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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.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”