Equality is a chimera

If equality is an “impossible and useless chimera”1, is that it is impossible from every point of view: metaphysically2, but also physically, psychologically, intellectually and socially3, in short: every human being is condemned to be different from all others. Typically French egalitarianism, it seems, is exemplified by alternating parking: twice a month (on the 15th and last day of the month), at midnight, the French go downstairs in their pyjamas to park their cars along the opposite sidewalk!4

Indeed, economic historian Carlo Cipolla (1922-2000) is that fundamental inequality is not essentially cultural, but is first and foremost a matter of nature:

Geneticists and sociologists go to great lengths to prove that all men are naturally equal, and that if some are more equal than others, it’s because of culture, not nature. I don’t agree with this preconceived notion. After years of observation and experimentation, I am firmly convinced that men are not equal, that some are stupid and others are not, and that the difference depends on nature and not on cultural factors.5.

This was not lost on Rousseau:

I will end this chapter and this book with a remark that must serve as a basis for the whole social system: instead of destroying natural equality, the fundamental pact substitutes a moral and legitimate equality for what nature may have placed as physical inequality between men, and that, although they may be unequal in strength or genius, they all become equal by convention and by right (a).

(a) Under bad governments, this equality is only apparent – and illusory; it only serves to keep the poor in their misery, and the rich in their usurpation. In fact, laws are always useful to those who possess and harmful to those who have nothing: hence it follows that the social state is only advantageous to men insofar as they all have something, and none of them has anything too much6

In politics, this egalitarian impossibility is illustrated by the very relative isonomy (judgments said to be “for example” according to one “public opinion” or another) or pseudo-isonomy (equality of speech), which only concerns candidates before an election, while for the citizens there are only strikes or demonstrations, or even social networks, in the face of an indestructible oligarchy7. This impossibility is explicitly recognized by the transfer of the question in terms of inequality – without underestimating the teaching of Tocqueville’s paradox8 – or the myth of a final equality now reduced to an ideological equality of opportunity (Rawls), a utopian ideal contradicted by the facts: “school serves to dress up inequalities of birth as inequalities of merit” (Ivan Illich). Moreover, post-revolutionary egalitarianism has not altered the elitist vocation of Jesuit colleges or Napoleonic lycées, like British public schools or German Gymnasiums. But isn’t it right that everyone should develop the gifts they’ve been given? Should we prevent the Rembrandts, Bachs, Newtons, Leibnizs and others from exercising their art and expressing their genius? Equality would be more than useless; it would be harmful. Perhaps this is why some are inclined to associate economic equality with political equality (Castoriadis)9, leaving the primacy of freedom to the cultural sphere.

Strictly speaking, in politics, the only equality that exists is the possibility for all to participate in the exercise of power, as can be achieved by drawing lots (wisely, though). Polls, jury trials, citizens’ juries and participatory budgets, although established by drawing lots, do not in any way amount to a panarchy; above all, they contribute to the recovery of a democratic image, to demagogic manipulation, and never to political decision-making10; they are a simple palliative for the lack of legitimacy of political authorities in a crisis of representativeness11.  If it is subversive in itself, and neither Aristotle nor Montesquieu were unaware of this, it’s because the drawing of lots for political responsibilities breaks the watertight separation between governed and governors, as well as the postulate of superior competence. However, this does not mean, literally, the “reign of anybody”12, for the principle of the equal political competence of human beings (or the equal “societal competence” of homines societatis, to say it from the Latin) has always been self-evident. We read it in Plato’s Protagoras: unlike technical questions (architecture, medicine), “whenever we deliberate on matters concerning the government of the republic, we listen to everyone indiscriminately”13, is that

Jupiter, therefore, fearing that our species would perish entirely, sent Mercury to present men with modesty and justice, so that they might bring order to cities, and tighten the bonds of social union. [322c]

And they were distributed equally among all, by Mercury, at Jupiter’s behest. So, “although few people can outline a political program, we are all capable of judging it. Which means: we cannot all govern and direct, but we can all judge the government, we can function as jurors”, said Pericles long ago 14. Similarly, “when their deliberations revolve around political virtue, which necessarily includes justice and temperance, they listen to everyone, and they do well; for all must participate in political virtue, or there are no cities”, wrote Plato15. And in Aristotle: “Individuals will judge less well than the learned, but all together, either they will be better, or they will be no worse 16. Machiavelli agrees with Aristotle on this point (Discours sur Tite-Live, liv. III, ch. XXXIV), as does Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois, L. II, ch. II). This will no longer be the case, with the three English, American and French revolutions, but as we’ve seen, these are plutocracies explicitly announced and justified by the “ineptitude of the masses” (sic)((see the paper “From Democracy to Diacracy”). Castoriadis takes a roundabout way of denying the so-called elites a monopoly on political expertise and knowledge of the just, asserting that no one can claim to hold the true notion of justice, which would be a purely “human creation”, always in progress and the fruit of reasoning and deliberation to be provisionally established.

To be free is to obey

It’s a surprising shortcut, but one we have to admit.

Freedom refers directly to the essence of man, according to his ontological foundation as a “reasonable animal”17 and as a free animal18 However, it is already worth asking whether, behind unconscious (psychoanalysis), cultural (sociology) and neurological (neuroscience, psychobiology) determinisms, free will remains at all conceivable: can we be conditioned and free? The freedom in question here qualifies the exercise of the will, provided it is not induced by a determining passion –in which case free will would be an illusion due to ignorance of the causes that make us act (Spinoza), but is the fruit of a considered choice (Aristotle) with a view to the good (Plato), enlightened by reason (Descartes, Leibniz), taking man out of the state of nature (Rousseau), following a moral law with which he endows himself (Kant). From then on, we are “condemned to be free”19 and responsible for our actions20 (Sartre). Philosophically, this freedom can be defined negatively, as the absence of constraint or determination, or even as freedom of indifference, or positively, as the autonomy or spontaneity of the will21.

If freedom consisted, for man, in being free of all determination, the freest would be the most indeterminate, and totally free would then mean completely indeterminate, which is absurd22. If we were to stop there, God alone would be free, and man, necessarily determined, could not be free in any way. Indeed, a man entirely subject to, and thus reduced to, his determinations would be a pure automaton 23. This is illustrated by Buridan’s paradox: Not being able to choose where to start, a donkey will die of hunger and thirst between its peck of oats and its bucket of water24. Denounced by the absurd in the thought experiment of “Buridan’s donkey “, this means that determinations, which are inevitable, are not opposed to freedom, but form the necessary background against which freedom can – or cannot – be exercised. And if freedom now characterizes the power or will to do something, it is also through determined actions, according to determined ends and means, that it will be exercised. Everything is therefore determined: man and his environment, the goal and the means of his action. On the contrary, it lies in the acceptance, on the one hand, of the determinations intrinsic to the order of things and, on the other, of those that correspond to the ends and means of the chosen action. It is neither submission nor resignation, but the voluntary, free and therefore, even if obedient, acceptance of a mission.

Descartes, admirably, calls this capacity in us to freely do what we ought, Corneille the “heart” and Plato the “soul”.admirably, calls it “generosity”, Corneille “heart” and Plato “courage”. courage”, which in Greek is called andreia, the quality proper to andros (man).

Jean Borella25

More precisely, the will sets as its end only what the intelligence can make known to it, and only if it wants to consider it as good. If, by definition, what the will chooses is good, it is not a good in itself, even if it refers to an absolute good, but it is only a good for its own sake. This relativity is that of the imperfect knowledge available to freedom. If freedom benefited from a perfect knowledge of goods and the Good, the will being desire for the good, man, entirely determined by this perfect knowledge, would no longer be free. This means that the ignorance that manifests itself in our freedom is ontological, and is even more closely identified with our very being.

The conviction of this fundamental freedom that attaches to our person is “the awareness that our existence is a personal and responsible existence, and not the mere development of mechanical causalities”. Metaphysically, this conviction refers to the transcendence of the Supreme Good implied in the very act of willing, and is the only “means of accounting for human freedom”26. This constitutes the (metaphysical) paradox of freedom: the will is free only because it is unaware of the good it aims to achieve, but obeys this aim, which nonetheless transcends it27.

Applied to politics, it’s no different. There is no freedom that is not itself an authority over others: “Total freedom and independence from all authority are inferior, and not by a little, to an authority that other authorities limit and measure” (Plato, Laws, III, 698a). For Aristotle, “the city is but an association of free men” (L. III, ch. 4, § 7 [1279a]), but “to live as one pleases” is not to be free; on the contrary, it is alienation. True freedom is realized in obedience to the laws of the constitution: “We must not believe that it is slavery to live according to the constitution; on the contrary, it is salvation” (Politics, V, 9 [1310a])28. This is because the city is a natural community in a nature regulated by laws; therefore, to obey the laws, which reflect the order of the universe, is to be a free political animal, a free master, because it is not to another man that he obeys. In the absence of being able to recognize it as such, it will remain to have participated, between free men, in the constitution of laws, which a panarchy will allow.

Liberté, égalité, Fraternité, a solution

The motto of the French Republic, “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”29, may have been recognized, but it didn’t immediately take on this synthetic form. It can be preceded by Rousseau’s ternary of democracy: liberty, security, equality. Although he was the great outcast of the 18th century, the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man (Art. 6) nonetheless adopted his formula: “the law is the expression of the general will”30, it is because “obedience to the law which one has prescribed for oneself is liberty”, he could write to combine the two imperatives of liberty and security (in the sense of “social order” or “public happiness”, “commonwealth”), associated with that of equality.

Rights. After the Revolution, these notions were first and foremost rights, formulated as follows: “These rights [of man and citizen] are equality, liberty, security and property.” (Article 2 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, incorporated into the Constitution of June 24, 1793). This was because it was necessary to deny the Terror in force (“security”) and all the looting and theft of property carried out (“property”). Thus, as early as 1791, “The Constitution guarantees the inviolability of property”31 or “property is under the protection of the Nation”32, but without retroactivity!

Principle. Half a century later, it was a principle of the Republic that was laid down: “Its principles are Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Its foundations are the Family, Work, Property and Public Order”33. The inversion is clear to see: “equality”, which is impossible, now comes after “liberty”, while “property” and “public order” are further reminders that plundering the property of the new owners is now outlawed.

Motto. Finally, the ternary is no more than a simple motto as of the 1946 Constitution (title 1, article 2), even though, as we shall see, it conceals a highly relevant philosophical truth.

Associating equality and freedom is a challenge: they are mutually exclusive. Indeed, equality prevents the free expression of difference, whether of situation or aspiration; and, conversely, freedom destroys any possible cultural or societal equality. This is all too obvious, economically, socially and even legally. The Cold War stigmatized their incompatibility by opposing the freedom to kill or racial segregation (USA) and the equality of indigence (USSR), but this perverse pairing of freedom and equality has of course always been glimpsed, and many have sought a combination that would make them compatible.

For Aristotle, for example, the best democracy is one that seeks political equality between the poor and the rich, a democracy where “nothing puts the modest or the well-to-do one above the other […], but that both be equal” (The Politics, IV, 4, 1291-b). However, as democracy is a regime that aims at equality as well as freedom, he adds the second norm of democracy: freedom, “from which has come the claim to be governed by no one, or, if this is not possible, to govern and be governed each in turn; and so this second factor lends its support to freedom founded on equality” (Politics, L. VI, ch. 2)34. The economic dimension is taken into account: the most numerous should not be too poor, and wealth should be partly distributed through taxation (Politics V, 5, 1320-a 7).

Tocqueville, too, clearly saw the tensions between these two antagonistic principles. He sees democracy as the bearer of the idea of equality, which would be trite if he didn’t specify that it involves a tendency to equalize conditions: diminishing disparities in wealth, a mobile social hierarchy, the possibility for all citizens to participate in political power, and universal access to culture through education. However, the aspiration to equality should not lead to the acceptance of a restriction of freedom, which is the risk of a tyranny of the majority35. The solution he sees to a good combination of equality and liberty lies in the decentralization of power and in a free press, which “alone cures most of the evils that equality can produce” (L. II, Part 4, chap. VII).

