JUSTICE IN THE REVOLUTION
IN THE CHURCH.
§ I. — The coming of the people to philosophy.
At the beginning of a new work, we must explain our title and our design.
Ever since humanity entered the period of civilization, for as long as anyone remembers, the people, said Paul Louis Courier, have prayed and paid.
They pray for their princes, for their magistrates, for their exploiters and parasites;
They pray, like Jesus Christ, for their executioners;
They pray for the very ones who should by rights pray for them.
Then they pay those for whom they pray;
They pay the government, the courts, the police, the church, the nobility, the crown, the revenue, the proprietor and the garnisaire, I meant the soldier;
They pay for every move they make, pay to come and to go, to buy and to sell, to eat, drink and breathe, to warm themselves in the sun, to be born and to die;
They even pay for the permission to work;
And they pray to heaven to give them enough, by blessing their labor, to always pay more.
The people have never done anything but pray and pay: we believe that the time has come to make them philosophize.
The people cannot live in skepticism, after the example of the gentlemen of the Institute and the beautiful souls of the city and the court. Indifference is unhealthy for them; they reject libertinage; they hasten to flee from that corruption which invades from on high. Besides, what they ask for themselves, they want for everyone, and make no exception for anyone. They have never claimed, for example, that the bourgeoisie must have a religion, that religion is necessary for the regulars at the Bourse, for the bohemians of the magazines and the theaters, or for that innumerable multitude living from prostitution and intrigue; but that, as for them, their robust consciences have no need of God. The people want neither to dupe nor to be duped any longer: what they call for today is a positive law, based in reason and justice, which imposes itself on all, and which nobody is allowed to mock.
Would a reform of the old religion be enough to respond to this wish of the people? No. The people have realized that religion has not been legal tender for a long time among the upper classes, while they continued to believe in it; that, even in the temples, it has lost all credit and all prestige; that it counts for absolutely nothing in politics and business; finally, that the separation of faith and law has become an axiom of government everywhere. The tolerance of the State now covers religion, which is precisely the opposite of what had taken place in the past. Thus the people have followed the movement inaugurated by their leaders; they are wary of the spiritual, and they no longer want a religion which has been made an instrument of servitude by clerical and anticlerical Machiavellianism. Whose fault is that?
But are the people capable of philosophy?
Without hesitation we answer: Yes, as well as reading, writing and arithmetic; as well as understanding the catechism and practicing a craft. We even go as far as to think philosophy can be found in its entirety in that essential part of public education, the trade: a matter of attention and habit. Primary instruction requires three years, apprenticeship three more, for a total of six years: when philosophy, the popularization of which has become a necessity of the first order in our times, must be taken by the plebeian, in addition to the six years of primary and professional instruction to which he is condemned, an hour per week for six more years, would that be a reason to deny the philosophical capacity of the people?
The people are philosophical, because they are as weary of praying as of paying. They have had enough of the pharisee and the publican; and all it desires, and the point we have reached, is to know how to direct its ideas, and to free itself from this world of tolls and paternosters. It is to this end that we have resolved, with some friends, to consecrate our forces, certain as we are that, if sometimes this philosophy of the people spills a bit too freely from our pen, the truth, once known, will not lack abbreviators.
§ II. — The definition of philosophy.
Philosophy is composed of a certain number of questions that have been regarded at all times as the fundamental problems of the human mind, and that for that reason have been declared inaccessible to the common people. Philosophy, it was said, is the science of the universal, the science of principles, the science of causes; this is why we can speak of universal science, the science of things visible and invisible, the science of God, of man and of the world, Philosophia est scientia Dei, hominis et mundi.
We believe that the questions with which philosophy occupies itself are all questions of common sense; we believe all the more that, far from constituting a universal science, these questions only deal with the very conditions of knowledge. Before we think of becoming erudite, it is necessary to begin by being philosophical. Is that so much to boast of?
Thus the first and most important question, for all of philosophy, is to know what philosophy is, what it wants, and above all what it can do. What does all this come down to? The reader will judge.
Philosophy, following the etymological signification of the word, the constant practice of thinkers, the most certain results of their labors, and the best-accredited definitions, is the Search for, and, insofar as it is possible, the Discovery of the reason of things.
It has required much time and effort by the seekers, to come to that conclusion, which it seems the first comer would have found, if he had only followed common sense, and which everyone will definitely understand.
It follows that philosophy is not science, but the preliminary to science. Isn't it rational to conclude, as we just did, that education, instead of ending with philosophy, must begin with it? What we call the philosophy of history, or the philosophy of the sciences, is only an ambitious way to designate science itself, that is to say, that which is most detailed, most generalized in our knowledge, scientists by profession liking to stick to the pure and simple description of facts, without seeking their reason. As the reason of things is discovered, it assumes rank in science, and the scientist follows the philosopher.
Let us examine our definition more closely.
The word thing, one of the most general in the language, must be understood here to refer, not only to external objects, in opposition to persons, but to all that which, in the man himself, both physical and moral, can furnish material for observation: sentiments and ideas, virtue and vice, beauty and ugliness, joy and suffering, speculations, errors, sympathies, antipathies, glory and decadence, misery and felicity. Every manifestation of the human subject, in a word, all that passes in his soul, his understanding and his reason, as well as in his body; everything that effects him, either as an individual or in society, or which emanates from him, becoming thus an object of philosophy, is considered, with regard to the philosopher, a thing.
By reason we mean the how and why of things, as opposed to their nature, which is impenetrable. Thus, in each thing, the philosopher will note the beginning, duration and end; the size, the shape, the weight, the composition, the constitution, the organization, the properties, the power, the faculties; the increase, the diminution, the evolutions, series, proportions, relations and transformations; the habits, variations, maxima, minima and means; the attractions, appetites, accompaniments, influences, analogies; in short all that can serve to make known the phenomenality of things and their laws. He will abstain from all investigation, and from any conclusion, on the very nature or en soi of things, for example on matter, mind, life, force, cause, substance, space or time, considered in themselves, and setting aside their appearances or phenomena.
Thus, by its definition, philosophy declares that there is a side in things which is accessible to it, which is their reason, and another side about which it can no absolutely nothing, which is their nature: can one show at once more sincerity and more prudence? And what would be better for the people than this modesty?... Philosophy, by its own testimony, is the search for, and, if possible, the discovery of the reason on things; it is not the search for, and still less the discovery of their nature: we will not complain about this distinction. What would a nature be without a reason or appearances? And if the latter were known, who would dare to say that the former was to be missed?
To render account, in short, of that which occurs inside, that he observes or carries out outside, of which his senses and his consciousness give testimony, and the reason of which his mind can penetrate: that, for man, is what it is to philosophize, and all that which allows itself to be grasped by the eyes and the mind is matter for philosophy. As for the intimate nature of things, that je ne sais quoi of which metaphysics cannot stop talking, and which it imagines or conceives after having set aside the phenomenality of things as well as their reason, if that residue is not a pure nothing, we don't know what to make of it; it interests neither our sensibility nor our intelligence, and it does not even have anything in it to excite our curiosity.
Well, now. In what way is all that outside the range of the common people? Just as we are, do we not incessantly, and without knowing it, make philosophy, as the good M. Jourdain made prose? Who is the man who, in the affairs of the world, concerns himself with anything but that which interests his mind, his heart or his senses? To make ourselves consummate philosophers, it is only a question of making ourselves more sensitive to what we do, feel and say: is that so difficult? As for the contemplative, those who wanted to see beyond the reason of things and to philosophize on their very nature, they have ended by putting themselves outside nature and reason; they are the lunatics of philosophy.
§ III. — On the quality of the philosophical mind.
But here is a rather different affair! It is a question of knowing if philosophy, of which it was first said that the people were incapable, will not, by its very practice, create inequality among men. What can we conclude from our definition?
Since philosophy is the search for, and, so far as it is possible, the discovery of the reason of things, it is clear that, in order to philosophize well, the first and most necessary condition is to is to observe things carefully; to consider them successively in all their parts and all their aspects, without permitting oneself a notion of the ensemble before being certain of the details. This is the precept of Bacon and Descartes, the two fathers of modern philosophy. Couldn't one say that in expounding it, they thought especially of the people? Philosophy is all in the observation, internal and external: there is no exception to that rule.
The philosopher, the man who seeks, who still does not know, can be compared to a navigator charged with making a map of an island, and who, in order to carry out his mission, being unable to take a photograph of the country from high in the atmosphere, is obliged to follow with attention, and to record one after another on paper, with exactitude, all the sinuosities and crevices of the coast. The circumnavigation completed, and the summary of observations finished, the geographer would have obtained as faithful a representation as possible of the island, in its parts and in the ensemble, which he never could have done, if, holding himself at a distance, he had been limited to drawing perspectives and landscapes.
The philosopher can also be compared to a traveler who, after having traversed in all directions a vast plain, having recognized and visited the woods, the fields, the meadows, the vineyards, the habitations, etc., would then climb a mountain. As he made his ascent, the objects would pass again before his eyes in a general panorama, which would make him understand that of which the inspection of the details had only given him an incomplete idea.
Thus, he must stick close to the facts and constantly refer to them, divide his material, make complete counts and exact description. He must go from simple notions to the most comprehensive formulas, testing his views of the ensemble and the glimpsed details against one another. Finally, where immediate observation becomes impossible, he must show himself sober in his conjectures, circumspect with regard to probabilities, challenge analogies, and judge only self-consciously, and always with reserve, distant things by those near, the invisible by the visible.—Under these conditions, would it be too much to say that the practical man is closer to the truth, less subject to illusion and to error than the speculative one? Regular contact with things preserves him from fantasy and vain systems: if the practitioner shines little from invention, he also courts less risk of making a mistake, and rarely loses by waiting. He who works prays, says an old proverb. Can we not also say: He who works, in so far as he pays attention to his work, philosophizes?
It is only by following this scrupulous and slowly rising method of observation, that the philosopher could flatter himself to have reached the summit of philosophy, science, the condition of which is double, certainty and synthesis. These words should frighten no one: here again the most transcendent philosophy contains nothing outside the abilities and reach of the people.
Indeed, a man may have seen more of things than is common among his fellows; he may have viewed them in more detail and more closely; he can thus consider them from a higher level and in a larger ensemble: this question of quantity, which has no influence on the quality of the knowledge, adds nothing to the certainty, and consequently does not increase the value of the mind. This is of extreme importance for the determination of personal right, and the constitutive of society: allow me to clarify my thought with some examples.
2 multiplied by 2 equals 4: this is, for everyone, a perfect certainty. But how much is 27 multiplied by 23? Here, more than one innocent will hesitate, and if he has not learned to calculate by figures, it will take a long time to find the solution, let alone dare to respond. Thus I take up the pen, and making the multiplication, I respond that the product demanded is 621. Now, knowing so easily the product of 27 times 23, and being able with the same promptitude and sureness to make the multiplication of all the possible numbers by all the possible numbers, I am clearly more knowledgeable that the one whose arithmetic capacity will stop at the elementary operation 2 x 2 = 4. Does this make me more certain? Not at all. The quantity of knowledge, I repeat, adds nothing to the philosophical quality of the knowing: it is by virtue of that principle, and another just like in that we will speak of below, that French law, coming out of the Revolution of 89, has declared us all equal before the law. Between two citizens, between two men, there can be inequality of acquired knowledge, of effective labor, of services rendered; there is no inequality of the quality of reason: such is, in France, the foundation of personal right, and such is the basis of our democracy. The old regime did not reason in the same way: is it clear now that philosophy is the legacy of the people?
It is the same for the comprehensive power of the mind.
2 multiplied by 2 produces 4, and 2 added to 2 still gives 4: on one side the product, on the other the sum are equal. However little the innocent to whom one makes the remark reflects on it, he will realize that addition and multiplication, although they begin from two different points of view and proceed in two different manners, resolve themselves, in this particular case, in an identical operation. By making a new effort, he will comprehend as well that 4 minus 2 or 4 divided by 2, it always remains 2, as subtraction and division still resolve, in this particular case, into one single and same operation. All this will interest, and perhaps astonish him: he will have, in the measure from 2 to 4, a synthetic view of things. But the arithmetician knows much more, and his synthesis is incomparably more comprehensive. He knows that whenever one operates on numbers larger than 2, the results can no longer be the same; that multiplication is an abbreviated addition, and division an abbreviated subtraction as well; that more, subtraction is the opposite of addition, and division the opposite of multiplication; in summary, that all these operations, and others more difficult which are deduced from them, come down to the art of composing and decomposing the series of numbers. Does this give him the right to believe himself superior to the other, in nature and dignity? Certainly not: the only difference is that one has learned more than the other; but reason is the same for both of them, and this is why the legislator, at once a revolutionary and a philosopher, has decided that he will take no account of persons. It is for this reason, finally, that modern civilization tends invincibly to democracy: where philosophy reigns, where as a consequence the identity of philosophical reason is recognized, the distinction of classes, like the hierarchy of church and State, is impossible.
