Enchiridion XXII


If you have an earnest desire toward philosophy, prepare yourself from the very first to have the multitude laugh and sneer, and say, “He is returned to us a philosopher all at once”; and, “Whence this supercilious look?” Now, for your part, do not have a supercilious look indeed, but keep steadily to those things which appear best to you, as one appointed by God to this particular station. For remember that, if you are persistent, those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards admire you. But if you are conquered by them, you will incur a double ridicule.

Let us combine this advice with the last chapter’s: sometimes the admiration does not come until after you die. Socrates and Jesus both had a few admirers at their executions; numerous artists knew very little commercial success in their lives. Some committed suicide, even, only to have their works become beloved later — Robert E. Howard is often mentioned here, and Van Gogh was just mentioned at AVI’s place. 

In remembrance of death we remember that all of life’s troubles are passing; in remembering that honors often come after death to those who were true to their divine appointment, we might even face death boldly under difficult conditions and circumstances. 

Yet it is striking that Epictetus, who has heretofore cited honors like admiration as mere semblances to be discarded as ‘not our business,’ would cite them here. Is admiration from others a proper ethical concern, or is it not?

The interested might turn to Aristotle’s discussion of whether honor affects the happiness of the dead beginning in Nicomachean Ethics I.10 and followings. Aristotle asked if Solon was right that you couldn’t judge the happiness of a person before death, or if you could. This leads into a general discussion of happiness as an activity (which presumably only live people can execute), but that leads to a puzzle about whether the dead can be less happy if they are later scorned, or if their children suffer, and so forth. He isn’t quite wiling to say these things can be dismissed as considerations even for the dead, for whom they are no longer even semblances. 


ymarsakar said...

"if you are persistent, those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards admire you."

I seriously doubt that.

Those who got rid of Socrates, Yeshua, and others, were mostly relieved afterwards. Because they did not like the persistence.

Well, admiration came a few generations later, when the problematic person disappeared and could not contest the way their words were phrased and quoted as authorities.

J Melcher said...

I interpret the admonition to target the wavering audience who remains susceptible to peer pressure. (Coming back around to the idea that the preacher hopes to reach those in particular who most need the preachings.)

IF you worry about your peers' opinions NOW, you will never rise in their opinions. If you can, at least in appearance -- neither submissive nor superior in your expressions, posture, or behaviors -- remain cool, THEN LATER you will find your peers regard you with the admiration (or envy?) you hope for.

Fake it until you make it, as the kids say.

The result of this deception is very strange to tell,

For when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well

I whistle a happy tune, and every single time,
The happiness in the tune convinces me that I'm

Not afraid

RonF said...

"But if you are conquered by them, you will incur a double ridicule."

Joe Rogan take note.