For Cornelius Castoriadis, democracy, which he sees as necessarily direct, is a regime of both freedom and equality (political and economic). Since experience has shown that economic inequality is easily transformed into political inequality, he sees the need for concrete economic equality (identical incomes for all), in line with his model of self-management. Recognizing neither the metaphysics of the notions of equality and freedom, nor the anthropology of a homo societatis like Aristotle, nor, like Popper, historicism and its economic determinisms, he is condemned to imagining a “social imaginary”, necessary for the self-creation of human societies36. On the other hand, like Socrates, he clearly sees the need for civic education (paedeia) to form autonomous citizens: free thought and free decision-making.

Rawls, in his search for rules of justice at the foundation of his political theory, also confronts the “perverse couple” of freedom and equality. However, at the highest level of freedom, he can only make compatible a simple initial equality of opportunity (Fair Equality of Opportunity, or FEO, or The Equal Opportunity Principle). Equal opportunity is either demagogy or an illusion. In the North American context, this equality of opportunity, even if duly established, is nothing more than the American myth of individual material “success”. This myth, still widespread today, was popularized in the 19th century by the Unitarian pastor Horatio Alger Jr. (1832-1899). His role model was Abraham Lincoln, who became the sixteenth President of the United States after a difficult childhood and self-taught studies. This author proclaimed virtuous success through some one hundred and ninety-nine books for ambitious young people, the most famous of which, Ragged Dick in 1867, tells of a young man’s enrichment through the virtues of willpower and hard work alone. According to this myth, which has so contaminated the American population, all enrichment is, on the one hand, “deserved” and, on the other, deprives no one, since the world is unlimited! These are two illusions of the notion of equality of opportunity. There’s a third: in Rawls’s pseudo-meritocracy, we have to add the vagaries of fortune to his principle of equal opportunity: equal opportunity does not multiply the number of opportunities. Thus, if thirty million candidates have the same chances of accessing the three hundred thousand jobs on offer, only one percent of them will ever be able to do so. This is the third illusion associated with the OEF. In our view, it would take a colossal cultural bludgeoning of the myth of virtuous success (or a societal idiosyncrasy) for a thinker of Rawls’ stature to make it a principle of his Theory of Justice (1971)37.

The liberty of any one member shall not infringe upon that of any other member” is a questionable Enlightenment formula, a close variant of which can be found in the Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen38. Already, its relative tautology doesn’t define much. Secondly, it’s unmanageable on a day-to-day basis (how do you simply bump into each other in the street?). Above all, by creating a desired fixed boundary between people, it removes the very space for flexible and variable overlap, free in a word; the place where individual wills are expressed and confronted, and which is precisely the only possible space for true freedom, encompassing the excesses of invasion or overflowing of some and the capacity of others to absorb or accept, usually in turn. The variety of possible situations, excluding pathology, means that it is rarely the same people who are invading or accepting, depending on the mode of expression of their respective “freedoms” and the field in which they are expressed. We therefore prefer Bakunin’s formula: “My personal freedom, confirmed by the liberty of all, extends to infinity39, it is within humanity, in fact, that freedom takes on its full meaning.

But there is a good way to combine equality and freedom. This is to be found in the motto of the French Republic: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, in which none of the terms is reducible to any other, and of which Fraternité is a key element of a very special nature or status. Indeed, while liberty and equality have historically been seen as rights, fraternity is a duty:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood 40.

 Admittedly, the text doesn’t dare use the word “fraternity” directly, but its “spirit” is definitely there!

The first two terms refer to individual orders: singular (liberty) and collective (equality), but the third (fraternity) belongs to the more fundamental human order, and, let’s face it, to the universal order. Indeed, the order of this motto reflects their hierarchy, presented in reverse order, from the most individual to the most universal: Fraternity – third in the order of cultural or anthropological formulations – is first in the metaphysical order, where it defines all relationships, and, even more so, where the human being defines himself as a relationship. He is in fact a relation to That which gives him being (or to be), a relation to those who give him life and guide him in it (his parents, if he is not a wolf-child) and a relation to all others, enabling him to exist.

