Cognitive Training BCE

"The subject of discussion then is whether reason is absolute master of the passions.  But we have to define what reason is and what passion is, how many forms of passion there are, and whether reason is lord over them all.  Reason, I suggest, is the mind making a deliberate choice of the life of wisdom.  Wisdom, I submit, is knowledge of things divine and human, and of their causes.  And this wisdom, I assume, is the culture we acquire from the Law, through which we learn the things of God reverently and the things of men to our worldly advantage.

"The forms of wisdom consist of prudence, justice, courage, and temperance.  Of these prudence is the most authoritative, for it is through it that reason controls the passions.  Of the passions, the two all-embracing kinds are pleasure and pain, and each of these inheres in the body as well as the soul.  A large retinue of passions attends upon both pleasure and pain.  Before pleasure comes desire, and after pleasure comes joy.  Before pain comes fear, and after pain comes sorrow.  Anger is a passion involving both pleasure and pain, if one reflects on how it has touched him.

"Included under pleasure also is the malicious moral temper which expresses itself in the most widely varied ways of all the passions, those of the soul being pretentiousness and avarice and seeking the limelight and contentiousness and backbiting, those of the body being a voracious appetite for all kinds of food and gluttony and gormandizing in private.   Now pleasure and pain being, as it were, two branches stemming from body and soul, there are many offshoots of these passions.  Each of these reason, the master gardener, purges thoroughly and prunes and binds up and waters and irrigates all around, and so domesticates the wild undergrowth of inclinations and passions.  For reason is the guide of the virtues and the supreme master of the passions.

"Observe in the first place how, in regard to the things that hinder temperance, reason is complete master of the passions.  Temperance, as I understand it, is control over desires, and of desires some relate to the soul and others to the body, over both of which reason obviously holds sway.  When we are attracted to forbidden foods, how do we come to reject the pleasures to be gained from them?  Is it not because reason has the power to control the appetites?  I believe it is.  Accordingly, when we crave seafood or fowl or the meat of four-legged beasts or any sort of food at all that is forbidden to us under the Law, it is through the mastery of reason that we abstain.  For the proclivities of our appetites are restrained and held in check by the prudent mind, and all the motions of the body are muzzled by reason."

--4 Maccabees 1:13-35, in James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols., The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 2:545.


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