Reason and Wisdom

“The creature of foresight, wisdom, variety, keenness, memory, endowed with reason and judgement, which we call man, was created by the supreme god to enjoy a remarkable status.  Of all the types and species of living creatures he is the only one that participates in reason and reflection, whereas none of the others do.  What is there, I will not say in man, but in the whole of heaven and earth, more divine than reason (a faculty which, when it has developed and become complete, is rightly called wisdom)?” Marcus T. Cicero, The Laws 1. 22. in  The Republic and The Laws, trans. Niall Rudd (Oxford 1998), p. 104-05.

In this text Cicero follows a common theme: the intellectual ability of human beings.  According to him, God created man to share part of the divine nature.  In this context, reason allows humanity to have a special relationship with God and to establish just laws. Ultimately, the nature of reason allows men and women to practice virtue and thus strive for moral perfection.  Cicero concluded:

“Since, then, there is nothing better than reason, and reason is present in both man and God, there is a primordial partnership in reason between man and God.  But those who share reason also share right reason; and since that is law, we men must also be thought of as partners with the gods in law.  Furthermore, those who share law share justice.  Now those who share all these things must be regarded as belonging to the same state; and much the more so if they obey the same powers and authorities.  And they do in fact obey this celestial system, the divine mind, and the all-powerful god.  Hence the whole universe must be thought of as a single community shared by gods and men.” Ibid., 105.

This entry was posted in Cicero, Intellect, memory, reason, virtue, wisdom. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *