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  • Doug Belshaw 2:30 pm on February 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, chance, , satisfaction   

    Things depend on many circumstances, and what triumphs on one occasion, fails on another. But stupidity’s incorrigibility lies in the fact that it’s most groundless self-satisfaction flowers and its seeds sprout up everywhere.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 10:30 pm on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Baltasar Gracián,   

    Don’t vaunt your good fortune. It is more offensive to flaunt your position than yourself. To play the important person is detestable; it’s enough to be envied. The more you look for esteem, the less you will have. It depends on another’s respect, and ask you can’t simply take it, but must earn it and wait for it from others. High positions require the right amount of authority and without this they cannot be properly carried out. Maintain the authority required to fulfill your duties; don’t exhaust this, bolster it. All who play the great person in their job show they don’t merit it and aren’t up to it. If you want recognition, let it be for your excellent qualities, not for incidental trappings, for even a king should be venerated more for his person than his position.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 8:30 pm on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, ,   

    Understand what different jobs entail. They are all different and you need great knowledge and observation here. Some require courage, others subtlety. Those that depend on integrity are easier to handle, those on artifice, harder. With the right disposition, nothing else is needed for the former; but all the care and vigilance in the world are not enough for the latter. To govern people is a demanding job, and fools and madmen more so. Twice the wit is needed to deal with someone with none. A job that requires complete dedication, has fixed hours and is repetitive is intolerable; better is one which is free from boredom and which combines variety and importance, because change is refreshing. The best are those where dependency on others is minimal. The worst, one where you are held to account, both in this world and the next.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 2:30 pm on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, greatness   

    Those who insist on the dignity of their office, show they have not deserved it.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 10:10 pm on February 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Baltasar Gracián   

    Things don’t pass for what they are, but for how they appear. Few look within, and many are content with appearances. It’s not enough to be right if your face looks wrong.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 8:05 am on February 19, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, , respect   

    The circumspect man, if he wants to be venerated by everyone, should prevent the true depths of his knowledge or courage being plumbed. He should allow himself to be known, but not fully understood. No one should establish the limits of his abilities, because of the danger of having their illusions shattered. He should never allow anyone to grasp everything about him. Greater veneration is created by conjecture and uncertainty over the extent of our ability than by firm evidence of this, however vast it may be.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 5:50 pm on February 12, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, extremes, moderation,   

    Take neither the good nor the bad to extremes. A sage reduced the whole of wisdom to ‘moderation in all things’. Extreme justice becomes unjust, and orange squeezed too hard leads to bitter juice. Even pleasure should never be taken to extremes. Ingenuity itself is drained if pushed too hard, and milking to excess will draw blood.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 8:45 am on February 12, 2020 Permalink
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, , ,   

    Take care when gathering information. We live mainly on information. We see very little for ourselves and live on others’ testimony. Hearing is truth’s last entry point, and a lie’s first. Truth… rarely reaches us unadulterated, especially when it comes from far off. It is always tinged with the emotions through which it had passed.

    Baltasar Gracián

     
  • Doug Belshaw 10:02 pm on February 9, 2020 Permalink
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, self-esteem   

    One must not depend on one thing or trust to only one resource, however pre-eminent. Everything should be kept double, especially the causes of success, of favour, or of self-esteem.

    Baltasar Gracián
     
  • Doug Belshaw 5:48 am on February 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baltasar Gracián, , Machiavelli   

    Baltasar Gracián on tools, focus, and outcomes 

    I read maxims 62 to 66 of Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence this morning. There’s some real wisdom in there, which I wanted to capture here. I’m going to quote from each maxim; each one is longer than the part I’m sharing below.

    Some want the mediocrity of the tools they work with to be evidence of their own extreme subtlety.

    Maxim 62

    Some would rather be first at something second-rate, than second at something first-rate.

    Maxim 63

    Some focus more on going about things the right way than on achieving their goal.

    Maxim 66

    I think the above is all easy to agree with, but then Gracián, a 17th-century Jesuit priest, throws in a bit of a Machiavellian curveball:

    Most people don’t see the precise circumstances, only a good or bad outcome. Reputation is therefore never lost when goals are achieved. A successful conclusion makes everything golden, however mistaken the means.

    Maxim 66

    The notes in my Penguin Classics edition point to a controversy in Gracián’s time about the following passage from Machiavelli:

    When they’re weighing up what someone has achieved — and this is particularly true with rulers, who can’t be held to account — people look at the end result. So if a leader does what it takes to win power and keep it, his methods will always be reckoned honourable and widely praised. The crowd is won over by appearances and final results.

    Machiavelli, ‘The Prince’

    It’s not quite a syllogism, but if you agree with the propositions in Maxims 62, 63, and 66 quoted above, it’s difficult to resist the inference that the ends justify the means. Yet I do want to resist just that. 🤔

     
    • Noel De Martin 5:41 pm on February 5, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      I always thought that it doesn’t make sense to ponder if the ends justify the means without looking at specific examples. In some situations, some means are justified and some others are not. “The means” is not a discrete concept that cannot be broken down.

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