Front Page Titles (by Subject) FOURTH TRACTATE On True Happiness - The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
FOURTH TRACTATE On True Happiness - Plotinus, The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead [253 AD]
The Ethical Treatises, being the Treatises of the First Ennead, with Porphry’s Life of Plotinus, and the Preller-Ritter Extracts forming a Conspectus of the Plotinian System, translated from Greek by Stephen Mackenna (Boston: Charles T. Branford, 1918).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Are we to make True Happiness one and the same thing with Welfare or Prosperity and therefore within the reach of the other living beings as well as ourselves?
There is certainly no reason to deny well-being to any of them as long as their lot allows them to flourish unhindered after their kind.
Whether we make Welfare consist in pleasant conditions of life, or in the accomplishment of some appropriate task, by either account it may fall to them as to us. For certainly they may at once be pleasantly placed and engaged about some function that lies in their nature: take for an instance such living beings as have the gift of music; finding themselves well-off in other ways, they sing, too, as their nature is, and so their day is pleasant to them.
And if, even, we set Happiness in some ultimate Term pursued by inborn tendency, then on this head, too, we must allow it to animals from the moment of their attaining this Ultimate: the nature in them comes to a halt, having fulfilled its vital course from a beginning to an end.
It may be a distasteful notion, this bringing-down of happiness so low as to the animal world—making it over, as then we must, even to the vilest of them and not withholding it even from the plants, living they too and having a life unfolding to a Term.
But, to begin with, it is surely unsound to deny that good of life to animals only because they do not appear to man to be of great account. And as for plants, we need not necessarily allow to them what we accord to the other forms of life, since they have no feeling. It is true people might be found to declare prosperity possible to the very plants: they have life, and life may bring good or evil; the plants may thrive or wither, bear or be barren.
No: if Pleasure be the Term, if here be the good of life, it is impossible to deny the good of life to any order of living things; if the Term be inner-peace, equally impossible; impossible, too, if the good of life be to live in accordance with the purpose of nature.
Those that deny the happy life to the plants on the ground that they lack sensation are really denying it to all living things.
By sensation can be meant, only, perception of state, and the state of well-being must be a Good in itself quite apart from the perception: to be a part of the natural plan is good whether knowingly or without knowledge: there is good in the appropriate state even though there be no recognition of its fitness or desirable quality—for it must be in itself desirable.
This Good exists, then; is present: that in which it is present has well-being without more ado: what need then to ask for sensation into the bargain?
Perhaps, however, the theory is that the Good of any state consists not in the condition itself but in the knowledge and perception of it.
But at this rate the Good is nothing but the mere sensation, the bare activity of the sentient life. And so it will be possessed by all that feel, no matter what. Perhaps it will be said that two constituents are needed to make up the Good, that there must be both feeling and a given state felt: but how can it be maintained that the bringing together of two neutrals can produce the Good?
They will explain, possibly, that the state must be a state of Good and that such a condition constitutes well-being on the discernment of that present good; but then they invite the question whether the well-being comes by discerning the presence of the Good that is there, or whether there must further be the double recognition that the state is agreeable and that the agreeable state constitutes the Good.
If well-being demands this recognition, it depends no longer upon sensation but upon another, a higher faculty; and well-being is vested not in a faculty receptive of pleasure but in one competent to discern that pleasure is the Good.
Then the cause of the well-being is no longer pleasure but the faculty competent to pronounce as to pleasure’s value. Now a judging entity is nobler than one that merely accepts a state: it is a principle of Reason or of Intellection: pleasure is a state: the reasonless can never be closer to the Good than reason is. How can reason abdicate and declare nearer to good than itself something lying in a contrary order?
No: those denying the good of life to the vegetable world, and those that make it consist in some precise quality of sensation, are in reality seeking a loftier well-being than they are aware of, and setting their highest in a more luminous phase of life.
Perhaps, then, those are in the right who found happiness not on the bare living or even on sensitive life but on the life of Reason?
But they must tell us why it should be thus restricted and why precisely they make Reason an essential to the happiness in a living being:—
“When you insist on Reason, is it because Reason is resourceful, swift to discern and compass the primal needs of nature; or would you demand it, even though it were powerless in that domain?”
If you call it in as a provider, then the reasonless, equally with the reasoning, may possess happiness after their kind, as long as, without any thought of theirs, nature supplies their wants: Reason becomes a servant; there is no longer any worth in it for itself and no worth in that consummation of reason which, we hold, is virtue.
