Greatness vs. Personality Traits

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“When someone achieves greatness in any field—such as the arts, science, politics, or business—that person’s achievements are more important than any of his or her personal faults.”

The author clearly leans towards the status of achievement being the mark of a man rather than the man itself. The statement clearly paints a literal synecdoche, which exalts the level of accomplishment to over-run any possible shortcomings or shortfalls in character – a path to be treaded carefully. The author also does not explore the fact that the achievement of an accomplished man or woman has a clear connection to the personality of that person, thus leaving his generalisation incomplete. Let us consider the example of ancient India’s first emperor – Ashoka, the Great. Emperor Ashoka was the first to unite the Indian subcontinent under one rule. His empire extended from modern day Kandahar to Mysore in south India. Even though, this is considered by many as an accomplishment that was truly great, Ashoka himself was considered as a war-monger and a megalomaniac. However, after the War of Kalinga was won, an exhausted Ashoka felt disgusted at the level of carnage his armies had caused and was moved by the immense loss of human lives. This caused him to give up his unrelenting dream of expanding his empire and converted to Buddhism and hence, a war-monger became a pacifist. His rule then heralded a time of peace and great prosperity in the subcontinent. Trade flourished and so did the arts and sciences. At one point of time, India was responsible for 97% of world trade volume. Also, extra-ordinary advances were made in political science, agriculture, medicine and literature. This imbibed pacifism, tolerance and universal brotherhood into the culture of the subcontinent – a tradition survived in modern India in the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Certainly, this was also one of his greatest accomplishments. In the above example, it is easy to see that the...
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