On Property

From Epictetus (Moral Discourses, 2.10):

 “If you had lost the art of grammar or music, would you think the loss of it a damage? And if you shall lose modesty, moderation and gentleness, do you think the loss nothing…What does he lose who commits adultery? He loses the (character of the) modest, the temperate, the decent, the citizen, the neighbor. What does he lose who is angry? Something else. What does the coward lose? Something else. No man is bad without suffering some loss and damage.”

The puritanical libertarian seeks profit. He seeks to avoid loss. Or so he says. Then, after saying, he is confronted with Epictetus who reminds him of what he acquires and discards through his every action. He, with fear and trembling, looks inward at the man he has made. He then reminds himself that the more important savings and investment are done regardless of what is happening externally. Epictetus recognizes foul profit and loss!

Externally the swirl of appearances can cause a swoon. To fortify the internal with temperance, courage, prudence, justice; to choose peace and tranquility over conflict in here; and once the production process for the goods of the soul has been grasped to stay the course with faithfulness; to act the way one wants to be–this is the way to the profit of profits.

I will rehearse briefly the arguments for the superiority of moral over material gold hoarding. The purpose of rehearsal is to shove the deep truth into the future and manifest (or increase the probability of the act of existence). Repetition is everything. One repeats evils and strengthens evil. Another repeats good and strengthens good.

An argument by example: The vicious man of violence assault and theft hoards the material gold of his neighbors. He cannot touch any virtue they have for it is not so transferrable. Because of his viciousness the ways can be multiplied by which he loses the hoard. And even if he keeps it, he drives others away from him. And even if others are attracted to him, they are only those who want gold more than virtue. And even if he can muster the appearance of outward stability and sensual pleasure, the dissatisfied monster under the skin, the one he must feed and serve, is his nearest bedfellow. The increase in violence, conflict, dissatisfaction, want is perilous.

An argument by example: The virtuous man respects private property and his contracts. First, he respects his own property and so tends to the condition of his soul. If his life here is short, it is a short peace. Better a short peace than a long war internally. Second, his respect for his own property is attractive in the best sense. If his life is long, it is full of the peaceful management of earthly satisfaction, and all those who enter into interaction with him are blessed by the interaction. He is always attractive of peace and productive of peace, and so as long as he lives, his life radiates peace as the evil man’s radiates war.

Property rights are important. Externally they are often disrespected. Internally they cannot be disrespected by any but the owner! Internally, only he can destroy, can discard, can leave undeveloped and unproduced, can exercise a kind of war on himself. This puritanical libertarian sings the praise of property–first moral, then material.

Published by Purilib

Anonymously interested in grasping the good life.

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