Sunday, August 05, 2007

Henri Gouhier on the Two Worlds of Ideas

The "ideas" of a philosopher belong to two worlds. There are those that are the product of reflection; they have been mulled over at leisure, purified by analysis, and joined together into a system, a logical poem that sings the triumph of reason when, freed of time, it was able to attend to eternal things. But underneath these clear ideas, there are those that participate in that other system that is the living person; these are rather the tendencies to concepts; they have not yet been collected into a definition, and they extend into each other, a landscape without lines like the colors of heaven; they live in those regions of the soul where heredity, education, social influences and other fay folk sow the seeds that will later develop into passions, into beliefs, into worries, without it being possible for us to follow the mysterious labor of their development. Interior temple where all the gods have their altar, it is from there that both cries of revolt and words of love escape; it is there that systems plunge their roots, for it is there where questions are perhaps posed and where certainly solutions are formulated. The relations of reason and faith, above all else, belong to this philosophical subconscious; nobody ever believed that it could be found at the conclusion of a syllogism; it is lived before being thought and it is thought all the more strongly as it is lived with more fervor.

Henri Gouhier, La vocation de Malebranche, J. Vrin (Paris: 1926) pp. 135-136. My translation.

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