23 January 2013

Spiritual Hygiene

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, tr. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, Vol. II (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1909), pp. 357-358:
If we consider closely and seriously the goal of Stoicism, that ἀταραξία [ataraxia], we find in it merely a hardening and insensibility to the blow of fate which a man attains to because he keeps ever present to his mind the shortness of life, the emptiness of pleasure, the instability of happiness, and has also discerned that the difference between happiness and unhappiness is very much less than our anticipation of both is wont to represent. But this is yet no state of happiness; it is only the patient endurance of sufferings which one has foreseen as irremediable. Yet magnanimity and worth consist in this, that one should bear silently and patiently what is irremediable, in melancholy peace, remaining always the same, while others pass from rejoicing to despair and from despair to rejoicing. Accordingly one may also conceive of Stoicism as a spiritual hygiene, in accordance with which, just as one hardens the body against the influences of wind and weather, against fatigue and exertion, one has also to harden one's mind against misfortune, danger, loss, injustice, malice, perfidy, arrogance, and the folly of men.
Thanks to fellow Schopenhauer enthusiast Stephen Pentz, who aroused my interest in Haldane and Kemp's translation. The text is also available on Project Gutenberg: Vol. I, Vol II, Vol. III.