The Art of Worldly Wisdom: 8


Many of Gracian’s maxims cause conflict in me and this one seems aimed at the core of my being.  Passion, I believe, is what drives people to personal success.  When you care about something to such an extent that it goes beyond a goal but is an emotion, the steps you need to take to achieve it come naturally.

To be without Passions. ’Tis a privilege of the highest order of mind. Their very eminence redeems them from being affected by transient and low impulses. There is no higher rule than that over oneself, over one’s impulses: there is the triumph of free will. While passion rules the character, no aiming at high office; the less the higher. It is the only refined way of avoiding scandals; nay, ’tis the shortest way back to good repute.

It seems Baltasar is referencing base passions as evidenced by ‘transient and low impulses’.  I like to interpret this maxim as being in control of one’s passions.  Do not let them rule the self, let the self rule the passion.  A ship cannot have two captains.  The self needs one guiding authority, and it is best, in Gracian’s opinion, that the guiding authority not be vulgar impulse.

Though, there may be times when the vulgar impulses do overcome the rational mind.  Gracian appears to be a pragmatist as he allows that sometimes the low impulses, the base desires.  In those times, it is important that one doesn’t allow these desires to affect one’s position.    Certain Presidents should have followed this advice

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

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Published by Sean D. Francis

Sean D. Francis is a technologist, writer, and geek. He podcasts, makes video, and dabbles in all the geeky genres including horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.