Reflections on Aphorisms #104

Today was good and fun, even if it wasn’t the most productive. I don’t aim for much productivity on Sundays, so I think that I overshot my expectations.

Actually got some good gaming in. One of my players shot me a thank-you after our session, which is always fun and affirming.

Aphorism 144

Great men should not have great faults. (Maxim 190)

François de La Rochefoucauld

Interpretation

One of the great tragic figures is the fallen hero. I can’t think of a better example than Shakespeare’s Othello, because he is so thoroughly transformed by his tragedy.

What Rochefoucauld catches on to with his assessment is the idea that a great person can be undone by a single flaw.

The bigger the flaw, the more likely it proves fatal.

In reality, everyone has issues that stem from their character, even if they try their best to overcome their natural inclinations.

What we can hope for is that the damage we cause is minimal and that we are able to keep it from undoing the progress that we have made, not that we never cause any damage.

It’s like sacrifice. To borrow from Jordan Peterson, we don’t get to choose whether or not to sacrifice, but we do get to choose what to sacrifice.
Ideally, we sacrifice something other than our morals.

A great flaw, however, tends to reach all the way down into our character.

We are only able to improve ourselves to the extent that we are aware of our weaknesses and strengths. It may be possible for someone to seem great if they have mastered their strengths, but if their vices or shortcomings are still extreme they risk having a negative effect and applying their strengths to an unworthy cause.

Resolution

Seek to learn my flaws.

Never accept defeat.

Pay attention to where my energy goes.

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