We can make analogous arguments about all of the genres of knowledge, and we will always arrive at that decisive conclusion, that, for whoever knows, certainty is of the same quality and degree, despite extend of the knowledge; just as, for whoever grasps the relation of several objects or ideas, the synthesis is of the same quality and form, despite the multitude relations grasped. In no case will there be room to distinguish between the reason of the people and the reason of the philosopher.
IV.-- The origin of ideas.
Here is the great temptation, I should say the great conspiracy of the philosophers; here is also their chastisement.
This principle so luminous, so simple, that in order to know the reason of things, it is necessary to have seen them, has not always been (can you believe it?) accepted in philosophy. Without speaking of those who, in so great a number, aspired to sound the nature of things, one encounters profound geniuses who have asked if the human mind, so subtle and so vast, could not, by a concentrated meditation on itself; come to that intelligence of the reason of things, which is only, after all, the intelligence of the laws of the mind; if the man who thinks had such a need, in order to learn, to consult a nature which does not think; if a soul created in the image of God, the sovereign organizer, did not possess, by virtue of its divine origin, and prior to its communication with the world, the ideas of things, and if it truly needed the control of phenomena in order to recognize ideas, that is, eternal exemplars. I think, thus I know, cogito, ergo cognosco; such is the principle of these arch-spiritualist philosophers. Never has a brain which came from the ranks of the people conceived of a chimera like that. Some, interpreting in their own way the hyper-physical dogma of creation, go so far as to pretend that external realities are products of pure thought, and the world an expression of mind, so that it would be enough to have the full possession of the Idea, innate it our soul, but more or less obscured, in order, without further information, to possess the reason and grasp the very nature of the universe!
That manner of philosophizing, which would dispense with all observation and experience, if it had been justified by the least success, would be, we must admit, very attractive and could not be more convenient. The philosopher would no longer be that labored explorer, winning the bread of his soul by the sweat of his brow, always exposed to error by the omission of the least detail, reaching only a limited comprehension, obtaining often, instead of certainty, only probabilities, and sometimes ending in doubt, after having lived through an affliction of mind. He would be a clairvoyant, a thaumaturge, a rival to the Divinity, directing thought as a sovereign, to say nothing of creative power, and reading fluently the mysteries of Heaven, Earth and Humanity, at home with the divine thought. Ambition, as one sees, is never lacking among the philosophers.
Where does this titanic presumption come from?
From the start we have sensed, in a confused manner, what philosophical observation later clarified, that, in the formation of ideas, the perception of phenomena does not render reason by itself; that the understanding, by the constitution which is proper to it, plays a role; that the soul is not exclusively passive in its conceptions, but that in receiving the images or impressions from outside it,  it reacts to them and derives ideas from them; so that, for half if not for all, the passage of ideas, or the discovery of the truth in things, pertains to the mind.
Thus there was, one recognized, in the soul, like the molds of ideas, archetypal ideas, prior to all observation of phenomena: what were these ideas? Can we recognize them, among the multitude of those, more or less empirical, that the understanding strikes on its press? How to distinguish the patrimony of the mind from its acquisitions? If something in knowledge properly belongs to it, then why no everything? Wouldn't we be in the right to suppose that if the mind, possessing the innate principles of things, advanced in science only with the aid of arduous observation, that was the effect of the heterogeneous union of the soul and the body, a union in which the ethereal substance, offended by the matter, had lost the greatest part of its science and of its insight, retaining only a memory of the fundamental principles which formed its framework property?... Others attributed the darkening of the intelligence to original sin. Man, for having wanted to eat, against the express order of God, the fruit of science, would be, according to them, blinded. All the rest convince themselves that with a good mental discipline and the aid of the Spirit of light, one could restore the human soul to the enjoyment of its high and immortal prerogatives, make it produce science without any imbibition of experience, by the energy of his nature alone, and by virtue of the axiom already cited: I am the child of God, I think, therefore I know...
What was at the bottom of all that? A diabolical thought of domination: for one must not be mistaken, privilege of knowledge and pride of genius are the most implacable enemies of equality. Now one thing is known: human science is not enriched by the slightest scrap of a fact or idea by this exclusively pneumatic practice. Nothing has served: neither metaphysics nor dialectics, nor the theory of the absolute, nor revelation, nor possession, nor ecstasy, nor magnetism, nor magic, nor theurgy, nor catalepsy, nor ventriloquism, nor the philosopher's stone, nor table-turning. All that we know, we have invariably learned, and the mystics, the illuminati, the somnambulists, even the spirits with which they speak, have learned in their turn by the known means, that is, observation, experience, reflection, calculation, analysis and synthesis: God, doubtless, jealous of his work, wanting to maintain the decree that he had entered, namely, that we would see nothing with the eyes of the mind except by the intermediary of the eyes of the body, and that all that we claim to perceive by other means would be an error and a mystification of the devil. There is no occult science, no transcendent philosophy, no privileged souls, no divinatory geniuses, no mediums between infinite wisdom and the common sense of mortals. Sorcery and magic, once pursued by parliaments, are dispelled by the flame of experimental philosophy; the science of the heavens had only begun to exist on the day when the Copernicuses, the Galileos and the Newtons bit an eternal adieu to astrology. The metaphysics of the ideal taught nothing to Fichte, Schelling and Hegel: when these men, whose philosophy is rightly honored, imagined they had deduced a priori, they had only, without knowing it, synthesized experience. By philosophizing more highly than their predecessors, they have enlarged the scope of science: the absolute, by itself, has produced nothing; translated into correctional policy, it has been jeered at as a con. In moral philosophy, mysticism, quietism and asceticism have led to the most disgusting turpitudes. Christ himself, Word made flesh, had taught nothing new to the conscience; and the entirety of theology, patiently studied, is found, in the last result, convicted by its own testimony as nothing other than a fantasmagoria of the human soul, of its operations and its powers, liberty, justice, love, science and progress.
Willy-nilly it is necessary to keep to the common method, to confess in our hearts and with our mouths the democracy of intelligence; and since it is a question in that moment of the origin and the formation of our ideas, to demand the reason of the ideas, like all the rest, by observation analysis.
§ V. — That metaphysics is within the province of primary instruction.
The definition of philosophy implies by its terms: 1) someone who seeks, observes, analyzes, synthesizes and discovers, which we call the Subject or Self [Moi]; 2) something which is observed, analyzed, the reason of which we seek, and which we call the Object or Non-self.
The first—the observer, subject, self, or mind—is active; the second—the thing observed, object, non-self, or phenomenon—is passive. Let us not frighten ourselves with words: this means that the one is the artisan of the idea, and that the other furnishes their material. There is no statue without the sculptor: this is very simple, is it not? But neither is there a statue without the marble: this is also clear. Now, it is thus for ideas. Suppress one or the other of these two principles, the subject or the object, and no idea will be formed; thought will no longer be possible. Philosophy vanishes. Suppress the sculptor or the block of marble, and you will have no statue. Every artistic or industrial production is like this. Remove the worker, you will remain eternally with your raw materials; remove the materials from the works, and if your ask him to produce anything by his thought alone, he will think that you are mocking him.
However, in this competition, or this opposition, of the subject and object, of the mind and things, we want to know in a more precise manner what is the role of each; in what consists the action of the mind, and what are the natures of the materials he puts to work.
The mind or the self is, or at least it acts as if it is, prone to affirm itself as a simple and indivisible nature, consequently as if it is more penetrating and impenetrable, more active and less corruptible, more prompt and less subject to change. Things, on the contrary, appear extended and composite, consequently divisible, successive, variable, penetrable, subject to dissolution, susceptible to a greater or lesser degree in all their qualities and properties.
How the mind, put in relation with external objects by the intermediary of the senses, perceives a nature so different from itself is what seems at the first inexplicable. Can the simple see the composite? That repels us. On reflection, however, we recognize this it is precisely that difference of nature which renders objects perceptible to the mind, and subjects them to it. For it sees them, remark it well, not in their substance, which it cannot conceive as other than simple (atomistic), after its own example, and which consequently escapes it; it sees them in their composition and their differences. The intuition of the mind, its action on objects, comes thus from two causes: by its acuity, it divides them and differentiates them infinitely; then, by its simplicity, it restores all these diversities to unity. What the mind sees in things is their differences, species, series and groups, in a word their reason, and it is because it is mind, because it is simple in its essence, that is sees all that. What the mind cannot discover is the nature or the in-itself of things, because that nature, laid bare of its differences, of its unity of composition, etc., becomes then like the mind itself, something simple, amorphous, unapproachable and invisible.
The consequence of all this is easy to grasp. The mind put in the presence of things, the self in communication with the non-self, in receipt of impressions and images; it grasps differences, variations, analogies, groups, genera, species: all that is the fruit of its first perception. But the mind does not stop there; and the representation of things would not be complete in its thought, it would lack basis and perspective, if the mind did not add something more of its own.
In seeing then that infinite diversity of things, such a diversity that each thing seems to denounce itself as having been able to be completely different than it is, the mind, which feels itself single, in opposition to things, conceives the One, the Identical, the Immutable, which is not to be found;
In observing the contingency of phenomena, the mind conceives the Necessary, which it does not find either: lucky, if it did not decide to adore it under the name of Destiny!
In taking the comparative dimensions of objects and establishing their limits, it conceives Infinity, which is no more real;
In following, in its consciousness, the revolutions of time, and measuring the duration of existences, it conceives the Eternal, which cannot be said of any person or any thing;
In recognizing the mutual independence of creatures, it conceives of itself as superior to the creatures, and affirms his Free Will and his Sovereignty, of which nothing can yet give it the model;
In seeing movement, it conceives of Inertia, a hypothesis without reality; in calculating speed, it conceives of force, which it never grasps;
In noting the action of being on one another, it conceives of Cause, in the analysis of which it only grasps a contradiction;
In comparing the faculties of some to the faculties of others, it conceives of Life, Intelligence and Soul; and by opposition, Matter, Death and Nothingness: abstractions or fictions? It does not know;
In classing and grouping creatures according to their genera and species, it conceives the Universal, superior to every collectivity;
In calculating the relations of things, it conceives of Law, the notion of which immediately gives it that of an Order of the world, although there has been struggle everywhere, and consequently as much disorder as order;
Finally, in condemning, according to the purity of its essence, all that appears to it out of proportion, small, mean, monstrous, discordant and deformed, it conceives the Beautiful and the Sublime, in a word the Ideal, which it is condemned to follow always, without ever enjoying it.
All these conceptions of the mind, famous in the School under the name of the categories, are indispensables for the understanding of things; reasoning is impossible without them: while they do not result from sensation, since, as we see, they exceed sensation, the perceived image, by all the distance from the finite to infinity. What they take from sensation are the various points which have served to form them antithetically; the point of view of diversity, of contingency, of the limit, etc. Except, the categories or conceptions of reason all merge in with one another; they are adequate to one another and imply each other mutually, since all are invariably related, not to things, but to the essence of mind, which is single and incorruptible.....
The formation of the categories or ideas, conceived by the mind apart from experience but on the occasion of experience, their collection and classification, forms what we call metaphysics. It is entirely in grammar, and its teaching belongs to the schoolmasters.
From the manner in which the categories form, and from their usage in language and in the sciences, it results that, as analytic or synthetic signs, they are the condition sine qua non of speech and of knowledge, that they form the instrumentation of intelligence, but that by themselves they are sterile, and consequently that metaphysics, excluding, by its nature and destination, all positivism, can never become a science.
All science is essentially metaphysical, since every science generalizes and distinguishes. Every man who knows, however little he knows, every man who speaks, provided that he understands, is a metaphysician; just as every man who seeks the reason of things is a philosopher. Metaphysics is the first thing that infants and savages think: we could even say that in the mind of every man, metaphysics is present in inverse proportion to science.
Thus, by what fanaticism of abstraction can a man call himself exclusively a metaphysician, and how, in a knowledgeable and positive century, do professors of pure philosophy still exist, these people who teach the young to philosophize apart from all science, all art, all literature and all industry, people, in a word, making a trade, the most consciensciously in the world, of selling the absolute?
