On Reputation

1. Reputation in general is the value of persons in the common life, according to which value they are capable of being placed on an equality with other persons, or compared with them, and either preferred or postponed to them.

2. It is divided into the simple and the intensive. Both are considered with reference to those who live in natural liberty, or to those who live together in the civil state.

3. Simple reputation, as between those who live in natural liberty, consists principally in this, that a man show himself, and be regarded as one with whom men can deal as with a good man, and as one who is ready to live with others according to the precept of the natural law.

4. And this reputation is maintained intact, so long as a man has not yet violated the natural law as regards others by some wicked or flagrant deed, knowingly and purposely, with malice aforethought. Hence also, one is naturally accounted a good man until the contrary is proved.

5. Reputation of this kind is diminished by flagrant deeds maliciously perpetrated against the natural law, — deeds which cause the need of greater circumspection, if one is to deal with such a person. This stain, however, can be wiped out, by making a voluntary reparation of the damage caused, and by giving proof of serious repentance.

6. It is likewise utterly destroyed by a manner and mode of life aimed directly at the promiscuous hurting of others, and at making profit out of the evident injury of others. So long as men of this type are unwilling to come to their senses, they can be treated as common enemies by all whom their malice can in any way touch. Yet these men can recover their reputation, when they have refunded the damages, or obtained pardon, and giving up a vicious mode of life, have entered upon one that is honorable.

7. Simple reputation, in the case of those who live in states, means that a man has not been declared a vicious member of the state, in accordance with its laws and customs, and that he is considered of some account.

8. It is lost in a state, cither because of one's condition alone, or on account of crime. The former kind of loss takes place in two ways: when that condition naturally involves no shame, or else when it is connected with vice, or at least that assumption. The first of these occurs in some states, where slaves are of no account; the second obtains with regard to panders, harlots, and the like, who indeed enjoy the common defense, so long as they are officially tolerated in the state, but are to be excluded from the company of honorable men. This also happens to some who are occupied with things loathsome or vile, though not naturally vicious.

9. By crime, on the other hand, reputation is clearly lost, when according to the civil laws, and for a certain crime, a man is branded with infamy, and this whether he is further punished with death, and his memory thus branded, or he is expelled from the state, or retained in the state, as an infamous and rotten member.

10. It is plain, moreover, that simple reputation, or natural honor, cannot be taken away from a man by the mere will of the rulers. For this in no way makes for the advantage of the state, and so can by no means be understood as a power bestowed upon the rulers. Thus also a man who executes the orders of the state, in the capacity of a mere minister, cannot, it seems, contract real infamy.

11. Intensive reputation is that by virtue of which persons, otherwise equal as regards the simple reputation, are preferred to one another, according as one, more than another, possesses those qualities by which others are prompted to render honor. And honor is, properly, the expression of our judgment of another's superiority.

12. This intensive reputation can be considered with reference to those who live in natural liberty, or to the citizens of the same state. We must next weigh its bases, and in fact according as these produce a mere fitness to expect honor from others, or a right strictly so-called, by which the honor can be claimed from others as one's due.

13. The bases of intensive reputation in general are all those things which involve conspicuous perfection and superiority, or are thought to prove the same, the effect of this superiority being in harmony with the purpose of the natural law, or of states. Examples are perspicacity of mind, and the ability to learn various sciences and arts, a keen judgment in administering affairs, a mind strong and unshaken from without, superior to temptations and alarms, eloquence, beauty and dexterity of body, the blessings of fortune, and above all remarkable achievements.

14. All of these, however, produce merely an imperfect right, that is, a fitness to receive honor and respect from others. Hence, if a man refuses it to others, in spite even of their high merits, he does no injury, but is merely in bad repute for his churlishness and rudeness. But a perfect right to receive honor from another, or the outward signs of it, is derived either from the authority which one has over the other, or from an agreement entered into with him on this point, or from a law made or approved by their common master.

15. But as for princes and whole nations, they usually defend their preeminence and precedence, by alleging chiefly the antiquity of the kingdom and the family, the size and wealth of their subject territory, and their power, also the nature of the power by which the king possesses the authority in his kingdom, and the splendor of his title. All of these, however, do not in themselves produce a perfect right to precedence over other kings and nations, unless this has been acquired by agreement or concession on their part.

16. Among citizens, on the other hand, it is the duty of the ruler to designate grades of dignity. In this, however, he rightly regards each man's superiority and fitness to serve the state. And whatever rank he has assigned to a citizen, the latter has a right to defend against his fellow-citizens, and he is no less bound to rest content with it himself.

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