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Manners and Morals

Manners and Morals

Think things through

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By Pendar

This blog is part of the series Not So Ancient Wisdom, based on Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence


Aphorism # 35:

Think things through. And especially what’s most important. All fools become lost through not thinking. They don’t even imagine the half of things, and as they don’t notice what’s harmful or beneficial, they never diligently apply themselves. Some pay most attention to what matters little, and little attention to what matters most, always thinking in reverse. Many never lose their senses, having none to lose. There are things that ought to be observed with great care and kept firmly in our minds. The wise think everything through and delve especially into anything difficult and doubtful, and sometimes believe that there is more to something than they think. In this way, reflection reaches where perception cannot.

You can’t think things through until you become good at thinking, or “diligently applying yourself” as Gracián puts it. Thinking doesn’t just happen automatically; it is an acquired skill, you need to learn to think. “Some pay most attention to what matters little, and little attention to what matters most” – this is one of the things that happens when you haven’t learned to think.

 And the point of entry into the process of learning to think may very well be here: “There are things that ought to be observed with great care and kept firmly in our minds.” So succinctly put. And quite subtle.

This observation would make a great subtitle for a class on philosophy and ethics: “Reflection reaches where perception cannot.”


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