CHAPTER 8

Against those who hastily rush into the use of the philosophic dress
Never praise nor blame a man because of the things which are common, and do not ascribe to him any skill or want of skill; and thus you will be free from rashness and from malevolence. "This man bathes very quickly." Does he then do wrong? Certainly not. But what does he do? He bathes very quickly. Are all things then done well? By no means: but the acts which proceed from right opinions are done well; and those which proceed from bad opinions are done ill. But do you, until you know the opinion from which a man does each thing, neither praise nor blame the act. But the opinion is not easily discovered from the external things. "This man is a carpenter." Why? "Because he uses an ax." What, then, is this to the matter? "This man is a musician because he sings." And what does that signify? "This man is a philosopher. Because he wears a cloak and long hair." And what does a juggler wear? For this reason if a man sees any philosopher acting indecently, immediately he says, "See what the philosopher is doing"; but he ought because of the man's indecent behavior rather to say that he is not a philosopher. For if this is the preconceived notion of a philosopher and what he professes, to wear a cloak and long hair, men would say well; but if what he professes is this rather, to keep himself free from faults, why do we not rather, because he does not make good his professions, take from him the name of philosopher? For so we do in the case of all other arts. When a man sees another handling an ax badly, he does not say, "What is the use of the carpenter's art? See how badly carpenters do their work"; but he says just the contrary, "This man is not a carpenter, for he uses an ax badly." In the same way if a man hears another singing badly, he does not say, "See how musicians sing"; but rather, "This man is not a musician." But it is in the matter of philosophy only that people do this. When they see a man acting contrary to the profession of a philosopher, they do not take away his title, but they assume him to be a philosopher, and from his acts deriving the fact that he is behaving indecently they conclude that there is no use in philosophy.

What, then, is the reason of this? Because we attach value to the notion of a carpenter, and to that of a musician, and to the notion of other artisans in like manner, but not to that of a philosopher, and we judge from externals only that it is a thing confused and ill defined. And what other kind of art has a name from the dress and the hair; and has not theorems and a material and an end? What, then, is the material of the philosopher? Is it a cloak? No, but reason. What is his end? is it to wear a cloak? No, but to possess the reason in a right state. Of what kind are his theorems? Are they those about the way in which the beard becomes great or the hair long? No, but rather what Zeno says, to know the elements of reason, what kind of a thing each of them is, and how they are fitted to one another, and what things are consequent upon them. Will you not, then, see first if he does what he professes when he acts in an unbecoming manner, and then blame his study? But now when you yourself are acting in a sober way, you say in consequence of what he seems to you to be doing wrong, "Look at the philosopher," as if it were proper to call by the name of philosopher one who does these things; and further, "This is the conduct of a philosopher." But you do not say, "Look at the carpenter," when you know that a carpenter is an adulterer or you see him to be a glutton; nor do you say, "See the musician." Thus to a certain degree even you perceive the profession of a philosopher, but you fall away from the notion, and you are confused through want of care.

But even the philosophers themselves as they are called pursue the thing by beginning with things which are common to them and others: as soon as they have assumed a cloak and grown a beard, they say, "I am a philosopher." But no man will say, "I am a musician," if he has bought a plectrum and a lute: nor will he say, "I am a smith," if he has put on a cap and apron. But the dress is fitted to the art; and they take their name from the art, and not from the dress. For this reason Euphrates used to say well, "A long time I strove to be a philosopher without people knowing it; and this," he said, "was useful to me: for first I knew that when I did anything well, I did not do it for the sake of the spectators, but for the sake of myself: I ate well for the sake of myself; I had my countenance well composed and my walk: all for myself and for God. Then, as I struggled alone, so I alone also was in danger: in no respect through me, if I did anything base or unbecoming, was philosophy endangered; nor did I injure the many by doing anything wrong as a philosopher. For this reason those who did not know my purpose used to wonder how it was that, while I conversed and lived altogether with all philosophers, I was not a philosopher myself. And what was the harm for me to be known to be a philosopher by my acts and not by outward marks?" See how I eat, how I drink, how I sleep, how I bear and forbear, how I co-operate, how I employ desire, how I employ aversion, how I maintain the relations, those which are natural or those which are acquired, how free from confusion, how free from hindrance. Judge of me from this, if you can. But if you are so deaf and blind that you cannot conceive even Hephaestus to be a good smith, unless you see the cap on his head, what is the harm in not being recognized by so foolish a judge?

