9 Oct 2018

Dupréel (1.8) La consistance et la probabilité constructive, sect 1.8, ‘Théorie des idées confuses’, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

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[The following is summary and not translation. Bracketed commentary is my own, as is any boldface. Proofreading is incomplete, so typos are present, including in the quotations. Please consult the original text to be sure about the contents. Also, I welcome corrections to my interpretations, because I am not especially good with French.]

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Eugène Dupréel

 

La consistance et la probabilité constructive

 

Part 1

“La consistance”

 

1.8

“Théorie des idées confuses”

 

 

 

Brief summary:

(1.8.1) Confused ideas are not bundles of knotted clear ideas but are instead the fundamental and exemplary type of all ideas regarding the real, meaning all those having to do with space, time, and action. (1.8.2) (Confused ideas should be seen as being bound into discourses whose developments across their series of words are expressive of concepts.) (1.8.3) The words of these discourses that express confused ideas will be crafted in accordance with the claims the speakers wish to make and the conclusions they want to draw. (1.8.4) A notion only obtains its meaning within the discourse expressing it. (1.8.5) Even though notions will vary in meaning depending on context, some will vary less than others despite the diversity of their contextualizations in different discourses. Such notions are less apt to vary on account of any meaning-modificatory influence the other words may exert on them. Such notions are consistent, and inconsistent ones would be those that have different meanings depending on the sentence or discourse they are found in. (1.8.6) The notions of sensible things are highly consistent. (1.8.7) Formulated notions are highly variable. But their meaning can be restricted and made more consistent by giving them a strict definition. Yet, even this strategy can fail, because the words in the definition are also susceptible to inconsistency in meaning. (1.8.8) Confused ideas can be (artificially at least) reduced to a limited set of clear ideas. But this is not the best way to understand them. (1.8.9) There are many important ideas, like those regarding the moral value of a subject’s action, that cannot be decomposed into clear, morally straightforward and universally agreeable ideas. (1.8.10) Some might argue that any idea that cannot be decomposed into pure, straightforward, universally and objectively knowable and agreeable components is not a valid notion and that rather it would be a useful fiction, a mere social convention. But any socially instituted convention, once created and upheld, becomes a real entity at least in the social reality and in the flux of human experience. (1.8.11) There are certain concepts, like merit and responsibility, that on their fundamental conceptual level are not composed of perfectly unadulterated, unambiguous, and unvarying notions. Yet, they can obtain a sort of consistency when many people consistently find throughout a variety of experiences and circumstances that they prove highly valuable as basic moral notions for society. (1.8.12) It is silly to expect the only notions worthy of usage be completely consistent ones. In fact, probably most ideas that find useful application in real life benefit from having a little bit of logical non-coherence. (1.8.13) Although this granting consistency to confused ideas seems to neglect truth itself in favor of useful fictions, in fact it is only out of the utmost respect for the truth that we would conduct such an inquiry into confused and consistent ideas. (1.8.14) Absolute truth would simply be the formal unity of a judgment in general. But in life, we have systems of affirmations about reality that are irreducible to this abstract form. It is rather the variations in consistency of ideas that allow for these affirmations in the first place. (1.8.15) Descartes’ rationalism assumed clear and simple, perfectly consistent ideas. We have seen however that we cannot reduce all knowledge of the real to such clear ideas. That might lead some to think that we are rejecting rationalism. However, we in fact are appealing to a broader sort of rationalism that is more intersubjective and socially aware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

1.8.1

[Confused Ideas as the Fundamental Ones]

 

1.8.2

[Confused Ideas as Being Bound-Up in Discourses]

 

1.8.3

[The Interests of the Discoursers]

 

1.8.4

[Contextual Meaning]

 

1.8.5

[Notion Consistency as Context Independence]

 

1.8.6

[Sensible Notions as Highly Consistent]

 

1.8.7

[The Inconsistency of Formulated Notions]

 

