No Comment, Quotation — July 13, 2008, 11:01 pm

D’Alembert – Happiness and the Duty to Fellow Humans

de-la-tour-comte-de-saxe

Mais ce qui appartient essentiellement et uniquement à la raison, et ce qui en consequence est uniforme chez tous les peuples, ce sont les devoirs dont nous sommes tenus envers nos semblables. La connoissance de ces devoirs est ce qu’on appelle Morale…

Tous ces principes aboutissent à un point commun, sur lequel il est difficile de se faire illusion à soi-même; ils tendent à nous procurer le plus sûr moyen d’être heureux, en nous montrant la liaison intime de notre veritable intérêt avec l’accomplissement des nos devoirs.

But that which belongs essentially and uniquely to reason and which consequently is common to all peoples, is our duty to our own species. Consciousness of this duty is that which we call morality…

All of these principles joint at a common point, with respect to which we can delude ourselves only with difficulty; they tend to procure for us the most certain means of establishing our own happiness by showing us the intimate relationship between our own true interest and the performance of our duty.

–Jean le Rond d’Alembert, Essai sur les éléments de philosophie, sec. vii, pp. 179-80 (1759)(S.H. transl.)

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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
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