Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIV: Of Drunkenness - The Spiritual Physick
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CHAPTER XIV: Of Drunkenness - Rhazes, The Spiritual Physick 
The Spiritual Physic of Rhazes, trans. Arthur J. Arberry (London: John Murray, 1950).
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Chronic and habitual drunkenness is one of the evil dispositions that bring those indulging it to ruin, calamity and all kinds of sickness. This is because the excessive drinker is imminently liable to apoplexy and asphyxia, that filling of the inner heart which induces sudden death, rupture of the arteries of the brain, and stumbling and falling into crevices and wells; not to mention various fevers, bloody clots and bilious swellings in the intestines and principal parts, and delirium tremens and palsy especially if there be a natural weakness of the nerves. Besides all this, drunkenness leads to loss of reason, immodesty, divulging of secrets, and a general incapacity to grasp even the most important mundane and spiritual matters; so that a man will hardly hold on to any cherished purpose or achieve any lasting happiness, but on the contrary he will go on slipping and sliding downwards. It was of such a situation that the poet wrote:
In short, drink is one of the most serious constituents of passion, and one of the greatest disorders of the reason. That is because it strengthens the appetitive and choleric souls and sharpens their powers, so that they demand urgently and insistently that the drinker shall embark precipitately upon their favourite course. Drink also weakens the rational soul and stultifies its powers, so that it is scarcely able to undertake careful thought and deliberation but rushes headlong to a decision and liberates action before its energy is firmly established. Hence the rational soul is led on easily and smoothly by the appetitive soul, until it is scarcely able to resist it or deny it anything. This is the sign of a departure from rationality, and of enrolment in the order of beasts.
It therefore behoves the intelligent man to beware of drink, and to keep it in its proper place, namely that which is here indicated, fearing it as he would fear one who aims to rob him of his most prized and precious possessions. If he touches drink at all, he should do so only when anxiety and care oppress and overwhelm him. Moreover his purpose and intention should be not to seek pleasure for its own sake and to follow it wherever it may lead, but to reject superfluous pleasure and to indulge only so much as he is confident will not mischief him and upset his constitution. He should call to mind in this and similar situations our remarks on the suppression of passion, keeping before him a picture of these overall observations and general principles so that he may not need to remember them again and repeat them. In particular he should recall our statement that the constant and assiduous indulgence of pleasure diminishes our enjoyment thereof, reducing that to the position of something necessary for the maintenance of life.
This idea is almost more valid when applied to the pleasure of drunkenness than in the case of any other pleasure; that is because the drunkard reaches a stage where he cannot conceive of living without drink, while sobriety is to him just like the state of a man beset by pressing cares. Moreover drunkenness is not less insatiable than greed; indeed it is even very much more insatiable; one must accordingly be equally swift to grapple with it and equally strenuous in reining and denying it.
Sometimes of course drink is a necessity, so as to dispel anxiety, and in other situations requiring excessive cheerfulness, courage, impetuosity and recklessness. Still it is proper to beware of it, and not to come near it at all in situations that need exceptional thought, a clear understanding and a steady resolve.