A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues: The Uses of Philosophy in Everyday Life by André Comte-Sponville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Some of the virtues dragged on a bit, but there were so many gems. Here are a few quotes:
It is better to be too honest to be polite than to be too polite to be honest.
Reality imposes its laws, it’s obstacles, it’s detours. Prudence is the art of taking them into account.
Prudence is what differentiates action from impulse and heroes from hotheads.
Morality without Prudence is either futile or dangerous… Morality is not sufficient for virtue; virtue also requires intelligence and lucidity…. it is imprudent to heed morality alone, and it is immoral to be imprudent.
Combined with courage, it turns out to be heroism.
Joined by justice, it becomes equity.
Coupled with compassion, it becomes benevolence.
In league with mercy, it becomes leniency.
But it’s most beautiful name is its secret, an open secret that everyone knows: accompanied by gentleness, it is called kindness.
There can be no intelligence without the freedom to come to one’s own judgments, and no society can prosper without intelligence. A totalitarian state must therefore resign itself to either stupidity or dissidence, to either poverty or criticism.
Intolerance makes people stupid just as stupidity makes people intolerant. This is fortunate for our democracies as it may in part account for their strength …or for the ultimate weakness of totalitarian states.
What is secularism if not tolerance as an institution?
You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength. – Pavese
To love is to derive joy, or more precisely, to derive joy from. .. Pleasure is love only if it brings joy to the soul, and this is especially true of our interpersonal relationships.
Philia is love-as-joy (love according to Spinoza): the joy of loving and being loved, mutual goodwill, the will to live together. Philia is active love … in contrast to eros (love as passion).
Successful couples, the kind we tend to envy for the happiness of love they seem to manage to preserve even with the passing years: they are anything but love birds they will tell you. The secret of their success is simply that they have continued to desire each other and, if they have been living together for years, their desire is … pleasure rather than passion; they have managed to transform the passion and ardor they had in the beginning and to joy, gentleness, gratitude, lucidity, and trust, into happiness in being together — in other words into philia.
They have long since rejected the idea of becoming one, if they ever believed in it all. They love their duet far too much with its harmonics, counterpoint, and occasional dissonances to want to transform it into an impossible monologue… it is deeper, more loving and more truthful. … Anyone can be in love, but not everyone is capable of loving.
nice term to describe happy long-standing couples: “marital friendship”