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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Seneca on Arguing Online

"The really great mind, the mind that has taken the true measure of itself, fails to revenge injury only because it fails to perceive it. As missiles rebound from a hard surface, and the man who strikes solid objects is hurt by the impact, so no injury whatever can cause a truly great mind to be aware of it, since the injury is more fragile than that at which it is aimed. How much more glorious it is for the mind, impervious, as it were, to any missile, to repel all insults and injuries! Revenge is the confession of a hurt; no mind is truly great that bends before injury. The man who has offended you is either stronger or weaker than you: if he is weaker, spare him; if he is stronger, spare yourself. There is no surer proof of greatness than to be in a state where nothing can possibly happen to disturb you. The higher region of the universe, being better ordered and near to the stars, is condensed into no cloud, is lashed into no tempest, is churned into no whirlwind; it is free from all turmoil; it is in the lower regions that the lightnings flash. In the same way the lofty mind is always calm, at rest in a quiet haven crushing down all that engenders anger, it is restrained, commands respect, and is properly ordered. In an angry man you will find none of these things. For who that surrenders to anger and rage does not straightway cast behind him all sense of shame? Who that storms in wild fury and assails another does not cast aside whatever he had in him that commands respect? Who that is enraged maintains the full number or the order of his duties? Who restrains his tongue? Who controls any part of his body? Who is able to rule the self that he has set loose? We shall do well to heed that sound doctrine of Democritus in which he shows that tranquillity is possible only if we avoid most of the activities of both private and public life, or at least those that are too great for our strength. The man who engages in, many affairs is never so fortunate as to pass a day that does not beget from some person or some circumstance a vexation that fits the mind for anger. Just as a man hurrying through the crowded sections of the city cannot help colliding with many people, and in one place is sure to slip, in another to be held back, in another to be splashed, so in this diverse and restless activity of life many hindrances befall us and many occasions for complaint...

Many affronts may pass by us; in most cases the man who is unconscious of them escapes them. Would you avoid being provoked? Then do not be inquisitive, He who tries to discover what has been said against him, who unearths malicious gossip even if it was privately indulged in, is responsible for his own disquietude. There are words which the construction put upon them can make appear an insult; some, therefore, ought to be put aside, others derided, others condoned. In various ways anger must be circumvented; most offences may be turned into farce and jest. Socrates, it is said, when once he received a box on the ear, merely declared that it was too bad that a man could not tell when he ought to wear a helmet while taking a walk. Not how an affront is offered, but how it is borne is our concern...

When the light has been removed from sight, and my wife, long aware of my habit, has become silent, I scan the whole of my day and retrace all my deeds and words. I conceal nothing from myself, I omit nothing. For why should I shrink from any of my mistakes, when I may commune thus with myself?

"See that you never do that again; I will pardon you this time. In that dispute, you spoke too offensively; after this don't have encounters with ignorant people; those who have never learned do not want to learn. You reproved that man more frankly than you ought, and consequently you have, not so much mended him as offended him. In the future, consider not only the truth of what you say, but also whether the man to whom you are speaking can endure the truth. A good man accepts reproof gladly; the worse a man is the more bitterly he resents it.""

--- On Anger, III / Seneca


Keywords: stoic anger
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