Superphysics Superphysics
Prudence And Prosperity

Crito's Treatises

16 minutes  • 3379 words
Table of contents

Treatise On Prudence And Prosperity

Prudence and prosperity subsist, with reference to each other, as follows= Prudence indeed is effable and possesses reason; for it is something orderly and definite.

But prosperity is ineffable and irrational; for it is something disorderly and indefinite. And prudence, indeed, is prior, but prosperity is posterior in beginning and in power. For the former is naturally adapted to govern and define; but the latter to be governed and defined.

Moreover, both prudence and prosperity receive co-adaptation, since they concur in one and the same thing. For it is always necessary that the thing which bounds and co-arranges, should have a nature which is effable and participates of reason; but that the thing which is bounded and co-arranged, should be naturally ineffable and irrational. 246

For the reason of the nature of the infinite and of that which bounds, thus subsists in all things. For infinites are always naturally disposed to be bounded and co-arranged by things which possess reason and prudence, since the former have the order of matter and essence with relation to the latter. But finites are co-arranged and bounded from themselves, since they have the order of cause, and of that which is energetic.

The co-adaptation, however, of these natures in different things, produces a great and various difference of co-adapted substances. For in the comprehension of the whole of things, the co-adaptation of both the natures, i. e. of the nature which is always moved, and of that which is always passive, is the world. For it is not possible for the whole and the universe to be otherwise saved, than by that which is generated being co-adapted to that which is divine, and that which is always passive to that which is always moved.[71] In man, likewise, the co-adaptation of the irrational to the rational part of the soul, is virtue. For it is not possible in these, when there is sedition in both the parts, that virtue should have a subsistence. In a city also, the co-adaptation of the governors to the governed, produces strength and concord.

For to govern 247 is the peculiarity of the better nature; but to be governed, is easier to the subordinate [than to the more excellent] nature. And strength and concord are common to both. There is, however, the same mode of adaptation in the universe and in a family= for allurements[72] and erudition concur with reason in one and the same thing; and likewise pains and pleasures, prosperity and adversity. For the life of man requires intension and remission, sorrow and gladness, prosperity and adversity. For some things are able to collect and retain the intellect to industry and wisdom; but others impart relaxation and delight, and thus render the intellect vigorous and prompt to action.

If however one of these prevails in life, then the life of man becomes of one part, and verges to one part, tending either to sorrow and difficulty, or to remission and levity. But the co-adaptation of all these ought to subsist with reference to prudence. For this separates and distinguishes[73] bound and infinity in actions. Hence prudence is the leader and mother of the 248 other virtues. For all of them are co-harmonized and co-arranged with reference to the reason and law of this virtue. And now my discussion of this subject is terminated. For the irrational and the effable are in all things. And the latter defines and bounds; but the former is defined and bounded. That, however, which consists of both these, is the apt composition of the whole and the universe.

The following beautiful fragment of Crito on Prudence, is from the Physical Eclogues of Stobæus, p. 198, and is omitted by Gale in his Collection of Pythagoric Ethical Fragments in Opusc. Mythol. &c.

God fashioned man in such a way as to render it manifest, that he is not through the want of power, or of deliberate choice, incapable of being impelled to what is beautiful in conduct. For he implanted in him a principle of such a kind as to comprehend at one and the same time the possible and the pre-eligible; so that man might be the cause of power, and the possession of good, but 249 God of impulse and incitation according to right reason. On this account also, he made him tend to heaven, gave him an intellective power, and implanted in him a sight called intellect, which is capable of beholding God. For it is not possible without God to discover that which is best and most beautiful, nor without intellect to see God, since every mortal nature is established in conjunction with a kindred privation of intellect. This however is not imparted to it by God, but by the essence of generation, and by that impulse of the soul which is without deliberate choice.

Treatise On The Good And Happy Man

The prudent [i. e. the wise] man will especially become so as follows= In the first place, being naturally sagacious, possessing a good memory, and being a lover of labor, he should exercise his dianoetic power immediately from his youth in reasonings and disciplines, and in accurate theories, and adhere to genuine philosophy. But after this he should acquire knowledge and experience in what pertains to the Gods, the laws, and human lives. For there are two things from which the disposition of prudence is produced; one of which consists in obtaining a mathematical and gnostic habit; but the other, in a man perceiving by himself many theorems and things, and understanding other things through a certain different mode.

For neither is he sufficient to the possession of prudence, 251 who immediately from his youth has exercised his dianoetic power in reasonings and disciplines; nor he who being destitute of these, has heard and has been conversant with a multitude of things. But the latter will have his dianoetic power blind, through judging of particulars; and the former through always surveying universals. For as in computations the amount of the whole is obtained by the addition of the parts, thus also in things, reason is able to delineate the theory of universals; but experience has the power of forming a judgment of particulars.

