Stephen; this is an excellent point you bring up; because so many people reference Joseph and don’t really know any of the backstory behind the phrases of his they are using. Themes like: “Follow your bliss” or the “Hero’s Journey”; for example have become everyday catch phrases but without knowledge of the context behind them and are often misunderstood; much less incorrectly applied. (Bliss) would be a prime example here. So much so that even Joseph at one point out of frustration stated: (I should have said: “Follow your blisters!”) Bliss does “not” mean: a “happy, happy frolic in the meadow”; in his words it meant: “following the push out of your own existence”; your highest enthusiasm yes!; but not some kind of self-absorbed excursion to shut out the world and be happy; but to find and live the deepest part of your potential. The (Hero) is the “You” that dares to step out beyond their boundaries and find that which moves and inspires them to become their best self; not what the herd says or that society or religion demands as a: “Thou Shalt system” way of living. It’s that which brings you rapture, joy, and meaning in the deeper experiences of what it means to be truly alive and following that.
And as you suggest; when one looks through history there are so many incredible examples; (a thousand faces of them and many more); that have brought: light, intelligence, and humanity into a world filled with darkness. Erasmus would certainly be one; many think of him as one of the key inspirers of the Renaissance; but he had many years of struggle during a period where if you said something that offended either the Church or ruler of any kind it could literally cost you your head. His book: “In Praise of Folly” was a little piece of dynamite that rocked that world because it’s message was tucked inside a short little piece of humor.
Michel de Montaigne’s: “Essay’s was another; his key phrase: “What Do I Know?” many have felt as an expression of the tone of that period where Art informed everything around you; and the word “enlightenment” served more as a vehicle of the spirit of the times than just conversation at some cocktail party. We say names like: Copernicus and Galileo; often without realizing what they went through to bring us their gifts when their ideas challenged the Church with it’s tiny idea of the universe; where Yahweh, Genesis, and Jesus informed their doctrines and anyone that challenged this was a Heretic subject to being burned at the stake. Joseph’s Hero was not a figment of one’s imagination; but often one born out of suffering and conflict; and this idea he did his best to convey as accessible to all.
(Robert sorry; after looking over my earlier suggestion it was not a very good idea so I took it down. Please disregard it!)