If you say that reason is to be cherished for its own sake and not as supplying these human needs, you must tell us what other services it renders, what is its proper nature and what makes it the perfect thing it is.
For, on this admission, its perfection cannot reside in any such planning and providing: its perfection will be something quite different, something of quite another class: Reason cannot be itself one of those first needs of nature; it cannot even be a cause of those first needs of nature or at all belong to that order: it must be nobler than any and all of such things: otherwise it is not easy to see how we can be asked to rate it so highly.
Until these people light upon some nobler principle than any at which they still halt, they must be left where they are and where they choose to be, never understanding what the Good of Life is to those that can make it theirs, never knowing to what kind of beings it is accessible.
What then is happiness? Let us try basing it upon Life.
Now if we draw no distinction as to kinds of life, everything that lives will be capable of happiness, and those will be effectively happy who possess that one common gift of which every living thing is by nature receptive. We could not deny it to the irrational whilst allowing it to the rational. If happiness were inherent in the bare being-alive, the common ground in which the cause of happiness could always take root would be simply life.
Those, then, that set happiness not in the mere living but in the reasoning life seem to overlook the fact that they are not really making it depend upon life at all: they admit that this reasoning faculty, round which they centre happiness, is a property (not the subject of a property): the subject, to them, must be the Reasoning-Life since it is in this double term that they find the basis of the happiness: so that they are making it consist not in life but in a particular kind of life—not, of course, a species formally opposite but, in our terminology, standing as an “earlier” to a “later” in the one Kind.
Now in common use this word “Life” embraces many forms which shade down from primal to secondary and so on, all massed under the common term—life of plant and life of animal—each phase brighter or dimmer than its next: and so it evidently must be with the Good-of-Life. And if thing is ever the image of thing, so every Good must always be the image of a higher Good.
If mere Being is insufficient, if happiness demands fulness of life. and exists, therefore, where nothing is lacking of all that belongs to the idea of life, then happiness can exist only in a being that lives fully.
And such a one will possess not merely the good, but the Supreme Good if, that is to say, in the realm of existents the Supreme Good can be no other than the authentically living, no other than Life in its greatest plenitude, life in which the good is present as something essential not as something brought in from without, a life needing no foreign substance called in from a foreign realm, to establish it in good.
For what could be added to the fullest life to make it the best life? If anyone should answer “The nature of Good” (The Good, as a Divine Hypostasis), the reply would certainly be near our thought, but we are not seeking the Cause but the main constituent.
It has been said more than once that the perfect life and the true life, the essential life, is in the Intellectual Nature beyond this sphere, and that all other forms of life are incomplete, are phantoms of life, imperfect, not pure, not more truly life than they are its contrary: here let it be said succinctly that since all living things proceed from the one principle but possess life in different degrees, this principle must be the first life and the most complete.
If, then, the perfect life is within human reach, the man attaining it attains happiness: if not, happiness must be made over to the gods, for the perfect life is for them alone.
But since we hold that happiness is for human beings too, we must consider what this perfect life is. The matter may be stated thus:—
It has been shown elsewhere that man when he commands not merely the life of sensation but also Reason and Authentic Intellection, has realised the perfect life.
But are we to picture this kind of life as something foreign imported into his nature?
No: there exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing which we hold to constitute happiness.
But are we to think of man as including this form of life, the perfect, after the manner of a partial constituent of his entire nature?
We say, rather, that while in some men it is present as a mere portion of their total being—in those, namely, that have it potentially—there is, too, the man, already in possession of true felicity, who is this perfection realised, who has passed over into actual identification with it. All else is now mere clothing about the man, not to be called part of him since it lies about him unsought, not his because not appropriated to himself by any act of the will.
To the man in this state, what is the Good?
He himself by what he has and is.
And the author and principle of what he is and holds is the Supreme, which within Itself is the Good but manifests Itself within the human being after this other mode.
The sign that this state has been achieved is that the man seeks nothing else.
What indeed could he be seeking? Certainly none of the less worthy things; and the Best he carries always within him.
He that has such a life as this has all he needs in life.
Once the man is a Sage, the means of happiness, the way to good, are within, for nothing is good that lies outside him. Anything he desires further than this he seeks as a necessity, and not for himself but for a subordinate, for the body bound to him, to which since it has life he must minister the needs of life, not needs, however, to the true man of this degree. He knows himself to stand above all such things, and what he gives to the lower he so gives as to leave his true life undiminished.
