Flee From Those Who Drain You, And Seek Those Who Sustain You

There is a certain truculence that must figure in the disposition of an independent spirit.  He who strays from the approved paths through the forest must be prepared to swing his machete with vigor and persistence at the tangles of vegetation that obstruct his forward movement.  He will seek to test the boundaries of the enclosures that surround him, and will always be probing for opportunities to detect fractures and imperfections in their constructions.

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Dr. Johnson On Moral Philosophy As A Cornerstone Of Education

We have here very frequently discussed the necessity of training in character and the virtues as a lifelong activity.  This subject is the concern of moral philosophy:  that is, the study of conduct and the virtues.  It is through moral philosophy that a man’s passions are bridled, directed, and channeled for positive use.  Without this discipline, he never learns to sublimate his ego to a higher purpose; he begins to think of himself as an emperor, a man beyond the reach of the rules and obligations that apply to everyone else.  Selfishness, arrogance, and close-mindedness creep into the subconscious, eventually to dominate every waking impulse.

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Of Cowardice And Magnanimity

The philosopher and naturalist Theophrastus of Eresos succeeded Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school; and while he may not have had his predecessor’s visionary profundity, he more than compensated for this with a genial manner, relentless curiosity, and a genius for organization.  Like the Prussian naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt, there was nothing in the heavens or on the earth that escaped his attention; and his exhaustive botanical treatise, the Historia Plantarum (Study of Plants) remained an authority in the field until well beyond the medieval period.

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The Grandeur Of Acquiring Knowledge

Sidonius Apollinaris, who died in 489 A.D., was a diplomat, literary figure, and ecclesiastical official of fifth-century Gaul.  He was also a letter-writer of impressive fecundity and erudition; and his powers of memory were so great, we are told, that he was able to recite long liturgies from memory and deliver orations without notes or preparation.  One of his letters (II.10), written to a friend named Hesperius, contains the following noteworthy sentence:

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George Washington’s Leadership Qualities

George Washington generally preferred a restrained style of leadership.  By this I mean he was economical with his words, careful in doling out both praise and recriminations, and mindful that his actions would resound more loudly with subordinates than his statements.  He understood the principle that, when leading men, sometimes a leader had to turn his back on them; he did not strive for back-slapping familiarity, but instead the calm and steady application of discipline and objective.

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Conscience As The Theater Of Virtue: The Justice Of Saladin

I very much like the following maxim of Cicero’s:

Nevertheless, no theater for virtue is greater than one’s conscience. [1]

What he meant by this was that one’s own conscience should guide the performance of good works.  He was expressing his disapproval of those who did things for the purpose of gaining public favor, instead of following that inner voice which represents man’s instinctive sense of justice.  What should be paramount in one’s mind are not specious public displays, or a craving for shameless notoriety; what should be controlling are the dictates of one’s own conscience.

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Remedies, Detriments, And Moral Factors

The jurist, poet, and scholar Baha Al-Din Ibn Shaddad (بهاء الدين ابن شداد) was born in the city of Mosul, Iraq in 1145.  He was a close friend of the famed commander and statesman Saladin, and wrote a highly valued biography of that eminent conqueror.  He served for a time as the qadi (judge) of Aleppo, and in this capacity had much opportunity to acquaint himself to the realities of human behavior; it seems that, no matter the country or culture, career lawyers and judges make remarkably astute observers.  Ibn Shaddad’s biographer Ibn Khallikan says that the judge often liked to quote this line of verse from the poet Ibn Al-Fadl (known as Surr-Durr):

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