Philosophy Dissertation

   [...]1 even from their synthesis, did not contribute to the transformation of our judgements, and did not put their mark on them, will the development of philosophical thinking not offer this richness, this harmonious diversity that in its ever identical formalism it is powerless to furnish the logical framework of judgement. The secret of the predilection of a Leibnitz for diversity, spontaneity, hierarchy, harmony, universal correspondences, of a Descartes for clarity, intelligibility and of so many philosophers for mystery and obscurity, the secret of the completely fundamental energy of a Pascal, and even the pure intellectualism of a Spinoza, it is only in the understanding that it must be sought, and without that is it possible to explain their systems or that their systems were different on this point? The indifference of a sceptic is less the effect that the cause of his scepticism and the ardent trust of a Christian philosopher is explained less by mystical dogmatism than it is explained by it. But the question now is more particularly to stop ourselves at free will and to determine what exactly is the part it plays in our judgements. The same is true for free will. If at very first our beliefs alone appear to be the arbitrary creation of our will, then the uniformity of our judgements, our certainty would be the pure work of our reason, by comparing our beliefs to our certainties we see that their natures are more alike and that their natures differ only in appearance and that in the synthesis of one and of the other there does not enter almost as much of the will and reason. The certainty of some seem debatable to others as a belief. How many have given to their beliefs that full adherence of mind that seemed to reserve for certainty judgements that seem erroneous today but appeared to those that held them as irresistible evidence! Yet when we form a judgement we certainly claim at that moment to be free of the influence of our will. We feel that our judgement is so much outside its influence that after having passionately wished to judge differently, we are forced, by the evidence of reason, in spite of ourselves and contrary to our wishes, to make judgements in a way we do not like, which sometimes makes us despair. It is in fact the part our will plays in our judgement that the philosopher may well understand but the man who states the judgement, himself the philosopher at the moment he makes a judgement, is not conscious of it. The critical philosopher the moment he affirms this judgement that judgement is the product of the will, thinks he is performing a purely intellectual action. But the strength of this illusion does not prove that it might not be an illusion. Intellectualism may be the necessary point of view of the mind that judges, like the freedom of the will that results, like the coarsest realism of the understanding that organizes its sensations. Although the most informed philosopher has no consciousness of the operation by which he projects externally his sensations of colour and associates them with muscular sensations so as to appreciate a distance, this operation is no less real. So it is from the unconscious intervention of the will within the judgement. It is quite impossible to deny so that if one supposes for a moment that a philosopher in attempting to realize a judgement from which the will is absent, no judgement will be forthcoming. This hypothesis becomes realized in any case up to a certain point in the intellectual attitude as though it went by the name of scepticism. Scepticism is judgement from the purely intellectual point of view, and this would mean, if it were absolutely rigorous, the complete absence of judgement. The mind on its own cannot produce a judgement because for every intellectual reason for making a judgement in a certain way, it can immediately be opposed by another. If it no longer had any it would always have this at its disposition for which it is often mistaken, in that it is fallible, and that it prefers to suspend its judgement rather than risk being mistaken once again. Reduced to its purely intellectual aspect judgement does not exist. It is necessary that there is a preference dictated by this aspect of the sensibility that applies itself to the intelligence and out of which derives enthusiasm, philosophical ambition, passion brought to bear more particularly to certain ideas, coming to bend the will that then stops the procession of contradictory reasons attaching itself to the judgement chosen from the possible judgements, admits it as existing in reality, objectively, finally adds existence to its logical possibility. But at least if it is the will that realizes judgement, that admits it, is it really reason that shapes it? If in the same way as in exterior perception, the illusion of realism is dissipated, one finds oneself in the presence of an objective reality that explains and legitimizes that perception.
   Will we likewise find an objective truth that the intelligence is unable to perceive outside of itself, but to the existence of which its judgements correspond. If there is no objective reality and an intelligible objective reality, the very basis of certainty, of knowledge itself no longer exists. This is what the extreme partisans of the theory of voluntary belief went so far as to contest. Not only is it the will that admits to the reality of judgement but once again if it is a question of a truly profound objective reality, of a moral reality, the will alone can understand it because it infinitely surpasses the limits of thought. Ultra sensitive this reality is not susceptible to experimental verification, ultra intellectual it does not prove itself through rigorous attachment to notions such as mathematical truths. The will alone determined through the love of goodness places it at the foundation of existence. From this depth supreme reality is external to the greater part of our understanding. In order to achieve it we must have that mysterious impetus in our hearts. However seductive this theory may be we must recognize that it is obliged to attribute to the will a value of proof that it does not know how to possess. Assuredly the will makes us believe but only what the mind has judged believable. If a thing is not true and our mind is not able to believe in it the best will in the world will not make it true. We finish perhaps by believing in it, but far from this act of faith, be it the highest manifestation of our morality, it consists of a lie, in an artifice, a kind of trickery of our opinion by our heart that tries to obscure in it any uncomfortable clarity. The mind on the contrary (and it is in this way that in order to conclude we will restore to the judgement its own place after having created for the will its own and after having the part of illusion that holds this judgement we give back its objective value) even in the limits of the human and individual mind it is fashioned to recognize Existence. It is the cause and the consciousness of it. The loftiest moral realities, the idea of Duty itself are less a feeling, a simple object of the heart's aspiration, than the transcendental yet still intelligible certainty of the most essential law of existence. In this way our mind pursues through our will a content that is truly real and so gives to our judgement as it does to our conduct its rules, its material and its value.

1. The first two pages are missing.

From NAF 16611, Papiers scolaires. Presumably written for Darlu's philosophy class, Condorcet 1888-1889.

 


Created 01.11.15.

Return to Front Page