As You Like It
As You Like It Philosophical Viewpoints Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to The Norton Shakespeare, second edition, published in 2008.
Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a
good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it
is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very
well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile
life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me
well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is
tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my
humor well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it
goes much against my stomach. Hast any philosophy
in thee, shepherd? (3.2.13-22)
Aside from Touchstone being deliberately opaque, it is possible he is just using his balanced perspective again. His ability as a fool, as he has already said, is to see the foolish in the seemingly wise, which extends to seeing both sides of every argument.
Sir, I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that
I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness,
glad of other men's good, content with my harm,
and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze
and my lambs suck. (3.2.73-77)
Corin's philosophy is one of natural contentment. Corin and the other "naturals" are utterly unconcerned with the frippery of the court, or with men's frippery in general.
Amen. A man may, if he were of a fearful
heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no
temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts.
But what though? Courage. As horns are odious,
they are necessary. It is said: "Many a man knows no
end of his goods." Right: many a man has good
horns and knows no end of them. Well, that is the
dowry of his wife; 'tis none of his own getting.
Horns? Even so. Poor men alone? No, no. The
noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the
single man therefore blessed? No. As a walled town
is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of
a married man more honorable than the bare brow
of a bachelor. And by how much defense is better
than no skill, by so much is horn more precious
than to want. (3.3.47-62)
It seems even Touchstone's rakish philosophy has its limits. He is fine messing around, but like anyone else, he's afraid of being alone, which is a rather poignant moment in these ponderings. He would rather suffer the complete foolishness of his country wife than be alone with his wit.