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Joseph Joubert

Birthdate: 7. May 1754
Date of death: 4. May 1824
Other names: Joseph Antoine René Joubert

Joseph Joubert was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées , which were published posthumously.

„To draw up in advance an exact and detailed plan is to deprive our minds of the pleasures of the encounter and the novelty that comes from executing the work.“

—  Joseph Joubert

Context: To draw up in advance an exact and detailed plan is to deprive our minds of the pleasures of the encounter and the novelty that comes from executing the work. It is to make the execution insipid for us and consequently impossible in works that depends on enthusiasm and imagination. Such a plan is itself a half-work. It must be left imperfect if we want to please ourselves. We must say it cannont be finished. In fact, it must not be for a very good reason: it is impossible. We can, however, draw up such plans for works whose execution and accomplishment are a mechanical thing, a thing that depends above all others on the hand. This is suitable and even very useful for painters, for sculptors. Their senses, with each stroke of the brush or chisel, will find this novelty that did not exist for their minds. Forms and colors, which the imagination cannot represent to us as perfectly as the eye can, will offer the artist a horde of these encounters which are indispensable to giving genius pleasure in work. But the orator, the poet, and the philosopher will not find the same encouragement in writing down what they have already thought. Everything is one for them. Because the words they use have beauty only for the mind and, having been spoken in their head in the same way they are written on the page, the mind no longer has anything to discover in what it wants to say. A plan, however is necessary, but a plan that is vague, that has not been pinned down. We must have above all the notion of the beginning, the end, and the middle of our work. That is to say, we must choose its pitch and range, its pauses, and its objectives. The first word must give the color, the beginning determines the tone; the middle rules the measure, the time, the space, and the proportions.

„Few minds are spacious; few even have an empty place in them or can offer some vacant point. Almost all have narrow capacities and are filled by some knowledge that blocks them up.“

—  Joseph Joubert

Context: Few minds are spacious; few even have an empty place in them or can offer some vacant point. Almost all have narrow capacities and are filled by some knowledge that blocks them up. What a torture to talk to filled heads, that allow nothing from the outside to enter them! A good mind, in order to enjoy itself and allow itself to enjoy others, always keeps itself larger than its own thoughts. And in order to do this, this thoughts must be given a pliant form, must be easily folded and unfolded, so they are capable, finally, or maintaining a natural flexibility. All those short-sighted minds see clearly within their little ideas and see nothing in those of others; they are like those bad eyes that see from close range what is obscure and cannot perceive what is clear from afar. Night minds, minds of darkness.

„Whoever does not see in a good light is a bad painter, a bad friend, a bad lover. Whoever does not see in a good light has not been able to lift his mind up to what is there or his heart to what is good.“

—  Joseph Joubert

Context: Whoever does not see his friends in a good light loves them little. To see in a good light. — Whoever does not see in a good light is a bad painter, a bad friend, a bad lover. Whoever does not see in a good light has not been able to lift his mind up to what is there or his heart to what is good.

„To think what we do not feel is to lie to ourselves, in the same way that we lie to others when we say to others what we do not think.“

—  Joseph Joubert

Context: To think what we do not feel is to lie to ourselves, in the same way that we lie to others when we say to others what we do not think. Everything we think must be thought with our entire being, body, and soul.

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