Those who should once understand the theory of the formation of ideas, and who will carefully take into account these three capital points: 1) the intervention of two agents, the subject and the object, in the formation of knowledge; 2) the difference in their roles, resulting from the difference in their natures; 3) the distinction of ideas into two species, sensible ideas given immediately by objects, and extra-sensible or metaphysical ideas, resulting from the action of the mind solicited by the contemplation of the outside; that one, we say, can boast of having taken the most difficult step of philosophy. He is freed from fatalism and from superstition. He knows that all his ideas are necessarily posterior to the experience of things, metaphysical ideas as well as sensible ideas; he will remain unshakably and forever convinced that, just as adoration, prophecy, the gift of tongues and of miracles, somnambulism, idealism, whether subjective, objective or absolute, and all the practices of the great work of alchemy, has never produced for indigent humanity an ounce of bread, has created neither shoes, not hats, nor shirts; so it will not have added an iota to knowledge. And he will conclude with the great philosopher Martin, in Candide: “We must cultivate our garden.” The garden of the philosopher is the spectacle of the Universe. Verify unceasingly your observations; put your ideas in order; take care in your analyses, your recapitulations, your conclusions; be sober in your conjectures and hypotheses; mistrust probabilities and above all authorities; do not believe the word of any soul who lives, and use the ideal as a means of scientific construction and control, but do not worship it. Those who, at all times, have claimed detach science from all empiricism and to raise the edifice of philosophy on metaphysical ideas alone, have only succeeded in making themselves plagiarists of the ancient theology. Their counterfeits have fallen on their own heads; their transcendentalism has brought to ruin the supernatural in which the people have at all times believed, and they have managed to lose what they wanted to save. Remember, finally, that there is no more innate or revealed science than there are innate privileges or wealth fallen from heaven; and that, as all well-being must be obtained by labor, or be theft, so all knowledge must be the fruit of study, or be false.
§ VI. — That philosophy must be essentially practical.
We would be gravely mistaken if we imagined that philosophy, because it defined itself as the Search for the reason of things, has no other end than to make us discover that reason, and that its object is exclusively speculative. Already, by showing that these conditions are those of common sense, its certainty the same for all, its highest conceptions of the same form and quality as its most elementary propositions, we have had occasion to recall its eminently positive character, its egalitarian spirit. And its democratic and anti-mystical tendencies. It is philosophy, we have said, which made the French Revolution, by deducing from its own pure essence the principle of civil and political equality. Then, we have confirmed that premise by destroying at the foundations all the pretensions of transcendence, and proving that in fact and in right there is nothing for the mind apart from observation, consequently nothing which ordinary mortals can claim by virtue of simple good sense.
Logic, which is to say philosophy itself, demands more.
In ordinary life, which is that of the immense majority and which forms three-quarters of philosophy, the knowledge of things has value only insofar as it is useful; and nature, our great schoolmistress, has been of the opinion, in giving intelligence as the light of our actions and the instrument of our felicity.
Philosophy, in a word, is essentially utilitarian, no matter what has been said: to make of it an exercise of pure curiosity us to sacrifice it. In that regard, universal testimony has judged without appeal. The people, eminently practical, asked what all that philosophy would serve, and the way to make use of it: and as one responded to them, with Schelling, that philosophy exist by itself and for itself; that it would be an injury to its dignity if one sought a use for it, the people have mocked the philosophers, and everyone has done as the people. Philosophy for philosophy's sake is as idea which would never enter into a sane mind. A similar pretension might appear excusable among philosophers who seek the reason of things in the inneity of genius, or among the illuminated in communication with the spirits. But since it has been proven that all that transcendence is only a calabash, and that the philosopher has been declared subject to common sense, the servant, like everyone, of practical and empirical reason, it is very necessary for philosophy to humanize itself, and that it should be democratic and social, or else never be anything. Now, what is more utilitarian than democracy?
Religion, which certainly had a very different birth than democracy, ***** ne le prenait from so high with our poor humanity. It has made itself all things to all people; it has been given to us, by grace from on high, to raise us from sin and misery, to teach us our duties and our rights, to give us a rule of conduct, to enlighten us on our origin and our destiny, and to prepare for us an eternal happiness. Religion responded, in its way, to all the questions that our consciences and our hearts could address to it. It gave us rules for the conduct of our interests; it did not even disdain to explicate for us the beginnings of the world, the principle of things, the epoch of creation, the age of the human race, etc. It only left outside its teaching, and did not deliver to our arguments, the things of which the knowledge was not of an immediate usefulness to our moral perfection and to our eternal salvation.
Will philosophy do less than religion? It has taken it upon itself to destroy these venerable beliefs: could it have had in us any other mission than to fill the void?
To pose the question in this way is to answer it. No, philosophy cannot be reduced to a kaleidoscope of the mind in its practical application; its purpose is to serve us, and if the critique of religion that it allows is fair, the service that falls to it close to us, in the place of religion, is determined in advance by that very critique. To the old dogma philosophy must substitute a new doctrine, with the only difference the first was of faith and was imposed by authority, while the second must be of science, and impose itself by demonstration.
Under the empire of religion, man found everything simple by relating it to the word of God; on the strength of that guarantee, it rested in full security. Now that, thanks to philosophical reason, the supposed divine word has become doubtful, and the celestial guarantee itself subject to caution, what remains, except that man finds in himself the rule of his actions and the guarantee of his judgments? This is what the ancient philosophers had understood very well, and that they sought so long, under the name of criterion of certainty.
Thus the aim of philosophy is to teach man to think for himself, to reason methodically, to make exact ideas of thing, to formulate truth in regular judgments, all in order to direct his life, to merit by his conduct the esteem of his fellows and himself, and to insure, with the peace of heart, well-being of the body and security of mind.
The criterion of philosophy, deduced from its practical utility, is thus in some sense double: relative to the reason of things, that it is important for us to understand such as it is in itself, and relative to our proper reason, which is the law of our perfection and our happiness.
A principle of guarantee for our ideas;
A rule for our actions;
As a consequence of this double criterion and of the accord of our practical and speculative reason, a synthesis of all our knowledge and a sufficient idea of the economy of the world and of our destiny: this is what philosophy must accomplish.
But where do we find the criterion? As much as philosophy has shown itself powerless to discovery the smallest truth with the aid of metaphysical notions alone, so much it has up to the present been unfortunate to establish a principle which, serving all at once as critical instrument and rule of action, would give in addition the plan scientific and social edifice, and later would enlighten us on the system of the universe.
In that which concerns the rule of judgment, we have been served, lacking an authentic instrument, and we continue to be served by different principles, chosen arbitrarily from among the axioms that we suppose most capable of responding to the wants of philosophy. Such is, for example, the principle of contradiction, by virtue of which yes and no cannot be affirmed simultaneously, and from the same point of view, for a single thing. It is the principle which rules mathematics. But that principle, which at first appears so sure, when we work with definite quantities, has been judged insufficient in regard to the sophists who are themselves prevailed upon to maintain that all is true and all is false, as much in the ontological as in the moral order, since, in the fundamental questions, on which depend the certainty of all the others, one can affirm simultaneously, with an equal probability, the yes and the no... The absence of a higher principle, embracing all the content of the mind, appears to make itself felt up to the highest mathematics, the style, the definitions and the theories of which have been justly criticized, though one cannot, in fact, contest the results. Wearied of struggle, we have thought to say, after Descartes, that the guarantee of our judgments is self-evidence? And what is it that makes that a thing appear self-evident?...
In that which concerns the rule of actions, the philosophers have not even taken the trouble to test anything. All have returned, by some detour, to the religious idea, as if philosophy and theology had exactly this in common, that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. It has even been said, and it is repeated every day, that a little philosophy leads away from religion, but that a lot of philosophy leads back to it, from which it is necessary to conclude that it is not truly the philosopher's problem. If some adventurers in free thought have abandoned beaten path, they have lost themselves in the mires of egoism.
Finally, as to the unity of the sciences, the distress is still more noticeable. Each philosopher has built his system, leaving it to critique to show that that system was a work of marquetry. It is thus that, according to Thales, water is the principle of all things; according to others, it is fire or air; according to Democritus, it is the atoms. Philosophy, like language, is materialist in its beginnings: but that is not where the danger lies; it will go only too long in the ideal. Later, indeed, one has invoked by turns, as the principle of things, love, numbers and the idea; and philosophy, from abstraction to abstraction, has ended by burning what it first worshiped, adoring the spirit that it had only glimpsed, and falling into a hopeless superstition. It is thus that eclecticism was born, the meaning of which is that there is not a unitary constitution, neither for the world, nor for thought, and that consequently there are only specific, relative certainties, between which the wise must know how to choose, giving, according to the circumstances, satisfaction to all the principles, but not allowing themselves to be mastered by any of them, and reserving always freedom of judgment. Eclecticism, which has been so criticized in our days, has not yet received its true definition: it is polytheism.
In this moment, it is with philosophy as with the public conscience: both are demoralized. Eclecticism in philosophy, just like the doctrinaire position in politics, laissez faire, laissez passer in economics, and free love in the family, is the negation of unity, death.
However, an unresolved problem must not be considered insoluble problem: it is even permitted to believe that we have come closer to the solution the longer we have searched for it. Also, the lack of success of philosophy on this capital questions of the certainty of ideas, of the rule of morals, and of the architectonic of science, has not prevented it from arriving at theories of which the growing generality and the rigorous logic seem a sure pledge of triumph. Why, indeed, if man has the certainty of his existence, would he not have at the same time certainty of his observations? The proposition of Descartes—Je pense, dont je suis—implies that consequence. Why, if the intelligence of man is capable of connecting two ideas, of forming a dyad, a triad, a tetrad, a series, finally, and if each series leads to his self, why, we ask, will he not aspire to construct the system of the world? He must advance: everything invites us. If philosophy is abandoned, it is the end of the human race.
§ VII. The character that must be presented by the guarantee of our judgments and the rule of our actions.--Conversion from speculative to practical reason: determination of the criterion.
Before passing on, will you allow me to make the observation that there is not an artisan who is not in a perfect state to understand what philosophy proposes, since there is not one who, in the exercise of his profession, does not make use of several means of justification, measure, evaluation and control? The worker has, to direct him in his labors, the yardstick, the scale, the square, the rule, the plumb, the level, the compass, standards, specimens, guides, a touchstone, etc. Seemingly, there is not a worker who cannot say the purpose of his work, the ensemble of needs or ideas to which it is attached, what its application must be, what its conditions and qualities are, and consequently its importance in the general economy.
Now, what the artisan does in his specialty, the philosopher seeks for the universality of things: his criterion, consequently, must be much more elementary, since it must be applied to all; his synthesis much broader, since it must embrace all.
What then is the yardstick to which we must relate all our observations, according to which we will judge, a priori, the harmony or discord off things, not only of the rational and the irrational, the beautiful and the ugly, but, what is more serious and which concerns us directly, the good and the evil, the true and the false? In the second place, on what basis, according to what plan, in view of what end, will we raise the edifice of our knowledge, so that we can say what Leibniz said of the world of which it must be the expression, that it is the best, the most faithful, the most perfect possible?
The day when philosophy will have responded to these two questions, philosophy, we do not say that it will be done, since, either as observation or investigation, or as acquired science, it has no limits; but it will be completely organized, it will know what it wants, where it tends, what its guarantees are, what its mission is in humanity and in the presence of the universe.
Let us backtrack a little.
From the definition of philosophy that we have given and the analysis that we have made from observation, it results for us, 1) that the idea comes to us originally, concurrently and ex æquo, from two sources, one subjective, which is the Self, subject or mind, the other objective, which designates objects, the non-self or things;—2) that as a consequence of that double origin philosophy bears on relations, already by the definition, and on nothing else;—3) finally, that every relation, analyzed into its elements, is, like the observation which furnishes it, essentially dualistic, which is also indicated by the etymology of the word rapport or relation, returns from one point to another, from one fact, one idea, one group, etc., to another.
It springs from this that the instrument of critique that we seek is from all necessity dualistic or binary: it would not know how to be triadic, since there would be below it simpler elements than it, ideas that it could not explain, and that moreover it is easy to convince oneself that every triad, trinity or ternary is only the abridgment of two dyads, obtained by the identification or confusion of two of their terms.
The principle of certainty cannot be simplistic any longer, as if it emanates exclusively from the self or the non-self; since, as we have seen, the subject, without an object which stimulates it, does not even think; and the object, without the faculty of the mind to divide, to differentiate and return diversity to unity, would only send itself unintelligible images. Metaphysical ideas themselves cannot serve as principle for philosophy, although they presuppose realistic perceptions. The reason is that such ideas, obtained by the opposition of the self to the non-self, reflecting its simplistic nature, are extra-phenomenal, and by themselves contain no positive truth, although they are indispensable to the formation of every idea and the construction of every science.
Let us hold then as certain, and let us attach ourselves strongly to that idea, that what the philosophers sought under the name of criterion of certainty and which must serve in the construction of science cannot be a simplistic or metaphysical notion; that it is not any longer a sensible image, representative of a pure reality, since that would be to exclude the mind from its own domain, and to make it accomplish its work without putting itself into it; that it cannot be, finally, a ternary or quaternary formula, or one of a higher number, since that would be to take the series in the place of its element.
This principle must be at once subjective and objective, formal and real, intelligible and sensible, to indicate a relation of the self to the non-self, and consequently to be dualistic, like philosophical observation itself.
But, from the self to the non-self, and vice versa, there is an infinity of possible relations. Among so many relations furnished to us by philosophical observation, which will we choose to serve as standard and yardstick to the others? Which will form the first basis of our knowledge, the point of departure for our civilization, the pivot of our social constitution? For it is a question of nothing more or less than that.
