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Welcome to Balthasar Gracian's "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" mailing list and website. In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest, wrote 300 aphorisms on living life effectively called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." The book stays relevent to modern day society and has been used such as Machiavelli's "The Prince" or Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" as a guidebook for everything from business to sports.

This website is updated daily with a new aphorism that is also sent out via email and RSS to our subscribers. For further reading consider this Balthasar Gracian biography or this searchable version of "The Art of Worldly Wisdom".

Aphorism #213
Know how to Contradict.

A chief means of finding things out--to embarrass others without being embarrassed. The true thumbscrew, it brings the passions into play. Tepid incredulity acts as an emetic on secrets. It is the key to a locked-up breast, and with great subtlety makes a double trial of both mind and will. A sly depreciation of another's mysterious word scents out the profoundest secrets; some sweet bait brings them into the mouth till they fall from the tongue and are caught in the net of astute deceit. By reserving your attention the other becomes less attentive, and lets his thoughts appear while otherwise his heart were inscrutable. An affected doubt is the subtlest picklock that curiosity can use to find out what it wants to know. Also in learning it is a subtle plan of the pupil to contradict the master, who thereupon takes pains to explain the truth more thoroughly and with more force, so that a moderate contradiction produces complete instruction.

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