1.8.8

[The Cartesian Understanding of Confused Ideas]

 

1.8.9

[Certain Important Confused Moral Notions that Cannot be Decomposed into Clear Notions]

 

1.8.10

[Social Conventions as Real]

 

1.8.11

[The Obtained Consistency of Confused but Tried-and-True Conventional Social Notions]

 

1.8.12

[The Non-Coherence of Most Useful Notions]

 

1.8.13

[Respect for the Truth in Appreciation for Socially-Consistencized Confused Ideas]

 

1.8.14

[The Need for Variations of Consistency to Build the Affirmation Systems Used in Life]

 

1.8.15

[The Broader, More Social Rationalism of Accepting the Social Reality and Value of Socially Useful Confused Ideas]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

1.8.1

[Confused Ideas as the Fundamental Ones]

 

(p.17: “Au fait il convient de renoncer ...”)

 

[Confused ideas are not bundles of knotted clear ideas but are instead the fundamental and exemplary type of all ideas regarding the real, meaning all those having to do with space, time, and action.]

 

[Recall from section 1.2.2 that the consistency of a being is its capacity to endure throughout a series of its vicissitudes. In section 1.3, we noted how similar things tend over time to group together, on account of shared influences and shared capacities to affect and be affected. In section 1.4 we saw how this grouping tendency can go one of two ways. Either the groupings continue this process toward solidification where the parts fuse and thereby lose their individuality and thus their consistency all while the whole they form, which is solidifying, increases its consistency. Or, the whole increases in consistency all while the parts mutually affect one another, but in this second case, the parts in that process likewise increase in consistency, as they increase their individuality and ability to maintain their identity (1.4.2). In section 1.5 we distinguished three types of beings: {1} sensible or perceptible beings (which are also spatial and material), {2} notions, which are those things that depend on a subject to know or express them, like sensations, feelings, thoughts, reveries, and so on, and {3} values, which are dynamic beings, because they lead one to commit deliberative actions. Beings in each category can be classified according to their degrees of consistency. Then in section 1.6, we examined this first category of beings, namely, spatio-temporal ones. The lowest sort (the ones with the least consistency) are “inconsistent” things, which are physical bodies that have properties that depend strongly on the consistencies of external objects. For example, the shape of a liquid or gaseous body depends on the shape of the more solid container enveloping it (see section 1.6.2.) At the middle stage are solids, which are things that are directly perceivable and that are capable of enduring for some time all while undergoing slow degradations, for example: stones, tools, jewels, and even whole planets (see section 1.6.1). And the highest sort of spatio-temporal beings are those that not only can resist and endure detrimental external influences but as well are able to repair themselves after undergoing such alterations, with the outcome of that self-repair often increasing their consistency to a higher degree than before the attack. Examples of the highest kind of spatio-temporal beings (those with the greatest consistency) are living beings, with thinking beings as the highest among them (see section 1.6.3).  Then in section 1.7, we looked at the second class of beings, namely, notions, which are divided into two classes: {1} sensible ideas, which are based more or less directly on perceptions, and {2} intelligible or rational ideas, which are applied to knowledge and conduct and which include fundamental notions of right, morality, economic relations, aesthetics, philosophy, and science in general (1.7.1).  Sensible ideas or perceptual notions are of course grounded in sensory experience. They are assigned names, and given that we have and use our perceptual faculties in common, we can trust that when we refer to perceptual notions that they will be correctly understood by others (1.7.2). Intelligible or rational ideas are formulated (élaborées) notions, but in fact they have less consistency than perceptual notions; for, they undergo variations of their meanings depending on the context and circumstances under which they are formulated, and thus they can be considered confused ideas (1.7.4). We turn now to these confused ideas. We first need to renounce the classical, secular position on the relation of notions regarding clarity and confusion. We should not then take the Cartesian view that a confused idea is really a bunch of clear ideas, that is to say, a bunch of ideas that are simple and perfect by themselves and which would only require their knots to be untied in order to exhibit their clarity. Rather, we will not conceive of a confused idea as an unfortunate accident of sense and reason and instead consider confused ideas as being the fundamental and exemplary type of all ideas regarding the real, meaning all those having to do with space, time, and action.]