To this point we have considered the self and what we call the non-self as two antithetical natures, the one spiritual, simple, active and thinking; the other material, composite and consequently divisible, inert or passive, and non-thinking, serving simply as a target, occasion and matter for the meditations of the self. In order to not juggle too many ideas at once, we are carried to the observation of that elementary fact, intelligible even to the children to whom one teaches the grammar of Lhomond, namely, that philosophical observation implies two terms or actors, the one which observes, the other which is observed. It is the relation of active to passive, such as is shown by the conjugation of the verb in every language.
But the passive does not exclude the reciprocal. What we have said of the role of the self and of the non-self in the formation of the idea proves nothing that the one that observes cannot be observed itself, and precisely by the object that it observed. Locke said, and no one has known how to respond to him: How do we know if the non-self is necessarily non-thinking?... In every case, we know, and cannot doubt, that our observations bear very often on selves like our own, but who, in this case and in so many that furnish us facts, observations, impressions, on which our mind then acts, are considered by us as non-selves. In love, for example, there are also two actors, one who loves, the other who is loved; which does not prevent us from reversing the proposition and saying that the person who loves is loved by the one that they love, and that the one who is loved loves the one by which it is loved. It is even only under these conditions that love exists in its plenitude. Who then one more time would guarantee that we alone have thought, and, when we describe that plant, when we analyze that rock, that there is not in them something that looks at us?
One says to me that that is repugnant. Why?... As thought can only result in an organic centralization; as, thus, while I look at my hand, I am quite sure that my hand does not look at me, because my hand is only a part of the organism which produces the thought in me, which serves pour all the members; so it is the same in plants and rocks, which are, like the hairs and the bones of my body, parts of the great organism (which perhaps thinks, if it does not sleep, though we know nothing of it), but which by themselves do not think. There we are. The analogies of existence induce us to suppose that, as there is in the organized being a common sensorium, an interdependent life, an intelligence in the service of all the members of which it is the result and which all express it; just as there is in nature a universal life, a soul of the world, which, if it is not acted on from outside, in the manner of our own, because there is no outside for it and because everything is in it, acts within, on itself, contrary to ours, and which is manifested by creating, as a mollusk creates its shell, that great organism of which we ourselves make part, poor individual selves that we are!
This is only an induction, doubtless, a hypothesis, a utopia, that I do not intend to offer for more than it is worth. If I cannot swear that the world, that alleged non-self, does not think, then I can no more swear that it thinks: that would surpass my means of observation. All that I can say is that mind is prodigiously dispensed this non-self, and that I am the only self which admires it.
Here is then what will be my conclusion.
Instead of seeking the law of my philosophy in a relation between myself, which I consider as the summit of being, and that which is the most inferior in creation and that I repute to be non-thinking, I will seek that law in a relation between myself and another self which will not be me, between man and man. For I know that every man, my fellow, is the organic manifestation of a mind, is a self; I judge equally that animals, endowed with sensibility, instinct, even intelligence, although to a lesser degree, are also selves, of a lesser dignity, it is true, and placed at a lower degree on the scale, but created according to the same plan; and as I no more know of a demarcation marked between the animals and the plants, or between those and the minerals, I ask myself if the unorganized beings are not still minds which sleep, selves in the embryonic state, or at least the members of a self of which I ignore the life and operations?
If every being is thus supposed self and non-self, what can I do better, in this ontological ambiguity, than to take for the point of departure of my philosophy the relation, not of me to myself, in the manner of Fichte, as if I wanted to make the equation of my mind, simple, indivisible, incomprehensible being; but of myself to another which is my equal and is not me, which constitutes a dualism no longer metaphysical or antinomic, but a real duality, living and sovereign?
By acting thus I do not court the risk of doing injury or grief to anyone; I have more the advantage, in descending from Humanity towards things, of never losing sight of the legitimate ensemble; finally, whatever the difference of natures which makes the object of my exploration, I am so much less exposed to being mistaken, that in the last analysis every being which is not equal to me, is dominated by me, makes a part of me, or else belongs to other selves like me, so that the law which governs the subjects between them is rationally presumed to govern the objects as well, since apart from that the subordination of the ones to the others would be impossible, and there would be contradiction between Nature and Humanity.
Let us further observe that by that unassailable transaction, philosophy, becomes entirely practical instead of speculative, or to put it better, the two points of view merge: the rule of my actions and the guarantee of my judgments is identical.
What now is that ruling Idea, at once objective and subjective, real and formal, of nature and humanity, of speculation and sentiment, of logic and art, of politics and economics; practical reason and pure reason, which governs at once the world of creation and the world of philosophy, and on which both are constructed; an idea finally which, dualistic in its formula, excludes nonetheless all anteriority and all superiority, and embraces in its synthesis the real and the ideal?
It is the idea of Right, Justice.
§ VIII. — Justice, the universal reason of things. — Science and conscience.
The people, in their laborious existence, even more than the philosophers in their speculations, have need of a guide: they need, we have said, a guide for their reason, a rule for their conscience, a superior point of view from which they may embrace their knowledge and their destiny. All this they found in religion.
God, the eternal Word, had created man from clay and had animated him with his breath; God had taught how to him to speak; God had imprinted in his heart the ideas of the infinite, the eternal, the Just and the ideal; God had taught him religion, worship, and the mysteries; God had delivered to him the elements of all sciences by revealing the history of creation to him, making the animals appear before him and inviting him to name them, showing him the common origin of all peoples and the cause of their dispersion. It was God who had imposed on man the law of labor, created and sanctified the family, founded society, and separated the States, which he governed by his providence. God, finally, living and seeing, principle and goal, all-powerful, just and truthful, guaranteed man's faith, and promised, after a time of trials on this earth, to reward him for his piety with a limitless happiness.
Philosophy, which is the search for the reason of things, lost God in the process of seeking God's reason; at the same time, a dispersion took hold of knowledge, doubt gripped men’s souls, and they became unable to think of anything but the origin of man and his final end. But this state of anguish could only be momentary: under better conditions, reason will render us what revelation had given us; and although this legitimate hope has not yet been fulfilled, we can judge, by a simple outline of the state of human knowledge, as to its conditions and its totality, as to how close it may be to that fulfillment. Is it so bad, after all, that something has always been lacking in our knowledge? Isn't it enough for our security, for our dignity, that we see our intellectual wealth increase indefinitely?
It thus is a question of assuring ourselves that Justice, the principle and the source of which we will from now on locate within ourselves, fulfills, as a critical and organic principle, the object of philosophy, and that consequently it can replace religion for us, to our advantage. Deprived of the support of heaven, man remains himself. Like Medea, he will say: "Myself, myself alone, and is that not enough?" Philosophy is for the affirmative: it awaits the certainty of its principles, the justification of its hopes. Let us see now.
Since philosophy is the search for the reason of things, by including under the word things all the manifestations of the human being, and since, according to this definition, any search for the nature or the in-itself of things, for their substance and materiality, just as for any kind of absolute, is excluded from philosophy, it readily follows that the principle of certainty, the archetypal idea to which all our knowledge must be referred, must be, above all, a rational principle, that which is most frankly rational, that which is most eminently intelligible, that which is least a thing, if one can put it thus.
The idea of Justice satisfies this first condition. Its most apparent character is to express a relationship that is all the more rational, one might say, to the extent that it is formed voluntarily, in full knowledge of the cause, by two reasonable beings, two persons. Justice is synallagmatic: it produces not merely the impression of the not-self upon the self and the action of the one upon the other, but an exchange between two selves who know one another as they each know themselves, and who swear, on their mutually guaranteed honor, an alliance in perpetuity. One will not find, in all the encyclopedia of knowledge, an idea of this stature.
But it is not enough for Justice to be the relation of two wills: it would not fulfill its office if it were that alone. It is equally necessary that it be reality and ideality; moreover, that it should preserve, with the power of synthesis that we have just recognized in it, a character of sufficient primordiality to serve simultaneously as the summit of the philosophical pyramid and as the principle of all knowledge. Again, Justice combines these advantages: it is the point of transition between the sensible and the intelligible, the real and the ideal, the concepts of metaphysics and the perceptions of experience.
It would be, indeed, a narrow understanding of Justice to imagine that it intervenes only in the fabrication of laws, that it has a place only in national assemblies and courts. Undoubtedly it is under this aspect of political sovereignty that it enters our thought and dominates mankind. But this Justice, with respect to which, in our relationship with our neighbors, we are especially preoccupied with the enforcement, imposes itself with no less authority on the understanding and the imagination than it does on the conscience; its formula governs the whole world, and everywhere, if it is allowed to express itself in this way, it preaches to us by precept and example.
Justice thus takes various names, according to the faculties to which it is addressed. Within the order of the conscience, the highest of all, it is Justice properly speaking, rule of our rights and our duties; in the order of intelligence, logic, mathematics, etc, it is equality or equation; in the sphere of imagination, it is called ideal; in nature, it is balance. Justice is essential to each one of these categories of ideas or facts under a particular name and as an indispensable condition; to man alone, a complex being, whose spirit embraces in its unity the acts of freedom and the operations of the intelligence, the things of nature and creations of the ideal, impose themselves synthetically with an authority that is always the same; and therefore the individual who, in his relationships to his fellows, neglects the laws of nature or mind, lacks Justice.
A man asks: why? Because human society, different from the animal communities, is established on a constantly changing totality of synallagmatic relationships, and because, without speech, the determination of these relationships, and consequently legislation and Justice, would be impossible. Therefore, the solemn formula of speech is the sermon, the imprecation and the anathema; the liar is everywhere considered infamous, and among civilized people, the man who respects himself, according to the precept of the Gospel, eschews swearing: he gives his word. How many centuries will pass before we abolish this feudal shame, the legal oath? … It is through the influence of the same juridical sentiment and its dualistic formula that language tends to become more and more adequate to the idea, and that one notices there these innumerable dual forms (rhymes, parallelisms, agreements in kind, number and case, distiches, oppositions, antonymies, etc), which make grammar a system of couples, I would say almost transactions.
Man reasons, and his logic is only a development of his grammar, of which it retains the copulative paces: however, as it occupies itself less with form than content, it more closely approaches Justice, of which it is, if you will allow me this expression, the secretary. Tell, me, is it by chance that what is in grammar only a phrase, becomes in logic a judgment? And if grammar is the preparation for logic, is it less true to say that logic, having for its goal to teach us how to write the judgments of Justice correctly, is the preparation for jurisprudence?
At the same time as he receives impressions and images of external objects, man, we have said, ascends, by virtue of the identity of his thought, to those higher concepts that are called transcendental, because they exceed the range of the senses, or metaphysical, as if they were a revelation of supernatural things. Here, once again, the dualism of Justice appears. While Kant, after having made the enumeration of his categories, distributed them into four groups, each one formed of a thesis and of an antithesis, balanced by a synthesis; Hegel, following this example, built his entire philosophy on a system of antinomies that produce one another, while being mistaken as to the role and value of the synthesis, revealed to us that great law which dominated his entire critique, namely that Justice, a pure concept as much as it is a fact of experience, is the muse of metaphysics.
It was Plato, if I am not mistaken, who said that the beautiful is the splendor of the truth. This definition may please the artist, who asks only to be impressed; it is not enough for the philosopher, who wants to feel and to understand at the same time. It is certain that the ideal is a transcendent conception of reason, which elevates art, like religion and Justice, above real things and simple utility. But how is this idea of beauty formed in us? By what transition does our spirit rise from the imperfect and miserable aspects of reality to this divine contemplation of the ideal? It is an artist who teaches it to us: through Justice. The goal of art, said Raphael, is to render things, not absolutely such as nature presents them to us, but such as it should have made them, and such as we discover, in studying nature, that nature tends to make them without ever arriving at it. Being, reduced to its pure and just form, without excess or defect, without violence or softness: that is art. Anytime being, in its reality, approximates its idea in some thing, it becomes beautiful, it sparkles, and, without exceeding its limitations, it takes on the character of the infinite. Justness in form and expression, Justice in social life: the law is always the same. It is thereby that the man of genius and the man of good glorify themselves; this is the secret of the mysterious bond that links art with morality.
Shall we speak of politics and its balances? Of political economy, of the endless division of functions, the balance of values, the relation of supply to demand, trade and its balance? Just as the concept of accuracy, i.e. of Justice applied to the shape of the things, is the transition between the real and the ideal, so the notion of value is at once subjective and objective, and all of Justice is the transition between the world of nature and the world of society. Will we say, finally, that war, excessive, is only one investigation, through the struggle of the forces, of Justice? … But what good is it to insist on things that it is enough to name in order to see at once appear the principle which governs them and constitutes them, the right? It is by his conscience, much more than by his understanding and his imagination, that man embraces God, the Universe and Humanity; it is that conscience, for any statement, which creates in him reason, of which even the name, according to the etymology, means nothing but the justification of the fact by its causes, its circumstances, its medium, its elements, its time, its end, in word its idea, always Justice.
