One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.

  • 1
    'This above all - to thine own self be true' Shakespeare - Hamlet : Act I, Scene 3, Line 565. [Up-voted for Leonardo's quote]. – Nigel J Apr 12 '18 at 12:42
  • Sorry, Morteza Khezri Pour, but "One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself" is pure nonsense. Either "… smaller or greater…" might be the most wondrous philosphical insight ever but I suggest "no smaller or greater…" is less meaningful than just "no". – Robbie Goodwin Apr 26 '18 at 22:00
  • Leonardo presumably did not write in English. Perhaps the original-language version has some features not captured in this translation. – GEdgar May 12 '18 at 10:15

I believe this means that mastery of oneself is crucial and everyone should have it, therefore no mastery of anything "smaller" than that. However when you have that smallest necessary mastery you can go forth and start mastering other subject and therefore it is also the greatest.

In other words if you do not have mastery of yourself then you cannot even start knowing yourself, and maybe I'm going to far, but you wouldn't be a person at all. So it is the minimal mastery. But when you have it, it enables you to further your research also making it the greatest pin and so it is also the greatest mastery.

  • Thanks Vahagn Your answer is not clear to me. Do you mean that having a mastery smaller than mastery of self is not adequate? So, we should have at least mastery of ourselves? And in the meantime, the greatest mastery that we can have is mastery of ourselves? – Morteza Khezri Pour Apr 12 '18 at 9:10
  • pretty much, yes. The the maximum of the set of "mastery" is "oneself" and minimum of the set of "mastery" is also "oneself" – Vahagn Tumanyan Apr 12 '18 at 9:51

Most dictionaries list two distinct meanings of mastery:

  1. the authority of a master
  2. skill or knowledge that makes one master of a subject

One intepretation of da Vinci's quote is that mastery of one's self according to the first definition is trivially easy for most people, whereas mastery according to definition two could take a lifetime.

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