So Socrates was not known to be a philosopher by most persons; and they used to come to him and ask to be introduced to philosophers. Was he vexed then as we are, and did he say, "And do you not think that I am a philosopher?" No, but he would take them and introduce them, being satisfied with one thing, with being a philosopher; and being pleased also with not being thought to be a philosopher, he was not annoyed: for he thought of his own occupation. What is the work of an honourable and good man? To have many pupils? By no means. They will look to this matter who are earnest about it. But was it his business to examine carefully difficult theorems? Others will look after these matters also. In what, then, was he, and who was he and whom did he wish to be? He was in that wherein there was hurt and advantage. "If any man can damage me," he says, "I am doing nothing: if I am waiting for another man to do me good, I am nothing. If I anguish for anything, and it does not happen, I am unfortunate." To such a contest he invited every man, and I do not think that he would have declined the contest with any one. What do you suppose? was it by proclaiming and saying, "I am such a man?" Far from it, but by being such a man. For further, this is the character of a fool and a boaster to say, "I am free from passions and disturbance: do not be ignorant, my friends, that while you are uneasy and disturbed about things of no value, I alone am free from all perturbation." So is it not enough for you to feel no pain, unless you make this proclamation: "Come together all who are suffering gout, pains in the head, fever, ye who are lame, blind, and observe that I am sound from every ailment." This is empty and disagreeable to hear, unless like Aesculapius you are able to show immediately by what kind of treatment they also shall be immediately free from disease, and unless you show your own health as an example.

For such is the Cynic who is honoured with the sceptre and the diadem of Zeus, and says, "That you may see, O men, that you seek happiness and tranquillity not where it is, but where it is not, behold I am sent to you by God as an example. I who have neither property nor house, nor wife nor children, nor even a bed, nor coat nor household utensil; and see how healthy I am: try me, and if you see that I am free from perturbations, hear the remedies and how I have been cured." This is both philanthropic and noble. But see whose work it is, the work of Zeus, or of him whom He may judge worthy of this service, that he may never exhibit anything to the many, by which he shall make of no effect his own testimony, whereby he gives testimony to virtue, and bears evidence against external things:

His beauteous face pales his cheeks
He wipes a tear.
And not this only, but he neither desires nor seeks anything, nor man nor place nor amusement, as children seek the vintage or holidays; always fortified by modesty as others are fortified by walls and doors and doorkeepers.

But now, being only moved to philosophy, as those who have a bad stomach are moved to some kinds of food which they soon loathe, straightway toward the sceptre and to the royal power. They let the hair grow, they assume the cloak, they show the shoulder bare, they quarrel with those whom they meet; and if they see a man in a thick winter coat, they quarrel with him. Man, first exercise yourself in winter weather: see your movements that they are not those of a man with a bad stomach or those of a longing woman. First strive that it be not known what you are: be a philosopher to yourself a short time. Fruit grows thus: the seed must be buried for some time, hid, grow slowly in order that it may come to perfection. But if it produces the ear before the jointed stem, it is imperfect, a produce of the garden of Adonis. Such a poor plant are you also: you have blossomed too soon; the cold weather will scorch you up. See what the husbandmen say about seeds when there is warm weather too early. They are afraid lest the seeds should be too luxuriant, and then a single frost should lay hold of them and show that they are too forward. Do you also consider, my man: you have shot out too soon, you have hurried toward a little fame before the proper season: you think that you are something, a fool among fools: you will be caught by the frost, and rather you have been frost-bitten in the root below, but your upper parts still blossom a little, and for this reason you think that you are still alive and flourishing. Allow us to ripen in the natural way: why do you bare us? why do you force us? we are not yet able to bear the air. Let the root grow, then acquire the first joint, then the second, and then the third: in this way, then, the fruit will naturally force itself out, even if I do not choose. For who that is pregnant and I filled with such great principles does not also perceive his own powers and move toward the corresponding acts? A bull is not ignorant of his own nature and his powers, when a wild beast shows itself, nor does he wait for one to urge him on; nor a dog when he sees a wild animal. But if I have the powers of a good man, shall I wait for you to prepare me for my own acts? At present I have them not, believe me. Why then do you wish me to be withered up before the time, as you have been withered up?