Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Extremes of Good and Evil

"On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains."

-Cicero, 'The Extremes of Good and Evil', written c. 45 B.C.

Quite a mouthful and especially appropriate today. This quotation from Cicero begins to hint at more modern concepts of evil, such as Hanah Arrent's 'banality'. Evil, or unintentional pain on oneself and on others, walks in when you are not paying attention. So one must avoid getting into those situations in the first place.

Words to live by, and ones that should be read every day. Actually they are, for this is the source of the famous 'Lorem Ipsum' phrase used as placeholder text by typesetters and graphic designers for the past 500 years. (h/t Janni - thanks for the cool link)