Each one knows what satisfaction seizes the soul upon the clear apperception of a truth, upon the regular conclusion of a reasoning, the demonstrated certainty of an hypothesis. There is something emotional in this pleasure caused by the possession of truth, which is not pure intelligence, which is not impassioned, and that one can compare only with the joy of the triumph gained by virtue over vice. One also knows what heated controversy can exist between men of the most peaceful character with regard to questions in which their interests are by no means engaged. In all of this, I repeat, we can sense an element of will intricately mixed with the operations of the understanding, and which, in my opinion, is nothing other than Justice intervening in the philosopher's investigation and rejoicing in his success. Just so, the pure form or beauty, exact knowledge or truth, is still Justice.
Conscience and science would thus be, at base, identical. What gives the sanction to the one is the other. What makes us exclaim, in a tone of satisfied pride or rather of satisfied conscience: It is obvious, is that the obviousness is not only in us an act of judgement, but an act of the conscience, a kind of stop in the last resort which defies the lie: It is obvious!
The separation of science and conscience, like that of logic and right, is only a scholastic abstraction. In our soul, things do not occur thus: the certainty of knowledge is something more intimate to us, more emotional, more vital, than the logicians and the psychologists say. Also, as one said of the good man, that he could be eloquent, vir bonus dicendi peritus, because he had a conscience, pectus est quod disertos facit, one could also say that the wise man is incompatible with the dishonest man, and that what science builds in us is the conscience.
Assured, by justice, as to his science and his conscience, finding in his own heart the reason of the Universe and the reason of himself, what more does man require? And what could the heavens and the powers of the skies offer to him? …
Need I add that, as the quality of the philosophical spirit is the same one in all the men, and as they do not differ between them, from this point of view, except by the sum of their knowledge, so the conscience in all is also of equal quality: they differ, in this regard, only by the development of their moral sense and the sum of their virtues?
It is by virtue of this second principle that the Revolution, which declared all the citizens, because of the equivalence of their judgment, to be equal before the law, wanted further to make them all legislators and dispensers of justice: voters, jurors, judges, referees, experts, members of the communal assembly and the provincial council, representatives of the people, guardians of the nation; it wanted to given them all the right to publish their opinions, to discuss the acts and to control the accounts of the government, to criticize the laws and to pursue their reform.
Democracy of the intelligence and democracy of the conscience: such are the two great principles of philosophy, the two articles of faith of the Revolution.
Let us summarize this section.
Since philosophy is essentially dualistic, since in its language and its reasoning the ideas of sensible things incessantly call upon metaphysical ideas and vice versa; and since, in addition, among the objects of its study are included, often mixed and confused, things of nature and humanity, of speculation, of morals and art, it follows that the critical principle of philosophy, dualist and synthetic in its form, empirical and idealist by virtue of its double origin, must be capable of being applied, with equal suitability, to all the categories of knowledge.
However, the idea of Justice is the only one which meets these conditions: it is thus the Justice which we will take for universal and absolute criterion of certainty. The proposal of Descartes, I think, therefore I am, is not certain because it is obvious, which does not mean anything; it is obvious because its two terms are adequate, i.e. equal before the justice of the understanding, confirmed by the judgment of the conscience; and every obvious proposition is found in the same case.
That is not all. With the criterion of certainty, one needs for philosophy a principle in virtue of which it coordinates its materials, and which, in construction without end of knowledge, does not enable him any more to be mislaid.
Once again, the idea of Justice answers this wish. Indeed, Justice, or better the reason, the line reason, as it was formerly said, being all at the same time paramount and understanding with the supreme degree, is with itself its principle, its measurement and its end, so that for the philosopher, the critical principle and the organic or teleological principle is the same one. From where it results that the last word of philosophy, its constant goal, is to realize, by the synthesis of knowledge, the agreement between man and nature, that is to say, as Fourier called it, universal Harmony. There is nothing beyond that.
§ IX. — Supremacy of Justice.
Its dualism established;
Its levelling spirit and its democratic tendency demonstrated;
The formation of ideas, perceptions and concepts explained;
The criterium having been found, the goal indicated, the synthetic formula given, man’s purpose determined;
One can say, in a sense, that philosophy is finished.
It is finished, since it can present itself before the multitude and say to it: I am Justice, Ego sum qui sum; it is I who shall draw you forth from misery and servitude. There is nothing more but to fill the cadres, which is the business of the professors and the scholars.
Indeed, what is this Justice, if not the sovereign essence that Humanity from time immemorial adored under the name of God; what philosophy has not ceased to seek its turn under various names: the Idea of Plato and Hegel, the Absolute of Fichte, the pure and practical Reason of Kant, the Rights of man and of the citizen of the Revolution? Since the beginning of the world, hasn’t human religious and philosophical thought, constantly revolved on this pivot?
It would not be difficult to bring back to this program all the theories—religious, philosophical, aesthetic, and moral—which since the beginning of the world have occupied the human spirit. We will exempt ourselves of this work. The people do not have time to give to such vast, wild imaginings. All that they ask, is that we summarize for them this new faith in a way that catches them, that enables them to take it seriously, and to make of it at this moment a force and a weapon.
We have known well how to make astronomy accessible to the children, without making them pass through the deserts of the higher mathematics; we, formerly, had found good means to make all the substance of the religion—history, dogmas, liturgy, scriptures—penetrate into the mind of the people, without for that obliging them to become theologians. Why, today, should we not teach them philosophy and Justice in the same way, without imposing any other condition on them than to make use of their good sense?
We will thus say to the People:
Justice is simultaneously, for any reasonable being, the principle and form of thought, the guarantee of the judgment, the code of conduct, the goal of knowledge and the end of existence. It is feeling and concept, manifestation and law, idea and action; it is universal life, spirit, and reason. Just as, in nature, all converges, all conspires, all consents, according to the old expression, in the same way, in a word, all the world tends to harmony and balance; in society, likewise, all is subordinated to Justice, all serves it, all is done by its command, according to its measure and for its sake; it is upon its foundation that the edifice of interests is constructed, and, to this end, that of knowledge: while at the same time, it is in itself subordinate to nothing, recognizing no authority beyond itself, serving as an instrument to no power, not even to freedom. It is, of all our ideas, the most understandable, the most present, and the most fertile; of our feelings, the only one that men honor without reserve, and the most indestructible. The ignoramus perceives it as fully as does the wise man, and, to defend it, becomes instantly as subtle as the doctors, as courageous as the heroes. Before the glare of right, mathematical certainty fades. So it is that the construction of Justice is the great enterprise of mankind, the most masterly of sciences, the work of the collective spontaneity much more than of the genius of legislators, and an unending task. We will thus say to the People:
This, O People, is why Justice is severe, and does not suffer mocking remarks. All knees bend before it, and all heads are bowed. It alone allows, tolerates, forbids or permits: it would cease to be, if it required, on behalf of that which it is, any permission, authorization, or tolerance. Any obstacle is an insult to it, and every man is called to arms to overcome it. Quite different is religion, which could not prolong its life except by making itself tolerant, which could not continue to exist without tolerance. It is enough to say that its role is done with. Justice, on the contrary, is fundamental and unconditioned; it suffers no opposition, it admits of no competition, neither in the conscience, nor in the mind; and whoever sacrifices it, even to the Idea, or even to Love, is excluded from the communion of mankind. No peace with iniquity, O democrats: may that be the motto of your peace and your war cry.—But, the last of the Christians will say to us, your Justice is the reign of God that the Gospel prescribes us from seeking in any thing, Quœrite primum regnum Dei et justitiam ejus; it is the sacrifice which God prefers, Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ. How, then, can you not welcome our God, and how can you reject his religion?
It is because you yourselves, oh inconsistent worshippers, believe in Justice even more than you do in your God. You affirm his word, not because it is divine, but because your spirit finds it true; you follow its precepts, not because God is the author, but because they seem to you right. Theology wishes in vain to reverse this order, to give sovereignty to God and to subordinate Justice to him: the intimate sense protests, and, in popular teaching, in prayer, it is Justice that serves as witness to the Divinity and the pledge of the religion. Justice is the supreme God, it is the living God, God the Almighty, the only God who dares be intolerant with respect to those who blaspheme against him, beneath which are nothing but pure idealities and assumptions. Pray to your God, Christians, the law permits it; but be sure that you do not prefer him to Justice, if you would not be treated as conspirators and corrupters.
What man, now, in the presence of this great principle of Justice, would not have the right to call himself a philosopher? It would be a return immediately to the antique spirit of caste, to disavow the progress of twenty-five centuries, to hold, like the senate of old Rome, that the patrician alone has the privilege of the legal formulas and the sacred things, and that in the presence of fulgurating Jupiter the slave does not have the right to call himself religious. All the relations of men with one another are governed by Justice; all natural laws derive from that by which the beings, and the elements which compose them, are or tend to be equilibrated, all the formulas of the reason are reduced to the equation or series of equations. Logic, the art of right reasoning, can be defined, like chemistry since Lavoisier, as the art of maintaining balance. Whoever commits an error or a sin has faltered, one says, he has stumbled, he has lost his balance. Under a thousand different expressions, language unceasingly reproduces the same idea. Do we not recognize, by this sign, the existence of a popular philosophy, which is nothing other than the philosophy of right, a philosophy that comes simultaneously from reason and from nature? And this is not, at bottom, the same philosophy taught, in his barbaric language, by that philosopher who has never been equaled by any other, the immortal Kant, when he demanded from practical reason, from that which he called its categorical imperative, the supreme guarantee of speculative reason, and when he acknowledged with frankness that there was nothing certain beyond right and duty?
§ X. — Conditions for a philosophical propaganda.
It is when religions pass away, when monarchies fail, when the politics of exploitation is reduced, in order to preserve itself, to proscribing the worker and the idea, and when the republic, everywhere on the agenda, seeks its formula; at the hour when the old convictions are dilapidated, when consciences are routed, when opinion is abandoned, when the multitude of egoisms shouts Every man for himself! that the moment arrives for an attempt at social restoration by means of a new propaganda.
1. Let us not fear to repeat: Justice, under various names, controls the world, nature and humanity, science and conscience, logic and morals, political economy, history, literature and art. Justice is what is most primitive in the human heart, most fundamental in society, most sacred among the nations, and what the masses demand today with the greatest ardor. It is the essence of the religions at the same time as it is the form of reason, the secret object of faith, and the beginning, the middle, and the end of knowledge. What could possibly be more universal, stronger, more complete than Justice, Justice with respect to which any superiority would imply contradiction?
Now, the people possess Justice within themselves; they have preserved it better than their masters and their priests; it is stronger among them than among the savants who teach it, the lawyers who discuss it, and the judges who apply it. The people, finally, in their native intuition and their respect for right, are more advanced than their superiors; they are lacking, as they say themselves when speaking of the intelligent animals, only speech. It is speech which we want to give to the people.
Thus, we who know how to speak and write, we have but one thing to do, in order to preach to the people and to philosophize in the name of the Justice, which is to inspire ourselves with the feelings of our audience, and to take them for our arbiter. If the philosophy that we attempt to explicate is insufficient, they will tell us so; if we go astray in our controversies, if we are mistaken in our conclusions, they will inform us; if something better offers itself to them, they will take it. The people, in that which concerns Justice, are not, strictly speaking, disciples, much less neophytes. The idea is within them: the only initiation they call for, like the Roman plebs of former times, is that of the formulas. That they have faith in themselves, that is all that we ask of them; then, that that take note of the facts and the laws: our ministry does not go beyond that. We are the counselors of the people, not their initiators.
2. This first advantage entails another, no less precious: while presenting ourselves simply as missionaries of right, we need neither to prevail upon any authority, divine or human, nor to pose as geniuses, martyrs or saints. Modesty, frankness, zeal, above all, good sense—nothing more is required of us. The truths we carry are not ours; they were not revealed to us from on high by grace of the Holy Ghost, and we have no copyright or proprietary patent over them. These truths are shared by everyone; they are inscribed within every soul, and we are not called on, as a proof of our veracity, to apply them to prophecies and miracles. Speak to the slave of liberty, to the proletarian of his rights, to the worker of his salary: all will understand you, and if they see there a chance of success, they will not ask themselves in the name of whoever or whatever you hold up to them such a discourse. In matters of justice, nature has created all competent, because it has given us all the same faculty and the same interest. This is why we can weaken in our teaching without ever compromising our cause, and that no difference of opinion can lead to a schism between us. The same zeal for Justice that has divided us on a point of doctrine will reconcile us sooner or later. No authority, no priesthood, no churches. All of us who affirm right are in our belief necessarily orthodox, consequently eternally united. Heresy in Justice is a nonsense. Oh! If the apostles of Christ had been able to hold to this teaching! If the Gnostics had dared return to it! If Arius, Pelagius, Manès, Wyclef, Jan Huss and Luther had been strong enough to understand it! . . . But it was written that the popular Word had for its precursor the Word of God: how blessed are both!
