“No man who loves money, and loves pleasure, and loves fame, also loves mankind, but only he who loves virtue.” – Epictetus
When we think about these four traits, the one thing that unites them all is that none of them have a limit. We can always chase down more of each.
The difference is that the first three all focus on the individual doing the action.
Love of money can be consuming, people who love money for the sake of money often will not even recognize when their action are inconveniencing or even harming another. This can manifest itself even in people without a lot of money to work with by them buying things that they do not need at prices that require the items to be sourced from less than reputable suppliers. Think sweat shops.
Love of pleasure is akin to hedonism. The idea that, ‘if it feels good for me, that’s all I care about.’ Think about the best hosts for parties, the best entertainers, or even the best lovers. They are not the best because they are focused on their own pleasure, they ensure that the others involved are also enjoying themselves. It’s great to experience pleasure but it’s greater to be aware of those around us as well.
There is no end to the love of fame, having people we don’t even know adore us feels amazing. Of course we want as many people as possible to be in love with us. The bright lights of fame are addicting, but to seek them out for their own sake involves a level of narcissism that requires no further investigation.
Pursuing a love of virtue on the other hand, puts us in a position where the main focus of our energy is on just how our actions affect others. How much good can we do? How much suffering can we eliminate? These are the questions of people seeking virtue.
Trying to be our best selves will lead us to loving others.
Virtus Fortis Vocat