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Moralia 391-392: Não há ser na impermanência

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022


18. “The fact is that we really have no part nor parcel in Being [einai  ] [1], but everything of a mortal   nature is at some stage between coming into existence and passing away, [2] and presents only a dim and uncertain semblance and appearance of itself; and if you apply the whole force of your mind   in your desire to apprehend it, it is like unto the violent grasping of water  , which, by squeezing and compression, loses the handful enclosed, as it spurts through the fingers [3]; [239 - 392] even so Reason, pursuing the exceedingly clear appearance of every one of those things that are susceptible to modification and change, is baffled by the one aspect of its coming into being, and by the other of its passing away ; and thus it is unable to apprehend a single thing that is abiding or really existent.

“ ‘ It is impossible to step twice in the same river ’ are the words of Heracleitus, [4] nor is it possible to lay hold twice of any mortal substance in a permanent state ; by the suddenness and swiftness of the change in it there ‘ comes dispersion and, at another time, a gathering together ’; or, rather, not at another time nor later, but at the same instant it both settles into its place and forsakes its place ; it is coming and going.’

“ Wherefore that which is born of it never attains unto being because of the unceasing and unstaying process of generation, which, ever bringing change, produces from the seed an embryo, then a babe, then a child, and in due course a boy, a young man, a mature man, an elderly man, an old man, causing the first generations and ages to pass away by those which succeed them. But we have a ridiculous fear of one death, we who have already died so many deaths, and still are dying! For not only is it true, as Heracleitus [5] used to say, that the death of heat is birth for steam, and the death of steam is birth for water, but the case is even more clearly to be seen in our own selves: the man in his prime passes away when the old man comes into existence, the young man passes away into the [241 - 392] man in his prime, the child into the young man, and the babe into the child. Dead is the man of yesterday, for he is passed into the man of to-day ; and the man of to-day is dying as he passes into the man of to-morrow. Nobody remains one person, nor is one person ; but we become many persons, even as matter is drawn about some one semblance and common mould α with imperceptible movement. Else how is it that, if we remain the same persons, we take delight in some things now, whereas earlier we took delight in different things ; that we love or hate opposite things, and so too with our admirations and our disapprovals, and that wre use other words and feel other emotions and have no longer the same personal appearance, the same external form, or the same purposes in mind ? For without change it is not reasonable that a person should have different experiences and emotions ; and if he changes, he is not the same person ; and if he is not the same person, he has no permanent being, but changes his very nature as one personality in him succeeds to another. Our senses, through ignorance of reality, falsely tell us that what appears to be is.

[1Cf. Philo, In Iosepho, 125 (chap. xxii.).

[2Cf. Diels, Frag, der Vorsokratiker, i. 15, Anaximander, no. 9 ; Plato, Phaedo, 95 e ; von Arnim, Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, ii. 594 (p. 183).

[3Cf. Moralia, 1082 a.

[4Cf. Diels, Frag, der Vorsokratiker, i. p. 96, Heracleitus, no. 91. Plutarch refers to this dictum also in Moralia, 559 c.

[5Cf. Diels, Frag, der Vorsokratiker, i. p. 93, Heracleitus, no. 76.