Treatise On Disciplines

It is necessary that you should become scientific, either by learning from another person, or by discovering yourself the things of which you have a scientific knowledge. If, therefore, you learn from another person, that which you learn is foreign; but what you discover yourself is through yourself, and is your own. Moreover, if you investigate, discovery will be easy, and soon obtained; but if you do not know how to investigate, discovery will be to you impossible. And [right] reasoning indeed, when discovered, causes sedition to cease, and increases concord.

For through this the inexhaustible desire of possessing is suppressed, and equality prevails; since by this we obtain what is just in contracts. Hence, on account of this, the poor receive from those who are able to give; and the rich 253 give to those that are in want, both of them believing that through this they shall obtain the equal. This however will be a rule and an impediment to those that act unjustly, viz. that men who possess scientific knowledge will appease their anger, prior to the commission of an injury, being persuaded that the perpetrators of it will not be concealed when it is committed; but that those who do not possess scientific knowledge, becoming manifest in the commission of an injury, will be restrained from acting unjustly.

His Treatise Concerning The Good And Happy Man.

The good man is not immediately happy from necessity; but that this is the case with the man who is both happy and good. For the happy man obtains both praise and the predication of blessedness; but the good man far as he is good obtains praise alone.

The praise also arises from virtue; but the predication of blessedness from good fortune. And the worthy man, indeed, becomes such from the goods which he possesses; but the happy man is sometimes deprived of his felicity. For the power of virtue is perfectly free, but that of felicity is subject to restraint. For long-continued diseases of the body, and deprivations of the senses, cause the florishing condition of felicity to waste away.

God, however, differs from a good man in this, that God indeed not only possesses virtue genuine and purified from every mortal passion, but his power also is unwearied and unrestrained, as being adapted to the most venerable and magnificent production of eternal works. Man indeed, by the mortal condition of his nature, not only enjoys this power and this virtue in a less degree; but sometimes through the want of symmetry[60] in the goods which he possesses, or through powerful custom, or a depraved nature, or through many other causes, he is unable to possess in the extreme a good which is perfectly true.

Since therefore of goods, some are eligible for their own sakes, and not for the sake of another thing; but others are eligible for the sake of something else, and not on their own account; there is also a certain third species of goods, which is eligible both on its own account, and for the sake of another thing. What, therefore, is the good which is eligible on its own account, and not for the sake of something else? It is evident that it is felicity.

For we aspire after other things for the sake of this, but we do not desire this for the sake of any thing else. Again, what are those goods which we desire indeed for the sake of something else, but which we do not desire on their own account?

They are such things as are useful, and pre-eligible 214 goods, which become the causes of our obtaining things which are eligible [on their own account]; such as corporeal labors, exercise, and frictions which are employed for the sake of a good habit of body; and also reading, meditation, and study, which are undertaken for the sake of things beautiful and virtue. But what are the things which are eligible on their own account, and also for the sake of something else?

They are such things as the virtues, and the habits of them, deliberate choice and actions, and whatever adheres to that which is really beautiful.

Hence, that indeed which is eligible on its own account, and not on account of something else, is a solitary good and one. But that which is eligible for its own sake, and for the sake of another thing, is triply divided. For one part of it indeed subsists about the soul; another about the body; and another pertains to externals. And that which is about the soul, consists of the virtues of the soul; that which is about the body, of the virtues of the body; and that which pertains to externals, consists of friends, glory, honor, and wealth.

There is likewise a similar reasoning with respect to that which is eligible on account of something else. For one part of it is effective of the goods of the soul; another part of it, of the goods of the body; and that which pertains to externals is the cause of wealth, glory, honor, and friendship.

That virtue however happens to be eligible for its own sake, is evident from the following considerations. For if things which are naturally subordinate, I mean the goods of the body, are eligible for their own sakes, but the soul is better than the body, it is evident that we love the goods of the soul on their own account, and not for the sake of the consequences with which they are attended.

There are likewise three definite times of human life; one of prosperity; another of adversity; and a third subsisting between these. Since therefore, he is a good man who possesses and uses virtue; but he uses it according to three seasons; for he uses it either in adversity, or in prosperity, or in the time between these; and in adversity indeed he is unhappy, but in prosperity happy, and in the middle condition, he is not happy [though he is not miserable];—this being the case, it is evident that felicity is nothing else than the use of virtue in prosperity. We now speak, however, of the felicity of man. But man is not soul alone, but is likewise body. For the animal which consists of both, and that which is constituted from things of this kind is man. For though the body is naturally adapted to be the instrument of the soul, yet this as well as the soul is a part of man [so far as he is an animal.[61]]

Hence of goods also, some are 216 the goods of man, but others, of the parts of man. And the good of man, indeed, is felicity.

But of the parts of man, the good of the soul is prudence, fortitude, justice, and temperance.

The good of the body is beauty, health, a good corporeal habit, and excellence of sensation. With respect to externals however, wealth, glory, honor, and nobility, are naturally adapted to be attendant on man, and to follow precedaneous goods.

