“We have languished a long time in our faults and cannot easily get free of them.
It is not merely that we are tainted with them – we are steeped in them!
But rather than slipping from one metaphor to the next, let me ask a question I often wonder about.
Why does foolishness have such a tight hold on us? First, because we do not resist courageously; we do not work toward healing with all our strength.
Second, because we do not sufficiently believe the things that men of wisdom have discovered; we do not take them into our hearts.
We expend but little effort on such a great endeavor. How can anyone learn an amount sufficient to combat his vices if he learns only in the spare time left over from cultivating those vices?
Not one of us goes into any depth. We only hit the high points and think that a few minutes spent on philosophy is enough and more than enough for busy people.
What hinders us most of all is that we are quickly satisfied with ourselves.
If we find someone willing to say that we are good men, sensible and chaste, we readily acknowledge the description.
We are not content with a modicum of praise: whatever shameless flattery heaps onto us, we accept as if it were our due. When people insist that we are fine men, extremely wise men, we accept their account of us, even though we know them to be frequent and copious liars.
We indulge ourselves to such a degree that we are willing to be praised for qualities that are the exact opposite of what we have just been doing.
A man hears himself called “most merciful” even as he is exacting punishments, “most generous” in the midst of thieving, “most temperate” in the midst of drinking and debauchery.
Consequently, we have no wish to change, just because we already believe we are the height of excellence”.