Flatterers are not the same as friends, and self-flattery is the greatest danger of all.
Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, but it was the flattery of his courtiers that convinced the emperor he could get away with it.
And if the disgrace surrounding the rise and fall of Anthony Scaramucci is an accurate gauge of the sort of person the White House favors (even if it’s only for ten days), then the president has a serious problem of indulging flattery.
.. Upon reading Plutarch, Trump would find that Scaramucci is an easily identifiable example of the flattery the president has allowed to run rampant in the West Wing. Scaramucci (like Chris Christie during the campaign) gained Trump’s favor with a studied imitation of Trump’s rhetorical style.
.. In a televised cabinet meeting this June, nearly all of the president’s senior advisers — a crew including then–chief of staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — delivered cloying compliments about Trump’s unmatched leadership abilities while he grinned along in appreciation.
.. Plutarch advises rulers above others to recognize the need to surround themselves with men who will gently remind them of their imperfections and guide them to managing public affairs with justice and charity.
.. To show how a flatterer positions himself as a friend of rulers, Plutarch details nine different types and explains how to expose and rid oneself of these parasites before they suck one dry with false praise.
.. It’s fitting that Trump would find himself susceptible to flattery and Machiavellianism at the same time. The two are often intertwined.
If you change the boards of a ship one plank at a time, and replace all boards, is it the same ship?
- Ship of Theseus, described by Plutarch
- meriological: identity is sum of its parts
- Spacial Temporal Continuity: the ship moves smoothly through time. There is no point in time when you can say you have a new ship
- but what if you steal the ship piecemeal?
- the problem is unresolvable, only resolvable by using some external principle