The less, also, are ministrant to the greater goods. Thus friendship, glory, and wealth, are ministrant both to the body and the soul; but health, strength, and excellence of sensation, are subservient to the soul; and prudence [i. e. wisdom] and justice are ministrant to the intellect of the soul. Intellect, however, is the satellite of Deity. For God is the most excellent, and the leader and ruler of all things. And for the sake of these, it is necessary that other goods should be present. For the general, indeed, is the leader of the army; the pilot, of the ship; God, of the world; and intellect, of soul. But prudence is the leader of the felicity pertaining to life. For prudence is nothing else than the science of the felicity which respects human life, or the science of the goods which naturally pertain to man.

The felicity and life of God are most excellent; but the felicity of man consists of science, and virtue, and in the third place of prosperity[62] corporalized.

But I mean by science, the wisdom pertaining to things divine and demoniacal; and by prudence, the wisdom pertaining to human concerns, and the affairs of life. For it is requisite to call the virtues which employ reasonings and demonstrations, sciences. But it is fit to denominate virtue ethical, and the best habit of the irrational part of the soul, according to which we are said to possess certain qualities pertaining to manners; viz. by which we are called liberal, 218 just, and temperate. But it is requisite to call prosperity, the preter-rational presence of goods, [or a supply of goods without the assistance of reason,] and which is not effected on account of it. Since therefore virtue and science are in our power, but prosperity is not; and since also felicity consists in the contemplation and performance of things [truly] beautiful; but contemplations and actions, when they are not prosperous, are attended with ministrant offices and necessity, but when they proceed in the right path, produce delight and felicity; and these things are effected in prosperity;—this being the case, it is evident that felicity is nothing else than the use of virtue in prosperity. Hence the good man is disposed with respect to prosperity, in the same manner as he who has an excellent and robust body. For such a one is able to endure heat and cold, to raise a great burden, and to sustain easily many other molestations.

Since therefore felicity is the use of virtue in prosperity, we must speak concerning virtue and prosperity, and in the first place concerning prosperity. For of goods, some indeed do not admit of excess, and this is the case with virtue. For there is not any virtue which is excessive, nor any worthy man who is beyond measure good. For virtue has the fit and becoming for a rule, and is the habit of the decorous in practical concerns. But prosperity receives excess and diminution. 219 And when it is excessive indeed, it generates certain vices, and removes a man from his natural habit; so that he frequently through this opposes the constitution of virtue. And this is not only the case with prosperity, but many other causes likewise may effect the same thing. For it is by no means proper to wonder, that some of those who play on the pipe should be arrogant men, who, bidding farewell to truth, ensnare by a certain false imagination those who are unskilled in music; and to disbelieve that a thing of this kind does not take place in virtue. For the more venerable a thing is, so much the more numerous are those that pretend to the possession of it. For there are many things which distort the habit and form of virtue; some of which are insidious arts and affectation; others are kindred physical passions, which sometimes produce an indecorum[63] contrary to the true disposition [of virtue.] This also is effected through manners in which men have been nurtured for a long time; and it not unfrequently happens that it is produced through youth or old age, and through prosperity or adversity; and by other very numerous ways. Hence, we ought never to wonder, if sometimes a distorted judgment is formed of all things, the true disposition being changed.[64] Thus we see that the 220 most excellent carpenter frequently errs in the works which are the subjects of his art; and this is also the case with the general, the pilot, the painter, and in short, with all artists. And yet at the same time we do not deprive them of the habit which they possess. For as we do not rank among bad men him who at certain times acts intemperately, or unjustly, or timidly; so neither do we place him in the class of good men, who does something right in things pertaining to temperance, or justice, or fortitude. But it must be said that the conduct of bad men in things of this kind is casually right, and that good men [sometimes] err. A true judgment however [in these instances] is to be formed, not by looking to a certain occasion, or to a certain extent of time, but to the whole of life. But as indigence and excess are injurious to the body, yet excess and what are called superfluities, are naturally adapted to produce greater diseases [than those caused by indigence]; thus also prosperity or adversity injure the soul, when they unseasonably happen; yet that which is called by all men prosperity, is naturally adapted to produce greater diseases [than adversity], since it intoxicates 221 like wine the reasoning power of good men.

Hence it is more difficult to bear prosperity in a becoming manner than adversity.

For all men when they continue in adversity, are seen for the most part to be moderate and orderly in their manners; but in prosperity they are brave, magnificent, and magnanimous [when they bear it in a becoming manner]. For adversity has the power of contracting and depressing the soul; but prosperity, on the contrary, elevates and expands it. Hence all those that are unfortunate, are in their manners cautious and prudent; but those that are fortunate are insolent and confident.

But the boundary of prosperity, is that which a good man would deliberately choose to co-operate with him in his own proper actions; just as the [proper] magnitude of a ship, and the [proper] magnitude of a rudder, are such as will enable a good pilot to sail over a great extent of sea, and to accomplish a great voyage. An excess of prosperity, however, is not naturally adapted to be vanquished by, but to vanquish the soul. For as a [very] splendid light causes an obscuration of sight in the eyes; thus also excessive prosperity darkens the intellect of the soul. And thus much may suffice concerning prosperity.

Any Comments? Post them below!