The lusts in any case have sufficient hold, in the ordinary way of nature and human disposition, without needing to be reinforced by habit as well, so Edition: current; Page: [ 25 ] that a man will find himself in a situation where he cannot resist them at all. You must know also that those who persistently indulge and gratify their appetites ultimately reach a stage where they no longer have any enjoyment of them, and still are unable to give them up.
For instance, those who are forever having intercourse with women, or drinking, or listening to music—though these are the strongest and deepest-rooted of all the lusts—do not enjoy these indulgences so much as men who do not incessantly gratify them; for these passions become for them exactly the same as any other passion with other men—that is to say, they become commonplace and habitual.
Nevertheless it is not within their power to leave off these pursuits because they have turned into something of the nature of a necessity of life for them, instead of being a luxury and a relish. They are in consequence affected adversely in their religious life as well as their mundane situation, so that they are compelled to employ all kinds of shifts, and to acquire money by risking their lives and precipitating themselves into any sort of danger.
In the end they find they are miserable where they expected to be happy, that they are sorrowful where they expected to rejoice, that they are pained where they expected to experience pleasure. So what difference is there between them and the man who deliberately sets out to destroy himself?
They are exactly like animals duped by the bait laid for them in the snares; when they arrive in the trap, they neither obtain what they had been duped with nor are they able to escape from what they have fallen into. This then will suffice as to the amount the appetites should be suppressed: they may only be indulged where it is known that the consequence will not involve a man in pain and temporal loss equivalent to the pleasure thereby obtained—much less discomfort superior to and exceeding the pleasure that is Edition: current; Page: [ 26 ] momentarily experienced.
This is the view and assertion and recommendation even of those philosophers who have not considered the soul to have an independent existence, but to decay and perish with the body in which it is lodged. As for those who hold that the soul has an individual identity of its own, and that it uses the body as it would an instrument or an implement, not perishing simultaneously with it, they rise far, far beyond the mere reining of the instincts, and combating and opposing the passions.
They despise and revile exceedingly those who allow themselves to be led by and who incline after their lower nature, considering them to be no better than beasts. They believe that by following and indulging their passion, by inclining after and loving their appetites, by regretting anything they may miss, and inflicting pain on animals in order to secure and satisfy their lusts, these men will experience, after the soul has left the body, pain and regret and sorrow for the evil consequences of their actions alike abundant and prolonged.
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These philosophers can put forward the very physique of man to prove that he is not equipped to occupy himself with pleasures and lusts, seeing how deficient he is in this respect compared with the irrational animals, but rather to use his powers of thought and deliberation. For a single wild beast experiences more pleasure in eating and having intercourse than a multitude of men can possibly achieve; while as for its capacity for casting care and thought aside, and enjoying life simply and wholly, that is a state of affairs no man can ever rival. They further argue that if the gratification of the appetites and the indulgence of the calls of nature had been the nobler part, man would never have been made so deficient in this respect or been Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] more meanly endowed than the animals.
The very fact that man is so deficient—in spite of his being the noblest of mortal animals—in his share of these things, whereas he possesses such an ample portion of deliberation and reflection, is enough to teach us that it is nobler to utilize and improve the reason, and not to be slave and lackey of the calls of nature. Moreover, they say, if the advantage lay in gratifying carnal pleasure and lust, the creature furnished by nature to that end would be nobler than that not so equipped. By such a standard the bull and the ass would be superior not only to man, but also to the immortal beings, and to God Himself, Who is without carnal pleasure and lust.
It may be they go on that certain undisciplined men unused to reflect and deliberate upon such matters will not agree with us that the beasts enjoy greater pleasure than men. Those who argue thus may quote against us such an instance as that of a king who, having triumphed over an opposing foe, thenceforward sits at his amusement, and summons together and displays all his pomp and circumstance, so that he achieves the ultimate limit of what a man may reach.
Can so great a pleasure be measured or related with any other?
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Consider the case of a man who requires 1, dinars to put his affairs in order: if he is given , that will not completely restore his position for him. On the other hand suppose a man needs a single dinar: his situation will be perfectly amended by obtaining that one dinar.
Yet the former has been given many times more than the latter, and still his state is not completely restored. When Edition: current; Page: [ 28 ] a beast has enjoyed full satisfaction of the call of its instincts, its pleasure therein is perfect and complete; it feels no pain or hurt at missing a still greater gratification because such an idea never occurs to its mind at all.