Thus, the presence of this third term, a secular replica of charity that not even Voltaire could deny41, signs a major counter-punch to an economist doctrine that would have “social happiness” rest on the egoism of each individual42. If this is a “noble lie” (transl. R. Baccou), as Plato says in his Kallipolis (beautiful city), it’s because, on the one hand, his “myth of races” makes all citizens brothers because they come from the same mother earth (Republic, 414th), but, on the other hand, inequalities exist among citizens, which this fraternity makes it possible to overcome. It is a “noble lie” because it is a “just lie”43; it enables the organization of a human world of law, in reference to a suprahuman world of Justice44. If “for the Ancients, an ordered and just community only exists if the members who make it up relate to an outside, to superhuman values, which myths project into the time of origins”45, the same is true of our modern societies. Fraternity takes the place of “myth” for them; it refers above all to a metaphysics of relationship, underlying all metaphysics of being46.

More prosaically, if the egalitarian illusion becomes “voluntary sharing” and the libertarian illusion “autonomy in solidarity”, fraternity, which combines both, becomes the natural solution to the apparent irreducible and sterile opposition between equality and freedom. “Natural”, since the homo societatis that is man could never have been the “lonely and idle” wild man described by Rousseau47. which the “wolf-children” have confirmed.

For Pierre Leroux (1797-1871), the word “socialisme”48 itself will designate an ideal society sacrificing none of the terms of the motto. But he failed to convince people that “Fraternité” should be positioned between “Liberté” and “Égalité”, when it was his role to make them compatible49. And he will have seen that “fraternity” is not so much a “noble lie” as one of the names for the “attraction” inherent in human beings, who are fundamentally relational, and which leads them to Association, a “fundamentally democratic impulse”50. This “attraction”, which he finds in the Saint-Simonians and Fourierists, “tends to abolish the command/obedience relationship and at the same time the phenomena of domination”51. He turns it into “a fundamentally political principle, namely friendship.

A politics of philia, as opposed to the politics of eros advocated by Fourier and the Saint-Simonians alike, which are equally destructive of the political bond. Friendship, on the other hand, is one of the most sublimated of passions, encompassing the moment of judgment and warding off both egoism and the temptation of fusional community. The distinctive feature of friendship is that it establishes a bond within separation, i.e., a bond that is forged while preserving a separation between the members of the community 52.

In any case, it becomes clear how the three terms of the Republican motto apply, or should apply, to our societies. According to the societal tripartition of the legal-administrative, cultural and economic domains, the ternary of the motto of the Republic could be the reminder, or the ideal, or the rule, according to a term-to-term correspondence:

equality will be able to preside over the legal-administrative field,

Freedom should reign in the cultural world,

and Brotherhood to govern the economic space.53

 This remains an unfinished agenda for any (unfinished) democracy, but we can already see that some work is being done in this direction. Relative equality before the law is obvious, but what’s terribly lacking is the sharing of power, in time (in turn) and space (depending on whether we’re talking about the local, regional, national, federal or global level). In the cultural sphere, relative freedom has been preserved, with the exception of the press, which is either a prisoner of economic constraints or ideologically subjugated, and which plays a more opinion-forming role than a propaedeutic to freedom of thought. The same is true of the education system, which seems to have lost its role of forming free and autonomous citizens, fit for panarchy or diacracy((see the paper “From Democracy to Diacracy”), although it seems to have played this role for a long time. As far as the economy is concerned, there’s no denying the efforts that have been made to distribute wealth through taxation, medical care and aid for the poorest… what remains to be determined is the intentions behind these efforts: to maintain the differential necessary for an economy of the “always more”? To manage inequality and unemployment to the optimum? The fiction of equal opportunity does not preach in favor of “fraternal” intentions.

If we take up the three “spheres” of political organization, explicit or implicit, of any society, as recalled by Castoriadis :

  • private life, the family, the home, the Greek oikos,
  • public-private” life, places for associations, businesses, shows, the agora,
  • public” life, the place where power is deposited and exercised, the ecclesia,

It’s clear that these three spheres must be flexibly articulated, especially as they do not have watertight boundaries: thus, when an outraged economic liberalism claims to be able to separate the agora from the oikos, it is mistaken, or deceives us; nor is there any state budget (ecclesia) that does not intervene in the agora or the oikos. This tyranny of authority is only so because it arrogates to itself hereditary class power, to put it simplistically. There is no shortage of opportunities for change: participation, deliberation, drawing lots, etc., all ideas more or less recuperated by “liberalism”, so that they remain ineffective in terms of acceptance of power – that’s the crisis we’re talking about. These recuperated ideas will always retain the unwarranted image of manipulation, as long as there is no effective sharing of power, the harmonious establishment of a panarchy, a diacracy.


  1. P.F.G. Lacuria, “La Voie unique” (c. 1850), p. 19, Ms 5.943 C, Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.[]
  2. Two things that would be identical in every respect would be one and the same. Everything that exists is condemned to be different from everything else.[]
  3. For example, Ernest Renan (1823-1892): “The idea of an egalitarian civilization is therefore a dream. [enlightment, morality and art will always be represented in humanity by a magisterium, by a minority guarding the tradition of the true, the good and the beautiful. However, this magisterium must be prevented from using force and appealing, in order to maintain its power, to impostures and superstitions”, L’Avenir de la science, pensées de 1848, Paris: Calman Levy, 1890, preface.[]
  4. The initial idea of alternating may have been the cleaning of gutters by running water (in place in certain districts of certain towns), has given way to an image of equality, highly prized, it seems.[]
  5. Carlo M. Cipolla, The Fundamental Laws of Human Stupidity, Paris: PUF, 2012, p. 21[]
  6. Note from the Social Contract (1762 edition). Is his critique too harsh for today’s times? “The universal spirit of the laws of all countries is always to favor the strong against the weak, and he who has against he who has nothing: this inconvenience is inevitable, and it is without exception”, Emile, liv. IV.[]
  7. This inequality (“moral or political”), in Rousseau’s consists in the various privileges enjoyed by some, to the detriment of others, such as being richer, more honored, more powerful than them, or even being obeyed by them”; Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, p. 2 (French ed.).[]
  8. The more a situation has improved (material ease, freedoms, etc.), the more difficult it becomes to deviate from the ideal.[]
  9. However, once everyone has the same income, how can we prevent those who give their money to sportsmen or singers from doing so, upsetting any egalitarian distribution of income?[]
  10. Cf. Yves Sintomer, Le pouvoir au peuple, Paris: La Découverte, 2007.[]
  11. Yves Sintomer, Petite histoire de l’expérimentation démocratique. Tirage au sort et politique d’Athènes à nos jours, Paris: La Découverte, 2011, p. 111.[]
  12. Cf. Jacques Rancière, La haine de la démocratie, Paris: La Fabrique, 2005.[]
  13. Protagoras or The Sophists, Plato’s Works, trans. V. Cousin, Paris: Bossange, 1826, t. 3, p. 32 [319c-d].[]
  14. Reported by Thucydides, in Karl Popper, La leçon de ce siècle, Anatolia, 1993, p. 108.[]
  15. Protagoras, trans. V. Cousin, Œuvres de Platon, t. 3, 1826 [322e-323a], Ice-eBooks no. 86.[]
  16. L. III, ch. VI, § 10 [1282a].[]
  17. Aristotle, Politics, L. I, 1, 4 [1252a].[]
  18. As free will, freedom becomes fundamental to the anthropology of Thomas Aquinas; as civil or political freedom, it even takes precedence over reason as man’s principal attribute in Rousseau’s Social Contract (1762). In Rousseau’s Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes/”Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men”(Amsterdam: M. M. Rey, 1755, p. 31), he states: “It is therefore not so much understanding that makes man’s specific distinction among animals as his quality as a free agent”.[]
  19. L’être et le néant (1943), Paris: Gallimard, 1976, p. 612.[]
  20. “Man is condemned to be free; condemned because he has not created himself, and yet free because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does”; L’existentialisme est un humanisme, Paris: Nagel, 1946, p. 37. We can just as easily see in Saint Augustine’s formula Love, and do what you want”, a freedom and a responsibility.[]
