17-02-08

De l'utile et de l'honnête

"La voie de la vérité est une et simple, celle du profit particulier et de la commodité des affaires qu'on a en charge, double, inégale et fortuite."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais Livre III (Flammarion 1969), Chapitre I, p. 34.

(amateuristic English translation below)


As complex as the notion of truth may be, walking the way of truth is felt by all as something immediate. It is, basically, what it is to be 'authentic'. Other than all other basic feelings, instincts or emotions this feeling however has a basis in reason, it is the instinct proper to reason.
There is no contradiction between utility and intellectual honesty. What we're being led to believe - it is a specifically postmodern fallacy - is that the goal & purpose needs to be fixed and kept stable. "Put yourself a target and stick to it", is the contemporary political concensus. Honesty is considered relative to such targets being set. Necessarily, the useful is dissociated from the targets & is relative to what is achievable in an imperfect world where other people's targets have, not yet, disappeared. Honesty is emotion whilst usefulness is a bit of reason that is still needed - that we need to bear with in the meantime. Reason is not very popular these days on the public forum, nor is truth, so let alone you will find many supporters of the way of truth.
But there is no contradiction between intellectual utility & honesty. Both are a product of social interaction as based on reason. It is not reasonable to "fix a target and stick to it", at least not unconditionally, circumstances change with it changing the reasonable targets. Honesty is not relative to anything else - it is not relative to personal gain nor is it relative to anything else, even if it's couched in more abstract terms (it is not even apparent that putting targets on less personal level are better by way of the way of truth). Utility is naught else than creating the circumstances that are useful to allowing everyone to be honest. Fixed targets set up-front & competing do-or-die conflict head-on with individual honesty. It is the fixity of targets that creates a circumstantial reality in which one has to calculate utility in view of anything else than what induces the most room for individual honesty.
Nature nor natural law, if anything of the sort would exist, lead of themselves to such a state. It is through reason and walking the sumple way of truth we have been able to create a context in which honesty is not reserved only for a happy few such as Michel de Montaigne. The current stubbornness in fixing targets & then executing on the useful to improve the relative weight of one's own target with respect to that of others is an outright crime against reason, and crimes against reason are always starting points of genocide. There is no harm in considering targets & using reason to plot out potential paths toward it, as long as the target can be reviewed on the basis of the processes of our reason.
In short, we should not be mesmerized by the content of our claims. That's at least to some extent always purely accidental. Our worry as rational creature is to be whether our way withstands the formal tests of reason. The latter, & never mind relativist & perspectivist conservatives, is universal & stable even if it does not indulge our immediate emotional appetite for security (in content being spelled out by ancient or contemporary revelations). Many people think it is too much to ask everyday humans to postpone indulging their appetites, but they forget that the way of truth also indulges an immediate appetite i.e. that of reason. Many people will feel that living without fixed sense of stable purpose society or citizens will turn decadent and here they are right: people wíll turn decadent, no longer fighting against other people's targets but only focused on their own well-being through honesty.


On Utility and Honesty

"The way of truth is one and simple, that of personal gain and the good of the business one is in charge of, double, uneven and accidental."

 

13:46 Gepost door Guido Nius in Actualiteit | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: montaigne, decadence, intention, form-content |  Facebook |

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