CHAPTER 10

How we may discover the duties of life from names
Consider who you are. In the first place, you are a man; and this is one who has nothing superior to the faculty of the will, but all other things subjected to it; and the faculty itself he possesses unenslaved and free from subjection. Consider then from what things you have been separated by reason. You have been separated from wild beasts: you have been separated from domestic animals. Further, you are a citizen of the world, and a part of it, not one of the subservient, but one of the principal parts, for you are capable of comprehending the divine administration and of considering the connection of things. What then does the character of a citizen promise? To hold nothing as profitable to himself; to deliberate about nothing as if he were detached from the community, but to act as the hand or foot would do, if they had reason and understood the constitution of nature, for they would never put themselves in motion nor desire anything, otherwise than with reference to the whole. Therefore the philosophers say well, that if the good man had foreknowledge of what would happen, he would cooperate toward his own sickness and death and mutilation, since he knows that these things are assigned to him according to the universal arrangement, and that the whole is superior to the part and the state to the citizen. But now, because we do not know the future, it is our duty to stick to the things which are in their nature more suitable for our choice, for we were made among other things for this.

After this, remember that you are a son. What does this character promise? To consider that everything which is the son's belongs to the father, to obey him in all things, never to blame him to another, nor to say or do anything which does him injury, to yield to him in all things and give way, cooperating with him as far as you can. After this know that you are a brother also, and that to this character it is due to make concessions; to be easily persuaded, to speak good of your brother, never to claim in opposition to him any of the things which are independent of the will, but readily to give them up, that you may have the larger share in what is dependent on the will. For see what a thing it is, in place of a lettuce, if it should so happen, or a seat, to gain for yourself goodness of disposition. How great is the advantage.

Next to this, if you are senator of any state, remember that you are a senator: if a youth, that you are a youth: if an old man, that you are an old man; for each of such names, if it comes to be examined, marks out the proper duties. But if you go and blame your brother, I say to you, "You have forgotten who you are and what is your name." In the next place, if you were a smith and made a wrong use of the hammer, you would have forgotten the smith; and if you have forgotten the brother and instead of a brother have become an enemy, would you appear not to have changed one thing for another in that case? And if instead of a man, who is a tame animal and social, you are become a mischievous wild beast, treacherous, and biting, have you lost nothing? But, you must lose a bit of money that you may suffer damage? And does the loss of nothing else do a man damage? If you had lost the art of grammar or music, would you think the loss of it a damage? and if you shall lose modesty, moderation and gentleness, do you think the loss nothing? And yet the things first mentioned are lost by some cause external and independent of the will, and the second by our own fault; and as to the first neither to have them nor to lose them is shameful; but as to the second, not to have them and to lose them is shameful and matter of reproach and a misfortune. What does the pathic lose? He loses the man. What does he lose who makes the pathic what he is? Many other things; and he also loses the man no less than the other. What does he lose who commits adultery? He loses the modest, the temperate, the decent, the citizen, the neighbour. What does he lose who is angry? Something else. What does the coward lose? Something else. No man is bad without suffering some loss and damage. If then you look for the damage in the loss of money only, all these men receive no harm or damage; it may be, they have even profit and gain, when they acquire a bit of money by any of these deeds. But consider that if you refer everything to a small coin, not even he who loses his nose is in your opinion damaged. "Yes," you say, "for he is mutilated in his body." Well; but does he who has lost his smell only lose nothing? Is there, then, no energy of the soul which is an advantage to him who possesses it, and a damage to him who has lost it? "Tell me what sort you mean." Have we not a natural modesty? "We have." Does he who loses this sustain no damage? is he deprived of nothing, does he part with nothing of the things which belong to him? Have we not naturally fidelity? natural affection, a natural disposition to help others, a natural disposition to forbearance? The man then who allows himself to be damaged in these matters, can he be free from harm and uninjured? "What then? shall I not hurt him, who has hurt me?" In the first place consider what hurt is, and remember what you have heard from the philosophers. For if the good consists in the will, and the evil also in the will, see if what you say is not this: "What then, since that man has hurt himself by doing an unjust act to me, shall I not hurt myself by doing some unjust act to him?" Why do we not imagine to something of this kind? But where there is any detriment to the body or to our possession, there is harm there; and where the same thing happens to the faculty of the will, there is no harm; for he who has been deceived or he who has done an unjust act neither suffers in the head nor in the eye nor in the hip, nor does he lose his estate; and we wish for nothing else than these things. But whether we shall have the will modest and faithful or shameless and faithless, we care not the least, except only in the school so far as a few words are concerned. Therefore our proficiency is limited to these few words; but beyond them it does not exist even in the slightest degree.