January 31 ~  Highest Understanding Art of Worldly Wisdom

"Sometimes it proves the highest understanding not to understand." ~ Baltasar Gracián

Baltasar Gracián

Spanish Jesuit writer Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) was born in Belmonte in the Kingdom of Aragon around the time of Shakespeare and Cervantes. He studied for the priesthood at 15.

As a writer in Spain's Golden Age, Gracián is best known for his three-part novel, The Critic - El Criticón (1651, 1653, 1657) in which he looked at the world through the eyes of a savage.

A celebration of free-speech, he wrote, "Use human means as though divine ones did not exist, and use divine means as though there were no human ones."

As a wise observer of society, Gracián counseled royalty in the art of living, teaching morality, and self-love. His books El Héroe (1637) and El Político (1640) deal with heroism and leadership and include such insight: "The path to greatness is always along with others."

Remarkably relevant today, Gracián influenced philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhaur who described Gracián's Art of Worldly Wisdom as "a book made for constant use, a companion for life."

"Quit while you're ahead. All the best gamblers do," Gracián advised and added that there were four ways to live: live for many years; travel through many lands; read many good books and speak with wise friends.

"Renew your brilliance," he said. "It is the privilege of the Phoenix... Dare... dawning many times, like the sun."

More Baltasar GRACIAN Quotations

Baltasar GracianCelebrate all you do... and do not... understand!