Yet in any case the beast always experiences the superior pleasure; for there is no man who can ever attain all his hopes and desires, since his soul being endowed with the faculties of reflection, deliberation, and imagination of what he yet lacks, and it being in its nature always to consider that the state enjoyed by another is bound to be superior, never under any circumstances is it free from yearning and gazing after what it does not itself possess, and from being fearful and anxious lest it lose what it has possessed; its pleasure and desire are therefore always in a state of imperfect realization.
If any man should possess half the world, his soul would still wrestle with him to acquire the remainder, and would be anxious and fearful of losing hold of as much as it has already gotten; and if he possessed the entire world, nevertheless he would yearn for perpetual well-being and immortality, and his soul would gaze after the knowledge of all the mysteries of heaven and earth. And who is there that rejoices within himself, save only the beasts and those who live like beasts? So the poet says:.
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This sect of philosophers soar beyond the mere reining and opposing of passion, even beyond the contempt and mortification thereof, unto a matter exceedingly sublime. They partake of a bare subsistence of food and drink; they acquire not wealth or lands or houses; and some advance so far in this opinion that they go apart from other men, and withdraw into waste places.
Such are the arguments they put forward in support of their views regarding the things that are present and seen. As for their reasonings about the state of the soul after it has left the body, to speak of this would take us far beyond the scope of the present book, alike in loftiness, length and breadth: in loftiness, because this involves research into the nature of the soul, the purpose of its association with and separation from the body, and its state after it has gone out of it; in length, because each of these several branches of research requires its own interpretation and explanation, to an extent many times the discourse contained in this book; and in breadth, because the purpose of such researches is the salvation of the soul after it has left the body, though it is true that the discourse involves a major consideration of the reformation of character.
Still, there will be no harm in giving a very brief account of these matters, without however involving ourselves in an argument for or against their opinions; what we have particularly in view are those ideas which we think will assist and enable us to fulfil the purpose of our present book. Plato, the chief and greatest of the philosophers, held that there are three souls in every man. The first he called the rational and divine soul, the second the choleric and animal, and the third the vegetative, incremental and appetitive soul.
The animal and vegetative souls were created for the sake of the rational soul. The vegetative soul was made in order to feed the body, which is as it were the instrument and implement Edition: current; Page: [ 30 ] of the rational soul; for the body is not of an eternal, indissoluble substance, but its substance is fluid and soluble, and every soluble object only survives by leaving behind it something to replace that element which is dissolved.
If the rational soul employed its reason completely, this would mean that it would be delivered from the body in which it is enmeshed. On the contrary one of them, the choleric, is the entire temperament of the heart, while the other, the appetitive, is the entire temperament of the liver.
As for the temperament of the brain, this he said is the first instrument and implement used by the rational soul. Man is fed and derives his increase and growth from the liver, his heat and pulse-movement from the heart, his sensation, voluntary movement, imagination, thought and memory from the brain.
It is not the case that this is part of its peculiar property and temperament; it belongs rather to the essence dwelling within it and using it after the manner of an instrument or implement. However, it is the most intimate of all the instruments and implements associated with this agent.
Plato taught that men should labour by means of corporeal physick which is the well-known variety as well as spiritual physick which is persuasion through arguments and proofs to equilibrate the actions of the several souls so that they may neither fail nor exceed what is desired of them. Failure in the vegetative soul consists in not supplying food, growth and Edition: current; Page: [ 31 ] increase of the quantity and quality required by the whole body; its excess is when it surpasses and transgresses that limit so that the body is furnished with an abundance beyond its needs, and plunges into all kinds of pleasures and desires.get link
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Failure in the choleric soul consists in not having the fervour, pride and courage to enable it to rein and vanquish the appetitive soul at such times as it feels desire, so as to come between it and its desires; its excess is when it is possessed of so much arrogance and love of domination that it seeks to overcome all other men and the entire animal kingdom, and has no other ambition but supremacy and domination—such a state of soul as affected Alexander the Great.
Failure in the rational soul is recognized when it does not occur to it to wonder and marvel at this world of ours, to meditate upon it with interest, curiosity and a passionate desire to discover all that it contains, and above all to investigate the body in which it dwells and its form and fate after death. Truly, if a man does not wonder and marvel at our world, if he is not moved to astonishment at its form, and if his soul does not gaze after the knowledge of all that it contains, if he is not concerned or interested to discover what his state will be after death, his portion of reason is that of the beasts—nay, of bats and fishes and worthless things that never think or reflect.
Excess in the rational soul is proved when a man is so swayed and overmastered by the consideration of such things as these that the appetitive soul cannot obtain the food and sleep and so forth to keep the body fit, or in sufficient quantity to maintain the temperament of the brain in a healthy state.
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Such a man is forever seeking and probing and striving to the utmost of his powers, supposing that he will attain and realize these matters in a shorter time than that which is absolutely necessary for their achievement. The result is that the temperament of the whole body is upset, so that he falls a prey to depression and Edition: current; Page: [ 32 ] melancholia, and he misses his entire quest through supposing that he could quickly master it. Plato held that the period which has been appointed for the survival of this dissoluble and corruptible body, in a state the rational soul can make use of to procure the needs of its salvation after it leaves the body—the period that is from the time a man is born until he grows old and withers—is adequate for the fulfilment of every man, even the stupidest; provided he never gives up thinking and speculating and gazing after the matters we have mentioned as proper to the rational soul, and provided he despises this body and the physical world altogether, and loathes and detests it, being aware that the sentient soul, so long as it is attached to any part of it, continues to pass through states deleterious and painful because generation and corruption are forever succeeding each other in the body; provided further that he does not hate but rather yearns to depart out of the body and to be liberated from it.
He believed that when the time comes for the sentient soul to leave the body in which it is lodged, if it has acquired and believed firmly in these ideas it will pass immediately into its own world, and will not desire to be attached to any particle of the body thereafter; it will remain living and reasoning eternally, free from pain, and rejoicing in its place of abode. For life and reason belong to it of its own essence; freedom from pain will be the consequence of its removal from generation and corruption; it will rejoice in its own world and place of abiding because it has been liberated from association with the body and existence in the physical world.
But if the soul leaves the body without having acquired these ideas and without having recognized the true nature of the physical world, but rather still yearning after it and eager to exist therein, it will not leave its present dwelling-place but will continue to be linked with some portion of it; it will not cease—because Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] of the succession of generation and corruption within the body in which it is lodged—to suffer continual and reduplicated pains, and cares multitudinous and afflicting. Such in brief are the views of Plato, and of Socrates the Divine Hermit before him.
Besides all this, there is neither any purely mundane view whatsoever that does not necessitate some reining of passion and appetite, or that gives them free head and rope altogether.
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To rein and suppress the passion is an obligation according to every opinion, in the view of every reasoning man, and according to every religion. Therefore let the reasoning man observe these ideals with the eye of his reason, and keep them before his attention and in his mind; and even if he should not achieve the highest rank and level of this order described in the present book, let him at least cling hold of the meanest level. That is the view of those who advocate the reining of the passion to the extent that will not involve mundane loss in this present life; for if he tastes some bitterness and unpleasantness at the beginning of his career through reining and suppressing his passion, this will presently be followed by a consequent sweetness and a pleasure in which he may rejoice with great joy and gladness; while the labour he endures in wrestling with his passion and suppressing his appetites will grow easier by habit, especially if this be effected gradually—by accustoming himself to the discipline and leading on his soul gently, first to deny trifling appetites and to forgo a little of its desires at the requirement of reason and judgment, and then to seek after further discipline until it becomes associated with his character and habit.
In this way his appetitive soul will become submissive and will grow accustomed to being subject to his rational soul. So the process will continue to develop; and the discipline will be reinforced by the joy he has in the results yielded by this Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] reining of his passion, and the profit he has of his judgment and reason and of controlling his affairs by them; by the praise men lavish upon him, and their evident desire to emulate his achievement.
Now that we have laid level the foundations for that part of our discourse which is to follow, and have mentioned the most important principles as constituting an adequate capital and reserve on which to draw, we will proceed to describe the various evil dispositions of the soul, and the gentle means of reforming them, to serve as an analogy and an example for what we have not attempted to set forth.
We shall withal endeavour to be as brief and concise as possible in speaking of these vices; for we have already established the chief cause and principal reason, from which we shall derive and on which we shall build all the divers treatments necessary for the reformation of any particular evil characteristic.
