THE ABSOLUTE GOODNESS OF PRAYER
With regard to the modes of prayer, all are good, provided that they
are sincere. Turn your book upside down and be in the infinite.
There is, as we know, a philosophy which denies the infinite.
There is also a philosophy, pathologically classified, which denies
the sun; this philosophy is called blindness.
To erect a sense which we lack into a source of truth, is a fine
blind man's self-sufficiency.
The curious thing is the haughty, superior, and compassionate
airs which this groping philosophy assumes towards the philosophy
which beholds God. One fancies he hears a mole crying, "I pity
them with their sun!"
There are, as we know, powerful and illustrious atheists. At bottom,
led back to the truth by their very force, they are not absolutely sure
that they are atheists; it is with them only a question of definition,
and in any case, if they do not believe in God, being great minds,
they prove God.
We salute them as philosophers, while inexorably denouncing
Let us go on.
The remarkable thing about it is, also, their facility in paying
themselves off with words. A metaphysical school of the North,
impregnated to some extent with fog, has fancied that it has worked
a revolution in human understanding by replacing the word Force
with the word Will.
To say: "the plant wills," instead of: "the plant grows":
this would be fecund in results, indeed, if we were to add:
"the universe wills." Why? Because it would come to this:
the plant wills, therefore it has an _I_; the universe wills,
therefore it has a God.
As for us, who, however, in contradistinction to this school,
reject nothing a priori, a will in the plant, accepted by this school,
appears to us more difficult to admit than a will in the universe
denied by it.
To deny the will of the infinite, that is to say, God, is impossible
on any other conditions than a denial of the infinite. We have
The negation of the infinite leads straight to nihilism.
Everything becomes "a mental conception."
With nihilism, no discussion is possible; for the nihilist logic
doubts the existence of its interlocutor, and is not quite sure
that it exists itself.
From its point of view, it is possible that it may be for itself,
only "a mental conception."
Only, it does not perceive that all which it has denied it admits
in the lump, simply by the utterance of the word, mind.
In short, no way is open to the thought by a philosophy which makes
all end in the monosyllable, No.
To No there is only one reply, Yes.
Nihilism has no point.
There is no such thing as nothingness. Zero does not exist.
Everything is something. Nothing is nothing.
Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread.
Even to see and to show does not suffice. Philosophy should be an energy;
it should have for effort and effect to ameliorate the condition
of man. Socrates should enter into Adam and produce Marcus Aurelius;
in other words, the man of wisdom should be made to emerge from
the man of felicity. Eden should be changed into a Lyceum.
Science should be a cordial. To enjoy,--what a sad aim, and what a
paltry ambition! The brute enjoys. To offer thought to the thirst
of men, to give them all as an elixir the notion of God, to make
conscience and science fraternize in them, to render them just by this
mysterious confrontation; such is the function of real philosophy.
Morality is a blossoming out of truths. Contemplation leads to action.
The absolute should be practicable. It is necessary that the ideal
should be breathable, drinkable, and eatable to the human mind.
It is the ideal which has the right to say: Take, this
is my body, this is my blood. Wisdom is a holy communion.
It is on this condition that it ceases to be a sterile love of
science and becomes the one and sovereign mode of human rallying,
and that philosophy herself is promoted to religion.
Philosophy should not be a corbel erected on mystery to gaze upon it
at its ease, without any other result than that of being convenient
For our part, adjourning the development of our thought to
another occasion, we will confine ourselves to saying that we neither
understand man as a point of departure nor progress as an end,
without those two forces which are their two motors: faith and love.
Progress is the goal, the ideal is the type.
What is this ideal? It is God.
Ideal, absolute, perfection, infinity: identical words.