Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Time-Honoured Science of ‘Luck’


“There are rules of luck: it is not all chance with the wise: it can be assisted by care... on a true philosophy there is no other umpire than virtue and insight; for there is no luck or ill-luck except wisdom and the reverse.”

~Balthasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Aphorism #21.

Sometimes there is no better way of discounting a thought-to-be false thing than by firstly assigning to it true basis on loan, analysing it fairly and then only after proving its falsehood, finding for it an appropriate place; under those things found to be true.

And luck is just that—it can only ever be known under the evermore superior banner of ‘wisdom’.

The Designation of Luck

I’ve always liked the Denzel Washington quote, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation,” and this is exactly what the Seventeenth Century sage, Gracian, is saying. We may only designate ‘luck’ the happy winner of our fortune by virtue of the wisdom of preparation that had us there in the first place; a more willing and better prepared a recipient we’d usually never find.

Luck has an unfortunate designation that takes the credit from those who would otherwise benefit from their placement to receive blessing.

Perhaps ‘luck’ may not be repeatable, and therefore the wisdom that won the so-called ‘lucky’ person their prize is simply limited. It is, however, still illustrative of wisdom.

Attributing outcomes to luck—when some sense of wisdom is undeniably present—is simply a lazy attribution when a more apt cause or set of causes could just as diligently be found.

‘Luck’ in the Final Analysis

It could be fair to say we make our own luck.

And this leads us to the gates of wisdom, which is simply the application of good sense to living situations. This good sense is not our personal sense, but it is a broadly accepted good sense. It can be admired, but mostly it goes unnoticed. It is not self-placating. It is not the justification of folly, which if it worked out really would be ‘luck’ (in the traditional sense) for it would have no wisdom about it. This would not often be repeatable.

Repeated good luck can only reasonably be seen as illustrating wisdom, as repeated bad luck can only reasonably be seen as illustrating folly. However, the reversals of due fortune, which do occur, would also see ‘luck’ coming into play for it’d have no sense about it—acts of wisdom turning rotten or acts of folly winning the day.

For those purposed on Wisdom and setting themselves to attain it, there is no concern to be had for luck, as luck—as an attribution—can only be a distraction to the causes that get us closer to Wisdom.

A parting thought: How can ‘luck’ remain as luck? (Wisdom must surely catch up with luck and equalise matters.)

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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