Indeed, if we should not single out even one of these for special consideration, but leave them all aside without any individual mention, ample resources would be available for putting them to right by keeping in mind and holding fast to our first principle. For all these dispositions are the result of obeying the call of passion and yielding to the persuasion of the appetite: to rein and guard these twain will effectively prevent being seized and moulded by them.
But in any case we intend to state as much on this subject as we consider needful and necessary to assist in fulfilling the purpose of our present book. And God be our help in this. Inasmuch as it is impossible for any of us to deny his passion, because of the affection he has for his own self and the approval and admiration he feels for his own actions, or to look upon his own character and way of life with the pure and single eye of reason, it can scarcely fall to any man to have a clear view of his vices and reprehensible habits.
Since the knowledge of this is denied him, he will hardly depart out of any vice, seeing that he is not even aware of it; much less will he think it disgraceful and endeavour to be rid of it. He must therefore rely in this matter upon an intelligent man who is his frequent associate and constant companion. He will ask and implore and insist upon his informing him of whatever he knows of his vices, making him understand that in that way he will be doing what he most desires and what will have the greatest effect on him.
He will tell him that he is immensely obliged and infinitely grateful to him for such a kindness. He will beg him not to be shy of him, or blandish him, and will tell him bluntly that if he is easy on him, or dilatory in informing him of anything, he will have done him an injury and deceived him, and will deserve his severe reproaches. When his supervisor begins to inform him, and to tell him what he sees and discovers about him, he must not exhibit any sorrow or sense of disgrace; on the contrary he must appear to rejoice at what he hears and to be eager for more. If he observes Edition: current; Page: [ 37 ] in any circumstance that his friend has concealed anything from him out of shyness, or has been too moderate in expressing his disapproval, above all if he has actually approved of his conduct, then he will reproach him and make it plain that he is very much upset by him; he will inform him that he does not like him to act in that way, and that all he desires is perfect frankness and absolute candour.
If on the other hand he finds that his mentor has gone too far, and has been excessive in his disapproval and abhorrence at some act of his, he will not therefore fly into a rage; rather will he applaud him and make him see how happy and pleased he is with his conduct. Moreover he must renew his request to such a supervisor time and time again; for evil characteristics and habits have a way of returning after they have been expelled. He should also try to discover and be on the lookout for what his neighbours and colleagues and associates say about him; what they find to praise in him, and what to blame.
When a man follows this course in these matters, scarcely one of his vices will be hidden from him, however insignificant and secret it may be. Then if it should happen that he falls in with an enemy or an adversary that delights in exposing his weaknesses and vices, he will not have to wait to make good his knowledge of his faults at his hand; rather he will be compelled and obliged to get rid of them betimes, if he has some regard for himself and is ambitious to be a decent and virtuous man.
Galen wrote a book on this subject entitled Good Men Profit by their Enemies, in which he gave an account of the benefits he derived from having an enemy; and another treatise called How a Man May Discover his Own Vices, which we have here abstracted and epitomized. What we have set out in this chapter is amply sufficient; if any man will make use of it, he will ever be like a poised and whetted arrow. The aforesaid men of lofty purpose and soul are far removed from this calamity by their very nature and temperament. For there is nothing more grievous to them than to be mean and humble and abject, to manifest want and need, and to endure injury and arrogance.
Having reflected on what lovers must perforce suffer in these respects, they run away from love, holding themselves steadfast, and stopping their passion for love if they are ever afflicted by it. So too do those who are involved in pressing and extreme worldly or other-worldly occupations and cares. But men that are effeminate, flirtatious, idle, soft, and given over to appetite, who make pleasure their sole interest and seek only for worldly gratification, who take it to be a great loss and sorrow to lose it, and reckon what they cannot attain to be a real misery and misfortune—such men are hardly delivered from this affliction.
And first we will prefix some profitable remarks which will be of help in attaining both what has gone before and what lies ahead in this book; namely, the discussion of Pleasure. An example is provided by the man who leaves a restful, shady spot to go out into the desert; there he proceeds under the summer sun until he is affected by the heat; then he returns to his former place. He continues to feel pleasure in that place, until his body returns to its original state; then he loses the sense of pleasure as his body goes back to normal.
The intensity of his pleasure on coming home is in proportion to the degree of intensity of the heat, and the speed of his cooling-off in that place. Hence the philosophers have defined pleasure as a return to the state of nature.