3. But, one says, the people are incapable of a course of study; the abstraction of ideas, the monotony of science repels them. With them, one must always concretize, personalize and dramatize, employ ethos and pathos, constantly change object and tone. Constrained by imagination and passion, realist by temperament, they voluntarily follow the empirics, tribunes and charlatans. The fervor is not sustained; at every instant, it falls back into the materialism of interests. This proves one thing: the philosopher who devotes himself to teaching the masses instructs himself at base from theories, must be above all, in his lectures to the people, a practical demonstrator. In this, at any rate, he will not be an innovator. Isn’t the identity of the fact and the law, of the content and the form, the constant object of the tribunes? Does jurisprudence, in its schools and its books, proceed other than by formulas and examples?
Why, moreover, in teaching Justice, deprive ourselves of these two powerful levers, passion and interest? Has Justice any other end than to ensure the public happiness against the incursions of egoism? Does it not have poverty for its sanction? Yes, we know that the people feel themselves to be highly interested in Justice, and no one takes their material interests more seriously than we do. If it is a point on which we propose to return constantly, it is that all crimes and misdemeanors, all corporate privilege, all that is arbitrary in government, is for the people an immediate cause of pauperism and sorrow.
This is why, as missionaries for democracy, having to combat the most detestable passions, and the cowardly and obstinate egoism, we never intend to make the mistake of arousing popular indignation by the vehemence of our discourse. Justice is demonstrated by sentiment as well as by logic. The penal code of despotism calls this to incite the citizens to hate one another, to mistrust and hate the government. Shall we be the dupes of a hypocritical legislation, of which the sole end is to paralyze consciences in order to assure, under a false appearance of moderation, the impunity of the most guilty parties?
Man’s life is brief: the people can receive but rare and rapid lessons. What purpose do they serve if we do not render those lessons as positive as existence; if we do not put men and things in play; if, in order to seize minds, we do not give impetus to imaginations and hearts? Shall we scruple, in speaking of Justice, to be of our time, and will we not merit what is said of us by the false apostles, if, as our adversaries wish, we reduce it to a pure abstraction?
It is in the contemporaneity of facts that one must show the people, as in a mirror, the permanence of ideas. The history of religion, the Church tells us, is an uninterrupted stream of miracles. But the faithful has no need, in order to be convinced of the truth of his belief, of having seen them all; it suffices that he contemplates this Church, the establishment of which, according to the doctors, is itself the greatest of miracles. Thus it is with Justice. The history of its manifestations, of its developments, of its constitutions, of its theories, encompasses the lives of many hundreds of men. Happily, the people have nothing to do with this burden. In order to sustain their faith in Justice, it suffices for one to show it, by striking examples, Justice oppressed and then revenged, crime triumphant and then punished; it suffices that they hear the protestations of generous souls in eras of unhappiness, and that they feel that this Revolution so calumniated, which for three millenia has pushed the working masses toward liberty, is Justice.
4. But what order to follow in this teaching? What is especially painful in the study of sciences is the yoke of the methods, the length of the preliminaries, the sequence of propositions, the accuracy of the transitions, the rigor of the analyses; it is this obligation never to pass on to a new subject, before that which precedes it on the staircase of method is exhausted. Thus, before approaching the study of philosophy, the student requires six or seven years of grammar, languages, humanities, and history; logic, metaphysics, psychology, then come morals, not to mention mathematics, physics, natural history, etc. These studies having been completed, if the poor student has obtained his diplomas, he may begin studying law, which takes at least three years. It is in these conditions that the young man, rich enough pass his time thus, becomes legist, lawyer, Justice of the Peace, or substitute for the imperial prosecutor.
The people, undoubtedly, cannot traverse this entire succession; if philosophy can be acquired only under such conditions, it is condemned without reprieve. Either democracy is only a word, and there is not, outside of the language of the Church, apart from feudality and of the divine right, communion between men; or it is necessary here to change approaches. I want to say that, in agreement with popular reason, it is necessary to abandon the analytical and deductive method, glory of the School, and to replace it with a universalist and synthetic method, more in touch with the reason of the masses, which sees everything concretely and synthetically. I will explain.
Since everything, in nature and in society, pivots on Justice, since it is center, base, and summit, substance and form of every fact as well as any idea, it is obvious, à priori, that everything can be reduced directly to Justice, consequently that the true philosophical method consists in breaking all these patterns. In that sphere of the universal where we are going to move, and of which he center is called Justice, harmony, equilibrium, balance, equality, all the graduations and specifications of school vanish. Little matter that we take our point of departure at such a meridian or such a parallel, at the equator or at the pole; that we begin with political economy rather than logic, with aesthetic or moral philosophy rather than counting and grammar. For the same reason, it matters little to us to change the subject as many times as we please, and as it pleases us; for us, there can result from it neither confusion nor mix-ups. It is always the higher reason of things that we seek, that is to say the direct relation of each things with Justice, which does not undermine in any way classifications of school, and does not compromise any of his faculties.
To philosophize about this and that, in the manner of Socrates, will thus be then, except for the adjustments demanded by the circumstances, the approach to follow in a philosophico-juridical education destined for the people.—A method of this sort, one with say, is no method at all.—Perhaps: with regard to science, rigor of method is a sign of the mistrust of mind, arising from it weakness. If we should address ourselves to superior intelligences, it is the method of Socrates that they prefer, and universal reason itself, if it could speak, would not proceed otherwise. Now nothing resembles univeral reason more, as to form, than the reason of the people; in treating it thus, we do not flatter it, but serve it.
§ XI. — Law of progress: Social destination.
An objection is posed.—If the center or pivot of philosophy, namely Justice, is, like that of being, invariable and fixed, the system of things, which, in fact and in right, rests on that center, must also be defined in itself, and consequently fixed in its ensemble and tending to immutability. Leibnitz regarded this world as the best possible; he should have said, in virtue of the law of equilibrium that presides over it, that it is the only possible one. One can thus conceive of creation, at least in its thought, as being completed, the universal order being realized in a final manner: then, as the world would no longer have a reason to exist, since it would have reached its perfection, all would return to the universal repose. This is the secret thought of the religions: The end of things, they say, is for the Creator, just as for the creature, the consummation of glory. But strip away the mythology: underneath this unutterable glory, one finds immobility, death, nothingness. The world, drawn from nothing, i.e. inorganic immobility, amorphous, dark, returns, under the terms of its law of balance, to immobility; and our justification is nothing other than the work of our annihilation. Justice, balance, order, perfection, is petrification. Movement, life, thought, are bad things; the ideal, the absolute, the Just, which we must continually work to realize, is plenitude, immobility, non-being. It follows that, for the intelligent, moral and free being, happiness is to be found in death, in the quiet of the tomb. Such is the Buddhist dogma, expressed by this apothegm: It is better to sit than stand, to sleep than to sit, and to be dead than to sleep. Such is also the conclusion to which one of the late philosophers of Germany arrived; and it is difficult to deny that any philosophy of the absolute, just as any religion, leads to the same result. But common sense is repelled by this theory: it judges that life, action, thought are good; morality itself is repelled by it, since it gives us constantly to work, to learn, and to undertake, in a word, to do the very things that, according to our final destiny, we should regard as bad. How to escape from this contradiction?
We believe that, as the space in which the worlds whirl about is infinite; time infinite; matter, hurled into infinite space, also infinite; consequently, the power of nature and the capacity for movement infinite: in the same way, without the principle and the law of the universe changing, creation is virtually infinite, in its extent, its duration and its forms. Under this inevitable condition of the infinity, which falls on creation, the assumption of a completion, of a final consummation, is contradictory. The universe does not tend to an opposition to progress; its movement is perpetual, because the universe itself is infinite. The law of balance which presides over it does not lead it to uniformity, to an immobilism; it assures, on the contrary, eternal renewal by the economy of forces, which are infinite.
But if such is the true constitution of the universe, it mustg be admitted that such is also that of Humanity. We are not heading for any ideal perfection, for a final state that we might reach in a moment by crossing, through death, the gap that separates us from it. We are carried, along with the rest of the universe, in a ceaseless metamorphosis, which is all the more surely and gloriously achieved as we develop more in intelligence and morality. Progress thus remains the law of our heart, not in the sense only that, by the perfection of ourselves, we must approach unceasingly absolute Justice and the ideal; but in the sense that Humanity renewing themselves and developing without end, like creation itself, the ideal of Justice and beauty which we have to carry out always changes and always increases.
Thus, the contemplation of the infinite, which led us to quietism, is precisely what cures us of it: we are participants in universal, eternal life; and the more we can reflect the image of it in our own life, through action and Justice, the happier we are. The small number of days which is allotted to us has nothing to do with this: our perpetuity is in the perpetuity of our race, which in turn is linked to the perpetuity of the Universe. Even if the very globe upon which we live, which we presently know with some scientific certainty to have had a beginning, should crumble beneath our feet and disperse in space, we should see in this dissolution merely a local metamorphosis, which, changing nothing with respect to the universal organization [l’organisme universel], could not cause us despair, and consequently would not affect our happiness in any way. If the joy of the father of of a family on his deathbed is in the survival of his children, why shouldn't it be the same for our terrestrial humanity, the day when it will feel life become exhausted in its soil and consequently in its veins? After us, other worlds! … Would this idea be beyond the reach of the simple, or too low for the philosophers?
Thus determined in its nature, its conditions, its principle and its object, philosophy gives us, in its own manner, the word of our destiny.
What is philosophy?
Philosophy is the search, and, as far as the strength of the human mind permits, the discovery of the reason of things. Philosophy is thus defined as opposed to theology, which would be defined, we dare say, as the knowledge of the first cause, the inmost nature, and the final end of things.
Who created the universe?
Theology answers boldly, without understanding the meaning of its proposition: It is God. Philosophy, on the contrary, says: The universe, such as it appears to the eyes and the reason, being infinite, exists for all eternity. In it, life and spirit are permanent and indefectible; justice is the law that governs all its metamorphoses. Why should the world have a beginning? Why an end? Reason sees no need of it, and repudiates it.
What is God?
God, says theology, is the author, the creator, the preserver, the destroyer, and the sovereign lord of all things.
God, says metaphysics, auxiliary and interpreter of theology, is the infinite, absolute, necessary and universal being, which serves the universe as its substratum and hides behind its phenomena. This being is essentially one, consequently possibly personal, intelligent and free; moreover, because of its infinity, it is perfect and holy.
God, philosophy says finally, is, from the ontological point of view, a conception of the human mind, the reality of which it is impossible to deny or affirm authentically;—from the point of view of humanity, a fantastic representation of the human soul raised to the infinite.
Why was man created and put on the earth?
To know God, says theology, to love him, serve him, and by this means, to acquire eternal life.
Philosophy, pruning the mystical data from theology, answers simply: To carry out Justice, to exterminate evil, to contribute by the good administration of his sphere to the harmonious evolution of the worlds, and by this means, to obtain the greatest sum of glory and happiness, in his body and his soul.
We will continue this questionnaire. The catechism, with its mythology and its mysteries, served, for eighteen centuries, as a basis for the instruction of the people. Today, children no longer want it. Would philosophy, concrete and positive, arriving at its moment, prove less popular than the catechism has ever been?
§ XII. — A word about the situation.
It is by their principles, religious or philosophical, that societies live.
Before 89, France was Christian: its monarchy was of divine right, its economic constitution established on feudality. Christian, monarchical and feudal, the French nation could be said to be as well disciplined in its thought as it was in its government. She had principles, doctrines, a tradition, a morals; she had rights. Under Louis XIV it arrived, using its principles, at the highest degree of power and glory. No nation disputed its precedence: elder child of the Church, it walked at the head of one hundred million catholics.
The Revolution of 89 changed this position, but did not reduce it. From the Christian, monarchical, and feudal nation that had been emerged one that was philosophical, republican, and egalitarian. Then too, and more than before, it could be praised for having principles, rights, and morals. Its tradition, which up to that point had been confounded with its religion, was displaced: it was the tradition of free reason, older than catholic feudality, more imprescriptible than divine right. One moment, by this abrupt conversion, France could believe itself isolated in the midst of the peoples. But it had become initiator; soon it could judge that its word was accommodated everywhere. An incalculable future opened before it; it had only to wait until philosophy had brought minds to a state of maturity.
The revolutionary whirlwind lasted ten years.
In 1799, a thought of conciliation emerged and seized the government. Minds were divided; the country aspired to rest. It was believed that it was possible, through mutual concessions, to make an accord between the conquests of '89 and the old religious and monarchical tradition: this was the whole intent behind the consular restoration. All in good faith, and because it was in any case impossible for it to do better, France was at the same time Christian and philosophical, monarchical and democratic, propertarian and egalitarian.
Was this eclecticism founded in reason as it appeared to be founded, for more than half a century, in fact? We cannot believe so. The reception given in 1814 to the Bourbons, the bearers of the Charter, the revolution of 1830, that of 1848, proved that this system of conciliation was only a work of circumstance, and that as the nation was permeated by the new right, the Revolution took on an increasingly decisive preponderance. In any case, it is at least certain that eclectic and liberal France, just like that of ‘89 and ‘93, just like feudal France, had principles, ideas, and that its internal and external policy was the expression of these. Principles! It seemed, in its moderation, to confound the antagonistic thoughts of two modes: many intelligent people, it must be said, were seduced by it. Also, after ‘99, French power experienced an extraordinary development: Europe followed, dragged along rather than overcome, and we shall never know what would have happened if the genius of the empero,r and of the governments that succeeded him, had been equal to their aspirations.
Was this system, which, following the revolutionary period as it did, had certainly had its raison d'être, exhausted when, at the end of 1851, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, president of the Republic, seized power?
We are strongly inclined to believe so: this is even, we maintain, what explains the success of the coup d'état. December 2nd, and the regime that has been in place since then, are not the work of one man, nor an incident of history: it is a situation. An impure generation, partly born since the restoration, which of liberalism understood only libertinage, of the philosophy of the eighteenth century only impiety, of the Revolution only dissolution, of eclecticism only skepticism, of the parliamentary system only intrigue, and of eloquence only verbosity; a greedy generation, as coarse as its own native soil, without dignity, started to dominate in the country: it still dominates there. It is this generation that inaugurated, under cover of an imperial restoration, the reign of impudent mediocrity, official advertisements, open swindle. It is this generation which dishonors France and poisons it ...
Whatever the causes that so abruptly brought about the end of the middle course [juste-milieu], republican and monarchical, there is one unquestionable fact: it is, on one side, that the fear of falling into an extreme of revolution or counter-revolution drove the masses to accept the coup d’état, and that however, since this fatal date of December 2nd, France, which was once catholic, monarchical and feudal, then philosophical and democratic, finally eclectic, conciliatory and moderate—I will not use the ill-sounding epithet doctrinaire—France no longer had principles, public spirit, tradition, nor ideas, not even morals.
The France of December 2nd follows neither the Gospel, nor the Declaration of the Rights of Man; it is neither a divine-right monarchy, nor a democracy according to the Revolution, nor a government of the middle classes, with balanced powers, as the Charters of 1814 and 1830 wished to establish. A purely arbitrary despotism, a thing from a fantasy,—without precedent in the national tradition nor in the first empire, which, in spite of its military exigencies, still followed principles, nor in the dictatorship of ‘93, which certainly also had its principles, nor in the monarchy of Louis XIV, who cannot be reproached for having lacked any,—more arbitrary, finally, than Machiavelli had dreamed of, for if Machiavelli did not recoil before despotism, at least he placed it in the service of an idea: that is the France of December 2nd.
One will, I expect, cry calumny: one will quote the constitution of 1852, renewed from that of 1804; the Napoleonic idea, which served Prince Louis as a program, and this multitude of declarations, messages, decrees, circulars, professions of faith, brochures, etc, that the imperial government never stops producing. Why doesn't one add to it the reports of the limited-liability societies and their advertisements? . . . Oh! if words were a guarantee of principles, there would be few governments so well-founded in theory as the empire of the past eight years. But it is by facts, by acts, that a government reveals its essence and proclaims its thought: in this respect, and without at all wishing to reduce my criticisms to a critique of persons, I dare state that the government of Napoleon III, to his misfortune and to ours, has no principles, or, if it has principles, that it has not yet revealed them. Testimonies abound close at hand: since December 2nd, I have recorded them each day. Let us cite the latest, which is at the same time the most serious.
The middle course charted by the first Consul, which had its apogee under Louis-Philippe, recognized that the existence of Catholicism is indissolubly related to that of the papacy, and that the papacy itself, after the abrogation of the pact of Charlemagne, has only the prestige that that it draws from its temporal sovereignty. Under the Caesars, and later under the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Germans, the Pope could do without the title and power of prince: religion made him the vicar of God on earth. Charlemagne consecrated this vicariate, not by separating the two powers in the manner that this is understood today, but by opposing them and binding them to one another in a system which embraced the world. As for the gifts of land that accompanied this imperial and papal constitution, it was initially, like the three crowns that ornament the tiara, only a jewel, a badge, a kind of glorification of the pontificate. It is not what made the power of Gregory VII, of Urban II, of Innocent III, of Boniface VIII.—After the papacy, rebuffed by Philip the Fair, had been transported to Avignon, the State having broken with the church on all points and dissolved the old pact, the papacy was still supported, and Catholicism remained standing, thanks to the temporal sovereignty that the popes had gained, in part through the lands donated, and in part by force of arms. But one soon saw how powerless this sovereignty was to preserve Catholic unity. First, there was the great schism caused by the removal of the papal seat; then the Reformation, which removed half of Christendom from the Holy See. Consequently, the authority of the sovereign pontiff, of the Catholics themselves, has been steadily decreasing: the severities of Louis XIV, the legal concordat of 1802, and the capture of Savone, are the signs of this decline. Destroy the temporal holdings of the popes, and Catholicism degenerates into Protestantism, the religion of Christ falls into the dust. Those who say that the pope will never be better understood than when he deals exclusively with the affairs of heaven are either speaking in political bad faith, endeavoring to disguise atrocious deeds behind devout words, or foolish Catholics, incapable of understanding that in the affairs of life, the temporal and the spiritual, just like the soul and the body, are interdependent.
However, in the presence of this tottering papacy, what was the line of conduct taken by the French moderates?
The moderates had as their principle the reconciliation of religion and philosophy, monarchy and democracy, Church and Revolution. They were therefore very careful not to touch the papacy; they would not have dared to assume the responsibility for this great ruin, first of all, because they did not feel able to substitute their own teaching for the religious ideas, and secondly, because the hour of Protestantism seemed to them, with good reason, to have passed, there was, according to them, no longer enough faith in France to be worth the costs of a Reformation, and they would have been ashamed to indenture the conscience of the country any more to Anglican hypocrisy than to German theology; because, finally, in this serious state of uncertainty, it could neither renounce the legitimate influence exerted by France over 130 million Catholics spread across the surface of the glove nor support the formation of an Italian State whose area would have proportionally reduced the French prepotency. It is, indeed, not a matter of burning the old papacy on the furnace bridge of philosophy; it is necessary that the temporal not have to suffer from this decapitation of the spiritual.
The government of Napoléon III has had none of these scruples. Would this be an indication of change of policy on its part, the sign of a return to principles? ... After having showered the clergy with his favors, restored the religious communities, recalled the Jesuits, returned control to the Church over its teaching, and given, on all occasions, evidence of his piety; after having disputed the protectorate of the Holy See in Austria for ten years, as had Louis-Philippe, how is it that suddenly, under pretext that the events that he himself has caused are beyond his control, that their logic is inexorable, he tells the Sovereign pontiff that his royalty is no longer for this century, that consequently he has to resign himself to leaving the government of his States in lay hands and condescend to accept from Catholic nations, in compensation for their temporal treasure, a revenue! ...
For my part, I applaud the crucifixion of the Church, but on one condition, that the new chief of France should tell us what spirit he intends to substitute for the Catholic spirit: does he propose, after the example of the kings of England and the tsars of Russia, to seize the princedom and the pontificate, or to return purely and simply to the Revolution?
Alas! I am quite afraid that Napoleon III does not even suspect that one can address such questions to him. As the expression of his time, carried to the crest of power by an imbroglio, he constantly testifies, like all of his supporters, to his horror of ideas; he believes only in matter and force. He does not want a Revolution: he proved that by his public safety laws in 1851 and 1852; since then, he has never stopped proclaiming this in all of his acts, both official and unofficial or pseudonymous; he has just repeated this in his letter to the pope of December 31, 1859. He no longer wants the bourgeois moderates: he broke with them irreconcilably with his coup d'etat, and he will take care not to be exposed to their criticism. Through the fault of his situation much more than of his will, Napoleon III does not and cannot want any principle, any guarantee, any freedom. If he sacrifices the pope, it is, as he himself says, because events have forced him to this pass; because he does not have in him what he would require in order to control events, i.e., principles, ideas, a faith, a law. But at the same time that he pronounces the forfeiture of the Holy Father, that he intercepts the bishops’ mandates, that he threatens the Jesuits and bombards the catholic newspapers with warnings, he removes speech from the democracy, and condemns in his courts the philosophers, accused of insult to public and religious morals.
Therefore, neither Christian nor revolutionist, nor anything in between, in a word, nothing: this is the France, not made, but revealed at this point in time by the government of December 2.
The vulgar had not seen this character of the imperial policy initially, not to have not principles and to walk blindly. According to the habit of the French spirit all to pay to the master, one said of Napoleon III: See how happy he is! Everything succeeds to him. The ones rented its spirit of conciliation: it said itself which it was the end of the old parties. The Church greeted in him a new Constantine, while the plebs recommended it, as it had made her uncle, the herald of the Revolution. Maintaining all is discovered: the imperial government is a government without principles, and the emperor cannot about it but; as for its alleged successes, still a little time, and, the things remaining what they are, one will see only calamities there.
No, I tell you, no principles, no true successes: to support the opposite would be to grant to a man a power that the philosophers refuse even to God, that of making something of nothing.
Of what use was the expedition to the Crimea? We prided ourselves on relieving the Ottoman Empire: the peace having been made, we abandoned it like a corpse.—We wanted to halt Russian encroachment: Russia has just conquered the Caucasus, no less important, as the future will show, than Constantinople. Russia has Armenia; its colonists extend over the southernmost coast from the Black Sea to the front door of the sultans’ palace. And France does not have even a foothold in Asia Minor.—Is it the English alliance, or the European equilibrium, that profited from the capture of Sebastopol? The Malakoff’s dead were not buried before Napoleon III, disgusted with the English, signed a peace with the tsar, and contemplated an alliance posing a different threat to the freedoms of the world than the protectorate of Russia on the East. At this moment, admittedly, there is a cooling of the Russian alliance, and a reheating of the English alliance. Protestant England applauds the failure of Catholicism; it reasons, from its point of view, exactly as made the French middle course. To strike papacy, the Revolution not being there, it is to break the catholic beam, it is to reduce France. It proclaims the author of the booklet the La Pape et le Congrès as great a theologian and statesman as Jacques I and Henri VIII, and perhaps will condescend she to sign with him a commercial treaty. How much that will it last? What lasts the alliances formed without principles: also England does not trust it.
The empire, the body of a society abandoned by the idea, the empire is agitated, burns powder, makes a din; its glory does not kindle. It could not, or did not know, to preserve the Ottoman empire from its dissolution; it did not put up a barrier to the incursions of Russia; it did not dare to advance to the Adriatic and it left the Austrians in the Peninsula; it does not have even courage to hold its promises of Villafranca; now it lets choir the pope of which it wanted to make the federal president of Italy and which for ten years it had supported. Let us suppose that after the annexation of the duchies and Romagnes in Piedmont comes, the British diplomacy and the helping party of the unity, that of Venice and Naples; Would Napoleon III prevent it? He could not it, committed that he by his own words, is engaged by his pang of hunger of alliance with the English. He would not dare to claim that the will of the people is sacred, as long as he goes there only from the sovereignty of the Holy Father, but that it is anything other than the annexation of the insurgent countries in the Sardinian States. The only fruit of the countryside of Italy would be thus to have been used as instrument with the policy of Monsieurs Cavour, Garibaldi, Mazzini, Orsini; to have caused a powerful neighbor to us, who cannot love us, which loved us forever, and to have consumed the investment of France. - Can we, say the policies of December 2, to prevent Italy from carrying out its unit? In do we have the right? Doesn't the Revolution itself have for principle of respecting nationalities? - Thus Made then, I will answer them, make the Revolution;  you attach to it, his Right, its maxims; and, higher than the world by the power of your principle, you will not have anything to fear enlarging of your neighbors… I do not want Prussia at midday, said General Cavaignac. He was right a thousand times, since he was an eclectic. On December 2 he renounced this policy: for the little that the Italians wanted to be there to lend, we would have with our doors an empire of twenty-six million men. Is this the county of Nice or Savoy which would compensate us?
A government without principles is a science without method, a philosophy without a criterion, a religion without a God. One has just seen which sad fruits the policy of December 2 produced with the outside; it was not happier with the inside. Its assessment can be summarized in eight articles: The national debt increased by three billion;
The tax act carried from 1,500 to 1,800 million;
Conscription raised from 80 to 100, 120 and 140 thousand men;
Failure of the middle class and increase proportional in the proletariat;
Reduction in the population;
Depravity of national manners;
Decline of the literature and arts;
To speak only about this last article, the string would be long mécomptes imperial government. Failure of all the enterprises of the imperial government.
