That's Marcus, of course. It's Meditations XII, 27, and specifically about pride. The first passage there is essentially a restatement of the old "Let every action aim solely for the common good." It's a reminder that virtuous actions for the benefit of others will make a person happy (or, at least make a Stoic happy) while self-directed actions will, in the long run, make us unhappy. Pride is part of that because many self-directed actions are driven by pride. Wanting to succeed, wanting to achieve, wanting to display, wanting to be seen or known or revered or admired; all forms of pride. That's something that I've been struggling with for most of my life.Constantly bring to your recollection those who have complained greatly about anything, those who have been most conspicuous by the greatest fame or misfortunes or enmities or fortunes of any kind: then think where are they all now? Smoke and ash and a tale, or not even a tale. And let there be present to your mind also everything of this sort, immense how Fabius Catullinus lived in the country, and Lucius Lupus in his gardens, and Stertinius at Baiae, and Tiberius at Capreae and Velius Rufus (or Rufus at Velia); and in fine think of the eager pursuit of anything conjoined with pride; and how worthless everything is after which men and women violently strain; and how much more philosophical it is in the opportunities presented to you to show yourself just, temperate, obedient to the gods, and to do this with all simplicity: for the pride which is proud of its want of pride is the most intolerable of all.
As I've noted before, for all my supposed intelligence, my accomplishments are relatively few and far-between. For all of my pride in my ability to comprehend and utilize information, I haven't turned that into any kind of sustained success. I'm not talking solely about material success, although that would be nice. If I could find my way to a regular writing gig that I could make a career out of, that'd be great. I could make a living doing something that I enjoy and that at least a few people have suggested I have a certain amount of talent for and that they enjoy. But I found that I had just as much pride in accomplishing something that served more people than just me and in more than simply entertainment, in true Stoic fashion. I took pride in those virtuous actions for the public weal. Is that counter-intuitive for the Stoic? Somewhat. After all, that last line about acting with simplicity and false modesty being the worst sort of pride is directed primarily at those who would hold themselves up to be respected for their virtue.
Of course, part of my struggle has always been from another well-known quote of Marcus': "Man is worth as much as what he is interested in is worth." - Meditations VII, 3. If one is interested in the more virtuous of ideals in one's society, is that not a form of pride? Those things are worth more, therefore said person is worth more. Is that the measure of it or a faulty interpretation? Is it appropriate to use pride to drive oneself to be more active and more successful in those idealistic pursuits, knowing that one is not only serving the community but also making himself "worth" more? It seems to become wrong to want to be worth more. It should instead be left up to society to measure that worth and then, perhaps, take equal doses of pride and humility in the fact that one has achieved "greater worth". Of course, given the idiotically skewed values of our current society, expecting that one's worth will be properly measured is a mortgage-backed security of a rather profound quality. Or is it simply my failing as a Stoic that I would perhaps enjoy writing about films more than I would organizing another progressive campaign?
And if one's worth really is greater from this expression of selflessness, does it make sense that the most self-directed action of all- suicide -becomes even more of a crime of self-indulgence for depriving society of that supposed worth? That sounds an awful lot like an expression of extreme pride. One engages in that ultimate self-directed act and presumes that people will feel loss because of one's supposed virtue (this is putting aside emotional attachments, of course; this is part of why Stoics are often perceived as 'unemotional'), so that is properly perceived as an expression of pride (and, unlike the standard Stoic belief, one won't be unhappy after that's over...) But pride in the loss or pride in the action?
For that matter, if one isn't contributing anything useful to society at this point, then there is no virtue to deny said society except for unknown potential. So, suicide deprives no one except the actor of anything. It remains a very self-directed act and not directly beneficial to society, but not implicitly harmful, either. And, of course, classical Stoicism (outside of Marcus) tends to speak on this repeatedly, in that once a person recognizes that a "naturally flourishing" life is unattainable, suicide becomes justifiable with no harm to one's inherent virtue. Seneca, for example, spoke frequently about "living well", as opposed to "mere living" and suggested that a wise person "lives as long as he ought, not as long as he can." Marcus, no different, said essentially the same thing:
The question then becomes: Why is that naturally flourishing life unattainable and is it a failure of self or simply an expression of fate? "Every event happens in such a way that your nature can either support it or cannot." X, 3. " "Either you go on living in the world and are familiar with it by now, or you go out, and that by your own will, or else you die and your service is accomplished. There is nothing beside these three; therefore be of good courage." X, 22.When you have assumed these names, good, modest, true, rational, a person of equanimity, and magnanimous, take care that you do not change these names; and if you should lose them, quickly return to them. And remember that the term Rational was intended to signify a discriminating attention to every single detail and to do so with due diligence; and that Equanimity is the voluntary acceptance of the things which are assigned to you by the common nature; and that Magnanimity is the elevation of the intelligent part above the pleasurable or painful sensations of the flesh, and above that poor thing called fame, and death, and all such things. If, then, you maintain yourself in the possession of these names, without desiring to be called by these names by others, you will be another person and will enter on another life. For to continue to be such as you have hitherto been, and to be torn in pieces and defiled in such a life, is the character of a very stupid person and one overfond of life, and like those half-devoured fighters with wild beasts, who though covered with wounds and gore, still plead to be kept to the following day, though they will be exposed in the same state to the same claws and bites. Therefore fix yourself in the possession of these few names: and if you are able to abide in them, abide as if you were removed to certain islands of the Happy. But if you shall perceive that you fall out of them and do not maintain your hold, go courageously into some nook where you shall maintain them, or even depart at once from life, not in passion, but with simplicity and freedom and modesty, after doing this one laudable thing at least in your life, to have gone out of it thus. In order, however, to the remembrance of these names, it will greatly help you, if you remember the gods, and that they wish not to be flattered, but wish all reasonable beings to be made like themselves; and if you remember that what does the work of a fig-tree is a fig-tree, and that what does the work of a dog is a dog, and that what does the work of a bee is a bee, and that what does the work of a human being is a human being.