Hi Annie, Hi Georges,
Yes it seems hard to not agree with Les maximes, but it's said that growing old, La Rochefoucauld grew bitter and rewrote some of his maximes in the negative form. And they function just as well.
Just few points.
When he says "...which fortune, or our own industry, know how to arrange..." he points out that we are not aware, we are not a direct conscious part of this process. It's driven by forces above our control. For him these forces are "amour propre", pride, self pride??
If I am not mistaken, La Rochefoucauld was the first writer to make it that clear. Before him, we were more in descriptions of how a brave man should act.
Homere's Achilles was brave: He had strengths and weaknesses, but his persona, his character is complete, thoroughgoing?, wholly converging toward bravery. He doesn't pause, doesn't doubt, he is whole action.
Achilles (Troy movie) fights too but he is not thoroughgoing? he pauses, doubts. He is a modern neurotic hero who fights but doesnt seem to know why. I assume La Rochefoucauld would say his bravery is not virtue. Its origin is not entirely related to Achilles "valour" as a warrior.
I believe La Rochefoucauld invites his contemporaries to take a critical look to their actions, to get closer to awareness regarding what drives their choices.
Thank you for this topic, it forced me to review my classics.