Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire

FIRMNESS.

Firmness comes from firm, and has a different signification from solidity and hardness; a squeezed cloth, a beaten negro, have firmness without being hard or solid.

It must always be remembered that modifications of the soul can only be expressed by physical images; we say firmness of soul, and of mind, which does not signify that they are harder or more solid than usual.

Firmness is the exercise of mental courage; it means a decided resolution; while obstinacy, on the contrary, signifies blindness. Those who praise the firmness of Tacitus are not so much in the wrong as P. Bouhours pretends; it is an accidental ill-chosen term, which expresses energy and strength of thought and of style. It may be said that La Bruyère has a firm style, and that many other writers have only a hard one.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:25