The Eclectic Pythagorean

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres. ” -Pythagoras

Posts Tagged ‘Greek philosophy’

On Longevity and Shortness of Life by Aristotle

Posted by The Eclectic Pythagorean on October 22, 2008

On Longevity and Shortness of Life by Aristotle

Translated by G. R. T. Ross

1

THE reasons for some animals being long-lived and others short-lived, and, in a word, causes of the length and brevity of life call for investigation.

The necessary beginning to our inquiry is a statement of the difficulties about these points. For it is not clear whether in animals and plants universally it is a single or diverse cause that makes some to be long-lived, others short-lived. Plants too have in some cases a long life, while in others it lasts but for a year.

Further, in a natural structure are longevity and a sound constitution coincident, or is shortness of life independent of unhealthiness? Perhaps in the case of certain maladies a diseased state of the body and shortness of life are interchangeable, while in the case of others ill-health is perfectly compatible with long life.

Of sleep and waking we have already treated; about life and death we shall speak later on, and likewise about health and disease, in so far as it belongs to the science of nature to do so. But at present we have to investigate the causes of some creatures being long-lived, and others short-lived. We find this distinction affecting not only entire genera opposed as wholes to one another, but applying also to contrasted sets of individuals within the same species. As an instance of the difference applying to the genus I give man and horse (for mankind has a longer life than the horse), while within the species there is the difference between man and man; for of men also some are long-lived, others short-lived, differing from each other in respect of the different regions in which they dwell. Races inhabiting warm countries have longer life, those living in a cold climate live a shorter time. Likewise there are similar differences among individuals occupying the same locality.
2

In order to find premisses for our argument, we must answer the question, What is that which, in natural objects, makes them easily destroyed, or the reverse? Since fire and water, and whatsoever is akin thereto, do not possess identical powers they are reciprocal causes of generation and decay. Hence it is natural to infer that everything else arising from them and composed of them should share in the same nature, in all cases where things are not, like a house, a composite unity formed by the synthesis of many things.

In other matters a different account must be given; for in many things their mode of dissolution is something peculiar to themselves, e.g. in knowledge and health and disease. These pass away even though the medium in which they are found is not destroyed but continues to exist; for example, take the termination of ignorance, which is recollection or learning, while knowledge passes away into forgetfulness, or error. But accidentally the disintegration of a natural object is accompanied by the destruction of the non-physical reality; for, when the animal dies, the health or knowledge resident in it passes away too. Hence from these considerations we may draw a conclusion about the soul too; for, if the inherence of soul in body is not a matter of nature but like that of knowledge in the soul, there would be another mode of dissolution pertaining to it besides that which occurs when the body is destroyed. But since evidently it does not admit of this dual dissolution, the soul must stand in a different case in respect of its union with the body.
3

Perhaps one might reasonably raise the question whether there is any place where what is corruptible becomes incorruptible, as fire does in the upper regions where it meets with no opposite. Opposites destroy each other, and hence accidentally, by their destruction, whatsoever is attributed to them is destroyed. But no opposite in a real substance is accidentally destroyed, because real substance is not predicated of any subject. Hence a thing which has no opposite, or which is situated where it has no opposite, cannot be destroyed. For what will that be which can destroy it, if destruction comes only through contraries, but no contrary to it exists either absolutely or in the particular place where it is? But perhaps this is in one sense true, in another sense not true, for it is impossible that anything containing matter should not have in any sense an opposite. Heat and straightness can be present in every part of a thing, but it is impossible that the thing should be nothing but hot or white or straight; for, if that were so, attributes would have an independent existence. Hence if, in all cases, whenever the active and the passive exist together, the one acts and the other is acted on, it is impossible that no change should occur. Further, this is so if a waste product is an opposite, and waste must always be produced; for opposition is always the source of change, and refuse is what remains of the previous opposite. But, after expelling everything of a nature actually opposed, would an object in this case also be imperishable? No, it would be destroyed by the environment.

If then that is so, what we have said sufficiently accounts for the change; but, if not, we must assume that something of actually opposite character is in the changing object, and refuse is produced.

Hence accidentally a lesser flame is consumed by a greater one, for the nutriment, to wit the smoke, which the former takes a long period to expend, is used up by the big flame quickly.

Hence [too] all things are at all times in a state of transition and are coming into being and passing away. The environment acts on them either favourably or antagonistically, and, owing to this, things that change their situation become more or less enduring than their nature warrants, but never are they eternal when they contain contrary qualities; for their matter is an immediate source of contrariety, so that if it involves locality they show change of situation, if quantity, increase and diminution, while if it involves qualitative affection we find alteration of character.
4

We find that a superior immunity from decay attaches neither to the largest animals (the horse has shorter life than man) nor to those that are small (for most insects live but for a year). Nor are plants as a whole less liable to perish than animals (many plants are annuals), nor have sanguineous animals the pre-eminence (for the bee is longer-lived than certain sanguineous animals). Neither is it the bloodless animals that live longest (for molluscs live only a year, though bloodless), nor terrestrial organisms (there are both plants and terrestrial animals of which a single year is the period), nor the occupants of the sea (for there we find the crustaceans and the molluscs, which are short-lived).

