Monday, April 26, 2010

Bon mot for the week.

"The superior man is distressed only by the limitations of his ability. He is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability that he has."

Kong Qiu ('Confucius' - 551-479BCE)


JES said...

This is the sort of aphorism it's always difficult for me to pass along without embarrassment. Maybe Confucius loses something in translation, some idiomatic sense which doesn't transfer well into English, but in Chinese avoids implying, y'know, "...and I, Confucius, am just such a superior man!"

Swift's bit, "...when a great genius appears in the world the dunces are all in confederacy against him" -- that falls into the same category.

Froog said...

Well, 'superior' for us has all those negative connotations of snobbishness and putting on airs and graces. In a more abstruse, philosophical sense, he's talking about (I assume - I don't know much about Confucius) more closely approaching an ideal of 'the good'.

I wondered if you were suggesting that it's impossible to say anything about 'genius' (et al) without insinuating that you are one. A line that suddenly popped into my head (though perhaps it wouldn't pass that test; perhaps nothing would) was:
Genius is the cleverness that even dumb people can recognise.

Probably doesn't pass the test. I quite like it, though. Might use it for a 'Bon mot of the week' one day.