The characterized Proudhon, who speaks and thinks otherwise than the mass-type one, necessarily went through quite a different course of education.
He "questioned the masters of science, read hundreds of volumes of philosophy and law, etc. The Critical alteration of d'abord into enfin is necessary because the mass may not think it realises anything "at first". The mass-type Proudhon tells explicitly how he was staggered by the unexpected result of his studies and distrusted it.
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Hence he decided to carry out a "countertest" and asked himself: "Is it possible that mankind has so long and so universally been mistaken over the principles of the application of morals? How and why was it mistaken? He made the correctness of his observations dependent on the solution of these questions. He found that in morals, as in all other branches of knowledge, errors "are stages of science". The Critical Proudhon, on the other hand, immediately trusted the first impression that his studies of political economy, law and the like made upon him.
Needless to say, the mass cannot proceed in any thorough way; it is bound to raise the first results of its investigations to the level of indisputable truths. It has "reached the end before it has started, before it has measured itself with its opposite". Hence, "it is seen" later "that it is not yet at the beginning when it thinks it has reached the end".
The Critical Proudhon therefore continues his reasoning in the most untenable and incoherent way. The Critical Proudhon does not give any reason why incomplete knowledge of moral laws call suffice for social progress even for a single day.
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The real Proudhon, having asked himself whether and why mankind could universally and so long have been mistaken and having found as the solution that all errors are stages of science and that our most imperfect judgments contain a sum of truths sufficient for a certain number of inductions and for a certain area of practical life, beyond which number and which area they lead theoretically to the absurd and practically to decay, is in a position to say that even imperfect knowledge of moral laws can suffice for social progress for a time.
How can a struggle arise against an opponent who does not yet exist? Admitted, the Critical Proudhon has told us that a new idea has become necessary but he has not said that it has already come into existence.
The Critical Proudhon asserts: "It is man's destiny to learn step by step", as if man did not have a quite different destiny, namely, that of being man, and as if that learning "step by step" necessarily brought him a step farther. I can go step by step and arrive at the very point from which I set out. The Critical Proudhon says to himself:. Nevertheless, man honours this principle" and "wills it, for otherwise it would have no influence.
Now this principle which is true in its essence ; but is false in the way we conceive it In the first sentence the Critical Proudhon says that the principle is spoilt, misunderstood by society,hence that it is correct in itself. In the second sentence he admits superfluously that it is true in its essence; nevertheless he reproaches society with willing and honouring "this principle".
The mass-type Proudhon, on the other hand, reproaches society with willing and honouring not this principle, but this principle as falsified by our ignorance " Ce principe The Critical Proudhon finds the essence of the principle in its untrue form true. The mass-type Proudhon finds that the essence of the falsified principle is our incorrect conception, but that it is true in its object objet , just as the essence of alchemy and astrology is our imagination, but their objects — the movement of the heavenly bodies and the chemical properties of substances — are true.
The object of our investigation is the law, the definition of the social principle. Now the politicians, i. The Critical Proudhon has a most fantastic way of reasoning. From the fact that the politicians are ignorant and unclear, he goes on in the most arbitrary fashion to say that a reality lies at the basis of every error, which can all the less he doubted as there is a reality at the basis of every error — in the person of the one who errs.
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From the fact that a reality lies at the basis of every error he goes on to conclude that truth is to be found in the books of politicians. And finally he even makes out that the politicians have brought this truth into the world. Had they brought it into the world we should not need to look for it in their books. They confuse "their private opinion with common sense", and "as", according to the previous deduction, "every error has a true reality as its object, their books must contain the truth, which they unconsciously have put there" — i.
The Critical Proudhon asks himself: "What is justice, what is its essence, its character, its meaning? The un-Critical Proudhon asks: What is its principle, its character and its formula formule? The formula is the principle as a principle of scientific reasoning.
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In the mass-type French language there is an essential difference between formule and signification. In the Critical French language there is none. After his highly irrelevant disquisitions, the Critical Proudhon pulls himself together and exclaims:. The un-Critical Proudhon disputes the view that right is made by law. But a "definition of the law" can mean that the law is defined just as it can mean that it defines.
Previously, the Critical Proudhon himself spoke about the definition of the social principle in this latter sense. To be sure, it is unseemly of the mass-type Proudhon to make such nice distinctions. Considering these differences between the Critically characterised Proudhon and the real Proudhon, it is no wonder that Proudhon No.
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And precisely that inconstancy, that change, that progress "is what history proves by the most striking testimonies". And the un-Critical Proudhon quotes these striking testimonies of history. His Critical double, who proves a completely different proposition by the experience of history, also presents that experience itself in a different way. According to the real Proudhon, "the wise" les sages , according to the Critical Proudhon, "the philosophers", foresaw the fall of the Roman Empire.
The Critical Proudhon can of course consider only philosophers to be wise men. According to the un-Critical Proudhon, the Romans reasoned more logically. The fact was set out in detail:. And the mass-type Proudhon adds, referring to law: "Rome's claims were justified by the law of nations droit des gens. See the mass-type pandects: " jure gentium servitus invasit " Fr.
According to the Critical Proudhon, "idolatry, slavery and softness" were "the basis of Roman institutions", of all its institutions without exception.
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In the former he speaks in the Roman way of "advocates" [Advokaten] , in the latter in the German way of "lawyers" [Rechtsgelehrte]. The Critical Proudhon calls the spirit of the French Revolution a spirit of contradiction, and adds:. He cannot refrain from repeating mechanically the favourite categories of Critical Criticism, the "old" and the "new".
He cannot refrain from the senseless demand that the "new" should have on itself [an sich] something methodical and considered, just as one might have a stain on oneself [an sich]. The real Proudhon says:. Carried away by the memory of the French Revolution, the Critical Proudhon revolutionises the French language so much that he translates un fait physique by "a fact of physics", and un fait intellectuel by "a fact of the intellect".
By this revolution in the French language the Critical Proudhon manages to put physics in possession of all the facts to be found in nature. Raising natural science unduly on one side, he debases it just as much on the other by depriving it of intellect and distinguishing between a fact of physics and a fact of the intellect.
To the same extent he makes all further psychological and logical investigation unnecessary by raising the intellectual fact directly to the level of a fact of the intellect. Since the Critical Proudhon, Proudhon No. Thus the real Proudhon proves how the negation of Roman law led to the widening of right in the Christian conception , the negation of the right of conquest to the right of the communes and the negation of the whole feudal law by the French Revolution to the present more comprehensive system of law. Critical Criticism could not possibly leave Proudhon the glory of having discovered the law of the implementation of a principle by its negation.
In this conscious formulation, this idea was a real revelation for the French. This work became possible only owing to the work of Proudhon himself, just as Proudhon's criticism has as its premise the criticism of the mercantile system by the Physiocrats, Adam Smith's criticism of the Physiocrats, Ricardo's criticism of Adam Smith, and the works of Fourier and Saint-Simon.
All treatises on political economy take private property for granted. This basic premise is for them an incontestable fact to which they devote no further investigation, indeed a fact which is spoken about only "accidentellement'' , as Say naively admits.
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