Thursday, February 8, 2018

Commentary on Meditations: B11:14-15

They despise each other, but still toady to each other: they want to win, but still grovel.

The rotten pretence of the man who says, 'I prefer to be honest with you'! What are you on about, man? No need for this preface - the reality will show. It should be written on your forehead, immediately clear in the tone of your voice and the light of your eyes, just as the loved one can immediately read all in the glance of his lovers. In short, the good and honest man should have the same effect as the unwashed - anyone close by as he passes detects the aura, willy-nilly, at once. Calculated honesty is a stiletto. There is nothing more degrading than the friendship of wolves: avoid that above all. The good, honest, kindly man has it in his eyes, and you cannot mistake him.

Chapter 14 of Book 11 is really interesting.  At the heart of the matter is this: you should have integrity and be the same person all the time.  However, power and survival instincts collide.  As a personal example.  Through my career, I may have to report to a manager is could be egotistical, maniacal and power-hungry.  I want to keep my career to provide for myself and my family and I know that me reporting to a crazy manager is not permanent.  Should I "suck-up" where appropriate?  Or should I "shoot straight" and provide frank feedback to them that they are crazy and risk losing my career?  I know it is a bit of an extreme example, but nonetheless probable.  Outside an example like this, I think the point Marcus makes is valid.  You don't have to toady and grovel - a philosopher should not have to suck up at all, because they are focused on living striving for virtue, not approval.

Honesty and integrity: hallmarks of a good person.  It should be self-evident.

(see also Citadel p. 226-227)

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