Saturday, October 7, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B6:14

Most of the things valued by the masses come under the categories of what is sustained by cohesion (minerals, timber) or natural growth (figs, vines, olives). What is valued by the slightly more advanced belongs to the class of things sustained by a principle of life, such as flocks and herds, or the bare ownership of a multitude of slaves. The things valued by yet more refined people are those sustained by the rational soul - not, however, reason as such, but reason expressed in craftsmanship or some other skill. But the man who fully esteems the soul as both rational and political no longer has any regard for those other things, but above all else keeps his own soul in a constant state of rational and social activity, and cooperates to that end with his like.

A similar notion is found in Xenophon's Memorabilia by Socrates:
"... to have as few wants as possible is the nearest approach to Godhead; and as that which is divine is mightiest, so that is next mightiest which comes closest to the divine."

The highest aspiration of the sage is arete - best defined as excellence of character in moral virtue.  Those who can succeed at focusing and attaining constant moral virtue can be called sages.  The sage does not value the "indifferents" in life.  Rather he/she values reason and applied social action.

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