Adverse fortune does not shake his felicity: the life so founded is stable ever. Suppose death strikes at his household or at his friends; he knows what death is, as the victims, if they are among the wise, know too. And if death taking from him his familiars and intimates does bring grief, it is not to him, not to the true man, but to that in him which stands apart from the Supreme, to that lower man in whose distress he takes no part.
But what of sorrows, illnesses and all else that inhibit the native activity?
What of the suspension of consciousness which drugs or disease may bring about? Could either welfare or happiness be present under such conditions? And this is to say nothing of misery and disgrace, which will certainly be urged against us, with undoubtedly also those never-failing “Miseries of Priam.”
“The Sage,” we shall be told, “may bear such afflictions and even take them lightly but they could never be his choice, and the happy life must be one that would be chosen. The Sage, that is, cannot be thought of as simply a sage soul, no count being taken of the bodily-principle in the total of the being: he will, no doubt, take all bravely . . . until the body’s appeals come up before him, and longings and loathings penetrate through the body to the inner man. And since pleasure must be counted in towards the happy life, how can one that, thus, knows the misery of ill-fortune or pain be happy, however sage he be? Such a state, of bliss self-contained, is for the Gods; men, because of the less noble part subjoined in them, must needs seek happiness throughout all their being and not merely in some one part; if the one constituent be troubled, the other, answering to its associate’s distress, must perforce suffer hindrance in its own activity. There is nothing but to cut away the body or the body’s sensitive life and so secure that self-contained unity essential to happiness.”
Now if happiness did indeed require freedom from pain, sickness, misfortune, disaster, it would be utterly denied to anyone confronted by such trials: but if it lies in the fruition of the Authentic Good, why turn away from this Term and look to means, imagining that to be happy a man must need a variety of things none of which enter into happiness? If, in fact, felicity were made up by heaping together all that is at once desirable and necessary we must bid for these also. But if the Term must be one and not many; if in other words our quest is of a Term and not of Terms; that only can be elected which is ultimate and noblest, that which calls to the tenderest longings of the soul.
The quest and will of the Soul are not pointed directly towards freedom from this sphere: the reason which disciplines away our concern about this life has no fundamental quarrel with things of this order; it merely resents their interference; sometimes, even, it must seek them; essentially all the aspiration is not so much away from evil as towards the Soul’s own highest and noblest: this attained, all is won and there is rest—and this is the veritably willed state of life.
There can be no such thing as “willing” the acquirement of necessaries, if Will is to be taken in its strict sense, and not misapplied to the mere recognition of need.
It is certain that we shrink from the unpleasant, and such shrinking is assuredly not what we should have willed; to have no occasion for any such shrinking would be much nearer to our taste; but the things we seek tell the story as soon as they are ours. For instance, health and freedom from pain; which of these has any great charm? As long as we possess them, we set no store upon them.
Anything which, present, has no charm and adds nothing to happiness, which when lacking is desired because of the presence of an annoying opposite, may reasonably be called a necessity but not a Good.
Such things can never make part of our final object: our Term must be such that though these pleasanter conditions be absent and their contraries present, it shall remain, still, intact.
Then why are these conditions sought and their contraries repelled by the man established in happiness?
Here is our answer:—
These more pleasant conditions cannot, it is true, add any particle towards the Sage’s felicity: but they do serve towards the integrity of his being, while the presence of the contraries tends against his Being or complicates the Term: it is not that the Sage can be so easily deprived of the Term achieved but simply that he that holds the highest good desires to have that alone, not something else at the same time, something which, though it cannot banish the Good by its incoming, does yet take place by its side.
In any case if the man that has attained felicity meets some turn of fortune that he would not have chosen, there is not the slightest lessening of his happiness for that. If there were, his felicity would be veering or falling from day to day; the death of a child would bring him down, or the loss of some trivial possession. No: a thousand mischances and disappointments may befall him and leave him still in the tranquil possession of the Term.
But, they cry, great disasters, not the petty daily chances!
What human thing, then, is great, so as not to be despised by one who has mounted above all we know here, and is bound now no longer to anything below?
