Last modified on 30 October 2014, at 13:25

African Spir

Afrikan Aleksandrovich Spir [Африкан Александрович Спир] (10 November 183726 March 1890) was a Russian Neo-Kantian philosopher of German descent, whose book Denken und Wirklichkeit [Thought and Reality] exerted a "lasting impact" on the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.

SourcedEdit

Words of a Sage : Selected thoughts of African Spir (1937)Edit

Paroles d'un sage: Choix de pensées d'African Spir by Hélène Claparède-Spir (Words of a Sage : Selected thoughts of African Spir), Paris-Genève, Je Sers-Labor, 1937.This is a draft English version of all the "collected thoughts" (pages 36 to 62) of the book by Hélène Claparède-Spir, Paroles d'un sage, who presents them (p. 35) as following: "The thoughts repoduced here are extracted from the different writings of Spir. There are un certain number (of them) that were published by him, (both) in German and in French, in analogous (or similar terms), in a more or less developed form, which has allowed to use one version or the other, or to merge (or amalgamate) them here and there ("par endroits", Fr.), naturally without changing (or change, or twisting, - "sans altérer", Fr.) their meaning."
  • The doctrine expounded by me is the true one, but I am not its author. I have only been, so to speak, the soil in which it has germinated and has developed itself with an extreme slowness in the course of long years. Also there has never been such a disproportion between the man and his work than in my case, and what is the saddest (or the saddest in this, - "et ce qui est le plus triste", Fr.), is that one has to suffer because of ("pâtir de", Fr.) the incapacity and the weakness of the other. A man more capable than me, possessing this doctrine, would already have stirred (or moved, - remuer", Fr.) the world.
    • Esquisse biographique, p. 18.
  • Religion is not simply a theory, it is a higher life, of which morality is an integral part - a life devoted to the worship of the good and the true, for God, the absolute, is the supreme source of all perfection" ("La religion n'et pas une smple théorie, elle est une vie supérieure, dont la moralité fait partie intégrante - une vie vouée au culte du bien et du vrai, car Dieu, l'absolu est la source de toute perfection", Fr.)
    • p. 40.
  • The precept to worship God 'in spirit and in truth' recommand to worship him as an inward and moral force, without physical attributes and with no relation to fears and egoist wishes.
    • p. 40 The quotation is from the Gospel of John, VII, 24.
  • If we accomplish a good deed, a charity in the hope of (getting...) future rewards, or with a more or less confessed (or admitted) ulterior motive to profit from personal advantages ("d'en retirer quelque avantage personnel", Fr.), we are probably doing a useful thing, but which is devoided of any ("tout", Fr.) truly moral character (or disposition)" - p .39.
  • The virtue preached by devout persons is the virtue of the slave who always believe themselves under the eye of the master. However, Jésus said: 'Serve God not as slaves, but as sons in the house'
    • p. 39, with a quote from Galatians, IV, 6-8.
  • The distinction between right and wrong ("la distinction du bien et du mal", Fr.), is nothing else than their unyielding (or implacable) opposition; thus the moral consciousness is an innate and intimate revelation of the absolute, which goes beyond (or goes pass, or exceed) every empirical data (or given information). It is only on these principles that we will be able to establish ("pourront être édifiées", Fr.) the real basis of morality.
    • p. 60 - Hélène's Claparède-Spir underlined.
  • There is a radical dualism between the empirical nature of man and its moral nature.
    • p. 59.
  • Arbitrariness and true liberty are as distinct from each other that the empirical nature is distinct from the higher nature of man.
    • p. 50.
  • We can, following the exemple of Kant, consider the moral development and improvement of men, as the supreme goal of human evolution.
    • p. 61.
  • If man do not find in himself the required (or wished, or wanted, - "voulue", Fr.) force to accomplish his moral aspirations, he can try to purt himself in the conditions suitable to assist (or promote, or further, -"favoriser", Fr.) his self-control.
    • p. 50 [Spir rejected ascetism: for it is "opposed to sound reason to unnaturally impose onself extreme hardships"- Esquisse biographique, p. 32.
  • The moral improvement demands an evolution leading to a higher consciousness
    • p. 60 - Hélène's Claparède-Spir underlined.
  • The concept of absolute, hence (or whence) springs, in the moral field, the moral laws or norms, represent, in the field of knowledge, the principle of identity, which is the fundamental law of the thought; norms of logic springs from it, that govern the thought (or mind) in the field of science." ("Le concept de l'absolu, d'où découlent, dans le domaine moral, les lois ou normes morales, constitue, le principe d'identité, qui est la loi fondamentale de la pensée; il en découle les normes logiques qui régissent la pensée dans le domaine de la science.")
    • p. 59 - [Hélène Claparède-Spir had underlined - the translator]
  • The divine element manifests itself (or show up) in man as well by his aptitude for science, than by his aptitude for virtue. True morality, true philosophy and true art are in their essence ("dans leur essence", Fr.) religious."
    • p. 40.
  • There are (or is) indeed no contradiction between science and religion, the fields of which are different, and which, far from mutually fighting and persecute, must, on the contrary, complete each other.
    • p. 39.
  • The more a man is successful in getting out (or coming out) from his own individuality, of his egoist self, and to control (or dominate) the instincts of his physical nature, the more his character, by rising above material contingencies, widen, become free and independent.
    • p. 60.
  • For those who do not need to work to provide for their maintenance, it is a question of conferring to their lives a content worthy of themselves. Now, this purpose can be attained only if we do not act solely with a view to our own benefits, but with a view to the benefit of all. Christ said: 'Where is your treasure, there also will be your heart.'
    • p. 56.
  • To sacrifice the moral to the physical, as is done in these days, is to sacrifice reality for a shadow.
    • p. 61.
  • Devoting ourselves too much to an exclusive search of a material happiness, of ephemerous (or fleeting) goods, one fails to appreciate ("méconnaît", Fr.) the true(or real)realities of life and one let the spirit (or mind) decline and dry up (or waste away, or become insensitive) ("En s'adonnant trop exclusivement à la recherche d'un bonheur matériel, de biens éphémères, on méconnaît les vraies réalités dela vie et on laisse s'étioler et se dessécher l'esprit.", Fr.)
    • p. 49.
  • Place (or put) a spider on top of a mountain, it will only try to catch flies; alas, they are many those who, in the figurative meaning, have spider's eyes.
    • p. 52.
  • In life we only try to produce, to win, and enjoy the more we can; in science, to discoverand invent the more we can; in religion, to dominate (or rule over) on the greatest number of people we can; whereas the forming of the character, the further development (or in-dept analysis, "appronfondissement", Fr.) of the faculties of the intelligence ("les facultés de l'intelligence", Fr.), the refinement of the consciousness and of the heart, are considered incidental (or subordinate) things.
    • p. 52 -
  • If we recognize, following the materialist theories, that only the physical nature exist, and that man contain ("renferme", Fr.) no higher essence, divine, which, by one side of his being, raise (promote or improve...) him above his animal nature, it would be a question ("il ne saurait être question", Fr.) neither of obligation, nor of moral responsability; then the supreme good would consist for him, indeed, to satisfy his appetites and his natural inclinations (fondness or partiality, -"penchant", Fr.), to look for the pleasure and flee from (scud, shun, avoid, -"fuir", Fr.) pain. In this case, there could be neither religion nor moral, since religion is precisely what raise man above vulgar (or common, - "vulgaire", Fr.) reality, and that moral is the very negation of selfishness.
    • p. 41.
  • What is the use for a man to have at his disposal a large field of action, if within himself he remains confine to the narrow limits of his individuality.
    • p. 49.
  • What determinate events is, beside national, dynastic and particular egoism, the instinct of domination and conquest, in one word, forceBold text. Judging by the history of humanity, harms that men have had to suffer, harms ("les maux", Fr.) that men have to suffer by their nature are minute in comparison ("en regard", Fr.) to these they inflict to each others. The most fantastic imagination might not ("ne saurait", Fr.) fabricate ("forger", Fr) some cruelties, injustices and perfidies (or perfidiousnesses) that men have not exceeded in practice.
    • p. 55.
  • When under the influence of certain (or some) reasons (or causes) (alcohol, war, etc - added Spir here) the low instincts are unbridled (or unrestrained), the brute appears (or come forward, "apparait", Fr.) and rule over (or dominate), stifling every ("toute", Fr.) noble, generous impulse; it is then the ruin (or downfall or decline) of any humanity in man.
    • p. 48.
