jueves, 28 de julio de 2016

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Your Limits Are Your Freedom

by Theodore Dalrymple


People often allege coercion by oppression or by circumstance when they wish to escape their own responsibility for their predicament (they wish to avoid their responsibility, of course, only when their predicament is unwanted or unenviable, never when it is just what they want). To evade our responsibility, we ascribe our undesired predicament to limits that never existed, and by so doing may well fashion what William Blake called “the mind-forg’d manacles” for the future.

On the other hand, the wise person accepts limits that genuinely have been imposed on him by circumstances beyond his control. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Nor can anyone become Mozart merely by trying—which is not to say, of course, that Mozart did not try extremely hard. If you cannot become Mozart by trying, neither did Mozart become Mozart by inadvertence, that is to say by what Edmund, in King Lear, called “an enforced obedience of planetary influence,” by the passive object of forces acting upon him to which his choices contributed nothing.

A large part of wisdom (and no doubt one of the secrets of a happy life also) is a knowledge and acceptance of the unavoidable limits of one’s existence, not least among which are one’s physical constitution and mortality. It requires judgment to distinguish between the true limits of existence and the false. A possible meaning, or an aspect of the meaning, of the gnomic injunction over the entry to the Temple of Delphi, namely to Know thyself, is that it is essential to know and accept one’s limits, the better to make the most of one’s freedom.


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