Van Dyck, self portrait

“The virtuous man wishes to converse with himself.” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, IX

Conversations with oneself. They could be a sign that something is wrong. But done well, they are a sign that something is right.

A virtuous man, Aristotle explains, has much delight in the inner chamber of his mind. He looks to the past with satisfaction, and to the future with confidence. Most of all, “his mind is filled with topics for consideration.” In the present.

At once guarding against frenzy and idleness, the life of this mind—like all true life—is active but steady. Prone neither to regret nor to boredom, such a mind shuns distraction, and it searches for nourishing food, and the quiet space in which to digest it. This search calls for practice and discipline, like eating well daily.

It’s not that the virtuous man avoids conversation with others. Quite the contrary. A man well-practiced in talking to himself will be great company to those around him. He will have something to say: something worth sharing.

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics is his main moral treatise.

Image: Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), Self-portrait with a Sunflower

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

Previous articleKauffman for Christmas
Next articleFrom The Multiversity Cave: General Education
John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.