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Friday, August 31, 2012

Meditations XIV

From Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations":

“These two rules, thou must have always in a readiness. First, do nothing at all, but what reason proceeding from that regal and supreme part, shall for the good and benefit of men, suggest unto thee. And secondly, if any man that is present shall be able to rectify thee or to turn thee from some erroneous persuasion, that thou be always ready to change thy mind, and this change to proceed, not from any respect of any pleasure or credit thereon depending, but always from some probable apparent ground of justice, or of some public good thereby to be furthered; or from some other such inducement.”

Brilliant! Two rules: 

1) do what is in line with the common good; 
2) when someone points out to you that you're wrong, accept it, correct it, and move on. 

When I read humble advice like this, it is hard to believe that the man who wrote this ruled an empire, and yet, actually, it isn't, because perhaps Marcus Aurelius comes closest to the ideal of Plato's "philosopher king". (If you aren't familiar with Plato's idea of the "philosopher king", read "The Republic".)

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