chapter  1
Passion and Power
Pages 28

Of all philosophers of the passions, Spinoza most clearly sets out the di erence between action and its counterpart passion, between doing something and having something done to one, between possessing power and being possessed by it. He says, ‘We act when something takes place within us or outside of us whose adequate cause we are’. He goes on, ‘Insofar as the mind has adequate ideas, thus far it necessarily acts, and insofar as it has inadequate ideas, thus far it is necessarily passive’.2 Action includes knowledge of our own power, while passion involves ignorance of the true nature of an event in which we are implicated. Human creatures subject to passion seek an explanation that will always be imperfect, usually by means of an anthropomorphic projection, a personi ed agent such as fate, a god or a devil that consolidates the multitude of factors hidden from them in any other recognizable form. ese projections fail entirely to grasp the externality of the force that moves the passionate person.