Natural Logic and the Nature of Death

Cicero, Tusc. Disp 1.30

“Moreover, this seems to be the strongest point to offer on why we believe that there are gods—the fact there is no people so savage, no one in the world so bestial, that no though of the gods touches his mind. While it is true that many people believe silly things about the gods—which customarily happens because of corrupted customs—still all people believe in divine power and divine nature. Furthermore, human conferences and consensus do not create this, nor is the idea affirmed by practices or laws, but in every matter the shared belief of all peoples must be considered a natural law.

Is there anyone who does not mourn the death of their loved ones because he believes that they have been deprived of life’s pleasures? Remove this belief and you will remove mourning. No one mourns for their own discomfort. People do feel pain, but the mourning and tears of sorrow come from that fact that we believe that a person whom we love has lost access to life’s pleasures and are aware of this. We are led by nature to believe this, not by any teaching or act of reason.”

Ut porro firmissimum hoc adferri videtur, cur deos esse credamus, quod nulla gens tam fera, nemo omnium tam est immanis, cuius mentem non imbuerit deorum opinio—multi de dis prava sentiunt, id enim vitioso more effici solet, omnes tamen esse vim et naturam divinam arbitrantur, nec vero id collocutio hominum aut consensus effecit, non institutis opinio est confirmata, non legibus, omni autem in re consensio omnium gentium lex naturae putanda est—quis est igitur qui suorum mortem primum non eo lugeat, quod eos orbatos vitae commodis arbitretur? Tolle hanc opinionem, luctum sustuleris. Nemo enim maeret suo incommodo: dolent fortasse et anguntur: sed illa lugubris lamentatio fletusque maerens ex eo est, quod eum, quem dileximus, vitae commodis privatum arbitramur idque sentire. Atque haec ita sentimus natura duce, nulla ratione nullaque doctrina.

File:New England death Head (c).jpg
Puritan death head in New England

Apion’s a Racist Buffoon, But People Listen to Him

Josephus, Against Apion 2

“I will turn now to refuting the remaining authors who have written against us. I really don’t know if it is worth my time to respond seriously to the attacks of Apion the grammarian. Some of what he has written is similar to what other people claim; things which he added are rather weak, and most of it is complete absurdity which, to speak truthfully, exposes the author for a scoundrel and a fraud right to the end of his life.

But since many people tend because of ignorance to be attracted by these kinds of arguments rather than those of a serious nature and they take pleasure in slander while finding praise annoying, I believe I am compelled to not to leave this person unexamined since he has composed an indictment of us direct enough for a courtroom.

This is because I have also noticed that people are especially pleased when someone who started to slander others first is refuted through his own vices. Now, Apion’s argument is not easy to sum up or to understand clearly what he wants to say. But—as far as is pack of disordered lies can be analyzed—some of his words are like those already examined, related to how our people departed from Egypt; another category is the accusation against the Jewish residents of Alexandria; and the third is mixed up among those with claims against our temple rites and general practices.”

ἄρξομαι δὲ νῦν τοὺς ὑπολειπομένους τῶν γεγραφότων τι καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐλέγχειν. καίτοι περὶ τῆς πρὸς Ἀπίωνα τὸν γραμματικὸν ἀντιρρήσεως ἐπῆλθέ μοι διαπορεῖν, εἰ χρὴ σπουδάσαι· τὰ μὲν γάρ ἐστι τῶν ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένων τοῖς ὑπ᾿ ἄλλων εἰρημένοις ὅμοια, τὰ δὲ λίαν ψυχρῶς προστέθεικεν, τὰ πλεῖστα δὲ βωμολοχίαν ἔχει καὶ πολλήν, εἰ δεῖ τἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν, ἀπαιδευσίαν, ὡς ἂν ὑπ᾿ ἀνθρώπου συγκείμενα καὶ φαύλου τὸν τρόπον καὶ παρὰ πάντα τὸν βίον ὀχλαγωγοῦ γεγονότος. ἐπεὶ δ᾿ οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διὰ τὴν αὐτῶν ἄνοιαν ὑπὸ τῶν τοιούτων ἁλίσκονται λόγων μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν μετά τινος σπουδῆς γεγραμμένων, καὶ χαίρουσι μὲν ταῖς λοιδορίαις, ἄχθονται δὲ τοῖς ἐπαίνοις, ἀναγκαῖον ἡγησάμην εἶναι μηδὲ τοῦτον ἀνεξέταστον καταλιπεῖν, κατηγορίαν ἡμῶν ἄντικρυς ὡς ἐν δίκῃ γεγραφότα. καὶ γὰρ αὖ κἀκεῖνο τοῖς πολλοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὁρῶ παρακολουθοῦν, τὸ λίαν ἐφήδεσθαι ὅταν τις ἀρξάμενος βλασφημεῖν ἕτερον αὐτὸς ἐλέγχηται περὶ τῶν αὐτῷ προσόντων κακῶν. ἔστι μὲν οὖν οὐ ῥᾴδιον αὐτοῦ διελθεῖν τὸν λόγον οὐδὲ σαφῶς γνῶναι τί λέγειν βούλεται, σχεδὸν δ᾿, ὡς ἐν πολλῇ ταραχῇ καὶ ψευσμάτων συγχύσει, τὰ μὲν εἰς τὴν ὁμοίαν ἰδέαν πίπτει τοῖς προεξητασμένοις περὶ τῆς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τῶν ἡμετέρων προγόνων μεταναστάσεως, τὰ δ᾿ ἐστὶ κατηγορία τῶν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων. τρίτον δ᾿ ἐπὶ τούτοις μέμικται περὶ τῆς ἁγιστείας τῆς κατὰ τὸ ἱερὸν ἡμῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων νομίμων κατηγορία.

Apion’s a Racist Buffoon, But People Listen to Him

Josephus, Against Apion 2

“I will turn now to refuting the remaining authors who have written against us. I really don’t know if it is worth my time to respond seriously to the attacks of Apion the grammarian. Some of what he has written is similar to what other people claim; things which he added are rather weak, and most of it is complete absurdity which, to speak truthfully, exposes the author for a scoundrel and a fraud right to the end of his life.

But since many people tend because of ignorance to be attracted by these kinds of arguments rather than those of a serious nature and they take pleasure in slander while finding praise annoying, I believe I am compelled to not to leave this person unexamined since he has composed an indictment of us direct enough for a courtroom.

This is because I have also noticed that people are especially pleased when someone who started to slander others first is refuted through his own vices. Now, Apion’s argument is not easy to sum up or to understand clearly what he wants to say. But—as far as is pack of disordered lies can be analyzed—some of his words are like those already examined, related to how our people departed from Egypt; another category is the accusation against the Jewish residents of Alexandria; and the third is mixed up among those with claims against our temple rites and general practices.”

ἄρξομαι δὲ νῦν τοὺς ὑπολειπομένους τῶν γεγραφότων τι καθ᾿ ἡμῶν ἐλέγχειν. καίτοι περὶ τῆς πρὸς Ἀπίωνα τὸν γραμματικὸν ἀντιρρήσεως ἐπῆλθέ μοι διαπορεῖν, εἰ χρὴ σπουδάσαι· τὰ μὲν γάρ ἐστι τῶν ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένων τοῖς ὑπ᾿ ἄλλων εἰρημένοις ὅμοια, τὰ δὲ λίαν ψυχρῶς προστέθεικεν, τὰ πλεῖστα δὲ βωμολοχίαν ἔχει καὶ πολλήν, εἰ δεῖ τἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν, ἀπαιδευσίαν, ὡς ἂν ὑπ᾿ ἀνθρώπου συγκείμενα καὶ φαύλου τὸν τρόπον καὶ παρὰ πάντα τὸν βίον ὀχλαγωγοῦ γεγονότος. ἐπεὶ δ᾿ οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διὰ τὴν αὐτῶν ἄνοιαν ὑπὸ τῶν τοιούτων ἁλίσκονται λόγων μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν μετά τινος σπουδῆς γεγραμμένων, καὶ χαίρουσι μὲν ταῖς λοιδορίαις, ἄχθονται δὲ τοῖς ἐπαίνοις, ἀναγκαῖον ἡγησάμην εἶναι μηδὲ τοῦτον ἀνεξέταστον καταλιπεῖν, κατηγορίαν ἡμῶν ἄντικρυς ὡς ἐν δίκῃ γεγραφότα. καὶ γὰρ αὖ κἀκεῖνο τοῖς πολλοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὁρῶ παρακολουθοῦν, τὸ λίαν ἐφήδεσθαι ὅταν τις ἀρξάμενος βλασφημεῖν ἕτερον αὐτὸς ἐλέγχηται περὶ τῶν αὐτῷ προσόντων κακῶν. ἔστι μὲν οὖν οὐ ῥᾴδιον αὐτοῦ διελθεῖν τὸν λόγον οὐδὲ σαφῶς γνῶναι τί λέγειν βούλεται, σχεδὸν δ᾿, ὡς ἐν πολλῇ ταραχῇ καὶ ψευσμάτων συγχύσει, τὰ μὲν εἰς τὴν ὁμοίαν ἰδέαν πίπτει τοῖς προεξητασμένοις περὶ τῆς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου τῶν ἡμετέρων προγόνων μεταναστάσεως, τὰ δ᾿ ἐστὶ κατηγορία τῶν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ κατοικούντων Ἰουδαίων. τρίτον δ᾿ ἐπὶ τούτοις μέμικται περὶ τῆς ἁγιστείας τῆς κατὰ τὸ ἱερὸν ἡμῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων νομίμων κατηγορία.