If the Sage thinks all fortunate events, however momentous, to be no great matter—kingdom and the rule over cities and peoples, colonisations and the founding of states, even though all be his own handiwork—how can he take any great account of the vacillations of power or the ruin of his fatherland? Certainly if he thought any such event a great disaster, or any disaster at all, he must be of a very strange way of thinking. One that sets great store by wood and stones, or . . . Zeus . . . by mortality among mortals cannot yet be the Sage, whose estimate of death, we hold, must be that it is better than life in the body.
But suppose that he himself is offered a victim in sacrifice?
Can he think it an evil to die beside the altars?
But if he go unburied?
Wheresoever it lie, under earth or over earth, his body will always rot.
But if he has been hidden away, not with costly ceremony but in an unnamed grave, not counted worthy of a towering monument?
The littleness of it!
But if he falls into his enemies’ hands, into prison?
There is always the way towards escape, if none towards well-being.
But if his nearest be taken from him, his sons and daughters dragged away to captivity?
What then, we ask, if he had died without witnessing the wrong? Could he have quitted the world in the calm conviction that nothing of all this could happen? He must be very shallow. Can he fail to see that it is possible for such calamities to overtake his household, and does he cease to be a happy man for the knowledge of what may occur? In the knowledge of the possibility he may be at ease; so, too, when the evil has come about.
He would reflect that the nature of this All is such as brings these things to pass and man must bow the head.
Besides in many cases captivity will certainly prove an advantage; and those that suffer have their freedom in their hands: if they stay, either there is reason in their staying, and then they have no real grievance, or they stay against reason, when they should not, and then they have themselves to blame. Clearly the absurdities of his neighbours, however near, cannot plunge the Sage into evil: his state cannot hang upon the fortunes good or bad of any other men.
As for violent personal sufferings, he will carry them off as well as he can; if they overpass his endurance they will carry him off.
And so in all his pain he asks no pity: there is always the radiance in the inner soul of the man, untroubled like the light in a lantern when fierce gusts beat about it in a wild turmoil of wind and tempest.
But what if he be put beyond himself? What if pain grow so intense and so torture him that the agony all but kills? Well, when he is put to torture he will plan what is to be done: he retains his freedom of action.
Besides we must remember that the Sage sees things very differently from the average man; neither ordinary experiences nor pains and sorrows, whether touching himself or others, pierce to the inner hold. To allow them any such passage would be a weakness in our soul.
And it is a sign of weakness, too, if we should think it gain not to hear of miseries, gain to die before they come: this is not concern for others’ welfare but for our own peace of mind. Here we see our imperfection: we must not indulge it, we must put it from us and cease to tremble over what perhaps may be.
Anyone that says that it is in human nature to grieve over misfortune to our household must learn that this is not so with all, and that, precisely, it is virtue’s use to raise the general level of nature towards the better and finer, above the mass of men. And the finer is to set at nought what terrifies the common mind.
We cannot be indolent: this is an arena for the powerful combatant holding his ground against the blows of fortune, and knowing that, sore though they be to some natures, they are little to his, nothing dreadful, nursery terrors.
So, the Sage would have desired misfortune?
It is precisely to meet the undesired when it appears that he has the virtue which gives him, to confront it, his passionless and unshakeable soul.
But when he is out of himself, reason quenched by sickness or by magic arts?
If it be allowed that in this state, resting as it were in a slumber, he remains a Sage, why should he not equally remain happy? No one rules him out of felicity in the hours of sleep; no one counts up that time and so denies that he has been happy all his life.
If they say that, failing consciousness, he is no longer the Sage, then they are no longer reasoning about the Sage: but we do suppose a Sage, and are enquiring whether, as long as he is the Sage, he is in the state of felicity.
“Well, a Sage let him remain,” they say, “still, having no sensation and not expressing his virtue in act, how can he be happy?”
But a man unconscious of his health may be, none the less, healthy: a man may not be aware of his personal attraction, but he remains handsome none the less: if he has no sense of his wisdom, shall he be any the less wise?
It may perhaps be urged that sensation and consciousness are essential to wisdom and that happiness is only wisdom brought to act.
Now, this argument might have weight if prudence, wisdom, were something fetched in from outside: but this is not so: wisdom is, in its essential nature, an Authentic-Existence, or rather is The Authentic-Existent—and this Existent does not perish in one asleep or, to take the particular case presented to us, in the man out of his mind: the Act of this Existent is continuous within him; and is a sleepless activity: the Sage, therefore, even unconscious, is still the Sage in Act.
This activity is screened not from the man entire but merely from one part of him: we have here a parallel to what happens in the activity of the physical or vegetative life in us which is not made known by the sensitive faculty to the rest of the man: if our physical life really constituted the “We,” its Act would be our Act: but, in the fact, this physical life is not the “We”; the “We” is the activity of the Intellectual-Principle so that when the Intellective is in Act we are in Act.
Perhaps the reason this continuous activity remains unperceived is that it has no touch whatever with things of sense. No doubt action upon material things, or action dictated by them, must proceed through the sensitive faculty which exists for that use: but why should there not be an immediate activity of the Intellectual-Principle and of the soul that attends it, the soul that antedates sensation or any perception? For, if Intellection and Authentic-Existence are identical, this “Earlier-than-perception” must be a thing having Act.
Let us explain the conditions under which we become conscious of this Intellective-Act.
When the Intellect is in upward orientation that (lower part of it) which contains (or, corresponds to) the life of the Soul, is, so to speak, flung down again and becomes like the reflection resting on the smooth and shining surface of a mirror; in this illustration, when the mirror is in place the image appears but, though the mirror be absent or out of gear, all that would have acted and produced an image still exists; so in the case of the Soul; when there is peace in that within us which is capable of reflecting the images of the Rational and Intellectual-Principles these images appear. Then, side by side with the primal knowledge of the activity of the Rational and the Intellectual-Principles, we have also as it were a sense-perception of their operation.
When, on the contrary, the mirror within is shattered through some disturbance of the harmony of the body, Reason and the Intellectual-Principle act unpictured: intellection is unattended by imagination.
In sum we may safely gather that while the Intellective-Act may be attended by the Imaging Principle, it is not to be confounded with it.
And even in our conscious life we can point to many noble activities, of mind and of hand alike, which at the time in no way compel our consciousness. A reader will often be quite unconscious when he is most intent: in a feat of courage there can be no sense either of the brave action or of the fact that all that is done conforms to the rules of courage. And so in cases beyond number.
So that it would even seem that consciousness tends to blunt the activities upon which it is exercised, and that in the degree in which these pass unobserved they are purer and have more effect, more vitality, and that, consequently, the Sage arrived at this state has the truer fulness of life, life not spilled out in sensation but gathered closely within itself.
We shall perhaps be told that in such a state the man is no longer alive: we answer that these people show themselves equally unable to understand his inner life and his happiness.
If this does not satisfy them, we must ask them to keep in mind a living Sage and, under these terms, to enquire whether the man is in happiness: they must not whittle away his life and then ask whether he has the happy life; they must not take away the man and then look for the happiness of a man: once they allow that the Sage lives within, they must not seek him among the outer activities, still less look to the outer world for the object of his desires. To consider the outer world to be a field to his desire, to fancy the Sage desiring any good external, would be to deny Substantial-Existence to happiness; for the Sage would like to see all men prosperous and no evil befalling anyone; but though it prove otherwise, he is still content.
If it be admitted that such a desire would be against reason, since evil cannot cease to be, there is no escape from agreeing with us that the Sage’s will is set always and only inward.
The pleasure demanded for the Sage’s life cannot be in the enjoyments of the licentious or in any gratifications of the body—there is no place for these, and they stifle happiness—nor in any violent emotions—what could so move the Sage?—it can be only such pleasure as there must be where Good is, pleasure that does not rise from movement and is not a thing of process, for all that is good is immediately present to the Sage and the Sage is present to himself: his pleasure, his contentment, stands, immovable.
Thus he is ever cheerful, the order of his life ever untroubled: his state is fixedly happy and nothing whatever of all that is known as evil can set it awry—given only that he is and remains a Sage.
If anyone seeks for some other kind of pleasure in the life of the Sage, it is not the life of the Sage he is looking for.
The characteristic activities are not hindered by outer events but merely adapt themselves, remaining always fine, and perhaps all the finer for dealing with the actual. When he has to handle particular cases and things, he may not be able to put his vision into act without searching and thinking, but the one greatest principle is ever present to him, like a part of his being—most of all present, should he be even a victim in the much-talked-of Bull of Phalaris. No doubt, despite all that has been said, it is idle to pretend that this is an agreeable lodging; but what cries in the Bull is the thing that feels the torture; in the Sage there is something else as well, The Self-Gathered which, as long as it holds itself by main force within itself, can never be robbed of the vision of the All-Good.
For man, and especially the Sage, is not the Couplement of soul and body: the proof is that man can be disengaged from the body and disdain its nominal goods.
It would be absurd to think that happiness begins and ends with the living-body: happiness is the possession of the good of life: it is centred therefore in Soul, is an Act of the Soul—and not of all the Soul at that: for it certainly is not characteristic of the vegetative soul, the soul of growth; that would at once connect it with the body.
A powerful frame, a healthy constitution, even a happy balance of temperament, these surely do not make felicity; in the excess of these advantages there is, even, the danger that the man be crushed down and forced more and more within their power. There must be a sort of counter-pressure in the other direction, towards the noblest: the body must be lessened, reduced, that the veritable man may show forth, the man behind the appearances.
Let the earth-bound man be handsome and powerful and rich, and so apt to this world that he may rule the entire human race: still there can be no envying him, the fool of such lures. Perhaps such splendours could not, from the beginning even, have gathered to the Sage; but if it should happen so, he of his own action will lower his state, if he has any care for his true life; the tyranny of the body he will work down or wear away by inattention to its claims; the rulership he will lay aside. While he will safeguard his bodily health, he will not wish to be wholly untried in sickness, still less never to feel pain: if such troubles should not come to him of themselves, he will wish to know them, during youth at least: in old age, it is true, he will desire neither pains nor pleasures to hamper him; he will desire nothing of this world, pleasant or painful; his one desire will be to know nothing of the body. If he should meet with pain he will pit against it the powers he holds to meet it; but pleasure and health and ease of life will not mean any increase of happiness to him nor will their contraries destroy or lessen it.
When in the one subject, a positive can add nothing, how can the negative take away?
But suppose two wise men, one of them possessing all that is supposed to be naturally welcome, while the other meets only with the very reverse: do we assert that they have an equal happiness?
We do, if they are equally wise.
What though the one be favoured in body and in all else that does not help towards wisdom, still less towards virtue, towards the vision of the noblest, towards being the highest, what does all that amount to? The man commanding all such practical advantages cannot flatter himself that he is more truly happy than the man without them: the utmost profusion of such boons would not help even to make a flute-player.
We discuss the happy man after our own feebleness; we count alarming and grave what his felicity takes lightly: he would be neither wise nor in the state of happiness if he had not quitted all trifling with such things and become as it were another being, having confidence in his own nature, faith that evil can never touch him. In such a spirit he can be fearless through and through; where there is dread, there is not perfect virtue; the man is some sort of a half-thing.
As for any involuntary fear rising in him and taking the judgement by surprise, while his thoughts perhaps are elsewhere, the Sage will attack it and drive it out; he will, so to speak, calm the refractory child within him, whether by reason or by menace, but without passion, as an infant might feel itself rebuked by a glance of severity.
This does not make the Sage unfriendly or harsh: it is to himself and in his own great concern that he is the Sage: giving freely to his intimates of all he has to give, he will be the best of friends by his very union with the Intellectual-Principle.
Those that refuse to place the Sage aloft in the Intellectual Realm but drag him down to the accidental, dreading accident for him, have substituted for the Sage we have in mind another person altogether; they offer us a tolerable sort of man and they assign to him a life of mingled good and ill, a case, after all, not easy to conceive. But admitting the possibility of such a mixed state, it could not be deserved to be called a life of happiness; it misses the Great, both in the dignity of Wisdom and in the integrity of Good. The life of true happiness is not a thing of mixture. And Plato rightly taught that he who is to be wise and to possess happiness draws his good from the Supreme, fixing his gaze on That, becoming like to That, living by That.
He can care for no other Term than That: all else he will attend to only as he might change his residence, not in expectation of any increase to his settled felicity, but simply in a reasonable attention to the differing conditions surrounding him as he lives here or there.
He will give to the body all that he sees to be useful and possible, but he himself remains a member of another order, not prevented from abandoning the body, and necessarily leaving it at nature’s hour, he himself always the master to decide in its regard.
Thus some part of his life considers exclusively the Soul’s satisfaction; the rest is not immediately for the Term’s sake and not for his own sake, but for the thing bound up with him, the thing which he tends and bears with as the musician cares for his lyre, as long as it can serve him: when the lyre fails him, he will change it, or will give up lyre and lyring, as having another craft now, one that needs no lyre, and then he will let it rest unregarded at his side while he sings on without an instrument. But it was not idly that the instrument was given him in the beginning: he has found it useful until now, many a time.