Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VI: Of Conceit - The Spiritual Physick
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAPTER VI: Of Conceit - Rhazes, The Spiritual Physick 
The Spiritual Physic of Rhazes, trans. Arthur J. Arberry (London: John Murray, 1950).
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.
Because every man is in love with himself, his admiration of every fine quality he possesses is of necessity above its merits, while his disapprobation of every bad quality is correspondingly below its deserts. Whereas on the other hand his admiration of the good and disapprobation of the bad in others are exactly just, if they be free of love or hate; for then his reason is clear, and unclouded and uninfluenced by passion. It is on this account that if a man has the least virtue, it becomes enormous in his eyes and he is eager to be applauded for it above his due; and when this state of mind gets a firm hold on him it converts into conceit; especially if he find others to assist him in this by encouraging and applauding him as much as he desires.
Now one of the calamities of conceit is that it leads to the diminution of the very thing about which a man originally became conceited; for a conceited man never seeks to increase or improve, or acquire from others, the quality about which he is conceited. A man who is conceited about his horse does not seek to exchange it for one that is still brisker, for he thinks that no horse can possibly be brisker than his; similarly a man who is conceited about his work will never try to improve it, because he thinks that it cannot be improved. And when a man ceases to desire more of anything, it inevitably diminishes and he falls away from the level of his rivals and equals; for the latter, if they be not conceited, continue to seek improvement and therefore go on improving and progressing until soon they surpass the conceited man while he finds himself left behind.
A method of repelling conceit is to entrust the estimate of one’s bad and good qualities to another, in the manner we have described when we were discussing how a man may discover his own vices. He should not estimate or judge himself in reference to people who are mean and worthless and who have not an abundance of the quality about which he is conceited, or live in a town whose inhabitants are of this sort. If a man is on his guard in these two respects, he will find every day something occurring to him that will incline him to underestimate himself rather than to be conceited. In short, he should not begin to have a good opinion of himself until he has surpassed all his rivals in the judgment of others; nor to have a mean opinion of himself until he falls below them and those inferior to him and them in other men’s eyes. If he does this, and keeps himself straight in this way, he will be innocent of vain conceit and base meanness, and people will call him a man who knows his own worth.
What we have mentioned is sufficient for this chapter; we will therefore proceed to speak of envy.