Quotations about   sensibility

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There be some that will grant you precedence in good luck or good temper but none in good sense, least of all a prince; for good sense is a royal prerogative, any claim to that is a case of lèse-majesté.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 7 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
    (Source)

Alternate translation:

Most people do not mind being surpassed in good fortune, character, or temperament, but no one, especially not a sovereign, likes to be surpassed in intelligence. For this is the king of attributes, and any crime against it is lèse-majesté.
[tr. Maurer (1992)]
Added on 15-Nov-21 | Last updated 15-Nov-21
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Poetry demands a man with special gift for it, or else one with a touch of madness in him; the former can easily assume the required mood, and the latter may be actually beside himself with emotion.

[διὸ εὐφυοῦς ἡ ποιητική ἐστιν ἢ μανικοῦ: τούτων γὰρ οἱ μὲν εὔπλαστοι οἱ δὲ ἐκστατικοί εἰσιν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 17 / 1455a.33 (c. 335 BC) [tr. Bywater (1909)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Fyfe (below) notes μανικός to mean "genius to madness near allied," and adds "Plato held that the only excuse for a poet was that he couldn't help it." A possible source of Seneca's "touch of madness" attribution to Aristotle. Alternate translations:

Poetry implies either a happy gift of nature or a strain of madness. In the one case a man can take the mould of any character; in the other, he is lifted out of his proper self.
[tr. Butcher (1895)]

Poetry is the work for the finely constituted or the hysterical; for the hysterical are impressionable, whereas the finely constituted are liable to outbursts.
[tr. Margoliouth (1911); whiles this seems backward, Margoliouth further explains in his footnote.]

Poetry needs either a sympathetic nature or a madman, the former being impressionable and the latter inspired.
[tr. Fyfe (1932)]

Hence the poetic art belongs either to a naturally gifted person or an insane one, since those of the former sort are easily adaptable and the latter are out of their senses.
[tr. Sachs (2006)]

In order to write tragic poetry, you must be either a genius who can adapt himself to anything, or a madman who lets himself get carried away.
[tr. Kenny (2013)]

Added on 14-Feb-11 | Last updated 10-May-21
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Of all things, good sense is the most fairly distributed: everyone thinks he is so well supplied with it that even those who are the hardest to satisfy in every other respect never desire more of it than they already have.

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 1 (1637)

    Alt. trans.:
  • Good sense is of all things in the world the most equally distributed, for everybody thinks he is so well supplied with it, that even those most difficult to please in all other matters never desire more of it than they already possess.
  • Common sense is the best distributed commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.
  • Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Nov-20
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