In 1852, the government reduces the revenue of 5 p.c. to 4½. And everyone applauds. One knows which rise, purely factitious, reigned, during this year of beginning, about all the values. But the continuation answered by no means aces hopes; the Bank did not decrease its discount; more once even it raised it up to 6 and 7 p.c., in last analysis the 4 1/2 remained fixed at 90, which wants to say that, in spite of the reduction, 5 p.c., are always the normal rate of the interest. Any tax, any reduction of assessed income on the property, to be right, must be general. The conversion of the revenue having remained an isolated measurement, it is as if the government had made bankruptcy with the shareholders of ½ p.c. Is this a success?  The imperial government claimed to create the building and loan association: it did not succeed; – to make a loan on personal property: its loan on personal property is a society of agiotage; - to establish docks: society of the docks finished in correctional police force; - to put the rents at a cheap rate, and half of the Parisian population is driven out capital (1). It had been flattered to raise the merchant navy; and in spite of the granted or promised subsidies, nothing is done. It had accepted the protectorate of the boring of the isthmus of Suez, it gives up it today; is this because the business appears bad to him, or in consequence of its change of policy?. What to say palate of Industry, hackney carriages, and so much of other things where the imperial government put the hand? By its commercial treaty with England, it comes to take the first step in the career of the free exchange, i.e., of the consent of all foreign people of businesses, satisfied in the question, to ensure, about the French market, on the French marine, the preponderance of England. The free exchange, thanks to the epithet, is one of imaginations of the contemporary democracy, which shone forever, as one knows, by economic science. Not is need however to be a large economist to see only the free exchange, which is other thing only each one at home, each one pour-soi, so much honni by this same democracy, is not a principle, and which without principles, i.e. Justice, guarantees, without reciprocity, the political economy, of the same Sue the policy, is fertile only in disaster. I would like only the small lesson of political economy which it rained with Its Majesty to give to France via its minister of State, to prophesy that it will be customs reform issued by Napoleon III like it was among that of Robert Peel: perhaps the price of the food products of importation will drop, the people will be exténué more than before. It is thus so difficult to understand, for example, that if the French wines obtain a considerable outlet in England, the price will raise, and that the French people will drink some less than before; that it will be  the same for the meat, butter, vegetables, the fruits; that if, in addition, irons and wrought cottons of England arrive to us at cheaper, the wages of the French workers will drop by as much; in result, that the allowances of price, on the two sides of the strait, will benefit with the shareholders, the owners, with some intermediaries, brokers, merchants; what there will be displacement of businesses and fortunes, but what all in all, industrial competition and capitalist absorption being exerted on a greater scale, the fate of the masses will worsen? … The free exchange has as a condition the exemption from payment of the discount: is one able to carry out, in these terms, the trade balance? - The imperial government will have had glory to complete the railroads, and to even make some too much much: but it will be able to be also praised to have delivered the country to the financial aristocracy; to have restored in favour of its creatures the mode honni of the bribe, and makes contract with the nation the practice, before iuconnue, of the play. Completion of the railroads by the imperial government and its intervention in all the businesses, will date for France the ruin of the middle class, which is to say the disorganization of French society.
The government of the emperor conceived the thought, worthy of praise, to be the restorer of manners, as it had had the ambition to be the founder of the credit. There is to this end an office of propaganda to the ministry for the interior. However, see as this government moralist plays of misfortune! A sior Giblain, stockbroker, are shown of embezzlement in the exercise of his load and diversion. The facts are noted by experts; the offence is obvious; 1,800 diversions and as many forgery. The judgment appears inevitable. But not, the jury returns a verdict of not guilty: do you know why? It is that it is resulted from the debates, for the jury as for the Court, that the facts complained of to the sior Giblain were common for him with all the corporation of the stockbrokers, declared honourable by the magistrates. It is at the time when the Supreme court of appeal, by its confirmative stop against the outside brokers, in the long term granted to the stockbrokers the privilege of the markets, that the parquet floor continued a stockbroker accused 1° to have made markets in the long term, as  like all its fellow-members; 2° to have made some for its own account, like all its fellow-members; 3° to this end to have kept an account of of the aforesaid rectification gone, like all its fellow-members; 4° finally, to have profited, sometimes lost - all is not profit in this trade - on the markets which it made for its account, like all its fellow-members! … Obviously, the Supreme court of appeal and the parquet floor did not go of agreement. The judgment was impossible. One believes that if the imperial prosecutor had announced his resolution to push the investigation until the end, and to translate, if it were needed, on the bench of the swindlers all the corporation of the stockbrokers; so at the same time the Supreme court of appeal had faded the aforesaid corporation, by declaring it inadmissible in its request against the outside brokers, believes one, say I, that the jury would have dared to answer: Not culprit? But the corporation is one of the pillars of the State, for this reason considered holy and inviolable. Under Louis-Philippe, Tests them, Cubière, made the exception, and the jury condemned. Today, they are the general information, and the jury discharges. With a capacity without principles, the virtue even does not succeed. In the absence of the jury, the stones would shout: Hypocrisy!
Let us be fair, however. Undoubtedly, since December 2, a lowering of public morality has taken place in France; the nation lost its self-regard; it feels its own unworthiness, and, as is habitual, it blames the government for it. There is the principle that will bring down the empire, if its unworthiness can likewise be translated into indignation. But the government is in this, like everywhere, merely the expression of the conscience of the country; and if one can only say of it that, for the fidelity with which it expresses the perdition of their hearts, it deserves the recognition of its citizens, then one cannot say that it has deserved their hatred. The humiliation of France begins to reach farther than the coup d'etat; Napoleon III, if it were possible to summon him before a jury, would have only a rather small share in that. Does one think by chance that, if the dynasty of Bonaparte had suddenly disappeared, the situation of the country would have changed? That would be a serious error. France can remake itself only through the Revolution; it is not there. After rejoicings such as those which followed the death of Commodius,  there would be the biddings of Didius Julianus. This is why we declare, hand on our heart: between us and Napoleon III there is neither envy nor hatred; he neither misled us nor supplanted us; we have upheld him in nothing, we do not aspire to become his successors. He is the official representative, not the personification, of an era of misfortune: that is all. Apart from the acts of Strasbourg, Boulogne and December 2, his complicity does not extend. We will allow ourselves however to recall to him, without any threat, the word of the Gospel: Voe autem homini illi per quem scandalum venit. Which means, in military language: Sentinel, guard yourself!
§ XIII. — CONCLUSION
The papacy having been broken, Catholicism is brought low: there is no more religion in the civilized world.
The Protestant churches, a sort of middle term between religious thought and philosophical thought, that remained in opposition to the Roman Church, perish in their turn, obliged as they will be either to decisively adopt philosophy, and consequently to consummate their abjuration, or to undergo a restoration of unity, and consequently to contradict themselves.
Eclecticism itself no longer has any raison d'être; of what could it remain composed? Willy-nilly, it must join the revolutionary antithesis, unless it is to dissolve into pure skepticism. Isn't it already towards the latter sad alternative that minds are inclining in France and in all of Europe? Before December 2, the governments, by a kind of tacit pact, pursued a moderate course in politics; they tended to balance themselves, and followed one another in the application of the constitutional system. Now, all political and social development is suspended; the reason of State, which had been in the process of reconciling itself with the rationality of law, floats randomly, free from any suggestion of fear, mistrust, and ancient antagonism. International relations are disturbed; there are no more principles; the despair of minds pushes them toward war.
Has England, which first, out of hatred of democracy, applauded December 2, any principles? The question has become almost laughable. For some years, England has astonished the world by its contempt for divine and human law... I am mistaken: yes, England has one principle, to destroy, one by the others, the powers of the continent.
Does Russia have principles? — If Russia had principles, if for example it believed in the inviolability of nations, then either it would restore Poland, or else it would not permit this so-called emancipation of the Italians. If Russia had principles, it would understand that there is no transition between the immorality of servitude and the recognition of the rights of man and citizen; it would be its night of August 4; instead of haggling over the liberty of its peasants, it would free them straightaway, in a revolutionary manner.
Does Austria have principles? How then is it perpetually at odds with its peoples, suspect to its neighbors, unfaithful to its allies, ungrateful to its benefactors, odious to all?
Does Germany have principles? Let us hope so. Germany is the land of philosophy, as France is the land of the Revolution. Now, a German has said that Revolution and philosophy are one and the same thing. But, since December 2, that connection has been broken: Germany, which fears a new Tugendbund perhaps more than a new Napoleon, dreams of centralization, which could well mean, one day, denationalization. With Germany centralized, there would be five empires in Europe: four military empires, the French, Austrian, German and Russian; and one mercantile, the British. These five empires, when they did not battle one another, would form a holy alliance by which they would reciprocally guarantee the obedience of their subjects and the exploitation of their plebs. But then there would be no more nations in Europe, nothing being more destructive of nationalities than military and malthusian mores.
Does Italy have principles? Is Italy imperial, pontifical, royal or federal? It does not know itself. Poor Italy! In place of the Revolution, we have brought it revolt; it has hurled back at us the tempest.
There are no more principles: Europe has descended into the chaos of December 2, and we advance through the void, per inania régna. What is sad is that we know it, we speak of it everywhere, and we accept it. We take our part in it as a natural thing, as an inevitable phase. "France has fallen; the times of the Late Empire have come for it:" this is the talk in the cafes of Paris. As one said in 93, France is revolutionary; in 1814, France is liberal; in 1830, France is conservative; in 1848, France is republican. A little while longer, and we will say with the same carelessness: France is rotten; and we will record its moral death.
Let Napoleon III now do as he wishes: the papacy struck down, nothing can call it back to life. The faith of the peoples no longer sustains it. The judgment is without appeal: neither restrictions, nor amendments will do a thing. The pope can absolve the emperor, the emperor, confessed, reconciled, will not save the pope. And as there is not a nation in Europe of which one could not note, proofs in hand, the intellectual and moral decadence, the fall of the papacy becomes the signal of the debacle.
Now, the time of the initiating races is past. The movement will not be reborn in Europe, neither in the east, nor the west, nor the center; today, regeneration can be neither Greek, nor Latin, nor Germanic. It can only come, as eighteen centuries ago, from a cosmopolitan propaganda, sustained by all people who, after having renounced the ancient gods, protest, without distinction of race nor of language, against corruption.
What will be their flag? They can have only one: the Revolution, Philosophy, Justice.
The Revolution is the French name for the new idea; Philosophy is its German name;
Let Justice become its cosmopolitan name.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s six-volume masterwork begins with the affirmation that philosophy and social science are accessible to the people. This first installment of Corvus’ English translation of that 1858 work, Justice in the Revolution and in the Church, introduces Proudhon’s definition of philosophy and his understanding of the role that philosophical thinking should play in the process of achieving a revolutionary justice in society.
A COLLECTIVE REASON COLLABORATIVE TRANSLATION
 Translation by Jesse Cohn and Shawn P. Wilbur, at collectivereason.org, 2009.
 The trinity of the Alexandrians was only a superstitious idea; that of the Christians is a mystery. The ternary facts, borrowed from nature, are from pure empiricism, to which is opposed, in much greater numbers, binary facts, quaternary, etc. The famous division of nature into three kingdoms is incomplete: above the animal kingdom, in which are manifested sensibility, life, the affections, instinct, and to a certain degree intelligence, we must add the spiritual kingdom, of which humanity alone is the subject, and which is distinguished by manifestations unknown in the preceding kingdom, speech, religion, justice, logic, metaphysics, poetry and art, industry, science, exchange, war, politics and progress. The Hegelian formula is only a triad by the good pleasure or the error of the master, who counts three terms where there truly exists only two, and who has not seen that the antinomy does not resolve itself, but that it indicates an oscillation or antagonism susceptible only to equilibrium. By this point of view alone, the system of Hegel would be entirely remade. It is the same for the syllogism, in which there is also two propositions, which are equated by the relation of like terms, rather as in arithmetic proportions.
Every man is mortal, and Pierre is a man; thus, etc.
It is useless to express the conclusion here; it is enough to correctly write the premises. To take the triad for a formula of logic, a law of nature and reason, especially for the archetype of judgment and the organic principle of society, is to deny analysis, to deliver philosophy to mysticism, and democracy to imbecility. It appears there, besides, by the fruits. The only thing that one can attribute to trinitarian influence is the ancient division of society by castes, clergy, nobility, roture, an antihuman division, against which the Revolution was made.
 Kant endeavoured to show that there were a priori synthetic judgements, although that implied a contradiction to some extent, and he was right to think so, since without an a priori synthetic judgement, the unity of philosophical construction is impossible. Hegel, on the contrary, argued that such judgements do not exist, and all his philosophy, understood in good faith, is nothing but the analysis and then the reconstruction of a synthesis that is necessarily conceived a priori. What, then, is this synthesis that Kant affirms and does not find, that Hegel denies and demonstrates? It is nothing other than Justice, at once the most complete concept and the most paramount, that Hegel calls sometimes the Idea, sometimes the Spirit or the Absolute.