Fabianus also, I remember, reddened when be appeared as a witness before the senate; and his embarrassment became him to a remarkable degree. Such a habit is not due to mental weakness, but to the novelty of a situation; an inexperienced person is not necessarily confused, but is usually affected, because he slips into this habit by natural tendency of the body.
Just as certain men are full-blooded, so others are of a quick and mobile blood, that rushes to the face at once. As I remarked, Wisdom can never remove this ha bit; for if she could rub out all our faults, she would be mistress of the universe. Whatever is assigned to us by the terms of our birth and the blend in our constitutions, will stick with us, no matter how hard or how long the soul may have tried to master itself.
They cannot, however, muster a blush; for the blush cannot be prevented or acquired. Wisdom will not assure us of a remedy, or give us help against it; it comes or goes unbidden, and is a law unto itself. But my letter calls for its closing sentence. We can get rid of most sins, if we have a witness who stands near us when we are likely to go wrong. The soul should have someone whom it can respect, - one by whose authority it may make even its inner shrine more hallowed.
And happy also is he who can so revere a man as to calm and regulate himself by calling him to mind! One who can so revere another, will soon be himself worthy of reverence. Choose therefore a Cato; or, if Cato seems too severe a model, choose some Laelius, a gentler spirit. Choose a master whose life, conversation, and soul-expressing face have satisfied you; picture him always to yourself as your protector or your pattern. For we must indeed have someone according to whom we may regulate our characters; you can never straighten that which is crooked unless you use a ruler.
I visited lately my country-plice, and protested against the money which was spent on the tumble-down building. My bailiff maintained that the flaws were not due to his own carelessness; "he was doing everything possible, but the house was old. I was angry, and I embraced the first opportunity to vent my spleen in the bailiff's presence.
Their branches are so gnarled and shrivelled; the boles are so rough and unkempt! This would not happen, if someone loosened the earth at their feet, and watered them. Then I turned to the door and asked: "Who is that broken-down dotard? You have done well to place him at the entrance; for he is outward bound. What pleasure did it give you to take up for burial some other man's dead? I am Felicio; you used to bring me little images. But it is quite possible; his teeth are just dropping out.
Let us cherish and love old age; for it is full of pleasure if one knows how to use it. Fruits are most welcome when almost over; youth is most charming at its close; the last drink delights the toper, the glass which souses him and puts the finishing touch on his drunkenness. Each pleasure reserves to the end the greatest delights which it contains. Life is most delightful when it is on the downward slope, but has not yet reached the abrupt decline.
Or else the very fact of our not wanting pleasures has taken the place of the pleasures themselves. How comforting it is to have tired out one's appetites, and to have done with them!
510 Marcus Aurelius Quotes (To Give Your Life A Quick Boost)
We are not summoned according to our rating on the censor's list. And one day, mind you, is a stage on life's journey. Our span of life is divided into parts; it consists of large circles enclosing smaller. One circle embraces and bounds the rest; it reaches from birth to the last day of existence. The next circle limits the period of our young manhood.
The third confines all of childhood in its circumference. Again, there is, in a class by itself, the year; it contains within itself all the divisions of time by the multiplication of which we get the total of life. The month is bounded by a narrower ring. The smallest circle of all is the day; but even a day has its beginning and its ending, its sunrise and its sunset.
Some hold that days are equal in number of hours, and this is true; for if by "day" we mean twenty-four hours' time, all days must be equal, inasmuch as the night acquires what the day loses. Hence, every day ought to be regulated as if it closed the series, as if it rounded out and completed our existence. Let us, however, do from a good motive what he used to do from a debased motive; let us go to our sleep with joy and gladness; let us say: I have lived; the course which Fortune set for me Is finished.
That man is happiest, and is secure in his own possession of himself, who can await the morrow without apprehension. When a man has said: "I have lived! But now I ought to close my letter.
We may spurn the very constraints that hold us. And I shall continue to heap quotations from Epicurus upon you, so that all persons who swear by the words of another, and put a value upon the speaker and not upon the thing spoken, may understand that the best ideas are common property. For our powers can never inspire in us implicit faith in ourselves except when many difficulties have confronted us on this side and on that, and have occasionally even come to close quarters with us.
It is only in this way that the true spirit can be tested, - the spirit that will never consent to come under the jurisdiction of things external to ourselves. So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune has often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly. For manliness gains much strength by being challenged; nevertheless, if you approve, allow me to offer some additional safeguards by which you may fortify yourself.
There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.
I watch therefore I am: seven movies that teach us key philosophy lessons
I am not speaking with you in the Stoic strain but in my milder style. For it is our Stoic fashion to speak of all those things, which provoke cries and groans, as unimportant and beneath notice; but you and I must drop such greatsounding words, although, heaven knows, they are true enough. What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come. Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all.
We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow. We shall consider later whether these evils derive their power from their own strength, or from our own weakness. Do me the favour, when men surround you and try to talk you into believing that you are unhappy, to consider not what you hear but what you yourself feel, and to take counsel with your feelings and question yourself independently, because you know your own affairs better than anyone else does.
Ask: "Is there any reason why these persons should condole with me? Why should they be worried or even fear some infection from me, as if troubles could be transmitted? Is there any evil involved, or is it a matter merely of ill report, rather than an evil? As to things present, the decision is easy. Suppose that your person enjoys freedom and health, and that you do not suffer from any external injury. As to what may happen to it in the future, we shall see later on. To-day there is nothing wrong with it.
For it is more often the case that we are troubled by our apprehensions, and that we are mocked by that mocker, rumour, which is wont to settle wars, but much more often settles individuals. Yes, my dear Lucilius; we agree too quickly with what people say. And somehow or other it is the idle report that disturbs us most. For truth has its own deflnite boundaries, but that which arises from uncertainty is delivered over to guesswork and the irresponsible license of a frightened mind.
That is why no fear is so ruinous and so uncontrollable as panic fear. For other fears are groundless, but this fear is witless. Let us, then, look carefully into the matter. It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact. How often has the unexpected happened! How often has the expected never come to pass! And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering?
You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile to better things. What shall you gain by doing this? There will be many happenings meanwhile which will serve to postpone, or end, or pass on to another person, the trials which are near or even in your very presence. A fire has opened the way to flight.
Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe. Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim's throat. Men have survived their own executioners. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things. But life is not worth living, and there is no limit to our sorrows, if we indulge our fears to the greatest possible extent; in this matter, let prudence help you, and contemn with a resolute spirit even when it is in plain sight. There is nothing so certain among these objects of fear that it is not more certain still that things we dread sink into nothing and that things we hope for mock us.
Accordingly, weigh carefully your hopes as well as your fears, and whenever all the elements are in doubt, decide in your own favour; believe what you prefer. And if fear wins a majority of the votes, incline in the other direction anyhow, and cease to harass your soul, reflecting continually that most mortals, even when no troubles are actually at hand or are certainly to be expected in the future, become excited and disquieted. No one calls a halt on himself, when he begins to be urged ahead; nor does he regulate his alarm according to the truth.
No one says; "The author of the story is a fool, and he who has believed it is a fool, as well as he who fabricated it. We observe no moderation. The slightest thing turns the scales and throws us forthwith into a panic. But I am ashamed either to admonish you sternly or to try to beguile you with such mild remedies. Let another say.
Let us see who wins! Perhaps it happens for my best interests; it may be that such a death will shed credit upon my life. Wrench from Cato's hand his sword, the vindicator of liberty, and you deprive him of the greatest share of his glory. I am exhorting you far too long, since you need reminding rather than exhortation. Hence there is all the more reason why you should increase and beautify the good that is in you.
Part 2. Marcus Aurelius Quotes That Are…
But now, to close my letter, I have only to stamp the usual seal upon it, in other words, to commit thereto some noble message to be delivered to you: "The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live. Look within your own mind for individual instances; you will think of old men who are preparing themselves at that very hour for a political career, or for travel, or for business.
And what is baser than getting ready to live when you are already old? I should not name the author of this motto, except that it is somewhat unknown to fame and is not one of those popular sayings of Epicurus which I have allowed myself to praise and to appropriate. We should conduct ourselves not as if we ought to live for the body, but as if we could not live without it.
Our too great love for it makes us restless with fears, burdens us with cares, and exposes us to insults. Virtue is held too cheap by the man who counts his body too dear. We should cherish the body with the greatest care; but we should also be prepared, when reason, self- respect, and duty demand the sacrifice, to deliver it even to the flames. Let us, however, in so far as we can, avoid discomforts as well as dangers, and withdraw to safe ground, by thinking continually how we may repel all objects of fear. And of all these, that which shakes us most is the dread which hangs over us from our neighbour's ascendancy; for it is accompanied by great outcry and uproar.