Au fait il convient de renoncer à la position classique, séculaire, sur le rapport des notions quant à la clarté et à la confusion. Loin d’admettre avec les cartésiens qu’une idée confuse n’est qu’un ramassis d’idées claires, c’est-à-dire simples et parfaites par elles-mêmes, et qu’il n’y a qu’à démêler ces nœuds pour aboutir à l’évidence, nous sommes porté à penser que l’idée confuse, tout autre qu’un accident malheureux des sens et de la raison, est en réalité le type exemplaire et fondamental de toutes les idées portant sur le réel, c’est-à-dire sur le spatial, le temporel et l’action.

(17)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.2

[Confused Ideas as Being Bound-Up in Discourses]

 

(p.17: “Ce n’est pas l’idée qui est quelque part ”)

 

[(Confused ideas should be seen as being bound into discourses whose developments across their series of words are expressive of concepts.)]

 

[(I probably have this next part wrong. I will give it first in unprocessed form, and secondly I will give my best summarization: This is not the idea that is somewhere in all of its purity and that must be expressed with exactly the word that is dedicated to it. It is rather the discourses whose successive elements lead to being the words that are provided with a capacity of expression.) (So the idea here is maybe that confused ideas are not singular things but are understood more in terms of being discourses whose component parts are words with the capacities to express concepts. I am simply guessing here.]

Ce n’est pas l’idée qui est quelque part dans toute sa pureté et que doit exprimer avec exactitude le mot qui lui est consacré, c’est, ce sont les discours dont les éléments successifs aboutissent à être des mots pourvus d’une capacité d’expression.

(17)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.3

[The Interests of the Discoursers]

 

(p.17: “Les mots se sont précisés ...”)

 

[The words of these discourses that express confused ideas will be crafted in accordance with the claims the speakers wish to make and the conclusions they want to draw.]

 

[The words are made precise through the confused efforts of narrators and arguers.  These (words, efforts, speakers?) are animated by what they wish to accept, and the means of expression they adopt will  be consistent with the result that they seek.]

Les mots se sont précisés parmi les efforts confus des narrateurs et des argumentateurs. Ceux-là sont animés par ce qu’ils veulent faire admettre et les moyens d’expression qu’ils adoptent seront conformes au résultat qu’ils ont en vue.

(17)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.4

[Contextual Meaning]

 

(p.17: “Dès lors, en généralisant la notion d’expression ...”)

 

[A notion only obtains its meaning within the discourse expressing it.]

 

[Thus, by generalizing the notion of expression, we can say the following: A notion only has the meaning (signification, import) that is found in the discourse in which it is expressed. The other words of this discourse are what complete or clarify their meaning.]

Dès lors, en généralisant la notion d’expression, on pourra dire : Une notion n’a jamais que le sens (signification, portée) qu’on lui découvre dans le discours où on la trouve exprimée. Ce sont les autres mots de ce discours qui en achèvent ou en précisent la signification.

(17)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.5

[Notion-Consistency as Context Independence]

 

(p.17-18: “La consistance des notions sera donc ...”)

 

[Even though notions will vary in meaning depending on context, some will vary less than others despite the diversity of their contextualizations in different discourses. Such notions are less apt to vary on account of any meaning-modificatory influence the other words may exert on them. Such notions are consistent, and inconsistent ones would be those that have different meanings depending on the sentence or discourse they are found in.]