  • Outward, thanks to the knowledge of physical laws, man could subdue (or subjugate...) nature, but inwardly, he remained a slave to it. For, when all is said and done, at what is aiming all this display (or deployment) of activity, if not to realized outward profits, to provide material pleasure (or enjoyment). It is not the first time that men sell their birth right for a dish of lentils, and thus disown (or repudiate or deny) the best of thmeselves.
    • p. 36 - second thought of the book, - the translator.
  • To succeed in brilliant businesses, to achieve great success, that is what the ambition and efforts of the majority of men aim at (or direct at or have their eyes on, "c'est ce à quoi visent l'ambition et les efforts de la majorité des hommes" Fr.) but after all (or at the end of the day), what do they get for it ("Qu'est-ce qu'ils en retirent", Fr.) Softer cushions, better meat (Here there seems to be a mistake in the book of Hélène Claparède-Spir, for it is written "une meilleure chère", what one may translate by 'a better dear'... whether its homonymous, chair, is 'meat'), more outward thoughtfuls ("prévenance extérieures", Fr.), maybe decorations (or medals)... that is all. And to think that there are found serious men who consume (or waste, "consument", Fr.) their whole existence in the pursuit and the expectation of these trivialities.
    • p. 49.
  • The need for sociability induce man to be in touch with his fellow men. However, this need might not ("ne saurait", Fr.) find its full (or complete) satisfaction in the conventional (or superficial, - "conventionnel", Fr.) and deceitful world, in which (or where) everyone is mainly (or mostly) trying to assert oneself in front of others ("devant les autres", Fr.), to appear, and hoping to find in society ("mondaine", Fr.) relationships some advantages for his interest and vanity (or vainglory or conceit", Fr).
    • p. 53.
  • Experience shows that what great role pratice and experience play in education; pratice, the prolonged exercice lead to habit: exemple suggests imitation. Habit can become a second nature, but, wrongly directed (or guided), it may also heighten (or intensify) unfortunate tendencies and be an obstacle to progress.
    • p. 57.
  • The physical (or material, "matériel" Fr.) man, who does not imagine that everyhting is relative, yield (or bow down before, "s'incline", Fr.) to outer force, that impress him (or command him respect) from outside, and whose effects are tangible to him, whether they manifest themselves by force, wealth or by domination.
    • p. 50.
  • If the confusion of spirits, obsession of consciousness ("obnubilation of...", Fr.), abandonment of religious and moral principles was to become widespread, the consequences could be become such that we would finally see crop up ("on verrait...surgir", Fr.) in the very heart of the civilisation, a new and apalling barbarism capable to engulf (or engulfing, - "engloutir," Fr.) all the acquisitions of the past.
    • p. 37.
  • Men spend their life down here in the worship of petty (or mean) interests and the search of perishable things, and with that ("et avec cela", Fr.) they pretend to perpetuate for all eternity their self ("moi", Fr.) so hardly worthy ("digne", Fr.) of it.
    • p. 51.
  • A good man ("un homme de bien", Fr.) never wholly perishes, the best part of his being outlives (or survives) in eternity.
    • p. 44.
  • Nothing that rest on some contradictory basis shall succeed or last in the long run ("ne saurait réussir ou durer, à la longue", Fr.); all that involve (or imply...) a contradiction is fatally destined, early or late, to disintegrate and disappear.
    • p. 37.
  • The appalling and shameful scene ("spectacle", Fr.) of disarray and illogicality that manifest itself in the thought and deeds of men, will no longer be seen, once these will possess an enlighten consciouness.
    • p. 61.
  • Man is in pursuit of two goals: he is looking for happinesse and, being by essence empty ("étant vide par essence", Fr.), he is trying to fill (or take up, - "remplir", Fr.) his life; the latter reason play a more considerable role than we ordinarily think. What we take for vainglory, ambition, love of power and riches (or wealth), is often, indeed, a need to mask this emptiness, a need to let one's hair down (or to live it up), to put oneself on a false scent or trail. (de se donner le change", Fr.)
    • p. 56.
  • What is missing to our civilisation, is the soul, the spiritual unity, the basis. That is why everything in it is pretence and contrivance ("façade et artifice", Fr.); why also, in spite of the progress and marvellous improvement they have accomplished in the external realm ("domaine extérieur", Fr.) men have, in general, become themselves neither better, nor happier. They have neglected too much the essential; their own perfecting (or improvement - "perfectionnement", Fr.)
    • p. 36 -First thought of the book, - the translator.
