro chimaera haberetur, vel quae in Utopia vel in illo poëtarum aureo saeculo, ubi scilicet minime necesse erat, institui potuisset. Cum igitur omnium scientiarum, quae usum habent, tum maxime p o l i t i c e s t h e o r i a ab ipsius p r a x i discrepare creditur, et regendae reipublicae nulli minus idonei aestimantur, quam theoretici seu philosophi.
Contexte: Philosophers conceive of the passions which harass us as vices into which men fall by their own fault, and, therefore, generally deride, bewail, or blame them, or execrate them, if they wish to seem unusually pious. And so they think they are doing something wonderful, and reaching the pinnacle of learning, when they are clever enough to bestow manifold praise on such human nature, as is nowhere to be found, and to make verbal attacks on that which, in fact, exists. For they conceive of men, not as they are, but as they themselves would like them to be. Whence it has come to pass that, instead of ethics, they have generally written satire, and that they have never conceived a theory of politics, which could be turned to use, but such as might be taken for a chimera, or might have been formed in Utopia, or in that golden age of the poets when, to be sure, there was least need of it. Accordingly, as in all sciences, which have a useful application, so especially in that of politics, theory is supposed to be at variance with practice; and no men are esteemed less fit to direct public affairs than theorists or philosophers.