My first reading of this was that we we’re going to see a contradiction from before, the extolling of retreat for philosophical practice would be contra this admonishment to mix even with many ungrateful persons that we find the few good ones.
“In order to discover one grateful person, it is worth while to make trial of many ungrateful ones.”
That certainly looks like a mark in the pro column for worldly engagement. And then we have this:
“If one were compelled to drop everything that caused trouble, life would soon grow dull amid sluggish idleness…”
This is when I realized that we’re not talking about a retreat versus world issue, what we’re seeing is a test for what’s leftover. We’re not abandoning life, or society. We’re paring down, digging for the quality amongst the dross.
We’re not compelled to leave off everything, and what we do renounce should be towards a purpose, again not for mere dislike.
I look forward to the rest of the letter.