Basic values

There are some consistencies in what we all value. For example, most of us tend to prioritize caring for others more highly than dominating and controlling others—the latter two “are among the least important values to most people in most societies.”

~ Chris Bailey from,

I really enjoy sipping a cup of tea and taking a stroll through the gardens of others’ minds. Seeing the topiaries they’ve created never ceases to amaze me. Integration of knowledge is a hard problem (the hardest of all as a mere mortal?) Being able to see how someone has organized their thinking helps me examine how I’ve organized my thinking. Certainly, there are gardens I don’t bother visiting. But generally, being open and curious has led me to countless conversations of both the actual kind and the kind to which Niccolò Machiavelli refers.



Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli


I love language. Is Machiavelli suggesting less total violence, or more total deception? Or does it suggest that any amount of violence and deception, (including even, more violence than deception,) is fine, so long as you consider deception as your preferred method? Wait. What is the purpose of the word “attempt”? Is it okay to succeed by force, regardless of the possibility of succeeding using deception? Wait, no it’s worse than that even: “Never attempt to win … can be won …” — Is it okay if my aim is simply to sow chaos, without actually attempting to win via either method? Or, what if I attempt to win through some other means, (via kindness or merit or nimble maneuvering or bribery perhaps)?

But I do so love language.

Because despite all those perfectly logical nits that can be picked, it’s a brilliant sentence—even translated into English—packing insight and wisdom which we all grasp instantly and intuitively.


Death does not frighten me

When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reasons for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli