One man, when he has done a service to another, is ready to set it down to his account as a favour conferred. Another is not ready to do this, but still in his own mind he thinks of the man as his debtor, and he knows what he has done. A third in a manner does not even know what he has done, but he is like a vine which has produced grapes, and seeks for nothing more after it has once produced its proper fruit. As a horse when he has run, a dog when he has tracked the game, a bee when it has made the honey, so a man when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes in season.- Must a man then be one of these, who in a manner act thus without observing it?- Yes.- But this very thing is necessary, the observation of what a man is doing: for, it may be said, it is characteristic of the social animal to perceive that he is working in a social manner, and indeed to wish that his social partner also should perceive it.- It is true what thou sayest, but thou dost not rightly understand what is now said: and for this reason thou wilt become one of those of whom I spoke before, for even they are misled by a certain show of reason. But if thou wilt choose to understand the meaning of what is said, do not fear that for this reason thou wilt omit any social act.
As a child, we all do good things to recieve praise for a job well done. As adults, many still see doing good, for the same reason. And then there are those who just enjoy that feeling that doing good brings to their inner self. Some, just don't know they are doing good, and improve the world along the way......
We forget we are social animals. We tend to think in identities of self, as oppossed to the human race. Other members of the animal kingdom work in harrmony for mutual benefit, yet man seems to forget this as a whole. Carnivores work together for food and rearing of the babies. Herbivores band together for protection from the carnivores as well as help with the young.
Yet, man forgets we are animal. Instead, thinking we are above those simple ideas. The line,"...and indeed to wish that his social partner also should preceive it....", shows a very human characteristic. The animals do not do their duties, expecting thanks from their flocks and broods.
Toward the end of this translation, it is alluded to by the author, that in his opinion of Marcus Aurelius thought of the human race "we are the bodies of mammels, with the intelligence of gods"
This section from Marcus Arrelius' Meditations is one of my favorites. The whole series was written in a manner to remind himself that he was a man, uncle, son, student, as well as the ruler of Rome.