I started reading Casanova's Memoirs recently. While his fundamental ethics and the reason why he does things doesn't appeal to me, he certainly had a hell of a lot of adventures.
I thought this quote was quite good -
It is not true that a wish for reward is unworthy of real virtue, and throws a blemish upon its purity. Such a pretension, on the contrary, helps to sustain virtue, man being himself too weak to consent to be virtuous only for his gratification. ... In fact, I do not believe there is an honest man alive without some pretension [for reward], and here is mine.
I like that quote, and think it's a good one. Everyone looks for reward from their virtuous actions - at the very least, the good feeling for having done them. Social status is another commonly sought reward.
I like how Casanova puts it - he puts it right out there in the open that he's comfortable with this and thinks virtue doesn't suffer from the virtuous man wanting to be rewarded. He goes on to say that he thinks people are too weak to keep being virtuous without reward.
I haven't read the book yet, I'm just starting it, but it seems like Casanova was driven by pleasure and hedonism, which is not my way. Certainly, I've had my share of pleasure and hedonism in my life, but even when doing so, I try to have it recharge me and make me stronger, so that I can accomplish more.
But in a sense, Casanova did do some amazing things. Certainly his Memoirs inspired and entertained a lot of people, and serves as a good guide to the history and fashions of the day. He made some contributions to knowledge, and did some good things.
I'm not with his motives, it's not my way, but he seems like someone worth learning more. As for this quote on virtue - well, I think it's brilliant. Yes, seek rewards for your virtue. It doesn't blemish things. It keeps you going on the path - people are too weak to suffer for just virtue and no rewards for long periods of time. Virtuous deeds are virtuous. Virtuous deeds done to receive rewards are virtuous.
I was always pretty frugal with money - I'd spend on good tools, lessons/training/classes for myself (including lots on books), on having unique or developing experiences, and on showing appreciation for people who make me successful. One of my good friends helped me finish an important business deal once that made me a lot of money, and I bought him a plane ticket to Japan to say thanks.
But I never liked spending money on comfort or luxury that doesn't serve a higher purpose. I eat very simply, I sleep simply, I don't need or want much.
Lately though, I've been thinking about how this conflicts with another goal I have - constantly improving my environment. I want every room to better because I was there. And not a little better - a lot better.
I was always a decent tipper, I'd go out of my way to tip great service in particular. But I'm thinking lately I should be an exceptional tipper, even at businesses where I don't want a long term relationship with the establishment.
Not sure why I'm starting to think this way, I'm just starting to think it's correct. I was going through Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics - in particular, there's sections on liberality and magnificence.
Like the concept of worship in Islam, the definition of charity also embraces all aspects of life. Islam in no way restricts charitable deeds to the economic realm. Other than giving obligatory charity - Zakah, an individual may also give as much as he pleases as Sadaqah. Although this word means ‘voluntary charity’ it has a wider implication. It includes every imaginable act of kindness that one can possibly do to human beings or any other creatures. A kind word, a good deed, or even a noble intention can be a great act of charity meriting infinite rewards in the Hereafter. Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) taught that meeting someone with a cheerful face is an act of charity, helping a person to load his animal is a charity, and pouring some water in your neighbor’s bucket is a charity. Working to earn a living for oneself and one’s family, providing education to children, and placing a morsel of food unto the spouse’s mouth are all acts of charity. Refrainingfrom doing evil and enjoining others to do good are acts of charity.
"Those who spend their substance in the cause of God, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury,-for them their reward is with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Kind words and the covering of faults are better than charity followed by injury. [The Qurân, Ch: 2 Al-Baqarah, V: 262-263]