Reflections on Aphorisms #64

Somewhat productive day today. I got to reading about scrolls. That’s not a typo. Scrolls. Like, medieval scrolls.

Did you know that when one dude died they sent a scroll around basically half of England and a good chunk of France in what is basically a medieval version of the condolence card?

Yeah, that’s kinda cool, I guess.

Aphorism 102

“Know thyself”? If I knew myself, I’d run away.

Goethe

Interpretation

Here we see that Goethe can match witticisms with Wilde.

Of course, the point of an aphorism is that there’s a compelling surface and deeper depths to think about.

In this case, Goethe hits on a few complex topics.

Yesterday I talked about self-deception, and I think that it’s perhaps no coincidence that there’s a little overlap between this and Wilde’s statements, so I’m not going to go into too much depth on it. It’s also no coincidence that one of the stories that shaped my first knowledge of self-deception was written by Goethe.

I think that one of the best ways to think about oneself is to reflect on one’s worst moments.

This may sound a little bit of a downer, but I view it as a sort of off-shoot of stoicism.

What the stoics would do is that they would take the worst possible event, look at the outcomes, and determine that they could still go on.

The thing with my reflection is that I look at my worst vices and then tell myself that I still have a chance to improve.

By looking at the weakness and imperfections within myself I force myself to move onward from where I currently am, because I don’t find myself particularly good. I’m sometimes a little disappointed when I take stock of my virtues, because a lot of them have reasons that are less than noble.

“Oh hey, I don’t drink. Right, because I hate the taste and the side-effects. Not a giant virtue there!”

The secret here is that you can build on that.

I tell myself each day that I’m going to do at least one thing, one virtuous thing, that isn’t something that should be taken for granted or that I already do regularly.

The scary thing there is that I don’t always succeed. The nice thing, however, is that there’s always room for improvement.

When you keep improving, eventually you’re bound to reach a better place.

Resolution

Do one thing each day that is better than its equivalent the prior day.

Confront my weaknesses.

Never be impatient with the progress of growth.

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