Gregory: 21. 'What therefore,' I asked the teacher [Macrina], 'is one to make of this?
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Gregory: 21. Macrina: 22.

'What therefore,' I asked the teacher [Macrina], 'is one to make of this? For I am not able to see as yet how we can fittingly reject as alien to our nature that which is actually within us.' 

'You observe,' she replied, 'a kind of battle of the reason against them and a struggle to rid the soul of them as far as possible. And indeed there are some in whom this struggle has been achieved, as we hear for example [Macrina here tells some stories of exemplary figures who 'freed' themselves from anger and desire] 23. This could not have been so if these faculties were nature and traceable to the principle of substance. For it is impossible for one who has departed his nature to continue to in being at all. But if [a person] was both in existence and yet without these, then it follows that they are something other than nature and not nature itself. 24. For nature is truly that in which the existence of its substance is comprehended, and if our estrangement from these emotions lies within our power so that their removal not only does not injure, but is even beneficial to the nature, it is clear then that they are to be considered as externals. They are affects39 of the nature and not its substance, for the substance is simply that which it is. 

25. 'As for anger, many think it a ferment of the blood round the heart; others a keenness to inflict pain in retribution for pain received. We ourselves would take anger to be an impulse to hurt someone who has provoked us. But none of these [equate] with the definition of the soul. 26. Again, if we were to define what desire is in itself, we shall call it a seeking for what one lacks, or a yearning for the enjoyment of some pleasure, or a grief when something on which we have set our heart is not in our power, or a habituation towards some pleasure which it is not possible to enjoy. All these and similar descriptions do indeed indicate desire, but they do not touch the definition of the soul. 

27. 'Moreover, among all the other emotions discerned in regard to the soul, some mutual opposites are observable, such as timidity and boldness, grief and pleasure, fear and disdain, and so on. Each of them seems akin to the principles of desire and of anger, while their own nature is identified with an individualizing definition. 28. Daring and disdain, for example, suggest a certain accentuation of the irascible impulse, while the dispositions arising from timidity and fear suggest a diminishing and weakening of that same impulse. 29. Grief on the other hand draws its material from both of them, for the weariness of anger, which comes of powerlessness to punish those who have grieved us, itself becomes grief, and our despair of having the things we desire and our privation of the things on which we have set our heart instils a sullen cast of mind. And what is considered the opposite of grief, I mean the thought of pleasure, is similarly divided between anger and desire, for pleasure governs the both of them equally. 

30. 'All these emotions are around the soul and yet they are not soul, but only like warts growing from the soul's thinking part. They are reckoned to be parts of it because they are growing on it, and yet they are not what the soul is in its substance.' 

Gregory: 31. 'And yet we observe,' I replied to her, 'that [emotions] make [a reasonably big] contribution to the betterment of those dedicated to virtue. [Here Gregory tells several stories of exemplary figures in their tradition where feelings of anger or desire led the person to do a good/virtuous/courageous act.]  ... in all these instances that such qualities are not to be considered passions, for passions would not have been employed to accomplish virtue.' 

Macrina: 33. 'It seems that I myself have occasioned this confusion in reasoning, by not making those distinctions in the argument of the case which would have imposed a certain logical order on our considerations. But now, as far as possible, some such order shall be devised for the investigation, so that by advancing logically in our considerations there may be no more room for such contradictions. 

34. 'We assert, then, that the contemplative, critical, and all-surveying power of the soul is proper to it by its very nature, and that it is through these that the soul preserves in itself the image of the deifying grace, since reason surmises that the divine itself, whatever it might be in its nature, is these at least in these, that is in universal supervision and in discrimination of the beautiful from the worse. 35. But when it concerns what lies on the borderland of the soul, capable of inclining to either of two opposites according to its particular nature, the way it is used determines the outcome whether for the good or its opposite. Such for example are anger and fear and any other such emotion of the soul without which human nature cannot be studied. 


[A human has their] nourishment and growth from plant life, for such processes can be seen even in plants as they draw in nourishment by their roots and send it forth in fruits and leaves. [Their] constitution as sensate [they] have from the irrational animals. But the power of thought and reason is unalloyed and particular to [human] nature, being contemplated by itself. 41. However, just as this nature has the instinct of drawing what is necessary for the material life, which, when it is manifested in us, we call appetite, and we assert that this is an aspect of plant life, since we can see it there too as certain impulses working naturally to secure their proper nourishment and to swell in germination, so too all that is proper to the irrational nature is mingled with the intellectual part of the soul. 42. Among these,' she said, 'is anger; among these is fear and all the other counterbalancing activities within us — everything except the power of reason and thought. That alone is special to our life which bears in itself, as has been said, the stamp of the divine character. 

43. 'But since, according to the argument which we have just been expounding, the reasoning power cannot otherwise come to be in the bodily life except that it comes into being with the senses, and since sensation already had subsistence in the nature of the irrational animals, a necessary consequence of this alone is our soul's communion with all that accompanies it. 44. These are the incidence within us of what are called "passions", which have not been allotted to human life for any bad purpose at all ... Instead, these emotions of the soul become the instruments of virtue or of vice according to the way we order our choice, 45. just like the iron that is forged according to the intention of the smith, which takes whatever shape the conception of the smith wills, whether it becomes a sword or some agricultural implement. 

46. 'Well then, if reason, that special property of our nature, were to maintain governance over these emotions which have been added to us from without, none of these emotions would be active in the service of vice. Fear would only generate obedience, and anger courage, and timidity caution, and the impulse of desire would sponsor the divine and undefiled delight.

47. 'If reason, however, casts away the reins like a charioteer who has become entangled in his chariot and is dragged behind it wherever the irrational movement of the yoked horses carries him, then these impulses are changed into passions, just as we see happens with irrational animals. [...] 50. So it is with us too, if these impulses are not led by reasoning in the right direction and if the passions prevail against the mastery of the mind, the human being is changed from the rational and the godlike to the irrational and unthinking, being reduced to the level of an animal by the force of these passions.' 

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