Babies and Knowing the Highest Good

Seneca, EM 125 7-8

“But we say that being “blessed” are those things which are following Nature. What follows nature, moreover, is clear and straightforward just as anything which is whole. What follows nature and what is granted to us immediately at birth I do not call a good but merely the beginning of a good.

You grant the greatest good—pleasure—to infants so that a child begins life where the perfected man should arrive. You put the peak of the tree at its roots! If anyone should claim that some child, enclosed in their mother’s whom, of uncertain gender, soft, incomplete and unformed, that this child is in some stage of the good, they would seem to be a bit off.

And yet consider how little different there is between one who just now found life and another who is still a burden of maternal organs? They are both equally advanced in their understanding of good and evil and An infant is no more conscious of the Good than a tree or any other speechless creature.”

Dicimus beata esse, quae secundum naturam sint, Quid autem secundum naturam sit, palam et protinus apparet, sicut quid sit integrum. Quod secundum naturam est, quod contigit protinus nato, non dico bonum, sed initium boni. Tu summum bonum, voluptatem, infantiae donas, ut inde incipiat nascens, quo consummatus homo pervenit.

Cacumen radicis loco ponis. Si quis diceret illum in materno utero latentem, sexus quoque incerti,tenerum et inperfectum et informem iam in aliquo bono esse, aperte videretur errare. Atqui quantulum interest inter eum, qui cum1 maxime vitam accipit, et illum, qui maternorum viscerum latens onus est? Uterque, quantum ad intellectum boni ac mali, aeque maturus est, et non magis infans adhuc boni capax est quam arbor aut mutum aliquod animal.

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