Many of you will remember that I held a mustache growing contest in the Kant and His Successors course last year. It was inspired by this quotation from Nz on staches:
‘The most placid, most reasonable man, so long as he has a big moustache, can sit quietly in its shade — as the accessory of a big moustache he will give most people the impression of being military, irascible and sometimes violent, so they will behave accordingly.’ — The Dawn
Well, I have been made aware of another philosophy quotation on facial hair, this time from St. Anselm in his ‘On the Fall of the Devil’. It is a dialogue between a Teacher and a Student.
Teacher: ‘[T]he absence of justice is dishonorable only where there ought to be justice. For example, not having a beard is not dishonorable for a man who is not yet supposed to have a beard, but once he ought to have a beard, it is unbecoming for him not to have one. In the same way, not having justice is not a defect in a nature that is not obligated to have justice, but it is disgraceful for a nature that ought to have it. And to whatever degree his being supposed to have a beard shows his manly nature, to that degree his not having it disfigures his manly appearance.’
Student: ‘I now understand quite well that injustice is nothing other than the absence of justice where there ought to be justice.’ (Ch. 17, On the Fall of the Devil)
The upshot as regards the important point here (no, not the point about justice but the point about beardedness and manliness): A clean face on one who ought to have a beard is nothing other than the absence of manliness.
But the passage raises another important question: at what point ought one have a beard? A beard seems to be the sort of thing that one must needs grow into, perhaps even earn. I see a fair number of pretty lame beards, mostly worn by people who have ‘not yet grown into a beard’. For my own part, I feel that I have only just earned the beard. Strangely, it never came in quite as full until rather recently as well, as if the beard knew I had not yet achieved the appropriate manliness yet.