We are less hurt by the contempt of fools than by the lukewarm approval of men of intelligence.

What did Luc de Clapiers mean by:

We are less hurt by the contempt of fools than by the lukewarm approval of men of intelligence.


This quote highlights the weight we place on the opinions of those we respect and deem intelligent. It suggests that we are more affected by a lackluster approval from someone we admire or consider wise, than by the outright contempt of those we view as foolish. This is because we value the opinions of the former group more, and their lukewarm approval may make us question our abilities or worth.

The term ‘lukewarm approval’ indicates a half-hearted or indifferent approval, not particularly enthusiastic or supportive. This can be more hurtful as it leaves us in a state of uncertainty and self-doubt. On the other hand, the ‘contempt of fools’ is easier to dismiss, as we may not respect their judgement or viewpoint.

In today’s world, this idea can be seen in various scenarios such as social media, where people often seek validation from others. A lack of likes or comments from those we respect might hurt more than negative comments from random people. It can also be seen in work environments where we seek approval from our superiors or colleagues whom we respect. Their indifferent approval might affect our confidence and job satisfaction more than outright criticism from someone we consider incompetent.

In terms of personal development, this quote can serve as a reminder to not rely too heavily on external validation, especially from those we admire. It encourages us to trust in our own abilities and judgement, and not let the lukewarm approval of others shake our self-confidence. It also reminds us to choose wisely whose opinions we value and let affect us.

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