Philosophic Principles, Part Three

Reputation. The most important book in philosophy, Plato’s Republic, is at its core an elaborate answer to this question: Who will have the happier life, the completely just man who is hated, reviled, punished, and dies without a friend, or the completely unjust man who is loved, respected, rewarded, and dies with a hero’s reputation? It is necessary to remind yourself of this question, and its solution, every time you are tempted (as we all are, at times) to envy or emulate those with the biggest audience, the most followers, the greatest influence. The truth is forever pitched beyond the hearing of most men, and it remains the truth even if no one hears it. To speak one true word ought to be the primary life goal of every thinking person, in so far as he must speak. Whether anyone else hears the word, or alternatively whether everyone who hears it despises you for saying it, is inconsequential.

Hardship. All human development requires some form of suffering, or an experience of grave deficiency, as its precondition. These hardships cannot be faked or performed; for glamorous suffering (suffering consciously played out as a show) is not suffering. Genuine hardships must be lived naïvely and privately, by a soul sensitive enough to experience them as reasons to give up. The philosopher is not a man who feels no pain, but one who has learned, through trials, to redeem pain, which means to redeem life. No one for whom life can simply be taken for granted as good and desirable will ever be a philosopher. The philosopher is the man who has discovered his will to live, the hard way.

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