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Posts Tagged ‘Aphorisms’

The mind is slow to unlearn what it learnt early.

The Roman Stoic Seneca left us a rich portfolio of aphorisms pertaining to decision making.

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.

The greater part of progress is the desire to progress.

I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge.

I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.

If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.

It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.

It is a youthful failing to be unable to control one’s impulses.

It is easier to exclude harmful passions than to rule them, and to deny them admittance than to control them after they have been admitted.

It is rash to condemn where you are ignorant.

Speech is the mirror of the mind. (Imago Animi Sermo Est)

The arts are the servant; wisdom its master.

The first step towards amendment is the recognition of error.

The mind is slow to unlearn what it learnt early.

The path of precept is long, that of example short and effectual.

We most often go astray on a well trodden and much frequented road.

Where reason fails, time oft has worked a cure.

Where the speech is corrupted, the mind is also.

The best ideas are common property.

Nothing is as certain as that the vices of leisure are gotten rid of by being busy.

Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult.

Aphorisms by Hippocrates, the very first aphorism:

Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.

A neat summation that remains true in virtually all fields today.  It takes a long time to develop skills (Art long) compared to the allotted time we have to develop those skills (life is short), the pace of change is fast and we only have one chance to get it right (the crisis fleeting), the consequences are great (experience perilous) and as always the “decision difficult.”  The second sentence is not perhaps as crisp but is just as consequential.  A good decision without support from all parties in the context (the patient, the attendants, and externals) is like as not to fail.  The challenge is that in the modern era, rarely can we “make” others cooperate, rather we have to convince, motivate, or incent them to cooperate, an endeavor fraught with variable outcomes.  A variability that is less and less desirable, the greater the consequences arising from the decision.

The Latin original is Vita brevis, ars longa, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile.

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