Speaking generally, the longest-lived things occur among the plants, e.g. the date-palm. Next in order we find them among the sanguineous animals rather than among the bloodless, and among those with feet rather than among the denizens of the water. Hence, taking these two characters together, the longest-lived animals fall among sanguineous animals which have feet, e.g. man and elephant. As a matter of fact also it is a general rule that the larger live longer than the smaller, for the other long-lived animals too happen to be of a large size, as are also those I have mentioned.
5

The following considerations may enable us to understand the reasons for all these facts. We must remember that an animal is by nature humid and warm, and to live is to be of such a constitution, while old age is dry and cold, and so is a corpse. This is plain to observation. But the material constituting the bodies of all things consists of the following-the hot and the cold, the dry and the moist. Hence when they age they must become dry, and therefore the fluid in them requires to be not easily dried up. Thus we explain why fat things are not liable to decay. The reason is that they contain air; now air relatively to the other elements is fire, and fire never becomes corrupted.

Again the humid element in animals must not be small in quantity, for a small quantity is easily dried up. This is why both plants and animals that are large are, as a general rule, longer-lived than the rest, as was said before; it is to be expected that the larger should contain more moisture. But it is not merely this that makes them longer lived; for the cause is twofold, to wit, the quality as well as the quantity of the fluid. Hence the moisture must be not only great in amount but also warm, in order to be neither easily congealed nor easily dried up.

It is for this reason also that man lives longer than some animals which are larger; for animals live longer though there is a deficiency in the amount of their moisture, if the ratio of its qualitative superiority exceeds that of its quantitative deficiency.

In some creatures the warm element is their fatty substance, which prevents at once desiccation and congelation; but in others it assumes a different flavour. Further, that which is designed to be not easily destroyed should not yield waste products. Anything of such a nature causes death either by disease or naturally, for the potency of the waste product works adversely and destroys now the entire constitution, now a particular member.

This is why salacious animals and those abounding in seed age quickly; the seed is a residue, and further, by being lost, it produces dryness. Hence the mule lives longer than either the horse or the ass from which it sprang, and females live longer than males if the males are salacious. Accordingly cock-sparrows have a shorter life than the females. Again males subject to great toil are short-lived and age more quickly owing to the labour; toil produces dryness and old age is dry. But by natural constitution and as a general rule males live longer than females, and the reason is that the male is an animal with more warmth than the female.

The same kind of animals are longer-lived in warm than in cold climates for the same reason, on account of which they are of larger size. The size of animals of cold constitution illustrates this particularly well, and hence snakes and lizards and scaly reptiles are of great size in warm localities, as also are testacea in the Red Sea: the warm humidity there is the cause equally of their augmented size and of their life. But in cold countries the humidity in animals is more of a watery nature, and hence is readily congealed. Consequently it happens that animals with little or no blood are in northerly regions either entirely absent (both the land animals with feet and the water creatures whose home is the sea) or, when they do occur, they are smaller and have shorter life; for the frost prevents growth.

Both plants and animals perish if not fed, for in that case they consume themselves; just as a large flame consumes and burns up a small one by using up its nutriment, so the natural warmth which is the primary cause of digestion consumes the material in which it is located.

Water animals have a shorter life than terrestrial creatures, not strictly because they are humid, but because they are watery, and watery moisture is easily destroyed, since it is cold and readily congealed. For the same reason bloodless animals perish readily unless protected by great size, for there is neither fatness nor sweetness about them. In animals fat is sweet, and hence bees are longer-lived than other animals of larger size.
6

It is amongst the plants that we find the longest life-more than among the animals, for, in the first place, they are less watery and hence less easily frozen. Further they have an oiliness and a viscosity which makes them retain their moisture in a form not easily dried up, even though they are dry and earthy.

But we must discover the reason why trees are of an enduring constitution, for it is peculiar to them and is not found in any animals except the insects.

Plants continually renew themselves and hence last for a long time. New shoots continually come and the others grow old, and with the roots the same thing happens. But both processes do not occur together. Rather it happens that at one time the trunk and the branches alone die and new ones grow up beside them, and it is only when this has taken place that the fresh roots spring from the surviving part. Thus it continues, one part dying and the other growing, and hence also it lives a long time.

There is a similarity, as has been already said, between plants and insects, for they live, though divided, and two or more may be derived from a single one. Insects, however, though managing to live, are not able to do so long, for they do not possess organs; nor can the principle resident in each of the separated parts create organs. In the case of a plant, however, it can do so; every part of a plant contains potentially both root and stem. Hence it is from this source that issues that continued growth when one part is renewed and the other grows old; it is practically a case of longevity. The taking of slips furnishes a similar instance, for we might say that, in a way, when we take a slip the same thing happens; the shoot cut off is part of the plant. Thus in taking slips this perpetuation of life occurs though their connexion with the plant is severed, but in the former case it is the continuity that is operative. The reason is that the life principle potentially belonging to them is present in every part.