Logic Bros: Better to Have No Reason Than Use it for Harm?

Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 3.77–78

“These kind of things belong to poets; we, moreover, want to be philosophers, masters of facts not fables. And yet, these gods of poetry, if they know that these things would be ruinous for their children, would be considered to have sinned in conferring a favor.

It is just as if, according to that thing which Aristo of Chios used to say, that philosophers hurt their audiences when the things they say well are interpreted badly (for it was possible still to leave Aristippus’ school as a profligate or Zeno’s school bitter and angry).

If it is this way, and those who have heard them leave with twisted minds because they understand the philosophers’ arguments incorrectly, then it befits philosophers more to be quiet than cause their audiences harm. In this way, if people pervert the capacity for reason which was given by the gods to provide good council and used it instead for fraud and harm, then it would have been better if it had not been given to the human race at all.”

Poetarum ista sunt, nos autem philosophi esse volumus, rerum auctores, non fabularum. Atque hi tamen ipsi di poetici si scissent perniciosa fore illa filiis, peccasse in beneficio putarentur. Ut si verum est quod Aristo Chius dicere solebat, nocere audientibus philosophos iis qui bene dicta male interpretarentur (posse enim asotos ex Aristippi, acerbos e Zenonis schola exire), prorsus, si qui audierunt vitiosi essent discessuri quod perverse philosophorum disputationem interpretarentur, tacere praestaret philosophos quam iis qui se audissent nocere: sic, si homines rationem bono consilio a dis immortalibus datam in fraudem malitiamque convertunt, non dari illam quam dari humano generi melius fuit. Ut, si medicus sciat eum aegrotum qui iussus sit vinum sumere meracius sumpturum statimque periturum, magna sit in culpa, sic vestra ista providentia reprehendenda, quae rationem dederit

Internet pugilists take the following things very, very seriously. Form triumphs over content!

Image result for fallacy chart

Logic Bros: Better to Have No Reason Than Use it for Harm?

Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 3.77–78

“These kind of things belong to poets; we, moreover, want to be philosophers, masters of facts not fables. And yet, these gods of poetry, if they know that these things would be ruinous for their children, would be considered to have sinned in conferring a favor.

It is just as if, according to that thing which Aristo of Chios used to say, that philosophers hurt their audiences when the things they say well are interpreted badly (for it was possible still to leave Aristippus’ school as a profligate or Zeno’s school bitter and angry).

If it is this way, and those who have heard them leave with twisted minds because they understand the philosophers’ arguments incorrectly, then it befits philosophers more to be quiet than cause their audiences harm. In this way, if people pervert the capacity for reason which was given by the gods to provide good council and used it instead for fraud and harm, then it would have been better if it had not been given to the human race at all.”

Poetarum ista sunt, nos autem philosophi esse volumus, rerum auctores, non fabularum. Atque hi tamen ipsi di poetici si scissent perniciosa fore illa filiis, peccasse in beneficio putarentur. Ut si verum est quod Aristo Chius dicere solebat, nocere audientibus philosophos iis qui bene dicta male interpretarentur (posse enim asotos ex Aristippi, acerbos e Zenonis schola exire), prorsus, si qui audierunt vitiosi essent discessuri quod perverse philosophorum disputationem interpretarentur, tacere praestaret philosophos quam iis qui se audissent nocere: sic, si homines rationem bono consilio a dis immortalibus datam in fraudem malitiamque convertunt, non dari illam quam dari humano generi melius fuit. Ut, si medicus sciat eum aegrotum qui iussus sit vinum sumere meracius sumpturum statimque periturum, magna sit in culpa, sic vestra ista providentia reprehendenda, quae rationem dederit

Internet pugilists take the following things very, very seriously. Form triumphs over content!

Image result for fallacy chart

Identifying Insanity Is A Property of the Sane

Apuleius, Apologia 80

“Finally, what do you prefer that she was sane or insane while she was writing? You claim sane? Therefore, she was not under the influence of occult arts. You will say she was insane? In that case, she was unconscious of what she wrote and must not be trusted. Or, more to the case, if she had been insane, she would not have known that she was insane.

For, it is like when someone is not silent because he says he is silent and by the utterance itself undermines his own claim. But saying “I’m crazy” betrays someone even more because it is not true unless he says it without understanding. The person is sane, moreover, who knows what insanity is; and, certainly, insanity cannot know itself any more than blindness can see itself.

Therefore, Prudentilla was sound in mind, if she did not think she was sound in mind. I could add more, if I wanted to, but I will leave philosopher behind now.”

Postremo quid vis: sanam an insanam fuisse, dum scriberet? Sanam dices? Nihil ergo erat magicis artibus passa. Insanam respondebis? Nesciit ergo quid scripserit, eoque ei fides non habenda est; immo etiam, si fuisset insana, insanam se esse nescisset. Nam ut absurde facit qui tacere se dicit, quod ibidem dicendo tacere sese non tacet et ipsa professione quod profitetur infirmat, ita vel magis hoc repugnant, “ego insanio,” quod verum non est, nisi  sciens dicit. Porro sanus est, qui scit quid sit insania, quippe insania scire se non potest, non magis quam caecitas se videre; igitur Pudentilla compos mentis fuit, si compotem mentis se non putabat. Possum, si velim, pluribus, sed mitto dialectica

Image result for Ancient Latin Apuleius Manuscript
MS of Pseudo-Apuleius Platonicus, De medicaminibus herbarum liber, England 12th century. British Library, Harley 5294, fol. 43r

The More You Have, The More You Want — Aulus Gellius and Favorinus on the Logic of Wealth

Attic Nights, IX, 7

“On the fact that it is necessary that a man who has much requires much and a brief, elegant saying on the subject from the philosopher Favorinus.

Absolutely true is the fact which wise men have recited from both observation and experience, namely that a man who has much has great needs and that these needs come not from an overwhelming poverty but from great abundance—many things are required to maintain the many things you have. Whoever, then, has much and wishes to be on guard or to plan that he may not lose or lack anything, must not acquire more, but must instead possess less so that he may lose less. I remember this line from Favorinus, obscured among a great applause and expressed in these fewest words:

“It is impossible for someone who has fifteen thousand cloaks not to want more. Should I desire more in addition to what I have, once I have lost some of it, I will be satisfied with what I retain.” [Favorinus fr. 104]

Necessum esse, qui multa habeat, multis indigere; deque ea re Favorini philosophi cum brevitate eleganti sententia.

1 Verum est profecto, quod observato rerum usu sapientes viri dixere, multis egere, qui multa habeat, magnamque indigentiam nasci non ex inopia magna, sed ex magna copia: multa enim desiderari ad multa, quae habeas, tuenda. 2 Quisquis igitur multa habens cavere atque prospicere velit, ne quid egeat neve quid desit, iactura opus esse, non quaestu, et minus habendum esse, ut minus desit. 3 Hanc sententiam memini a Favorino inter ingentes omnium clamores detornatam inclusamque verbis his paucissimis: τὸν γὰρ μυρίων καὶ πεντακισχιλίων χλαμύδων δεόμενον οὐκ ἔστι μὴ πλειόνων δεῖσθαι· οἷς γὰρ ἔχω προσδεόμενος, ἀφελὼν ὧν ἔχω, ἀρκοῦμαι οἷς ἔχω.

The sentiment is not identical, but it is not altogether that different either: