Art of Wit, Acuity Treaty

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Art of Wit, Acuity Treaty (Agudeza y arte de ingenio), by Baltasar Gracián, is one of the most famous treatises on rhetoric of its time.
Gracián here divides the spheres of action of human understanding into ingenuity and judgment. Judgment aspires to truth, and ingenuity also has beauty as its object. In his perspective, acuity is the mental procedure that finds a correspondence between two elements. When that connection materializes in the discourse, we are facing the concept. The concept would be the concreteness in an idea of the power or capacity for acuity.
Applying these premises to literary analysis, Gracián studies and classifies the different types of concepts and existing acuities.
In Art of WitAcuity Treatythree kinds of acuity are distinguished:

  • 1. insight, which aims at useful truth; it is also referred to in Manual Oracle and Art of Prudence.
  • 2. the acuity of action, analyzed in his treatises The Hero, The Politician and The Discreet.

Art of WitAcuity Treaty postulates that the acuity of artifice is a higher state of understanding, whose object is aesthetic and ideological beauty, subtlety, produced by ingenuity.
Agudeza y arte de ingenio also contains a selection of poetry. Among the Latin classics cited here are: Horace, Virgil, Martial and Ovid.
And among the Spanish authors: Garcilaso de la Vega, Luis Carrillo y Sotomayor, Don Juan Manuel, Mateo Alemán, Juan Rufo and Luis de Góngora.

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