Identical phenomena are found both in plants and in animals. For in animals the males are, in general, the longer-lived. They have their upper parts larger than the lower (the male is more of the dwarf type of build than the female), and it is in the upper part that warmth resides, in the lower cold. In plants also those with great heads are longer-lived, and such are those that are not annual but of the tree-type, for the roots are the head and upper part of a plant, and among the annuals growth occurs in the direction of their lower parts and the fruit.

These matters however will be specially investigated in the work On Plants. But this is our account of the reasons for the duration of life and for short life in animals. It remains for us to discuss youth and age, and life and death. To come to a definite understanding about these matters would complete our course of study on animals.

Concerning this work’s copyright:

eBooks@Adelaide
2007

This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

Rendered into HTML by Steve Thomas.

Last updated Wed Apr 11 16:28:44 2007.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence
(available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/).
You are free: to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work, and to make derivative works under the following conditions: you must attribute the work in the manner specified by the licensor; you may not use this work for commercial purposes; if you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the licensor. Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

For offline reading, the complete set of pages is available for download from http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/life/life.zip

The complete work is also available as a single file, at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/life/complete.html

A MARC21 Catalogue record for this edition can be downloaded from http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/a/aristotle/life/marc.bib

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Advertisements

Posted in Greek philosophy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

God in Greek Philosophy to the Time of Socrates

Posted by The Eclectic Pythagorean on October 15, 2008

godingreekphilos.pdf

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Enchiridion by Epictetus

Posted by The Eclectic Pythagorean on October 11, 2008

1. Some things are in our control and others not. Things in  our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a  word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control  are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word,  whatever are not our own actions.

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained,  unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish,  restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you  suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free,  and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be  hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will  find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that  only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to  others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you  or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or  accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one  will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be  harmed.

Aiming therefore at such great things, remember that you must  not allow yourself to be carried, even with a slight tendency,  towards the attainment of lesser things. Instead, you must  entirely quit some things and for the present postpone the  rest. But if you would both have these great things, along  with power and riches, then you will not gain even the latter,  because you aim at the former too: but you will absolutely  fail of the former, by which alone happiness and freedom are  achieved.

Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance,  “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you  appear to be.” And then examine it by those rules which you  have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the  things which are in our own control, or those which are not;  and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared  to say that it is nothing to you.

2. Remember that following desire promises the attainment of  that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the  avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails  to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who  incurs the object of his aversion wretched. If, then, you  confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary  to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your  own control, you will never incur anything to which you are  averse. But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or  poverty, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all  things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things  contrary to the nature of what is in our control. But, for the  present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of  the things which are not in your own control, you must  necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which  it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your  possession. Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and  avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and  reservation.

3. With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are  useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what  general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant  things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic  cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general  of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be  disturbed. If you kiss your child, or your wife, say that you  only kiss things which are human, and thus you will not be  disturbed if either of them dies.

4. When you are going about any action, remind yourself what  nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to  yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some  people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language,  and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this  action if you say to yourself, “I will now go bathe, and keep  my own mind in a state conformable to nature.” And in the same  manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any  hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say,  “It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind  in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I  am bothered at things that happen.

5. Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and  notions which they form concerning things. Death, for  instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to  Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that  it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed,  or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to  ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed  person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon  others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault  on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame  neither on others nor on himself.

6. Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own.  If a horse should be prideful and say, ” I am handsome,” it  would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, ” I  have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in  fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own?  Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when  you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things  appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride  in some good of your own.

7. Consider when, on a voyage, your ship is anchored; if you  go on shore to get water you may along the way amuse yourself  with picking up a shellish, or an onion. However, your  thoughts and continual attention ought to be bent towards the  ship, waiting for the captain to call on board; you must then  immediately leave all these things, otherwise you will be  thrown into the ship, bound neck and feet like a sheep. So it  is with life. If, instead of an onion or a shellfish, you are  given a wife or child, that is fine. But if the captain calls,  you must run to the ship, leaving them, and regarding none of  them. But if you are old, never go far from the ship: lest,  when you are called, you should be unable to come in time.

8. Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that  they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

9. Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your  ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a  hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say  this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then  you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else,  but not to yourself.

10. With every accident, ask yourself what abilities you have  for making a proper use of it. If you see an attractive  person, you will find that self-restraint is the ability you  have against your desire. If you are in pain, you will find  fortitude. If you hear unpleasant language, you will find  patience. And thus habituated, the appearances of things will  not hurry you away along with them.

11. Never say of anything, “I have lost it”; but, “I have  returned it.” Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife  dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is  not that likewise returned? “But he who took it away is a bad  man.” What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to  take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care  of it; but don’t view it as your own, just as travelers view a  hotel.

12. If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these:  “If I neglect my affairs, I’ll have no income; if I don’t  correct my servant, he will be bad.” For it is better to die  with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in  affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant  should be bad, than you unhappy.

Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A  little wine stolen? Say to yourself, “This is the price paid  for apathy, for tranquillity, and nothing is to be had for  nothing.” When you call your servant, it is possible that he  may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But  he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his  power to give you any disturbance.

