The Power of a System
ORGANISM, THOUGHTS, AFFECTS, PASSIONS, AND BODY
Mistake the false for the true,
And the true for the false,
You overlook the heart
And fill yourself with desire An unreflecting mind is a poor roof.
Passion, like the rain, floods the house,
But if the roof is strong, there is shelter.
(Byron, 1993, Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha, I, p. 4)
At this moment, we have considered two notions that permit us to characterize the mechanisms of the functioning of an organism:
1. The dimensions of the body and of the mind.
2. The organization of the parts of the organism
Like Descartes, Spinoza situates the affects in the organismic mechanisms that coordinate the mind and the body. To put this operation into effect in a manner coherent with his system, Spinoza introduces the notion of power. An organism has a basic power that can express itself more or less fully. This power is at its maximum when all of the possibilities of a system are immediately accessible (as in an ideal democracy), and at its minimum when many possibilities are inhibited, consider frozen (as in an unjust tyranny, or a body hampered by multiple chronic muscular tensions). This power gives an organism the force to do somethingâ and to persevere in its own beingâ to attain a goal.9 The affects are part of the mechanisms that regulate this power. They are therefore neither part of the body nor of the mind,10 but of the architecture that connects them