La Rouchefoucauld's Maxims

Alain de Botton reviews the maxims of François de La Rochefoucauld
François de La Rochefoucauld
La Rochefoucauld believed in a different picture of the mind. Arguments are like eels: however logical, they may slip from the mind's weak grasp unless fixed by beautiful sentences. La Rochefoucauld is therefore an inspiration to anyone who feels divided between the role of a philosopher and a writer: he suggests that you can have the best of both worlds, and indeed went on to inspire some of the greatest of philosophers. It isn't accidental that he turns out to have been dearly loved by, among others, Kierkegaard, Leopardi, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Cioran. La Rochefoucauld reminds us that great pessimism doesn't have to be depressing: to read him is like sucking the juice from the bitterest lime, and enjoying it. [Read More]