 

[The consistency of the notions will then always be linked to the import of the discourse where its expression took place. But in actual use, we find that some notions and their expressions can have the same meaning in a plurality of varied and disparate discourses. Such notions are not subordinated by any influence exerted upon them by the other words or parts of the discourse. Rather, they resist any such influence, and they contribute to the general meaning of the discourse by means of a signification acquired in previous discourses. In other words, these notions are in fact consistent and are so to the extent that their contribution to the operation of the whole outweighs their impressionability. These would be the most utilized and least debatable words in the body of terms at a language’s disposal. Inconsistencies, however, would be those notions that are susceptible to giving a sense that is totally dependent on the whole of a sentence or discourse and that consequently will vary considerably.]

La consistance des notions sera donc toujours liée à la portée du discours où son expression a pris place. Mais il se découvre, à l’usage, que certaines notions et leur expression peuvent avoir la même signification dans une pluralité de discours variés et disparates. Ces notions-là, loin d’être totalement subordonnées à l’influence qu’exercent sur elles les autres mots ou parties du discours, résistent à cette influence et contribuent au sens général du discours par une signification acquise dans des discours antérieurs. C’est dire que ces notions sont consistantes du fait et en proportion que leur contribution à l’opération d’ensemble l’emporte sur leur impressionnabilité. Et ce sont les mots les plus utilisés et les moins discutables dans le trésor des termes dont un langage dispose. Inconsistantes au contraire seront les notions | susceptibles d’offrir un sens totalement dépendant de l’ensemble de la phrase ou du discours, et de varier, par suite, considérablement.

(17-18)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.6

[Sensible Notions as Highly Consistent]

 

(p.18: “Les notions des choses sensibles, ...”)

 

[The notions of sensible things are highly consistent.]

 

[The notions of sensible things, which are always verifiable by turning again to perception, remain the same for the diversity of perceiving subjects despite their opposing concerns. They are not very confused, they are quite consistent, or they are exposed only to extensions of easily discernible senses.]

Les notions des choses sensibles, toujours vérifiables par un nouveau recours à la perception, s’imposant de même à la diversité des sujets percevants, en dépit de leurs préoccupations opposées, sont, nous l’avons reconnu, des notions peu confuses, très consistantes, ou exposées seulement à des extensions de sens aisément discernables.

(18)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.7

[The Inconsistency of Formulated Notions]

 

(p.18: “Ce privilège ne s’étend pas aux notions élaborées ...”)

 

[Formulated notions are highly variable. But their meaning can be restricted and made more consistent by giving them a strict definition. Yet, even this strategy can fail, because the words in the definition are also susceptible to inconsistency in meaning.]

 

[This privilege (of being highly consistent across diverse contexts) does not extend to the formulated notions (notions élaborées) of our second category. (Recall again from section 1.7 that among the second class of beings, namely, notions, there are two categories: {1} sensible ideas, which are based more or less directly on perceptions, and {2} intelligible or rational ideas, which are applied to knowledge and conduct and which include fundamental notions of right, morality, economic relations, aesthetics, philosophy, and science in general (1.7.1). Perceptual notions, we said, are grounded in sensory experience. They are assigned names, and given that we have and use our perceptual faculties in common, we can trust that when we refer to perceptual notions that they will be correctly understood by others (1.7.2). Intelligible or rational ideas are formulated (élaborées) notions, but in fact they have less consistency than perceptual notions; for, they undergo variations of their meanings depending on the context and circumstances under which they are formulated, and thus they can be considered confused ideas (1.7.4).) But, the inconsistency of such formulated notions can be lessened by giving them a carefully crafted definition that restricts it from taking one or another deviation in its meaning and instead holds just to a single one. Yet, the rigor of this definite meaning remains always imperfect, because the definition itself will use words that are susceptible to being afflicted with this same inconsistency.]

Ce privilège ne s’étend pas aux notions élaborées de notre deuxième catégorie. Là aussi cependant leur inconsistance peut être atténuée par une définition soignée qui écarte formellement telle ou telle déviation de sens, pour ne retenir qu’une acception unique, qui laisse en dehors d’elle un résidu qu’il faudra traiter par d’autres définitions. Encore la rigueur du sens défini demeure-t-elle toujours imparfaite, car la définition elle-même se sert de mots susceptibles d’être affligés de la même inconsistance.

