Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Commentary on Meditations: B6:33-35

The pain of labour for hand or foot is not contrary to nature, as long as the foot is doing the work of a foot and the hand the work of a hand. So likewise for a man, qua man, there is nothing contrary to nature in pain, as long as he is doing the work of a man: and if not contrary to nature for him, not an evil either.

As for pleasure, pirates, catamites, parricides, and tyrants have enjoyed it to the full.

Do you not see how the working craftsman, while deferring to the layman up to a point, nevertheless sticks to the principle of his craft and will not bear to desert it? Is it not strange, then, that the architect and the doctor will show greater respect for the guiding principle of their craft than man will for his own guiding principle, which he has in common with the gods?

Virtue (courage, temperance, justice, wisdom) is the sole good.  Everything else should not matter.  Pleasure and pain are indifferent.  Pleasure will not bring contentment.  Avoidance of pain will not bring contentment.  If you, your hand or foot are doing what they were meant to do, regardless of pain, then that is sufficient.  Pirates, catamites (homosexual whores), parricides (parent-killers) and tyrants live a life full of pleasure and will not find peace.

Pursue any pleasure (and avoid all pain) you want in this life and you will eventually meet a dead end.  And at that dead end will be a question: what's the point?  Then perhaps you move on to the next pleasure and pursue that one.  Eventually you'd reach a dead and with the same question staring at you.  Maybe after some self-reflection, you will begin to realize everything is transitory and perhaps you would seek something unchanging - something that would help you find contentment as opposed to pleasure.  This is where philosophy enters the scene.  She teaches you how to live a life of contentment now.

The point: watch how certain laymen, architects and doctors love their craft.  So too, you should learn and love the craft of living a philosophical life now.

Alan Watts seems to hit on these two ideas in the below videos.

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