The first person who followed a morality based on reason was Socrates. Socrates said that ‘No man is voluntarily wicked’, that one is wicked through ignorance of the good, that furthermore, the good is neither pleasure nor power and that one cannot be master of anything, whatever it is, unless one is first master of oneself. He used to say that the good is to keep one’s soul free from all impurity, from all attacks of passion. Evil is always a weakness, and virtue is always strength, even if things appear to be quite the opposite (a tyrant, and men tortured by a tyrant). A tyrant is, although he does not know it, weaker than the person who, fully aware of what is happening, allows himself to be killed by tyrants. Socrates, if we can believe Plato’s dialogues, used to set forth his ideas in myths. The highest principle is clearly: ‘Know yourself’, since evil is defined as self-ignorance.
- 'Lectures on Philosophy' By Simone Weil
The usage of the indefinite article 'a' evades me. 'a weakness' means to me that 'a thing that is weak'. But what about 'strength'? Is it a kind of ellipsis?