(18)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.8

[The Cartesian Understanding of Confused Ideas]

 

(p.18: “Certes, et c’est heureux pour la vie sociale qui ...”)

 

[Confused ideas can be (artificially at least) reduced to a limited set of clear ideas. But this is not the best way to understand them.]

 

[(The next part in unprocessed form seems to be something like the following: Certainly – and it is fortunate for social life, which would otherwise be arrested at the lowest level – confused notions can be reducible to a finite number of clear ideas, that is to say, of being imposed practically as such to adhesion, conforming to the theses of classical Cartesianism; but this is an occasion to mark a capital and decisive proposition of the theory of confused ideas.) (I will guess that the main ideas here are the following. If we could never make our confused notions more precise, then social life would not be able to develop very far. So fortunately confused ideas can be (artificially at least) reduced to a limited set of clear ideas, like we noted in section 1.8.1 above regarding the Cartesian conception of confused ideas. Nonetheless, at this point we should further examine this problematic view.)]

Certes, et c’est heureux pour la vie sociale qui, autrement serait arrêtée au plus bas niveau, force notions confuses ne manquent pas d’être réductibles à un nombre fini d’idées claires, c’est-à-dire s’imposant pratiquement comme telles à l’adhésion, conformément aux thèses du cartésianisme classique ; mais ceci est une occasion de marquer une proposition capitale et décisive de la théorie des idées confuses.

(18)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.9

[Certain Important Confused Moral Notions that Cannot be Decomposed into Clear Notions]

 

(p.18: “Il est aisé de découvrir que telles notions éminentes ...”)

 

[There are many important ideas, like those regarding the moral value of a subject’s action, that cannot be decomposed into clear, morally straightforward and universally agreeable ideas.]

 

[(The next part, unprocessed, seems to be something like the following: It is easy to discover that such eminent and irreplaceable notions exclude this reducibility, and they are among the most fundamental of all superior activities. Such are the notions that recognize in the acting subject – be they matters of merit or demerit – the idea of responsibility and accountability. And we can show that the critical attention directed on this side will go so far as to state that in everything that follows from the idea of an active subject, and even more so, in everything that is connected with the idea of causality, we will find implied irreducibly confused notions. Thus, merit includes an interpretation that is foreign to all logic of two conditions of existence, the intention of the subject and the success of its effort, where chance plays an inevitable role.) (I am guessing the main ideas are the following. From what I can tell, confused notions are those that involve high variability and whose meanings at best can be provisionally and arbitrarily stipulated, although probably with little lasting effect on their consistency. We said in section 1.8.8 above that we might try to artificially decompose certain confused ideas into constituent clear ones. But this will not work for certain notions, and this is especially the case for certain ones that are the most fundamental for discussing human moral activity. One example are the ideas of responsibility and accountability in an active subject, which are required for us to evaluate the merits or demerits of our activities. But what we find when we try to decompose the ideas of an active subject or of causality itself down to constituent parts will only result in fundamental, confused notions. So when we try to clarify our notion of merit, what we find is that it involves two irreducibly confused notions regarding the intention of the subject and the consequences of its actions, which largely involve pure chance. Thus, it is hard to say that we can straightforwardly know universally that some person’s actions deserve praise, because the criteria we would propose concerning their responsibility for their actions will be concepts like intention and consequence which cannot be given a straightforward moral sense, as they are never entirely matters of the subject themself and instead involve factors of chance outside the subject’s control. That is my best guess, but surely it is wrong, so please see the quotation below.)]

