Reason | Passion | Wisdom | Pleasure

January 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

..Reason is not master over defects inhering in the mind itself, but over the passions or moral defects that are adverse to justice and manliness and temperance and judgment; and its action in their case is not to extirpate the passions, but to enable us to re-sist[ere] them successfully.

Our enquiry, then, is whether the Reason is supreme master over the passions. But we must define just what the Reason is and what passion is, and how many forms of passion there are, and whether the Reason is supreme over all of them.

Reason, I take to be, the mind preferring with clear deliberation the life of wisdom.

Wisdom, I take to be, the knowledge of things, divine and human, and of their causes.

[Henceforth,] this I take to be the culture acquired under The Law, through which we learn with due reverence the things of God, and for our worldly profit, the things of man.

Now, wisdom is manifested under the forms of judgement and justice, and courage, and temperance. But judgment, or self-control, is the one that dominates them all, for through it, in truth, Reason asserts its authority over the passions.

But of the passions there are two comprehensive sources, namely, pleasure and pain, and either belongs essentially also to the soul as well as to the body. And with re-spect both to pleasure and pain, there are many cases where the passions have certain sequences [or violent and gentle movements].

Thus, while desire goes before pleasure, satisfaction follows after; and while fear goes before pain, after pain comes sorrow [or care].

Anger, again, if a man will retrace the course of his feelings, is a passion in which are blended both pleasure and pain. 

Under pleasure, also, comes that moral debasement which exhibits the widest variety of the passions. It manifests itself in the soul as ostentation, covetousness, vain-glory, contentiousness, backbiting, and in the body as eating of strange [or different, novel, distinguishable, new] meat, and gluttony, and gormandizing in secret.

[Therefore, it is understood that] pleasure and pain, being, as it were, two trees growing from body and soul, many offshoots of these passions sprout up, and each man’s Reason as master-gardener, weeding and pruning and binding up, and turning on the water and directing it hither and tither, brings the thicket of dispositions and passions under domestication > [or, under your own control within your own mind, according to your minds’ thoughts, of which you control].

For while Reason is the guide of the virtues [prop.; energy emissions from brain-waves], it is master of the passions.

Observe, now, in the first place, that Reason becomes supreme over the passions in virtue of the inhibitory action of temperance. Temperance, I take it, is the re-press[ing] of the desires; but of the desires some are mental and some physical, and both kinds are clearly controlled by Reason..

~ from The 4th Book of Maccabees, Chap. I, vs. 5 & 11-27 ~

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