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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Banquet (Il Convito).

I say, then, that from the beginning a man loves himself, although indistinctly; then comes the distinguishing of those things which to him are more or less; to be more or less loved or hated; and he follows after and flies from either more or less according as the right habit distinguishes, not only in the other things which he loves in a secondary manner, for he even distinguishes in himself which thing he loves principally; and perceiving in himself divers parts, those which are the noblest in him he loves most.  But, since the noblest part of man is the Mind, he loves that more than the Body; and thus, loving himself principally, and through himself other things, and of himself loving the better part most, it is evident that he loves the Mind more than the Body or any other thing; and the Mind it is that, naturally, more than any other thing he ought to love.

Then, if the Mind always delights in the use of the beloved thing, which is the fruit of love, the use of that thing which is especially beloved is especially delightful:  the use of our Mind is especially delightful to us, and that which is especially delightful to us becomes our Happiness and our Beatitude, beyond which there is no greater delight or pleasure, nor any equal to it, as may be seen by him who looks well at the preceding argument.

And no one ought to say that every appetite is Mind; for here one understands Mind solely as that which belongs to the Rational part, that is, the Will and the Intellect; so that if any one should wish to call Mind the appetite of the Senses, here it has no place, nor can it have any abiding; for no one doubts that the Rational appetite is more noble than the Sensual, and therefore more to be loved; and so is this of which we are now speaking.

The use of our Mind is double, that is to say, Practical and Speculative (it is Practical insomuch as it has the power of acting); both the one and the other are delightful in their use, but that of Contemplation is the most pleasing, as has been said above.  The use of the Practical is to act in or through us virtuously, that is to say, honestly or uprightly, with Prudence, with Temperance, with Courage, and with Justice.  The use of the Speculative is not to work or act through us, but to consider the works of God and of Nature.  This and the other form our Beatitude and Supreme Happiness, which is the sweetness of the before-mentioned seed, as now clearly appears.  To this often such seed does not attain, through being ill cultivated, or through its tender growing shoots being perverted.  In like manner it is quite possible, by much correction and cultivation of him into whom this seed does not fall primarily, to induce it by the process of steady endeavour after goodness, so that it may attain to the power of bearing this fruit.  And it is, as it were, a method of grafting the nature of another upon a different stock.

No man, therefore, can hold himself excused; for if from his natural root the man does not produce sweet fruit, it is possible for him to have it by the process of grafting; and in fact there would be as many who should be grafted as those are who, sprung from a good root, allow themselves to grow degenerate.

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