13. If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish  and stupid with regard to external things. Don’t wish to be  thought to know anything; and even if you appear to be  somebody important to others, distrust yourself. For, it is  difficult to both keep your faculty of choice in a state  conformable to nature, and at the same time acquire external  things. But while you are careful about the one, you must of  necessity neglect the other.

14. If you wish your children, and your wife, and your friends  to live for ever, you are stupid; for you wish to be in  control of things which you cannot, you wish for things that  belong to others to be your own. So likewise, if you wish your  servant to be without fault, you are a fool; for you wish vice  not to be vice,” but something else. But, if you wish to have  your desires undisappointed, this is in your own control.  Exercise, therefore, what is in your control. He is the master  of every other person who is able to confer or remove whatever  that person wishes either to have or to avoid. Whoever, then,  would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing,  which depends on others else he must necessarily be a slave.

15. Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner  party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand  and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you?  Don’t stop it. Is it not yet come? Don’t stretch your desire  towards it, but wait till it reaches you. Do this with regard  to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you  will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods.  And if you don’t even take the things which are set before  you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only  be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their  empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others  like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine.

16. When you see anyone weeping in grief because his son has  gone abroad, or is dead, or because he has suffered in his  affairs, be careful that the appearance may not misdirect you.  Instead, distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to  say, “It’s not the accident that distresses this person.,  because it doesn’t distress another person; it is the judgment  which he makes about it.” As far as words go, however, don’t  reduce yourself to his level, and certainly do not moan with  him. Do not moan inwardly either.

17. Remember that you are an actor in a drama, of such a kind  as the author pleases to make it. If short, of a short one; if  long, of a long one. If it is his pleasure you should act a  poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that  you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well  the character assigned you; to choose it is another’s.

18. When a raven happens to croak unluckily, don’t allow the  appearance hurry you away with it, but immediately make the  distinction to yourself, and say, “None of these things are  foretold to me; but either to my paltry body, or property, or  reputation, or children, or wife. But to me all omens are  lucky, if I will. For whichever of these things happens, it is  in my control to derive advantage from it.”

19. You may be unconquerable, if you enter into no combat in  which it is not in your own control to conquer. When,  therefore, you see anyone eminent in honors, or power, or in  high esteem on any other account, take heed not to be hurried  away with the appearance, and to pronounce him happy; for, if  the essence of good consists in things in our own control,  there will be no room for envy or emulation. But, for your  part, don’t wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul,  but to be free; and the only way to this is a contempt of  things not in our own control.

20. Remember, that not he who gives ill language or a blow  insults, but the principle which represents these things as  insulting. When, therefore, anyone provokes you, be assured  that it is your own opinion which provokes you. Try,  therefore, in the first place, not to be hurried away with the  appearance. For if you once gain time and respite, you will  more easily command yourself.

21. Let death and exile, and all other things which appear  terrible be daily before your eyes, but chiefly death, and you  win never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet  anything.

22. If you have an earnest desire of attaining to philosophy,  prepare yourself from the very first to be laughed at, to be  sneered by the multitude, to hear them say,.” He is returned  to us a philosopher all at once,” and ” Whence this  supercilious look?” Now, for your part, don’t have a  supercilious look indeed; but keep steadily to those things  which appear best to you as one appointed by God to this  station. For remember that, if you adhere to the same point,  those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards  admire you. But if you are conquered by them, you will incur a  double ridicule.

23. If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so  as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined  your scheme of life. Be contented, then, in everything with  being a philosopher; and, if you wish to be thought so  likewise by anyone, appear so to yourself, and it will suffice  you.

24. Don’t allow such considerations as these distress you. “I  will live in dishonor, and be nobody anywhere.” For, if  dishonor is an evil, you can no more be involved in any evil  by the means of another, than be engaged in anything base. Is  it any business of yours, then, to get power, or to be  admitted to an entertainment? By no means. How, then, after  all, is this a dishonor? And how is it true that you will be  nobody anywhere, when you ought to be somebody in those things  only which are in your own control, in which you may be of the  greatest consequence? “But my friends will be unassisted.” —  What do you mean by unassisted? They will not have money from  you, nor will you make them Roman citizens. Who told you,  then, that these are among the things in our own control, and  not the affair of others? And who can give to another the  things which he has not himself? “Well, but get them, then,  that we too may have a share.” If I can get them with the  preservation of my own honor and fidelity and greatness of  mind, show me the way and I will get them; but if you require  me to lose my own proper good that you may gain what is not  good, consider how inequitable and foolish you are. Besides,  which would you rather have, a sum of money, or a friend of  fidelity and honor? Rather assist me, then, to gain this  character than require me to do those things by which I may  lose it. Well, but my country, say you, as far as depends on  me, will be unassisted. Here again, what assistance is this  you mean? “It will not have porticoes nor baths of your  providing.” And what signifies that? Why, neither does a smith  provide it with shoes, or a shoemaker with arms. It is enough  if everyone fully performs his own proper business. And were  you to supply it with another citizen of honor and fidelity,  would not he be of use to it? Yes. Therefore neither are you  yourself useless to it. “What place, then, say you, will I  hold in the state?” Whatever you can hold with the  preservation of your fidelity and honor. But if, by desiring  to be useful to that, you lose these, of what use can you be  to your country when you are become faithless and void of  shame.

25. Is anyone preferred before you at an entertainment, or in  a compliment, or in being admitted to a consultation? If these  things are good, you ought to be glad that he has gotten them;  and if they are evil, don’t be grieved that you have not  gotten them. And remember that you cannot, without using the  same means [which others do] to acquire things not in our own  control, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of  them. For how can he who does not frequent the door of any  [great] man, does not attend him, does not praise him, have an  equal share with him who does? You are unjust, then, and  insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which  these things are sold, and would have them for nothing. For  how much is lettuce sold? Fifty cents, for instance. If  another, then, paying fifty cents, takes the lettuce, and you,  not paying it, go without them, don’t imagine that he has  gained any advantage over you. For as he has the lettuce, so  you have the fifty cents which you did not give. So, in the  present case, you have not been invited to such a person’s  entertainment, because you have not paid him the price for  which a supper is sold. It is sold for praise; it is sold for  attendance. Give him then the value, if it is for your  advantage. But if you would, at the same time, not pay the one  and yet receive the other, you are insatiable, and a  blockhead. Have you nothing, then, instead of the supper? Yes,  indeed, you have: the not praising him, whom you don’t like to  praise; the not bearing with his behavior at coming in.

26. The will of nature may be learned from those things in  which we don’t distinguish from each other. For example, when  our neighbor’s boy breaks a cup, or the like, we are presently  ready to say, “These things will happen.” Be assured, then,  that when your own cup likewise is broken, you ought to be  affected just as when another’s cup was broken. Apply this in  like manner to greater things. Is the child or wife of another  dead? There is no one who would not say, “This is a human  accident.” but if anyone’s own child happens to die, it is  presently, “Alas I how wretched am I!” But it should be  remembered how we are affected in hearing the same thing  concerning others.

27. As a mark is not set up for the sake of missing the aim,  so neither does the nature of evil exist in the world.

28. If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his  way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in  handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by  anyone who happens to verbally attack you?

29. In every affair consider what precedes and follows, and  then undertake it. Otherwise you will begin with spirit; but  not having thought of the consequences, when some of them  appear you will shamefully desist. “I would conquer at the  Olympic games.” But consider what precedes and follows, and  then, if it is for your advantage, engage in the affair. You  must conform to rules, submit to a diet, refrain from  dainties; exercise your body, whether you choose it or not, at  a stated hour, in heat and cold; you must drink no cold water,  nor sometimes even wine. In a word, you must give yourself up  to your master, as to a physician. Then, in the combat, you  may be thrown into a ditch, dislocate your arm, turn your  ankle, swallow dust, be whipped, and, after all, lose the  victory. When you have evaluated all this, if your inclination  still holds, then go to war. Otherwise, take notice, you will  behave like children who sometimes play like wrestlers,  sometimes gladiators, sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes  act a tragedy when they have seen and admired these shows.  Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a  gladiator, now a philosopher, then an orator; but with your  whole soul, nothing at all. Like an ape, you mimic all you  see, and one thing after another is sure to please you, but is  out of favor as soon as it becomes familiar. For you have  never entered upon anything considerately, nor after having  viewed the whole matter on all sides, or made any scrutiny  into it, but rashly, and with a cold inclination. Thus some,  when they have seen a philosopher and heard a man speaking  like Euphrates (though, indeed, who can speak like him?), have  a mind to be philosophers too. Consider first, man, what the  matter is, and what your own nature is able to bear. If you  would be a wrestler, consider your shoulders, your back, your  thighs; for different persons are made for different things.  Do you think that you can act as you do, and be a philosopher?  That you can eat and drink, and be angry and discontented as  you are now? You must watch, you must labor, you must get the  better of certain appetites, must quit your acquaintance, be  despised by your servant, be laughed at by those you meet;  come off worse than others in everything, in magistracies, in  honors, in courts of judicature. When you have considered all  these things round, approach, if you please; if, by parting  with them, you have a mind to purchase apathy, freedom, and  tranquillity. If not, don’t come here; don’t, like children,  be one while a philosopher, then a publican, then an orator,  and then one of Caesar’s officers. These things are not  consistent. You must be one man, either good or bad. You must  cultivate either your own ruling faculty or externals, and  apply yourself either to things within or without you; that  is, be either a philosopher, or one of the vulgar.

30. Duties are universally measured by relations. Is anyone a  father? If so, it is implied that the children should take  care of him, submit to him in everything, patiently listen to  his reproaches, his correction. But he is a bad father. Is you  naturally entitled, then, to a good father? No, only to a  father. Is a brother unjust? Well, keep your own situation  towards him. Consider not what he does, but what you are to do  to keep your own faculty of choice in a state conformable to  nature. For another will not hurt you unless you please. You  will then be hurt when you think you are hurt. In this manner,  therefore, you will find, from the idea of a neighbor, a  citizen, a general, the corresponding duties if you accustom  yourself to contemplate the several relations.

31. Be assured that the essential property of piety towards  the gods is to form right opinions concerning them, as  existing “I and as governing the universe with goodness and  justice. And fix yourself in this resolution, to obey them,  and yield to them, and willingly follow them in all events, as  produced by the most perfect understanding. For thus you will  never find fault with the gods, nor accuse them as neglecting  you. And it is not possible for this to be effected any other  way than by withdrawing yourself from things not in our own  control, and placing good or evil in those only which are. For  if you suppose any of the things not in our own control to be  either good or evil, when you are disappointed of what you  wish, or incur what you would avoid, you must necessarily find  fault with and blame the authors. For every animal is  naturally formed to fly and abhor things that appear hurtful,  and the causes of them; and to pursue and admire those which  appear beneficial, and the causes of them. It is impractical,  then, that one who supposes himself to be hurt should be happy  about the person who, he thinks, hurts him, just as it is  impossible to be happy about the hurt itself. Hence, also, a  father is reviled by a son, when he does not impart to him the  things which he takes to be good; and the supposing empire to  be a good made Polynices and Eteocles mutually enemies. On  this account the husbandman, the sailor, the merchant, on this  account those who lose wives and children, revile the gods.  For where interest is, there too is piety placed. So that,  whoever is careful to regulate his desires and aversions as he  ought, is, by the very same means, careful of piety likewise.  But it is also incumbent on everyone to offer libations and  sacrifices and first fruits, conformably to the customs of his  country, with purity, and not in a slovenly manner, nor  negligently, nor sparingly, nor beyond his ability.

32. When you have recourse to divination, remember that you  know not what the event will be, and you come to learn it of  the diviner; but of what nature it is you know before you  come, at least if you are a philosopher. For if it is among  the things not in our own control, it can by no means be  either good or evil. Don’t, therefore, bring either desire or  aversion with you to the diviner (else you will approach him  trembling), but first acquire a distinct knowledge that every  event is indifferent and nothing to you., of whatever sort it  may be, for it will be in your power to make a right use of  it, and this no one can hinder; then come with confidence to  the gods, as your counselors, and afterwards, when any counsel  is given you, remember what counselors you have assumed, and  whose advice you will neglect if you disobey. Come to  divination, as Socrates prescribed, in cases of which the  whole consideration relates to the event, and in which no  opportunities are afforded by reason, or any other art, to  discover the thing proposed to be learned. When, therefore, it  is our duty to share the danger of a friend or of our country,  we ought not to consult the oracle whether we will share it  with them or not. For, though the diviner should forewarn you  that the victims are unfavorable, this means no more than that  either death or mutilation or exile is portended. But we have  reason within us, and it directs, even with these hazards, to  the greater diviner, the Pythian god, who cast out of the  temple the person who gave no assistance to his friend while  another was murdering him.

33. Immediately prescribe some character and form of conduce  to yourself, which you may keep both alone and in company.

Be for the most part silent, or speak merely what is  necessary, and in few words. We may, however, enter, though  sparingly, into discourse sometimes when occasion calls for  it, but not on any of the common subjects, of gladiators, or  horse races, or athletic champions, or feasts, the vulgar  topics of conversation; but principally not of men, so as  either to blame, or praise, or make comparisons. If you are  able, then, by your own conversation bring over that of your  company to proper subjects; but, if you happen to be taken  among strangers, be silent.

Don’t allow your laughter be much, nor on many occasions, nor  profuse.

Avoid swearing, if possible, altogether; if not, as far as you  are able.

Avoid public and vulgar entertainments; but, if ever an  occasion calls you to them, keep your attention upon the  stretch, that you may not imperceptibly slide into vulgar  manners. For be assured that if a person be ever so sound  himself, yet, if his companion be infected, he who converses  with him will be infected likewise.

Provide things relating to the body no further than mere use;  as meat, drink, clothing, house, family. But strike off and  reject everything relating to show and delicacy.

As far as possible, before marriage, keep yourself pure from  familiarities with women, and, if you indulge them, let it be  lawfully.” But don’t therefore be troublesome and full of  reproofs to those who use these liberties, nor frequently  boast that you yourself don’t.

If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you,  don’t make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: ” He  does not know my other faults, else he would not have  mentioned only these.”

It is not necessary for you to appear often at public  spectacles; but if ever there is a proper occasion for you to  be there, don’t appear more solicitous for anyone than for  yourself; that is, wish things to be only just as they are,  and him only to conquer who is the conqueror, for thus you  will meet with no hindrance. But abstain entirely from  declamations and derision and violent emotions. And when you  come away, don’t discourse a great deal on what has passed,  and what does not contribute to your own amendment. For it  would appear by such discourse that you were immoderately  struck with the show.

Go not [of your own accord] to the rehearsals of any  [authors], nor appear [at them] readily. But, if you do  appear, keep your gravity and sedateness, and at the same time  avoid being morose.

When you are going to confer with anyone, and particularly of  those in a superior station, represent to yourself how  Socrates or Zeno would behave in such a case, and you will not  be at a loss to make a proper use of whatever may occur.

When you are going to any of the people in power, represent to  yourself that you will not find him at home; that you will not  be admitted; that the doors will not be opened to you; that he  will take no notice of you. If, with all this, it is your duty  to go, bear what happens, and never say [to yourself], ” It  was not worth so much.” For this is vulgar, and like a man  dazed by external things.

In parties of conversation, avoid a frequent and excessive  mention of your own actions and dangers. For, however  agreeable it may be to yourself to mention the risks you have  run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your  adventures. Avoid, likewise, an endeavor to excite laughter.  For this is a slippery point, which may throw you into vulgar  manners, and, besides, may be apt to lessen you in the esteem  of your acquaintance. Approaches to indecent discourse are  likewise dangerous. Whenever, therefore, anything of this sort  happens, if there be a proper opportunity, rebuke him who  makes advances that way; or, at least, by silence and blushing  and a forbidding look, show yourself to be displeased by such  talk.

34. If you are struck by the appearance of any promised  pleasure, guard yourself against being hurried away by it; but  let the affair wait your leisure, and procure yourself some  delay. Then bring to your mind both points of time: that in  which you will enjoy the pleasure, and that in which you will  repent and reproach yourself after you have enjoyed it; and  set before you, in opposition to these, how you will be glad  and applaud yourself if you abstain. And even though it should  appear to you a seasonable gratification, take heed that its  enticing, and agreeable and attractive force may not subdue  you; but set in opposition to this how much better it is to be  conscious of having gained so great a victory.

35. When you do anything from a clear judgment that it ought  to be done, never shun the being seen to do it, even though  the world should make a wrong supposition about it; for, if  you don’t act right, shun the action itself; but, if you do,  why are you afraid of those who censure you wrongly?

36. As the proposition, “Either it is day or it is night,” is  extremely proper for a disjunctive argument, but quite  improper in a conjunctive one, so, at a feast, to choose the  largest share is very suitable to the bodily appetite, but  utterly inconsistent with the social spirit of an  entertainment. When you eat with another, then, remember not  only the value of those things which are set before you to the  body, but the value of that behavior which ought to be  observed towards the person who gives the entertainment.

37. If you have assumed any character above your strength, you  have both made an ill figure in that and quitted one which you  might have supported.

38. When walking, you are careful not to step on a nail or  turn your foot; so likewise be careful not to hurt the ruling  faculty of your mind. And, if we were to guard against this in  every action, we should undertake the action with the greater  safety.

39. The body is to everyone the measure of the possessions  proper for it, just as the foot is of the shoe. If, therefore,  you stop at this, you will keep the measure; but if you move  beyond it, you must necessarily be carried forward, as down a  cliff; as in the case of a shoe, if you go beyond its fitness  to the foot, it comes first to be gilded, then purple, and  then studded with jewels. For to that which once exceeds a due  measure, there is no bound.

40. Women from fourteen years old are flattered with the title  of “mistresses” by the men. Therefore, perceiving that they  are regarded only as qualified to give the men pleasure, they  begin to adorn themselves, and in that to place ill their  hopes. We should, therefore, fix our attention on making them  sensible that they are valued for the appearance of decent,  modest and discreet behavior.

41. It is a mark of want of genius to spend much time in  things relating to the body, as to be long in our exercises,  in eating and drinking, and in the discharge of other animal  functions. These should be done incidentally and slightly, and  our whole attention be engaged in the care of the  understanding.

42. When any person harms you, or speaks badly of you,  remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its  being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow  what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself.  Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the  person hurt, since he too is the person deceived. For if  anyone should suppose a true proposition to be false, the  proposition is not hurt, but he who is deceived about it.  Setting out, then, from these principles, you will meekly bear  a person who reviles you, for you will say upon every  occasion, “It seemed so to him.”

43. Everything has two handles, the one by which it may be  carried, the other by which it cannot. If your brother acts  unjustly, don’t lay hold on the action by the handle of his  injustice, for by that it cannot be carried; but by the  opposite, that he is your brother, that he was brought up with  you; and thus you will lay hold on it, as it is to be carried.

44. These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you,  therefore I am better”; “I am more eloquent than you,  therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am  richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;”  “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better  than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor  style.

45. Does anyone bathe in a mighty little time? Don’t say that  he does it ill, but in a mighty little time. Does anyone drink  a great quantity of wine? Don’t say that he does ill, but that  he drinks a great quantity. For, unless you perfectly  understand the principle from which anyone acts, how should  you know if he acts ill? Thus you will not run the hazard of  assenting to any appearances but such as you fully comprehend.

46. Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal  among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to  them. Thus, at an entertainment, don’t talk how persons ought  to eat, but eat as you ought. For remember that in this manner  Socrates also universally avoided all ostentation. And when  persons came to him and desired to be recommended by him to  philosophers, he took and- recommended them, so well did he  bear being overlooked. So that if ever any talk should happen  among the unlearned concerning philosophic theorems, be you,  for the most part, silent. For there is great danger in  immediately throwing out what you have not digested. And, if  anyone tells you that you know nothing, and you are not  nettled at it, then you may be sure that you have begun your  business. For sheep don’t throw up the grass to show the  shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting  their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus,  therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned,  but the actions produced by them after they have been  digested.

47. When you have brought yourself to supply the necessities  of your body at a small price, don’t pique yourself upon it;  nor, if you drink water, be saying upon every occasion, “I  drink water.” But first consider how much more sparing and  patient of hardship the poor are than we. But if at any time  you would inure yourself by exercise to labor, and bearing  hard trials, do it for your own sake, and not for the world;  don’t grasp statues, but, when you are violently thirsty, take  a little cold water in your mouth, and spurt it out and tell  nobody.

48. The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is,  that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but  from externals. The condition and characteristic of a  philosopher is, that he expects all hurt and benefit from  himself. The marks of a proficient are, that he censures no  one, praises no one, blames no one, accuses no one, says  nothing concerning himself as being anybody, or knowing  anything: when he is, in any instance, hindered or restrained,  he accuses himself; and, if he is praised, he secretly laughs  at the person who praises him; and, if he is censured, he  makes no defense. But he goes about with the caution of sick  or injured people, dreading to move anything that is set  right, before it is perfectly fixed. He suppresses all desire  in himself; he transfers his aversion to those things only  which thwart the proper use of our own faculty of choice; the  exertion of his active powers towards anything is very gentle;  if he appears stupid or ignorant, he does not care, and, in a  word, he watches himself as an enemy, and one in ambush.

49. When anyone shows himself overly confident in ability to  understand and interpret the works of Chrysippus, say to  yourself, ” Unless Chrysippus had written obscurely, this  person would have had no subject for his vanity. But what do I  desire? To understand nature and follow her. I ask, then, who  interprets her, and, finding Chrysippus does, I have recourse  to him. I don’t understand his writings. I seek, therefore,  one to interpret them.” So far there is nothing to value  myself upon. And when I find an interpreter, what remains is  to make use of his instructions. This alone is the valuable  thing. But, if I admire nothing but merely the interpretation,  what do I become more than a grammarian instead of a  philosopher? Except, indeed, that instead of Homer I interpret  Chrysippus. When anyone, therefore, desires me to read  Chrysippus to him, I rather blush when I cannot show my  actions agreeable and consonant to his discourse.

50. Whatever moral rules you have deliberately proposed to  yourself. abide by them as they were laws, and as if you would  be guilty of impiety by violating any of them. Don’t regard  what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of  yours. How long, then, will you put off thinking yourself  worthy of the highest improvements and follow the distinctions  of reason? You have received the philosophical theorems, with  which you ought to be familiar, and you have been familiar  with them. What other master, then, do you wait for, to throw  upon that the delay of reforming yourself? You are no longer a  boy, but a grown man. If, therefore, you will be negligent and  slothful, and always add procrastination to procrastination,  purpose to purpose, and fix day after day in which you will  attend to yourself, you will insensibly continue without  proficiency, and, living and dying, persevere in being one of  the vulgar. This instant, then, think yourself worthy of  living as a man grown up, and a proficient. Let whatever  appears to be the best be to you an inviolable law. And if any  instance of pain or pleasure, or glory or disgrace, is set  before you, remember that now is the combat, now the Olympiad  comes on, nor can it be put off. By once being defeated and  giving way, proficiency is lost, or by the contrary preserved.  Thus Socrates became perfect, improving himself by everything.  attending to nothing but reason. And though you are not yet a  Socrates, you ought, however, to live as one desirous of  becoming a Socrates.

51. The first and most necessary topic in philosophy is that  of the use of moral theorems, such as, “We ought not to lie;”  the second is that of demonstrations, such as, “What is the  origin of our obligation not to lie;” the third gives strength  and articulation to the other two, such as, “What is the  origin of this is a demonstration.” For what is demonstration?  What is consequence? What contradiction? What truth? What  falsehood? The third topic, then, is necessary on the account  of the second, and the second on the account of the first. But  the most necessary, and that whereon we ought to rest, is the  first. But we act just on the contrary. For we spend all our  time on the third topic, and employ all our diligence about  that, and entirely neglect the first. Therefore, at the same  time that we lie, we are immediately prepared to show how it  is demonstrated that lying is not right.

52. Upon all occasions we ought to have these maxims ready at  hand:

“Conduct me, Jove, and you, 0 Destiny,   Wherever your decrees have fixed my station.” [Cleanthes]   “I follow cheerfully; and, did I not,   Wicked and wretched, I must follow still

Whoever yields properly to Fate, is deemed Wise among men, and knows the laws of heaven.” [Euripides, Frag. 965] And this third:

“0 Crito, if it thus pleases the gods, thus let it be. Anytus and Melitus may kill me indeed, but hurt me they cannot.” [Plato’s Crito and Apology]

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »