Moral PrejudiceMarch 2, 2020
Some men try to distinguish themselves by ridiculing everything that was sacred and venerable to mankind.
They rail against Reason, Sobriety, Honour, Friendship, Marriage perpetually. They even regard public spirit and nationalism as fake.
If the schemes of these anti-reformers were to be implemented, the bonds of society will break. and make way for licentious mirth and gaiety.
- Drunken frollics would be preferred to friendship.
- Dissolute prodigality would drain away every valuable thing.
- Men would have so little regard to anything beyond themselves.
- In the end, it would make a free constitution of government perfectly impracticable.
- The government would then degenerate into fraud and corruption.
There is another Humour, which may be observ’d in some Pretenders to Wisdom, and which, if not so pernicious as the idle petulant Humour above-mention’d, must, however, have a very bad Effect on those, who indulge it.
The serious philosophic endeavour for Perfection strikes at all the most endearing sentiments of the heart, and all our useful biases and instincts. The Stoics were remarkable for this folly among the Ancients.
I wish that later generations had not copied them too faithfully. They have caused:
- the virtuous and tender sentiments to suffer mightily.
- a certain sullen Pride or Contempt of Mankind to prevail
These were esteem’d the greatest Wisdom, even if they were the most egregious Folly.
Statilius was solicited by Brutus to make one of that noble Band, who struck the GOD-like Stroke for the Liberty of Rome, refus’d to accompany them, saying, That all Men were Fools or Mad, and did not deserve that a wise Man should trouble his Head about them.
My learned Reader will here easily recollect the Reason, which an antient Philosopher gave, why he wou’d not be reconcil’d to his Brother, who sollicited his Friendship. He was too much a Philosopher to think, that the Connexion of having sprung from the same Parent, ought to have any Influence on a reasonable Mind, and exprest his Sentiment after such a Manner as I think not proper to repeat.
Epictetus says that:
- when your friend is in affliction, you may have fake sympathy with him to give him relief.
- But take care not to allow any compassion into your heart.
Diogenes was asked by his friends in his sickness: ‘What should be done with him after his death?’ He said:
How different are Epictetus’ words from the Maxims of Eugenius! In his youth he studied philosophy with all his strength and nothing was able to draw him from it. When he was 30, he was determin’d to quit the free Life of a Batchelor (in which otherwise he wou’d have been inclin’d to remain) by considering, that he was the last branch of an ancient Family, which must have been extinguish’d had he died without Children.
He chose the virtuous and beautiful Emira for his consort and had many children with her which led to her death. Only the consolation from his young family could have supported him under so severe an affliction. He had a favorite daughter who resembled his wife. He conceals this partiality as much as possible. Only his intimate friends know it. They know that:
- he still keeps the birthday of Emira with tears
- he preserves her picture with the utmost care
- he has left orders in his last will to be buried with her and that a monument shall be erected over them and their mutual Love celebrated in an Epitaph, which he has composed
A few years ago I received a letter from a friend about an example of departing too far from the standard Conduct and Behaviour and going into a refined search for Happiness or Perfection.