  • There are some who esteem that it is a naivety to believe that a moral regeneration may be possible ("soit possible", Fr.); now, if this was not the case, it would not be worth the trouble that humanity continue to vegetate without aim.
    • p. 61.
  • To reform society, and with it humanity, there is only one mean; to transform the mentality of men, to direct them ("les orienter", Fr.) in a new spirit.
    • p. 60.
  • On the account (or for the reason that, or... from the fact that... "Du fait que", Fr.) that one person advocate and want something, it does not follow that others have to want it too; only the postulates of reason and certitude are identicals, invariables, and can always be of use to everyone as a fulcrum ("point d'appui", Fr.) with a view to a free agreement ("entente libre", Fr).
    • p. 42.
  • We would not (- "On ne saurait", Fr.) permanently change by violence a state of affairs; we can repress (or restrain) resistances for a certain time (or some while), but not attain (result in or lead to) thus a lasting result ("On ne saurait par la violence changer définitivement un état de choses; on peut comprimer les résistances un certain temps, mais non aboutir à un résultat durable.", Fr.)
    • p. 46.
  • It is not on the ruin of liberty that we may (in the future... - "pourra", Fr.) build justice.
    • p. 46.
  • See that unfortunate soldier who is falling hurt to death ("tombe blessé à...", Fr.) on the battlefield; he learns that his folks have vanquished and dies happy. He detached himself from himself (s'est détacher de lui-même", Fr.), has identified himself with something greater and more lasting than himself; his homeland ("patrie", Fr.); thus, while dying as an individual, he has the certainty to survive in a larger existence.
    • p. 53.
  • Education has a tremendous power on man. Can't we see to which astonishing disciple the people of Sparte have submitted ("s'est plié", Fr.) for centuries, and this with a view to very petty purposes: purely outer greatness, the military predominace of Sparte. This example proves that man can everything on themselves when they want it ("peuvent tout sur eux-mêmes quand ils le veulent", Fr.); therefore it would only be a question of making them will the good.
    • p. 58.
  • A man, engaged in his simple reflections in everyday life, will comprehend neither the possibility, nor the benefits of self-sacrifice, but, when given ("qu'on lui donne", Fr.) a great cause to defend, and he will find only natural to sacrifice oneself for it.
    • p. 53.
  • The basic notion of justice, is that the rights of everybody are equals, in principle. In the rights of others, we have to respect our own rights. It is only in that condition that we can reasonnably require that it be respected by others.
    • p. 44 - (Gandhi said the same thing in All men are brothers; Simone Weil too, at the beginning of L'enracinement (the translator).
  • The realization of justice is, in the actual state of things, a matter of life or death for society and for civilisation itself.
    • p. 55.
  • Deep down, everything boils down ("au fond tout se ramène", Fr.) to the following simple question; Do we really want justice and the realization in this world of higher principles, or else do we want to serve selfish, short-sighted (à courte vue", Fr.) interests, which, when all is said and done, are also prejudicial (or detrimental, or harmful) to those very same that pursue them?
    • p. 55.
  • The first principle from which stems the moral of about all people at all time; it is summarized in this precept: Love thy neighbour as thyself, and: do as you would be done by.
    • p. 38 ["… moral consciousness is an innate and intimate revelation of the absolute, which exceed every empirical data..." - see above]
  • If pity was always equally alive and acting in all individuals and in all circumstances, we could do away with moral. Unfortunately, it is not compassion, but rather it's contrary, selfishness, that act most strongly in us.
    • p. 57.
  • To be effective, morality has to be reasoned (or worked out). To want ("vouloir", Fr.) to repress evil only by coercion, and to obtain morality by a sort of training with the help of constraint, without motivating it from within, is to make it an unnatural result, devoided of lastind value.
    • p. 59.
  • As long as men, in their aberration ("aberration", Fr.), will go out of their way ("s'ingénieront", Fr.) in every manners ("de toutes manières", Fr.) to harm and torment each others, it is an urgent duty, for those who are conscious of the absurdity of such a state of affairs, to strive to put them in the picture about (or throw light on) their wildness ("égarements", Fr.)
    • p. 38.
  • A savage (or primitive) man, questioned (or asked) on what is good and what is wrong, answered: 'Right is when I defeat (or beat or hit) and deprive (or strip) others; wrong is when I am beated and deprived by them.' This is ("c'est là," Fr.) the voice of the natural man, who does not understand that good is always good, and wrong is always wrong, whether it happens to ourselves or it happens to others.*
    • p. 43.
  • Apart from selfish reasons, such as fear of punishments, fear of blame, of dishonour, etc, there remains only two motives that can stop (or prevent, "empâecher", Fr.) men from acting badly; the natural sense of commiseration (or "sympathy", - "commisération", Fr.) for one's fellow men - compassion, and the influence of education, by association of ideas ("par l'association d'idées", Fr.) - habit.
    • p. 57.
  • The fact that men have a same origin and live in the same universe means that they are representatives of a same unity. Deep down, they are also related (or connected) among them; that they consider (or not) themselves as strangers, this just depends on the feeling (or sensation) that dictate their relationships. In their country, two fellow coutrymen whose paths berely cross (or see each only only briefly) with inferrence, would effusively rush themselves up (or throw themselves) into each other arms if they would happen to meet in a desert, among Cannibles.
    • p. 42.
  • Infringing upon (or encroaching) the right of a single person, we overthrow (or turn upside down) the whole order on which rest legal agreements; for if we break (or transgress or violate) the undertakings enter unto ("les engagements contractés", Fr.), nothing assure that we will not break them, possibly ("éventuellement", Fr.) in another.
    • p. 45.
  • When a man make of his personnal interests the mainspring of his life and he is greedy to make use of everything that can benefit him, he naturally enters into conflict with other persons, acting also in their interests, hence the disagreements that can become a hundred years old, and drive whole generations to a mutual hate.
    • p. 42.
  • It depends on ourselves to be to each others, either a blessing or a torment.
    • p. 37.
  • In this world everything that is won to the ideal, is an eternal (or imperishable, - "impérissable", Fr.) good.
    • p. 53.
  • Nothing is more stimulating and more salutary to (or for) the inner (or inward) development than the exemple of men devoted to the good. It is in the company of men pursuing a same ideal that the still weavering (or unsteady) soul can set oneself ("se fixer", Fr) and stick to (or attach to) everything that is noble and generous.
    • p. 58.
  • Men who have sacrifice their well-being, and even their lives, for the cause of truth or the public good, are, from an empirical point of view - which scorn ("fait fi", Fr.) virtue and altruism - regarded as insane or fools; but, from a moral standpoint, they are heros who do honour ("qui honorent", Fr.) humanity.
    • p. 38.
  • The well understood equity as well as interest of society demand that we work on much more to prevent crime and offenses than to punish them.
    • p. 52.
  • As long as men will not be freed from their errors and delusions, humanity will not be able to go towards ("marcher vers", Fr.) the accomplishment of its true destinies.
    • p. 60.
  • The most sacred duty, the supreme and urgent work, is to deliver humanity from the malediction of Cain - fratricidal war.
    • p. 51.
  • The intellectual development of man, far from having get men away from war, has, rather, on the contrary, bring them to a refinment always more perfected in the art of killing. They even came to raise the methods of slaughter to the rank of "science"… We would not (On ne saurait", Fr.) imagine a more extraordinary moral blindness!
    • p. 55.
  • Besides the progress of industry and technique, we see a growing discontent among the masses; we see, besides the expansion ("expansion,", Fr.) of instruction, distrust and hatred expanding among nations ("s'étendre la méfiance et la haine entre," Fr.), that vie with one another ("qui rivalisent à l'envi," Fr.), by the increase of their armies and the improvement of their engines of murder ("engins meurtriers", Fr).
    • p. 37 - third thought of the book, the translator.
  • The feeling ("sens", Fr.) of solidarity that is born amidst a community rest on the feeling of antagonism arouse (aroused ? arose ?... sorry, - "suscité", Fr.) by those who are opposed to it. Most of the time we only adhere to a party or a group, in order to better (or more, - "pour mieux se", Fr.) differentiate ourselves of another.
    • p. 42.
  • To spend for destruction ten times more than for instruction, such is the fashion in our time; and men seriously regard themsleves as rational beings !
    • p. 50.
  • So many forces and resources would become available if States, aware (or conscious) of their true (or real) mission, would want to get on (or agree) to abolish every politics aiming at ("visant à", Fr.) expansion or hegemony; system that maintain among nations a a perpetual distrust and tension, impose on them (or force or compel, "leur impose", Fr.) formidable armies and crushing war budgets.
    • p. 54.
  • At this point, here is a parenthesis about the life of the author, which joined the deed to the word: Hélène included to the book on her father, a very short Appendix, "Le devoir d'abolir la guerre", which was taken from the second volume of the Germen works or Spir, and had previously been reproduced, I quote, "in the Jounal de Genève, 15 November 1920, at the time of the maiden Assembly of the United Nations, which Spir has, lately (not long ago, "naguère", Fr.) so much called for (or invite to think about) of all his wishes." ("tant appelée de ses voeux", Fr). The following is a footnote added to this text, that Spir published in the first edition of Recht und Unrecht, in 1879, as an Appendix, under the title of "Considération sur la guerre" - and which was published again in 1931, in Propos sur la guerre. : "To declare (or say) that the establishment of international institutions intended (or used) to settle (or solve) conflicts among people without having recourse to war, this is purely gratuitious affirmation. What sense (or meaning) can it be to declare impossible, something that has been neither wished (or wanted, "voulue", Fr.) seriously, nor tried to put into practice ? In truth, there are not any impossibility here, no more of a material order than of a metaphysical order. ("En vérité, il n'y a ici aucun impossibilité, pas plus d'ordre matériel que d'ordre métaphysique", Fr). Supposing that all responsible potentates, ministers and leaders were to be warned (or were given formal notice ? - "soient mis en demeure de", Fr.) to agree concerning the establishment (or creation) of international organizations with peaceful workings ("à rouages pacifiques", Fr.), they would not be very long to come to an agreement on the ways and means ("voies et moyens", Fr.) to come to settle the problem. And, indeed, how insoluble could be a problem, that requires nothing else than some good will here and there ? It is not a question here of fighting against a terrestrial power, hostile to human beings and independent of their will; it is only for men a matter of overcoming their own passions, et their harmful prejudices. ("En cela", Fr.) In this, would it be more difficult than to kill one's fellow men by the hundred of thousands, de destroy entire (or whole) countries et inflict (or impose) crushing expanses to one own people ?"
    • p. 64-65 - end of parenthesis.
  • The antagonism between nationalities will lose all its acuteness on the day when neither the iniquitous tendency to oppression and domination, nor the perpetual danger of the threatening preparations for war will exist. ("L'antagonisme entre les nationalités perdra toute son acuité le jour où n'existera plus la tendance inique à l'oppression et à la domination, ni le perpétuel danger des menaçants préparatifs de guerre. », Fr. ")
    • p. 54.
  • In ancient times, any man rising up above the common people tried to shape his life according to his principles; it is no longer like than now; it is (because) for the ancients, moral was a principle of inner life, whereas in our days, most of the time one is content to adhere to an official moral, that we recognize in theory, but that one does not care to put into practice.
    • p. 39.
  • If the present civilisation does not acquire some stable moral fondations ("bases morales stables", Fr.), its existence will hardly be more assured than that of the civilisations that have preceeded it, and which have fallen (or collapse, or failed)
    • p. 41.
  • It must be all the same to the citizens ("ressortissants", Fr.) of a country that their governing (those in power) speak such language or such other ("telle langue ou telle autre", Fr.); likewise that it must be all the same to them that these adhere to such or such religion, so long as a full (or complete) liberty is equally garantee for everyone.
    • p. 54.
  • It is to our lack of proper content ("notre manque de contenu propre », Fr.), of our inner emptiness that we need occupations and distractions, otherwise ("faute de quoi", Fr.) we experience boredom, which is nothing elses than the feeling of unease that take hold of us when our spirit is not absorbed by the mirages of life.
    • p. 56.
  • There is only one thing in the world that is really valuable, it is to do good.
    • p. 56.
  • Up to here, in general, we have mainly stuffed the brain of the young people with a indigestible multitude of varios notions, without thinking about enough of the prime necessity to form their character.
    • p. 58.
  • As ("de même que", Fr.) humanity has begun with flint tools, and has arrived little by little to the so powerful and perfected machines of today, so man, by shaping himself ("en se façonnant", Fr.) generation after generation, will arrive to a degree of perfection of which, up to here, the exemple was given to us only by rares individuals." ("De même que l'humanité a commencé par des outils en silex, et est arrivé peu à peu aux machines si puissantes et perfectionnées d'aujourd'hui, de même l'homme, en se façonnant de génération en génération, arrivera à un degré de perfection dont l'exemple ne nous a été donné, jusqu'à présent, que par de rares individus. », Fr.)
    • p. 62.
  • Moral improvement (or perfecting) require an evolution leading to a higher consciousness, which is the true torch of life; it is what we have failed too much to appreciate, and that which would be fatal to fail to appreciate any longer ("pluslongtemps", Fr.); For if we do not take it upon ourselves to remedy in time to the moral colapse (or bankruptcy) that already threaten, the whole civilisation will risks to disappear.
    • p. 60.
  • The duty of the State is double; it must strive to perfect its member, by promoting their intellectual and moral progress, et try to keep the right and the justice in their mutual relationships.
    • p. 44.
  • Nothing depict better the poverty of human nature than to see men, placed at the head of a State, and who should, so to speak, embody (or personnify) the law, be concerned (or worried, or preccupied) only with their own prestige and their own particular interests.
    • p. 51.
  • In the actual state of social relationships, the forms ("formes", Fr.) of politeness are necessary as a subsitute to benevolence.
    • p. 50.
  • Whoever has recognized the vainglory of individuality will not attach any store ("n'attachera aucun prix à", Fr.) to fame. The only one thing which is really valuable, it is to do good.
    • From the Esquisse biographique, by Hélène Claparède-Spir, p. 17.
  • The peculiar (or own) value that such and such activity can have for a man rather really depends ("dépend bien plutôt", Fr.) on the spirit in which it was deployed (or displayed, - "déployée", Fr.) than its importance or its scope. Thus the most humble work (or task, - "besogne", Fr.) can be accomplished by a great genius, whereas the highest functions (or offices), such as to rule over a whole people, can be practised in a petty (or mean or stingy) spirit of personal glorification, as it is frequently seen.", Fr.)
    • p. 49.
  • The more gifted by nature is a man, the more is deplorable the abuse that he does by using them to shameful ends. A swindler (or crook) of higher condition is more blameworthy than a vulgar scoundrel; an intelligent eveil-doer, having benefited from a higher education, represent a more saddening phenomenon ("phénomène", Fr.) than an unfortune illiterate fellow having commited an offence.
    • p. 48.
  • It is erroneous to consider the multiplication (or increase) of needs as a sign of progress, to think that it is necessary to arouse in the people still unpolished (or rough), new needs to bring them to a more civilised life. Similarly ("de même", Fr.) it is erroneous to expect (or want, or wish, - "vouloir," Fr.) to measure (or assess) the degree of culture of a man to the degree of refinement he make (or deploy, or unfold) in his methods ("modes", Fr.) of pleasure ("jouissance", Fr.)
    • p. 48 - Gandhi wrote something that is almost word for word the same, in All men are brothers.
  • (Generally or) Men in general are too inclined to let themselves be overawed by what is quantitatively great. It is thus that even thoughtful minds let themselves be impressed ("éblouis", Fr.) by the strenght of Napoléon 1st, to much so that (to the point that) seeing (to see) in his person something august (or majestic), when indeed (in fact) he only have had ("il n'ait eu que", Fr.) selfish aims (or plans). Half the earth ("globe terrrstre", Fr.) is put to fire and sword to obtain to a man the pleasant sensation of his own absolute power.
    • p. 43.
  • It goes without saying that only inner greatness possess a true value ("une valeur véritable,", Fr.) . Any attempt to rise up (or at rising up, - "s'élever", Fr.) outwardly above others, or to want (or wish) to impose one's superiority, denote a lack of moral greatness, since we do not try to replace ("suppléer", Fr.) in that way (.... in French "par là", Fr.) to what, if we did really possess it, would have no need whatsoever to flaunt itself.
    • p. 51.
  • Injustice having always hold sway (- be predominant, - régné", Fr.) on earth, there are some who ("d'aucuns", Fr.) imagine (or pretend) that the existing social order may ("pourra", Fr.) subsist (or remain) for ever. Whether this order could last until now, this was mainly due to the conviction of people, that it was of divine institution. But this belief is vanishing (or disapearing, or fainting), and with it the only moral support of the actual order will collapse, leaving (or letting) only brutal forces opposed to each others clashing, with no peaceful way out (or solution) ("et avec elle s'effondrera le seul soutient moral de l'ordre présent, ne laissant aux prises que des forces brutales opposés les unes aux autres, sans issue pacifique.", Fr.)
    • p. 45.
  • Until now, exterior (or external) authority still domine (or is the dominant feature) too much in the relationships between men, as well as in their spiritual life. This is due to (comes, - "provient de", Fr.) the fact that we regard authority, in all fields, as being what makes (or simply, is) the law ("comme étant ce qui fait loi", Fr.), because in the empirical field, it is always what come first (or take precedence), may it be a force, an individual or an argument, that is winning.
    • p. 45.
  • The supreme blossoming of character lies (or reside) in renounciation (or renuncement) and abnegation of self ("abnégation de soi", Fr.)
    • p. 38.
  • Whether we had a (good) moral intuition more developed, we would be as much morally disgusted by the rapacity of those who try to benefit from, and monopolize (or secure or corner), having no consideration (regardless or irrespective of) for others ("autrui", Fr.), than we physically are by a sickening (or nauseating) smell.
    • p. 43.
  • As the antagonism between those who possess, and those who do not, is becoming more acute day after day, we can already foresee a moment when it will bring about ("entraînera", Fr.) severe (big, high, intense, - "grands", Fr.) disasters, if we do turn (direct, aim, - "dirige", Fr.) life in time the social life in new directions (or ways, - "dans des voies nouvelles", Fr.)
    • p. 46.
  • Whether (If) in a banquet somebody was to take it upon himself to snatch pieces from the mouth of the guests, we would be unanimous to find the method iniquitous and brutal (or violent), but if from another source ("par ailleurs", Fr.) the same is practised in a less apparent (or visible) way (or guise), we hardly show ourselves offended (or shocked) by it ("quand par ailleurs la chose se pratique sous une forme moins apparente, on ne s'en montre guère offusqué." Fr.)
    • p. 46.
  • Possessions of this world have not been for the exclusive use by such or such category of individuals.
    • p. 52.
  • The incorporation of every indidual in a collective mechanism of production, would mean the renunciation (or surrender) for man himself of its independance and his dignity as a rational (or thinking, or reasonable) being. The results (or consequences) of such a state of things would be: regression (or retrogression) and deterioration in every fields (or domain) of life. For the true progress consist in the accomplishment of higher ends, et these would be directly (or right off) made impossible in a coercive social mechanism. Let us think to the fate that, in these conditions, new truths would have in store ("Qu'on songe au sort qui, dans ces conditions, serait réservé à des vérités nouvelles", Fr.)
    • p. 47.
  • The social organization of work is the most complicated and difficult problem that humanity has ever had to solve. It being possible to realize that organization (a difficult translation or me: "Cette organisation ne pouvant être réalisée par", Fr.) neither by violence, nor by merely external (or outward) or legal measures, it require the free participation of all (or everybody) to the joint (or common, or in commun) work, and, consequently, to a regeneration (or reconditioning) of men that bring them to overcome their selfishness et understand their duty towards themselves et towards the community.
    • p. 47.
  • It is from the education of the new generations that we will especially be able to expect a real moral progress. It is important first of all to develop in it (or 'him', the next generations...) self-control, love of truth and solidarity spirit.
    • p. 58.
  • Only a moral education based on free inner discipline can bring to bear a salutary action and lead to a true morality.
    • p. 59.
  • The belief that the conditioned derives from the unconditioned, wrong from right, represent the most fatal error and the one most fraught with consequences that is ("et la plus lourde de conséquences qui soit", Fr.) This believe gave rise (or engender) incalculable harms; it has obliterated (or obstructed or cancelled) the religious consciousness and warped the moral judgement; morevoer, it has created an abyss between science and religion, and brought generations of men to atheism.
    • p. 40.
  • So many really divine individuals humanity has not already produced ! Heros in the moral sense, who never got tired to practice renouncement and charity; bright intelligences who opened to the mind new ways and horizons; poets and wonderful artists, who created for him the image of an ideal world, the reflect of perfection. These are as many proofs of the presence of the absolu in the midst of humanity, for him that does not discover the immediate proof of that in himself.
    • p. 44.
  • A same breath will give life to ("animera", Fr.) men, when they will will have succeeded in overcoming all that divide them et put them in opposition one another; then they will have a feeling of (or be aware, or conscious of) the limits of their individuality wonderfully widen (or broaden) and will (or might) be able to ("pourront", Fr.) unite in a beneficial (or salutary or kindly) atmosphere of harmony and brotherly concord.
    • p. 62.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: