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The World's My Oyster, Which I with pen will open.

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Seneca, Ep. 65

  12, 2018 13:35

Seneca to Lucilius, greetings;


【Prooemium/Exordium?】

  [1] I divided yesterday with the bad illness: it claimed the morning for itself and yielded to me in the afternoon. Thus I tested my mind first with reading; then, after it had accepted reading, I dared to order, or rather permit, more things to the mind. I wrote something even more earnestly indeed than I used to, as I've been contending with a difficult material and don't want to be defeated, until my friends came bringing strength to me and restraining me just as an licentious patient.

  [2] Discussing succeeds the place of writing, out of which I'm introducing to you the point which is in quarrel now. We've appointed you a arbitrator. You have more jobs than you estimate.



【Propositio & Argumentatio (Narratio + Divisio?】

  This (*quasi-legal) case has threefold (*=three complainants).

  As you know, we, Stoics, say that there are two things in nature from which anything is made, namely the Cause and the Material. The Material lies inactive, is a thing prepared for anything and will remain lazy if none moves it, while the Cause, i.e. Reason, moulds and turns the Material whithersoever it wants and produces various works from it. Thus there must be two things, that whence a thing is made and that by which a things is made. The Cause is the latter and the Material is the former.

  [3] Any art is the imitation of nature. Thus, apply what I was saying about the universe to what are to be made by human. A statue had both the Material, which suffered an artisan, and an artisan, who gave form to the material. Thus in a statue the Material was the bronze and the Cause was the maker. This is the condition of everything: everything consists of that which is made and that which makes.

  [4] It is pleasing for Stoics that there is only one Cause, which is ●that which makes. Aristotle thinks that the Cause is said in three ways. He says, "The first Cause is ①the material itself, without which nothing can be made. The second Cause is ②the maker. The third Cause is ③the form, which is placed upon each work like statue." Aristotle calls this "idos". He says, "The forth Cause joins these three, namely ④the purpose of the whole work."

  [5] I would reveal what this is. ①The bronze is the first Cause of a statue, for it would never have been made unless there had been that from which it could be smelted or produced. ②The artisan is the second Cause, for the very bronze could not have been figured into the physical condition of a statue unless experienced hands had engaged. ③The form is the third Cause, for the statue would not be called 'Spear-bearer' or 'Boy binding his hair" unless that appearance had been impressed upon it. ④The purpose of making is the forth Cause, for there would not have been the thing unless it had been made.

  [6] What is the purpose? It is what invited the artisan, what he made (*works) pursuing. It could be either money if he fabricated in order to sell, or either honour if he laboured for fame, or either religion if he prepared an offering to a temple. Thus this is the Cause because of which a thing is made. Don't you think that, among the Causes of a thing made, that without which it could not have been made is to be counted?

  [7] To these Plato added the fifth Cause, ⑤the example, which he calls "idea", for it is what the artisan made what he intended looking into. However, it is not relevant whether Plato has outside the example to which he turns his eyes or has inside the example which he conceived and placed there. God has these examples of everything within himself and has embraced the numbers and the modes of everything in his mind. He is filled with these figures which Plato calls 'ideas' and he is immortal, immutable, and indefatigable. Thus humans actually pass away but the humanity, with reference to which a man was figured, last; while humans labour and die, the humanity suffers nothing.

  [8] Therefore there are five Causes, as Plato says: ①that from which, ②that by which, ③that in which, ⑤that with reference to which, and ④that because of which; at last ★that which comes from them. In case of a statue (because we have begun to talk about it), ①"that from which" is the bronze, ②"that in which" is the artisan, ③"that in which" is the form which is applied to the statue, ⑤"that with reference to which" is the example which he who makes imitates, ④"that because of which" is the purpose of the maker, and ★"that which comes from them" is the very statue.

  [9] As Plato says, the world also has all these things: ②the maker, which is God, ①"that from which it is made", which is the material, ③the form, which is the condition of the order of the world which we are seeing, ⑤the example, namely the one in reference to which God made this magnitude of the most beautiful work, and ④the purpose, because of which God made it.

  [10] Do you ask what the Cause was for God? Goodness. Thus Plato certainly says: "What was the Cause of God's making the world? (*It was that) God is good. There is no envy of anything good for a good man. Thus he made (*the world) as good as he could."

  Hence, Mr Justice, please pronounce the sentence, who seems to you to say the most probable thing, not who says the truest thing. For it is as far beyond us as the very truth is.



【Refutatio?】

  [11] The group of Causes which is posited by Aristotle and Plato contains either too many or too few. For if they regard anything without which something cannot be made as the Cause of making, they said few. Let them posit "time" among Causes: nothing can be made without time. Let them posit "place": if there is no place where something would be made, nothing will be made indeed. Let them posit "movement": nothing is either made or perish without it. Without movement there is no art and no mutation.

  [12] But we are seeking the primary and general Cause. It must be simple, for Material also is simple. Do we ask what the Cause is? Namely it is Reason in action, i.e. God. For whatever you have referred to are not many separated Causes but they hang down from one Cause, ●the one which makes/acts (*= "Reason in action").

  [13] Do you say that ③the form is the Cause? An artisan imposes it to his work. It is a part of the Cause but not the Cause (*itself). ⑤The example also is not the Cause but a necessary instrument of the Cause. The example is necessary for an artisan just as the scraper and the file are: the art cannot proceed without them but they are neither parts of the art nor the Causes.  [14] One says, "④The purpose of the artisan, because of which he proceeds to make something, is the Cause." Though it might be a Cause, it is not the Cause in action but the subsequent one. However, there are innumerable (*subsequent) ones; we are seeking the general Cause. Indeed, they (*=Plato and Aristotle) didn't say it according to their customary subtlety that the whole world and the completed work are the Cause, for there is a huge (*difference) between the work and the Cause of the work.



【Excuse for holding this discussion + Importance of philosophy】

  [15] Either pronounce the sentence or, what is easier in this kind of things, deny that it is clear for you and order us to repeat (*the discussion). You say, "Why is it pleasing for you to wear out time among those which remove no emotion of yours, drive away no desire?" Indeed I discuss and treat these †more capable† cases with which my mind is pacified; I scrutinise myself first and then the world.

  [16] Even now I am not wasting time as you estimate. For, unless cut into pieces or scattered by that useless subtlety, all these things lift and ease the mind, which, being pressed by a heavy burden, desires to be unfolded and to return to the things of which it was. For this body is the weight and punishment for the mind; The body being pressing, the mind is urged and remains in chains unless philosophy approaches and orders it to revive with the spectacle of the universe and sends it away from the earthly to the divine things. This is its liberty, its wandering. Meanwhile it rescues itself from the custody in which it is kept and refreshes in the heaven.

  [17] Just as artisans of some subtle (*tasks) which tire out their eyes by tension, if they have malicious and uncertain light, appear in a public place and please their eyes with unrestricted light in a region dedicated to the public leisure, so the mind enclosed in this foul and obscure dwelling (*=the body) seeks openness and rests by the contemplation of the universe as many times as possible.

  [18] A wise man, the company of sapience, does cling to his own body but he is away (from the body) with his best part and turns his thoughts towards the sublime. Just as (*a newly recruited soldier) asked to take an oath, he considers what he lives as a military service; thus he has been fashioned so that he has neither love nor hatred of his life and endures the mortality although he knows there remains much more.

  [19] Do you prohibit me from the inspection of the universe and lead the man, who is led away from the whole, to a part? Shall I not seek what the elements of the universe are? Who is the fashioner of the nature? Who divided all things which were both buried in one and entangled in an inactive material? Shall I not seek who the artisan of this world is? By what Reason did such a greatness come into the law and the order? Who collected the scattered things, distinguished the confused things, and distributed the form to those remaining in one formlessness? Whence such a light is spread? Is it fire or something brighter than fire? 

  [20] Shall I not seek these things? Shall I be ignorant of whence I descended? Must I see these things once or be born many times? Whither am I to go from here? What place is waiting for the mind freed from the laws of human slavery? Do you prohibit me from attending the heaven, i.e. do you order me to live with the head hanging?

  [21] Iam greater and was born for greater things than that I would be a slave of my body, which I think not different from a certain bondage placed around my liberty. Thus I set my body against Fortune so that she stops there, nor do I allow any wound to pass through it to me. Whatever can suffer an injury in me is the body. The liberal mind lives in this vulnerable dwelling.

  [22] Never will this flesh compel me to fear nor to pretend something unworthy of a good man; Never will I tell a lie for the sake of the honour of this little body. When it seems proper, I will leave the company with it. Even now, while we are clinging to it, we cannot be their companies on equal terms. The mind commands all the law for itself. Despising one’s own body is the certain liberty.

  [23] To return to the principal subject, the inspection about which we were talking just now does contribute a lot to this liberty. To be sure, the universe consists of Material and God. God rules those which, being poured around, follow the ruler and the general. Actually "that which makes", which is God, is more powerful and more valuable than Material submitting to God.

  [24] In human the mind obtains the place which God does in this world; What is Material there is the body in us. Thus let those inferior serve those better; Let us be strong against fortuitous things; Let is not start trembling at wrongs, wounds, bondages, and shortage. What is the death? It’s either an end or a transition. I do not fear to cease (for it is the same as not having begun) and to move because I will not be so confined elsewhere.


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