But the natural evils which I have mentioned, - want and sickness, steal upon us silently with no shock of terror to the eye or to the ear. Surrounding it is a retinue of swords and fire and chains and a mob of beasts to be let loose upon the disembowelled entrails of men. Picture to yourself under this head the prison, the cross, the rack, the hook, and the stake which they drive straight through a man until it protrudes from his throat.
Think of human limbs torn apart by chariots driven in opposite directions, of the terrible shirt smeared and interwoven with inflammable materials, and of all the other contrivances devised by cruelty, in addition to those which I have mentioned! For just as the torturer accomplishes more in proportion to the number of instruments which he displays, - indeed, the spectacle overcomes those who would have patiently withstood the suffering, - similarly, of all the agencies which coerce and master our minds, the most effective are those which can make a display.
Those other troubles are of course not less serious; I mean hunger, thirst, ulcers of the stomach, and fever that parches our very bowels. They are, however, secret; they have no bluster and no heralding; but these, like huge arrays of war, prevail by virtue of their display and their equipment. Let us, therefore, see to it that we abstain from giving offence.
It is sometimes the people that we ought to fear; or sometimes a body of influential oligarchs in the Senate, if the method of governing the State is such that most of the business is done by that body; and sometimes individuals equipped with power by the people and against the people. So the wise man will never provoke the anger of those in power; nay, he will even turn his course, precisely as he would turn from a storm if he were steering a ship.
When you travelled to Sicily, you crossed the Straits. Your more careful pilot, however, questions those who know the locality as to the tides and the meaning of the clouds; he holds his course far from that region notorious for its swirling waters. And first of all, we should have no cravings like theirs; for rivalry results in strife.
Again, let us possess nothing that can be snatched from us to the great profit of a plotting foe. Let there be as little booty as possible on your person. No one sets out to shed the blood of his fellow-men for the sake of bloodshed, - at any rate very few. More murderers speculate on their profits than give vent to hatred. And wisdom alone can show you how this may be done. The power to inspire fear has caused many men to be in fear. One must therefore take refuge in philosophy; this pursuit, not only in the eyes of good men, but also in the eyes of those who are even moderately bad, is a sort of protecting emblem.
Men cannot scorn her; she is honoured by every profession, even the vilest among them. Evil can never grow so strong, and nobility of character can never be so plotted against, that the name of philosophy shall cease to be worshipful and sacred.
Philosophy itself, however should be practised with calmness and moderation. Cato's voice strove to check a civil war. Cato parted the swords of maddened chieftains. When some fell foul of Pompey and others fell foul of Caesar, Cato defied both parties at once! It is not now a question of freedom; long since has freedom gone to rack and ruin.
The question is, whether it is Caesar or Pompey who controls the State. What does it concern you who conquers? The better man may win; but the winner is bound to be the worse man. But even in previous years the wise man was not permitted to intervene in such plundering of the state; for what could Cato do but raise his voice and utter unavailing words?
At one time he was "bustled" by the mob and spat upon and forcibly removed from the forum and marked for exile; at another, he was taken straight to prison from the senate-chamber.inracnicode.cf
CENTRE of THEOLOGY and PHILOSOPHY
The wise man will not upset the customs of the people, nor will he invite the attention of the populace by any novel ways of living. Can one who follows out this Plan be safe in any case? Sometimes a vessel perishes in harbour; but what do you think happens on the open sea? And how much more beset with danger that man would be, who even in his leisure is not secure, if he were busily working at many things! Innocent persons sometimes perish; who would deny that? But the guilty perish more frequently. A soldier's skill is not at fault if he receives the death-blow through his armour.
The beginning is in our own power; fortune decides the issue, but I do not allow her to pass sentence upon myself. You may say: "But she can inflict a measure of suffering and of trouble. Now you are stretching forth your hand for the daily gift. Golden indeed will be the gift with which I shall load you; and, inasmuch as we have mentioned gold, let me tell you how its use and enjoyment may bring you greater pleasure. Now, to show you how generous I am, it is my intent to praise the dicta of other schools.
The phrase belongs to Epicurus, or Metrodorus, or some one of that particular thinking-shop. But what difference does it make who spoke the words? They were uttered for the world. He who craves riches feels fear on their account.
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No man, however, enjoys a blessing that brings anxiety; he is always trying to add a little more. While he puzzles over increasing his wealth, he forgets how to use it. They would add to the opening words of a letter: "If you are well, it is well; I also am well. Without philosophy the mind is sickly, and the body, too, though it may be very powerful, is strong only as that of a madman or a lunatic is strong. This, then, is the sort of health you should primarily cultivate; the other kind of health comes second, and will involve little effort, if you wish to be well physically.
It is indeed foolish, my dear Lucilius, and very unsuitable for a cultivated man, to work hard over developing the muscles and broadening the shoulders and strengthening the lungs. For although your heavy feeding produce good results and your sinews grow solid, you can never be a match, either in strength or in weight, for a first-class bull.
Besides, by overloading the body with food you strangle the soul and render it less active. Many inconveniences beset those who devote themselves to such pursuits. In the first place, they have their exercises, at which they must work and waste their life-force and render it less fit to bear a strain or the severer studies. Second, their keen edge is dulled by heavy eating. Drinking and sweating, - it's the life of a dyspeptic! But whatever you do, come back soon from body to mind. The mind must be exercised both day and night, for it is nourished by moderate labour.
Cultivate that good which improves with the years. Of course I do not command you to be always bending over your books and your writing materials; the mind must have a change, - but a change of such a kind that it is not unnerved, but merely unbent. Riding in a litter shakes up the body, and does not interfere with study: one may read, dictate, converse, or listen to another; nor does walking prevent any of these things. You need not scorn voice-culture; but I forbid you to practise raising and lowering your voice by scales and specific intonations.
What if you should next propose to take lessons in walking! If you consult the sort of person whom starvation has taught new tricks, you will have someone to regulate your steps, watch every mouthful as you eat, and go to such lengths as you yourself, by enduring him and believing in him, have encouraged his effrontery to go. Therefore, whenever your spirit's impulse prompts you, raise a hubbub, now in louder now in milder tones, according as your voice, as well as your spirit, shall suggest to you, when you are moved to such a performance. Then let your voice, when you rein it in and call it back to earth, come down gently, not collapse; it should trail off in tones half way between high and low, and should not abruptly drop from its raving in the uncouth manner of countrymen.
For our purpose is, not to give the voice exercise, but to make it give us exercise. You see, I have relieved you of no slight bother; and I shall throw in a little complementary present, - it is Greek, too. The same writer whom I mentioned before. No; he means our own, for we are plunged by our blind desires into ventures which will harm us, but certainly will never satisfy us; for if we could be satisfied with anything, we should have been satisfied long ago; nor do we reflect how pleasant it is to demand nothing, how noble it is to be contented and not to be dependent upon Fortune.
Therefore continually remind yourself, Lucilius, how many ambitions you have attained. When you see many ahead of you, think how many are behind I If you would thank the gods, and be grateful for your past life, you should contemplate how many men you have outstripped. But what have you to do with the others? You have outstripped yourself. Fix a limit which you will not even desire to pass, should you have the power.
At last, then, away with all these treacherous goods! They look better to those who hope for them than to those who have attained them. If there were anything substantial in them, they would sooner or later satisfy you; as it is, they merely rouse the drinkers' thirst. Away with fripperies which only serve for show! As to what the future's uncertain lot has in store, why should I demand of Fortune that she give rather than demand of myself that I should not crave? And why should l crave? Shall I heap up my winnings, and forget that man's lot is unsubstantial?
For what end should I toil? Lo, to-day is the last; if not, it is near the last. This idea, however, clear though it is, must be strengthened and implanted more deeply by daily reflection; it is more important for you to keep the resolutions you have already made than to go on and make noble ones. You must persevere, must develop new strength by continuous study, until that which is only a good inclination becomes a good settled purpose.
I understand the feelings which prompt your words; they are not feigned or specious words. Nevertheless I shall tell you what I think, - that at present I have hopes for you, but not yet perfect trust. And I wish that you would adopt the same attitude towards yourself; there is no reason why you should put confidence in yourself too quickly and readily. Philosophy is no trick to catch the public; it is not devised for show. It is a matter, not of words, but of facts. It is not pursued in order that the day may yield some amusement before it is spent, or that our leisure may be relieved of a tedium that irks us.
Without it, no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind. Countless things that happen every hour call for advice; and such advice is to be sought in philosophy. Perhaps someone will say: "How can philosophy help me, if Fate exists? Of what avail is philosophy, if God rules the universe? Of what avail is it, if Chance governs everything? She will encourage us to obey God cheerfully, but Fortune defiantly; she will teach us to follow God and endure Chance. But it is not my purpose now to be led into a discussion as to what is within our own control, - if foreknowledge is supreme, or if a chain of fated events drags us along in its clutches, or if the sudden and the unexpected play the tyrant over us; I return now to my warning and my exhortation, that you should not allow the impulse of your spirit to weaken and grow cold.
Hold fast to it and establish it firmly, in order that what is now impulse may become a habit of the mind. If I know you well, you have already been trying to find out, from the very beginning of my letter, what little contribution it brings to you. Sift the letter, and you will find it. You need not wonder at any genius of mine; for as yet I am lavish only with other men's property.
Whatever is well said by anyone is mine. Suppose that the property of many millionaires is heaped up in your possession. Assume that fortune carries you far beyond the limits of a private income, decks you with gold, clothes you in purple, and brings you to such a degree of luxury and wealth that you can bury the earth under your marble floors; that you may not only possess, but tread upon, riches. Natural desires are limited; but those which spring from false opinion can have no stopping-point. The false has no limits. When you are travelling on a road, there must be an end; but when astray, your wanderings are limitless.
Recall your steps, therefore, from idle things, and when you would know whether that which you seek is based upon a natural or upon a misleading desire, consider whether it can stop at any defiinite point. If you find, after having travelled far, that there is a more distant goal always in view, you may be sure that this condition is contrary to nature.
If any bond holds you back, untie it, or sever it. Take my advice; call wisdom into consultation; she will advise you not to sit for ever at your ledger. Doubtless, your object, what you wish to attain by such postponement of your studies, is that poverty may not have to be feared by you. But what if it is something to be desired? Riches have shut off many a man from the attainment of wisdom; poverty is unburdened and free from care. No throng of slaves surrounds the poor man, - slaves for whose mouths the master must covet the fertile crops of regions beyond the sea.
It is easy to fill a few stomachs, when they are well trained and crave nothing else but to be filled. Hunger costs but little; squeamishness costs much. Poverty is contented with fulfilling pressing needs. Why, then, should you reject Philosophy as a comrade? Even the rich man copies her ways when he is in his senses. If you wish to have leisure for your mind, either be a poor man, or resemble a poor man.
Study cannot be helpful unless you take pains to live simply; and living simply is voluntary poverty. Away, then, with all excuses like: "I have not yet enough; when I have gained the desired amount, then I shall devote myself wholly to philosophy. There is no reason why poverty should call us away from philosophy, - no, nor even actual want.
For when hastening after wisdom, we must endure even hunger. Men have endured hunger when their towns were besieged, and what other reward for their endurance did they obtain than that they did not fall under the conqueror's power? Even though we starve, we must reach that goal. Armies have endured all manner of want, have lived on roots, and have resisted hunger by means of food too revolting to mention. All this they have suffered to gain a kingdom, and, - what is more marvellous,to gain a kingdom that will be another's. Will any man hesitate to endure poverty, in order that he may free his mind from madness?
It is indeed so. After you have come to possess all other things, shall you then wish to possess wisdom also? Is philosophy to be the last requisite in life, - a sort of supplement? Nay, your plan should be this: be a philosopher now, whether you have anything or not, - for if you have anything, how do you know that you have not too much already? But if the utmost pinch of need arrives, he will quickly take leave of life and cease being a trouble to himself. If, however, his means of existence are meagre and scanty, he will make the best of them, without being anxious or worried about anything more than the bare necessities; he will do justice to his belly and his shoulders; with free and happy spirit he will laugh at the bustling of rich men, and the flurried ways of those who are hastening after wealth, and say: "Why of your own accord postpone your real life to the distant future?
Shall you wait for some interest to fall due, or for some income on your merchandise, or for a place in the will of some wealthy old man, when you can be rich here and now. Wisdom offers wealth in ready money, and pays it over to those in whose eyes she has made wealth superfluous. Change the age in which you live, and you have too much. But in every age, what is enough remains the same. I might close my letter at this point, if I had not got you into bad habits.
One cannot greet Parthian royalty without bringing a gift; and in your case I cannot say farewell without paying a price. But what of it? That which had made poverty a burden to us, has made riches also a burden. His malady goes with the man. License is given to the general merrymaking. Everything resounds with mighty preparations, - as if the Saturnalia differed at all from the usual business day! So true it is that the difference is nil, that I regard as correct the remark of the man who said: "Once December was a month; now it is a year.
For one may keep holiday without extravagance. In days of peace the soldier performs manoeuvres, throws up earthworks with no enemy in sight, and wearies himself by gratuitous toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil. If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes. Such is the course which those men I have followed who, in their imitation of poverty, have every month come almost to want, that they might never recoil from what they had so often rehearsed.
Let the pallet be a real one, and the coarse cloak; let the bread be hard and grimy. Endure all this for three or four days at a time, sometimes for more, so that it may be a test of yourself instead of a mere hobby. There is no reason, however, why you should think that you are doing anything great; for you will merely be doing what many thousands of slaves and many thousands of poor men are doing every day. But you may credit yourself with this item, - that you will not be doing it under compulsion, and that it will be as casy for you to endure it permanently as to make the experiment from time to time.
We shall be rich with all the more comfort, if we once learn how far poverty is from being a burden. Even Epicurus, the teacher of pleasure, used to observe stated intervals, during which he satisfied his hunger in niggardly fashion; he wished to see whether he thereby fell short of full and complete happiness, and, if so, by what amount be fell short, and whether this amount was worth purchasing at the price of great effort. At any rate, he makes such a statement in the well known letter written to Polyaenus in the archonship of Charinus.
Do you think that there can be fulness on such fare? Yes, and there is pleasure also, - not that shifty and fleeting Pleasure which needs a fillip now and then, but a pleasure that is steadfast and sure. Even prison fare is more generous; and those who have been set apart for capital punishment are not so meanly fed by the man who is to execute them.
Therefore, what a noble soul must one have, to descend of one's own free will to a diet which even those who have been sentenced to death have not to fear! Establish business relations with poverty. Dare, O my friend, to scorn the sight of wealth, And mould thyself to kinship with thy God. Of course I do not forbid you to possess it, but I would have you reach the point at which you possess it dauntlessly; this can be accomplished only by persuading yourself that you can live happily without it as well as with it, and by regarding riches always as likely to elude you.
But now I must begin to fold up my letter. And it makes no difference how important the provocation may be, but into what kind of soul it penetrates. Similarly with fire; it does not matter how great is the flame, but what it falls upon. For solid timbers have repelled a very great fire; conversely, dry and easily inflammable stuff nourishes the slightest spark into a conflagration. So it is with anger, my dear Lucilius; the outcome of a mighty anger is madness, and hence anger should be avoided, not merely that we may escape excess, but that we may have a healthy mind.
He did what he did because he loves himself and his phone more than he loves his family. We can see this in the small details of daily life. For example, before the incident, Ebba asks him from the bathroom whether he is checking his phone and he lies and says no. Every time he chooses to lie rather than admit to himself and others that he is too obsessed with his phone he becomes that little bit more self-centred.
But how we respond to them is not random, and responsibility for that lies squarely on our own shoulders. Start with the predictable ones: the old question whether a life that is morally good is also good in the sense that it makes you happy is answered in the affirmative. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.
But if he had done so, believing it would have been better if he had never been born, would we, the audience, still judge that he had a wonderful life? And if we would not, then does the movie show us that a human life cannot be good unless the person who lives it thinks about it and knows that it is good? Her lover has asked her to come away with him. Ida is a novice nun. Before taking her vows, she has been sent into the world to meet her aunt, her only surviving relative.
During the film, she learns that she is Jewish and discovers how her parents were murdered during the war. The aunt is a worldly state prosecutor who urges Ida to abandon the convent and live life to the full, but who is herself burdened by her own past. When the aunt commits suicide, Ida tries out cigarettes, vodka, high-heels, jazz and finally sex with a young saxophonist she has befriended. The saxophonist offers love, domesticity, contentment. Her lover is stymied. And indeed, it is unclear what answer can be given when the demand for justification is pushed this far. We see Ida reject a life of worldly engagement and choose instead a different kind of commitment.
She does not explain this choice. We are left wondering whether any ultimate choice of this kind can be fully explained or justified. When Gattaca was released in , Dolly, the most highly publicised sheep in history and the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, was one year old. The human genome project, hailed as the biological equivalent of putting an astronaut on the moon, was progressing at an accelerating pace towards its goal of mapping and sequencing the entire human genome. These developments triggered widespread ethical debates about genetic determinism. Would clones of a famous scientist or successful athlete be able to live up to the expectation that they would achieve as much as the person whose genetic material they had inherited, or would those very expectations be a crushing psychological burden?
Would sequencing the human genome enable us to identify the genes that contribute to higher intelligence or other desirable traits and would that in turn lead to discrimination against those who do not have them? Into this highly-charged debate came a film that took its name from the initial letters of the four building blocks of DNA. Gattaca portrays a future in which parents can select from their genes to produce the child that has the best genes that any child of theirs could have. Add to cart to save with this special offer.
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