The worm in the fruit

During his famous embassy to Rome in the second century B.C., Carneades took advantage of the occasion to speak the first day in favor of the idea of justice, and on the following day against it. From that moment, philosophy, hitherto nonexistent in that country of healthy conduct, began to perpetrate its ravages. What is philosophy, then? The worm in the fruit. . . .

Cato the Censor, who had been present at the Greek’s dialectical performances, was alarmed by them and asked the Senate to satisfy the Athenian delegation as soon as possible, so harmful and even dangerous did he consider their presence. Roman youth was not to frequent minds so destructive.

On the moral level, Carneades and his companions were as formidable as the Carthaginians on the military. Rising nations fear above all the absence of prejudices and prohibitions, the intellectual shamelessness which constitutes the allure of declining civilizations.

— E. M. Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born

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