Il est aisé de découvrir que telles notions éminentes, irremplaçables, excluent cette réductibilité, et elles sont parmi les plus fondamentales de toute activité supérieure. Telles sont les notions qui reconnaissent au sujet agissant, soit du mérite, soit du démérite, l’idée de responsabilité et d’imputabilité, et l’on pourra démontrer que l’attention critique dirigée de ce côté ira jusqu’à constater que dans tout ce qui découle de l’idée d’un sujet actif, plus encore, dans tout ce qui se rattache à l’idée de causalité, on trouvera impliquées des notions irréductiblement confuses. Ainsi le mérite comporte une interpénétration étrangère à toute logique de deux conditions d’existence, l’intention du sujet et le succès de son effort, où le hasard joue un rôle inévitable.

(18)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

1.8.10

[Social Conventions as Real]

 

(p.18-19: “Ceux qui ne conviendraient pas ...”)

 

[Some might argue that any idea that cannot be decomposed into pure, straightforward, universally and objectively knowable and agreeable components is not a valid notion and that rather it would be a useful fiction, a mere social convention. But any socially instituted convention, once created and upheld, becomes a real entity at least in the social reality and in the flux of human experience.]

 

[(The next part unprocessed might be something like the following: Those who would not agree that a notion can at the same time be both valid and irreducible to any logical unity would be claiming that there is no merit and instead there are only useful fictions or conventions. A “convention” would be opposed to reality, but there is nothing more real than a convention, and to institute and to observe a convention is to properly create a new reality, and it is the installation of a being in the torrent of facts.) (The ideas here I will guess are the following. We said in section 1.8.9 above that the notion of the merit and of demerit of a subject’s action is built upon fundamentally confused notions about intention, causality, and consequence. They are confused, I guessed, because in actuality these matters involve chance factors that make it impossible to find some pure element of a subject’s actions that are 100 percent entirely their own doing. So instead, we might allow the notion of merit to have fuzzy conceptual foundations that are not entirely and universally and objectively determinable. As a possible example, maybe we might say that the person who helped the old lady across the street did do it partly to look good in public, because of contingent factors like childhood training, and maybe the person in some cases would help and other not, and by chance they were just more in the mood to do it today. Still, we do not necessarily want to say that the person’s action was without merit. The idea now in this paragraph might be that those who would say that on account of the fudgy conceptual foundations of the notion of merit in subjective action, that this notion is not valid. For, it is irreducible to some solid logical conceptual unity (it is rather a conceptual mixture of freely guided willful action and chance or determinative influences). Such a person arguing this might say that “merit” can therefor not be a some actual thing in reality, but is merely an ideal that is held to be important or pretended to be real only by social convention, which finds it to be a useful fiction for building a cohesive society. However, Dupréel might be observing in contrast to this position, such conventions when they are created present new entities in social reality. That is my guess for the main ideas of this paragraph. See the text below.)]

Ceux qui ne conviendraient pas qu’une notion puisse être à la fois valable et irréductible à toute unité logique en seraient réduits à décider qu’il n’y a pas de mérite, qu’il n’y a là que fiction utilitaire, une convention. « Convention » serait ici opposée à réalité, mais il | n’y a rien de plus réel qu’une convention, l’instituer et l’observer c’est proprement créer une réalité nouvelle, c’est l’installation d’un être dans le torrent des faits.

(18-19)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.11

[The Obtained Consistency of Confused but Tried-and-True Conventional Social Notions]

 

(p.19: “Ce ne sont pas seulement les notions pourvues ”)

 

[There are certain concepts, like merit and responsibility, that on their fundamental conceptual level are not composed of perfectly unadulterated, unambiguous, and unvarying notions. Yet, they can obtain a sort of consistency when many people consistently find throughout a variety of experiences and circumstances that they prove highly valuable as basic moral notions for society.]

