Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XI: Of Repelling Excessive and Hurtful Anxiety and Worry - The Spiritual Physick
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAPTER XI: Of Repelling Excessive and Hurtful Anxiety and Worry - 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.
Of Repelling Excessive and Hurtful Anxiety and Worry
These two dispositions, although affections of the reason, are nevertheless just as hurtful and deleterious when present in excess, in the way of denying access to the achievement of our desires, as the lack of them, as we have already explained when we discussed the excessive activity of the rational soul. It therefore behoves an intelligent man to give his body repose from them, and to indulge it in as much diversion and amusement and pleasure as it requires to keep it fit and maintain it in good health; otherwise the body will weaken and become emaciated and finally collapse, so preventing us from reaching our goal.
Because men differ so much in temperament and habit, there is also a difference in the amount of anxiety and worry they can stand; some can endure a great deal of them without being adversely affected, while others are unable to put up with so much. This power of endurance needs to be looked after and taken care of and gradually increased as much as possible before the matter becomes too difficult; habit is of great help and assistance here. In short, we ought to indulge in diversion and amusement and pleasure not for their own sakes, but in order that we may be recreated and strengthened to engage the thought and care we require to reach our purpose. As the traveller’s object in giving his horse provender is not to give it the pleasure of eating but to strengthen it so that it may bring him safely to his lodging-place, so it is necessary for us to act in watching over the interests of our bodies.
If we act in this way and give the matter this amount of consideration, we shall attain our goals in the quickest time they can possibly be reached; we shall not be like the man who destroyed his mount before ever coming to the land he intended by overloading and overstraining it, neither shall we resemble the other man who was so concerned with pampering and fattening his horse that the time went by in which he ought to have reached his stage and lodging-place.
Let us give a further example. Say a man wanted to study philosophy, and was so fond of it that he devoted all his care and occupied all his thought to that one end. Then he had the ambition to rival Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Eudemus, Chrysippus, Themistius and Alexander,1 say in the period of one year. So he prolonged his cogitations and speculations, and took less and less food and repose—for insomnia would be the inevitable result of such a procedure. I say that this man would become a prey to delusion and melancholia, consumption and wasting away ere the whole of that time was past, and long before he in any way approached the philosophers we have named. I would add that if another man also desired to attain a perfect knowledge of philosophy, but only looked into it from time to time when he had no other occupation and was bored with his pleasures and appetites, whereas if the slightest task occurred to him or if his least appetite was stirred he at once stopped his studies and returned to his former routine—I repeat that this man would never completely master philosophy in the whole of his life, nor would he come anywhere near to doing so. Both these men would therefore have failed to achieve their purpose; the one because of excess, the other owing to shortcoming. Hence it behoves us to be moderate in our anxieties and worries if we aim at achieving our purposes; then indeed we will reach our goals, and not fail on account of shortcoming or excess.
[1 ]Alexander of Aphrodisias. For Rhazes’ knowledge of Greek sources, see Introduction, p. 10.