From the Notebook of an Unpopular Philosopher
The Esoteric Value of Certain Words and Deeds in Social Life.
A definition of Public Opinion. The gathering of a few fogies positively electrified by fanaticism and force of habit, who act on the many noodles negatively electrified by indifference. The acceptation of uncharitable views on "suggestion" by "telepathic impact" (whatever that may mean). The work of unconscious psychology.
Sympathetic grief. - The expression thereof in Society, for one's sorrow, is like a solemn funeral procession, in which the row of mourning coaches is long, indeed, but the carriages or which are all empty.
Mutual exchange of compliments. - Expressions of delight and other acting in cultured society are the fig-leaves of the civilized Adams and Eves. These "aprons" to conceal truth are fabricated incessantly in social Edens, and their name is - politeness.
Keeping the Sabbath. - Throwing public contumely on, and parading one's superiority over Christ, "one greater than the temple" and Sabbath, who stood for his disciples' right to "break" the Sabbath (Matt.,xii, and Mark, ii,27, etc.).
Attending Divine Service. - Breaking the express commandment of Jesus. Becoming "as the hypocrites are," who love to pray in Synagogue and Temples, "that they may be seen of men." (Matt., vi,5.)
Taking the Oath, on the Bible. - A Christian law, devised and adopted to perpetuate and carry out the unequivocal commandment of the Founder of Christianity, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven ... nor by the earth ..." (Matt.,v, 34-35). As the heaven and the earth are supposed to have been created only by God, a book written by men thus received the prerogative over the former.
Unpopularity. - We hate but those whom we envy or fear. Hatred is a concealed and forced homage rendered to the person hated; a tacit admission of the superiority of the unpopular character.
The true value of back-biting and slander. A proof of the fast coming triumph of the victim chosen. The bite of the fly when the creature feels its end approaching.
A Few Illustrations to the Point from Schopenhauer
Socrates was repeatedly vilified and thrashed by the opponents of his philosophy, and was as repeatedly urged by his friends to have his honour avenged in the tribunals of Athens. Kicked by a rude citizen, in the presence of his followers, one of these expressed surprise for his not resenting the insult, to which the Sage replied:
"Shall I then feel offended, and ask the magistrate to avenge me, if I also happen to be kicked by an ass?"
To another remark whether a certain man had abused and called him names, he quietly answered:
"No; for none of the epithets he used can possibly apply to me." (From Plato's Gorgias.)
The famous cynic, Cratus, having received from the musician Nicodromus a blow which caused his face to swell, coolly fixed a tablet upon his brow, inscribed with the two words, " Nicrodromus facit. " The flute player hardly escaped with his life from the hands of the populace, which viewed Cratus as a household god.
Seneca, in his work De Constanta Sapientis, treats most elaborately of insults in words and deeds, or contumelia, and then declares that no Sage ever pays the smallest attention to such things.
"Well, yes!" the reader will exclaim, "but these men were all of them Sages !"
"And you, are you then only fools ? Agreed!"