• Alex Vikner

Maxims by La Rochefoucauld

Maxims by La Rochefoucauld is a reflection on the conduct and motives of mankind. The maxims encapsulate uncomfortable and everlasting truths about the human condition. These are my favorite maxims.


  • If we had no faults we should not find so much enjoyment in seeing faults in others.

  • Our promises are made in proportion to our hopes, but kept in proportion to our fears.

  • Our temperament decides the value of everything the fortune bestows upon us.

  • In order to succeed in the world people do their utmost to appear successful.

  • Truth does not do as much good in the world as the semblance of truth does evil.

  • In most men love of justice is only fear of suffering injustice.

  • Silence is the safest policy if you are unsure of yourself.

  • To be known well things must be known in detail, but as detail is almost infinite, our knowledge is always superficial and imperfect.

  • It is easier to be wise for others than for oneself.

  • Few people are wise enough to prefer useful criticism to the sort of praise which is their undoing.

  • The glory of great men must always be measured against the means they have used to acquire it.

  • We are held to our duty by laziness and timidity, but often virtue gets all the audit.

  • Desire to appear clever often prevents our becoming so.

  • Perfect valor consists in doing without witnesses what one would be capable of doing before the world at large.

  • Nobody deserves to be praised for goodness unless he is strong enough to be bad, for any other goodness is usually merely inertia or lack of will-power.

  • Supreme cleverness is knowledge of the real value of things.

  • True eloquence consists in saying that all that is required and only what is required.

  • We own up to minor failings, but only so as to convince others that we have no major ones.

  • To achieve greatness a man must know how to turn all his chances to good account.

  • Commonplace minds usually condemn whatever is beyond their powers.

  • No people are more often wrong than those who cannot bear to be.

  • What makes the vanity of others intolerable is that it hurts our own.

  • The most difficult undertaking in friendship is not showing our faults to our friend, but making him see his own.

  • We freely forgive in our friends those faults which do not affect us.

  • Chance and caprice rule the world.

  • We try to make virtues out of the faults we have no wish to correct.

  • No fools are so difficult to manage as those with some brains.

  • It would pay us better to let ourselves be seen as we are than to try to appear what we are not.

  • We are lazier in mind than in body.

  • Quarrels would not last long if the fault were on one side only.

  • Hope and fear are inseparable, and there is no fear without hope nor hope without fear.

  • We should not take offence when people hide the truth from us, since so often we hide it from ourselves.

  • The good and bad things that happen to us touch our emotions not in proportion to their importance but to our sensitivity.

  • Extreme boredom provides its own antidote.

  • Most things are praised or decried because it is fashionable to praise or decry them.

  • Almost always we are bored by people to whom we ourselves are boring.

  • A man who dislikes everybody is much more unhappy than a man nobody likes.