 

[(In unprocessed form: It is not only the notions having a complete logical coherence (if there are any such notions to begin with) that deserve to be considered and retained as what the social order takes to be its most respectable supports, there are also notions where it is the agreement of the consciousnesses encouraged by the experience of their fruitfulness which provides to all social notions, such as merit, demerit, and responsibility, a consistency that is precarious but nonetheless eminent.) (The idea here might be: It is true that were there any such completely logically coherent moral notions, then they would deserve to lie at the foundations of the social order. Yet, there are other moral notions that are not entirely logically coherent at their bases but which prove their great value in actual living practice. And it is the consistency of agreement of the members of society who have discovered this consistent value of the confused moral notion, like merit or responsibility, that lends to the coherence of that notion (that is, to the ability of the concept to maintain itself across varying contexts), even though this consistency is not based inherently on its own conceptual constitution.]

Ce ne sont pas seulement les notions pourvues d’une entière cohérence logique (s’il en est de telles !) qui méritent d’être considérées et retenues comme les soutiens de ce que l’ordre social a de plus respectable, il y a aussi des notions où c’est l’accord des consciences encouragé par l’expérience de leur fécondité qui procure à des notions toutes sociales, telles que le mérite, le démérite, la responsabilité une consistance, précaire il est vrai, mais éminente.

(19)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.12

[The Non-Coherence of Most Useful Notions]

 

(p.19: “Il va de soi que plus une notion ...”)

 

[It is silly to expect the only notions worthy of usage be completely consistent ones. In fact, probably most ideas that find useful application in real life benefit from having a little bit of logical non-coherence.]

 

[Of course the more a formulated notion is consistent (in that it is capable of not varying despite the variety of the contexts of its usage), the more worthy it is of being held and used. Yet, it would be silly to want to only hold to those notions with an indisputable logical coherence. On the contrary, a relative confusion in an idea can make it irreplaceable in deliberations and conclusions. We might even go so far as to say that all thoughts that would be applied to reality would benefit from some irreducibility in their logical non-coherence.]

Il va de soi que plus une notion élaborée est consistante, c’est-à-dire capable de ne pas varier de sens selon les cas de l’employer, plus elle mérite d’être retenue et de servir, mais ce serait chimère que de vouloir ne retenir que les notions d’une cohérence logique indiscutable (1) . Au contraire, une confusion relative dans une idée peut la rendre irremplaçable dans les délibérations et les conclusions. On oserait dire que quelqu’irréductibilité dans la non-cohérence logique demeure constitutionnelle au sein de la pensée appliquée à la réalité.

(19)

(1) Répétons encore que tout ce qui implique l’idée de causalité, serait compromis dans ce cas. L’idée de causalité est toute pratique et utilitaire, provisoire tout au plus dans la science en raison de l’inachèvement de celle-ci. La preuve c’est que l’on choisit pour la nommer cause d’un phénomène, celle de ses conditions toujours multiples, à laquelle on s’intéresse, soit pour la produire, soit pour l’empêcher.

(19)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.8.13

[Respect for the Truth in Appreciation for Socially-Consistencized Confused Ideas]

 

(p.19: “Ces vues sur les notions confuses ...”)

 

[Although this granting consistency to confused ideas seems to neglect truth itself in favor of useful fictions, in fact it is only out of the utmost respect for the truth that we would conduct such an inquiry into confused and consistent ideas.]

 

[(In unprocessed form: These views on confused notions, many of which being eminent and irreplaceable, do not fail to direct the critical effort toward the fundamental problems of truth itself. Without entering here into such an examination, let us dispel certain anxieties that these views on the confused in knowledge could evoke regarding the supremacy of the true over the false. On the contrary, it is in the name of full respect for the truth that any inquiry into the confused and into the consistency of ideas must be pursued.) (The main ideas seem to be: We have said that confused ideas can obtain consistency through their proven usefulness in social life that all members concur about. This might strike some people as a rejection of truth itself, because it seems to claim that universal truth is ultimately irrelevant. On the contrary, however, it is out of the utmost respect for the truth that we would conduct an inquiry into confused and consistent ideas.)]

Ces vues sur les notions confuses, dont beaucoup sont éminentes et irremplaçables, ne manquent pas de diriger l’effort critique vers les problèmes fondamentaux de la vérité. Sans entrer ici dans un tel examen, écartons certaines inquiétudes que ces vues sur le confus dans la connaissance pourraient susciter quant à la suprématie du vrai sur le faux. Au contraire, c’est au nom du respect intégral de la vérité que toute enquête sur le confus et la consistance des idées doit être poursuivie.

(19)

 

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1.8.14

[The Need for Variations of Consistency to Build the Affirmation Systems Used in Life]

 

(p.19-20: “La position d’une vérité absolue exigerait ...”)

 

[Absolute truth would simply be the formal unity of a judgment in general. But in life, we have systems of affirmations about reality that are irreducible to this abstract form. It is rather the variations in consistency of ideas that allow for these affirmations in the first place.]

 

[The position of an absolute truth would require that anything that is judged to have this quality be reduced to the unity of a judgment. As soon as we are dealing with a system of affirmations about reality, that is to say, about a subject that is irreducible to this unity of a judgment, the requirements of absolute truth must bend. A philosophical doctrine is neither completely true nor radically false, nor is a lengthy argument or a political system. Truth and relative confusion are mingled in any knowledge-filled life, and it is here that we find the variations of consistency that (can provide for the affirmations).]

La position d’une vérité absolue exigerait que tout ce qu’on juge pourvu de cette qualité fût réduit à l’unité d’un jugement. Dès qu’il s’agit d’un système d’affirmations sur la réalité, c’est-à-dire sur un sujet irréductible à cette unité, les exigences de la vérité absolue doivent fléchir. Une doctrine philosophique n’est jamais ni complètement vraie ni radicalement fausse, de même | un long plaidoyer ou un système politique. Vérité et confusion relative se mêlent dans toute vie comportant connaissance et c’est là qu’on retrouve les variations de la consistance dont peuvent être pourvues les affirmations.

(19-20)

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1.8.15

[The Broader, More Social Rationalism of Accepting the Social Reality and Value of Socially Useful Confused Ideas]

 

(p.20: “L’impossibilité de réduire toute connaissance ...”)

 

[Descartes’ rationalism assumed clear and simple, perfectly consistent ideas. We have seen however that we cannot reduce all knowledge of the real to such clear ideas. That might lead some to think that we are rejecting rationalism. However, we in fact are appealing to a broader sort of rationalism that is more intersubjective and socially aware.]

 

[(In unprocessed form this might be: The impossibility of reducing all knowledge of the real to this tissue of clear and simple ideas, which were assumed in Descartes’ rationalism and that were the fruit of the individualist spirit of the Renaissance, in no way excludes rationalism as such in favor of  some vague desire for the supernatural; it rather suggests a wider sort of rationalism that is freer from the knowledge of a single subject and better informed of the constitutional importance of the life of many.) (The main ideas here might be the following. Descartes’ rationalism assumed clear and simple, perfectly consistent ideas. We have seen however that we cannot reduce all knowledge of the real to such clear ideas. That might lead some to think that we are rejecting rationalism. However, we in fact are appealing to a broader sort of rationalism that is more intersubjective and socially aware.)]

L’impossibilité de réduire toute connaissance du réel à ce tissu d’idées claires et toutes simples, que supposait le rationalisme selon Descartes, fruit de l’esprit individualiste de la Renaissance, n’exclut en rien le rationalisme comme tel, au profit de n’importe quelle velléité de « surnaturel », elle suggère au contraire un rationalisme plus large, plus affranchi de la connaissance d’un seul sujet, mieux avisé de l’importance constitutionnelle de la vie à plusieurs.

(20)

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Dupréel, Eugène. (1961). La consistance et la probabilité constructive. (Classe des lettres et des sciences morales et politiques 55, no.2). Brussels: Académie Royale de Belgique.

PDF at:

http://www.academieroyale.be/fr/les-publications-memoires-detail/oeuvres-2/la-consistance-et-la-probabilite-constructive/.\

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