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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIII
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The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIII Post by :mrslita_kabila Category :Nonfictions Author :Dante Alighieri Date :July 2011 Read :1491

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The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIII

The Fourth Treatise - CHAPTER XIII

In reply to the question, I say that it is not possible to affirm
properly that the desire for knowledge does increase, although, as has
been said, it does expand in a certain way. For that which properly
increases is always one; the desire for knowledge is not always one,
but is many; and one desire fulfilled, another comes; so that,
properly speaking, its expansion is not its increase, but it is
advance of a succession of smaller things into great things. For if I
desire to know the principles of natural things, as soon as I know
these, that desire is satisfied and there is an end of it. If I then
desire to know the why and the wherefore of each one of these
principles, this is a new desire altogether. Nor by the advent of that
new desire am I deprived of the perfection to which the other might
lead me. Such an expansion as that is not the cause of imperfection,
but of new perfection. That expansion of riches, however, is properly
increased which is always one, so that no succession is seen therein,
and therefore no end and no perfection.

And if the adversary would say, that if the desire to know the first
principles of natural things is one thing, and the desire to know what
they are is another, so is the desire for a hundred marks one thing,
and the desire for a thousand marks is another, I reply that it is not
true; for the hundred is part of the thousand and is related to it, as
part of a line to the whole of the line along which one proceeds by
one impulse alone; and there is no succession there, nor completion of
motion in any part. But to know what the principles of natural things
are is not the same as to know what each one of them is; the one is
not part of the other, and they are related to each other as diverging
lines along which one does not proceed by one impulse, but the
completed movement of the one succeeds the completed movement of the
other. And thus it appears that, because of the desire for knowledge,
knowledge is not to be called imperfect in the same way as riches are
to be called imperfect, on account of the desire for them, as the
question put it; for in the desire for knowledge the desires terminate
successively with the attainment of their aims; and in the desire for
riches, NO; so that the question is solved.

Again, the adversary may calumniate, saying that, although many
desires are fulfilled in the acquisition of knowledge, the last is
never attained, which is the imperfection of that one desire, which
does not gain its end; and that will be both one and imperfect.

Again one here replies that it is not a truth which is brought forward
in opposition, that is, that the last desire is never attained; for
our natural desires, as is proved in the third treatise of this book,
are all tending to a certain end; and the desire for knowledge is
natural, so that this desire compasses a certain end, although but
few, since they walk in the wrong path, accomplish the day's journey.
And he who understands the Commentator in the third chapter, On the
Soul, learns this of him; and therefore Aristotle says, in the tenth
chapter of the Ethics, against Simonides the Poet, that man ought to
draw near to Divine things as much as is possible; wherein he shows
that our power tends towards a certain end. And in the first book of
the Ethics he says that the disciplined Mind demands certainty in its
knowledge of things in proportion as their nature received certainty,
in which he proves that not only on the side of the man desiring
knowledge, but on the side of the desired object of knowledge,
attention ought to be given; and therefore St. Paul says: "Not much
knowledge, but right knowledge in moderation." So that in whatever way
the desire for knowledge is considered, either generally or
particularly, it comes to perfection.

And since knowledge is a noble perfection, and through the desire for
it its perfection is not lost, as is the case with the accursed
riches, we must note briefly how injurious they are when possessed,
and this is the third notice of their imperfection. It is possible to
see that the possession of them is injurious for two reasons: one,
that it is the cause of evil; the other, that it is the privation of
good. It is the cause of evil, which makes the timid possessor
wakeful, watchful, and suspicious or hateful.

How great is the fear of that man who knows he carries wealth about
him, when walking abroad, when dwelling at home, when not only wakeful
or watching, but when sleeping, not only the fear that he may lose his
property, but fear for his life because he possesses these riches!
Well do the miserable merchants know, who travel through the World,
that the leaves which the wind stirs on the trees cause them to
tremble when they are bearing their wealth with them; and when they
are without it, full of confidence they go singing and talking, and
thus make their journey shorter! Therefore the Wise Man says: "If the
traveller enters on his road empty, he can sing in the presence of
thieves." And this Lucan desires to express in the fifth book, when he
praises the safety of poverty: "O, the safe and secure liberty of the
poor Life! O, narrow dwelling-places and thrift! O, not again deem
riches to be of the Gods! In what temples and within what palace walls
could this be, that is to have no fear, in some tumult or other, of
striking the hand of Caesar?"

And Lucan says this when he depicts how Caesar came by night to the
little house of the fisher Amyclas to cross the Adriatic Sea. And how
great is the hatred that each man bears to the possessor of riches,
either through envy, or from the desire to take possession of his
wealth! So true it is, that often and often, contrary to due filial
piety, the son meditates the death of the father; and most great and
most evident experience of this the Italians can have, both on the
banks of the Po and on the banks of the Tiber. And therefore Boethius
in the second chapter of his Consolations says: "Certainly Avarice
makes men hateful."

Nay, their possession is privation of good, for, possessing those
riches, a man does not give freely with generosity, which is a virtue,
which is a perfect good, and which makes men magnificent and beloved;
which does not lie in possession of those riches, but in ceasing to
possess them. Wherefore Boethius in the same book says: "Then money is
good when, bartered for other things, by the use of generosity one no
longer possesses it." Wherefore the baseness of riches is sufficiently
proved by all these remarks of his; and therefore the man with an
upright desire and true knowledge never loves them; and, not loving
them, he does not unite himself to them, but always desires them to be
far from himself, except inasmuch as they are appointed to some
necessary service; and it is a reasonable thing, since the perfect
cannot be united with the imperfect. So we see that the curved line
never joins the straight line, and if there be any conjunction, it is
not of line to line, but of point to point. And thus it follows that
the Mind which is upright in desire, and truthful in knowledge, is not
disheartened at the loss of wealth: as the text asserts at the end of
that part. And by this the text intends to prove that riches are as a
river flowing in the distance past the upright tower of Reason, or
rather of Nobility; and that these riches cannot take Nobility away
from him who has it. And in this manner in the present Song it is
argued against riches.

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The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIV The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIV

The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XIV
The Fourth Treatise - CHAPTER XIVHaving confuted the error of other men in that part wherein it wasadvanced in support of riches, it remains now to confute it in thatpart where Time is said to be a cause of Nobility, saying, "Descent ofwealth;" and this reproof or confutation is made in that part whichbegins: "They will not have the vile Turn noble." And in the firstplace one confutes this by means of an argument taken from those menthemselves who err in this way; then, to their greater confusion, thistheir argument is also destroyed; and it does this when it says, "Itfollows

The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XII The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XII

The Banquet (il Convito) - The Fourth Treatise - Chapter XII
The Fourth Treatise - CHAPTER XIIAs has been said, it is possible to see the imperfection of riches notonly in their indiscriminate advent, but also in their dangerousincrease; and that in this we may perceive their defect more clearly,the text makes mention of it, saying of those riches, "However greatthe heap may be It brings no peace, but care;" they create more thirstand render increase more defective and insufficient. And here it isrequisite to know that defective things may fail in such a way that onthe surface they appear complete, but, under pretext of perfection,the shortcoming is concealed. But they may