  21. The theological definition is no different: “man’s freedom consists negatively in the absence of external constraint and of any interior necessity, positively in autonomous determination and decision, on the basis of the motives that present themselves”, Mgr. Bartmann, Précis de théologie dogmatique, trans. M. Gautier, Mulhouse/Paris: Salvator/Casterman, 6e ed., 1947, t. I, p. 172.[]
  22. This is what makes the notion of “incompatibilism” in analytic philosophy so irrelevant, for which free will and determinism, reduced to the same level, would constitute logically incompatible categories. Thus, belief in determinism would make free will an illusion (hard determinism: Baron d’Holbach, Daniel Wegner) or, alternatively, that determinism would be false (libertarianism: Roderick Chisholm), or, according to third-party “impossibilist” theses, free will is simply decreed to be a metaphysical impossibility (Richard Double, Galen Strawson, Saul Smilansky or, via logical fatalism: Richard Taylor). Cf. Kadri Vihvelin, “Arguments for Incompatibilism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Fall 2015 Ed., E. N. Zalta ed.[]
  23. An automaton spirituale, according to Spinoza, Traité de la réforme de l’entendement (“Treatise on the reform of understanding”), trans. Ch. Appuhn, §.85[]
  24. Buridan (1292-1363), following Aristotle(cf. Benoît Patar, Dictionnaire des philosophes médiévaux, Montréal: Fides – Presses philosophiques, 2006.[]
  25. Marxisme et sens chrétien de l’histoire, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2016, p. 179, which we follow here.[]
  26. Borella, ibid., pp. 181-184.[]
  27. “You would not seek me if you had not already found me” (Pascal, Fragment hors Copies n° 8H-19T recto; Brunschvicg 553) illustrates, theologically or spiritually, this paradox.[]
  28. trans. J. Tricot, Paris: Vrin, 2005, p. 390.[]
  29. Article 2 of the current 1958 French Constitution.[]
  30. Social Contract, chapter vi of Book xi.[]
  31. Title I of the Constitution of 1791.[]
  32. Decree of September 21, 1792, part of the Constitution of 1793.[]
  33. Preamble IV of the 1848 Constitution (IInd République). Emphasis added.[]
  34. trans. J. Tricot, Paris: Vrin, 2005 (p. 432).[]
  35. De la Démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America), t. 1, Paris: Flammarion, 1981, p. 349.[]
  36. Cf. L’Institution imaginaire de la société, Paris: Seuil, 1975. Very precisely, societies are “free and unmotivated creations of the anonymous collective concerned”, Fait et à faire. Les carrefours du labyrinthe, t. 5, Paris: Seuil, 2008, p. 321.[]
  37. Note a revision in 1975, another in 1999 and, in 2001, the publication of a sequel: Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.[]
  38. First Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, August 26, 1789: “Art. 4. 4 – Freedom consists in being able to do everything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of each man’s natural rights has no limits other than those which ensure the enjoyment of these same rights for the other Members of Society” (drafted by Alexandre de Lameth, cf. Rials, La Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, Paris: Hachette, 1988, p. 224). Second Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (preamble to the Constitution of June 24, 1793): Art. 6. Freedom is the power that belongs to man to do everything that does not harm the rights of others: its principle is nature; its rule is justice; its safeguard is the law; its moral limit is this maxim: Do not do to another what you do not want done to you.[]
  39. Mikhail Bakunin, “Man, Society, and Freedom” (1871), Bakunin on Anarchy, trans. & ed. by Sam Dolgoff (1971). He clarifies earlier: “I can feel free only in the presence of and in relation to other humans. In the presence of an inferior species of animal, I am neither free nor human […] I am only truly free when all human beings, men and women, are equally free […] The freedom of other humans, far from denying or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its principle and its confirmation” (we translate).[]
  40. Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1848, Article 1[]
  41. Ah! Bachelier du Diable, a little more indulgence ; /You & I need tolerance. /What would become of the world & society, /If everything, down to the Atheist, was without charity? M. de Voltaire, Les Cabales, œuvre pacifique, London, 1772, p. 11.[]
  42. Cf. Adam Smith’s famous butcher’s egoism (1723-1790) in his Investigations into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). Beyond the simplistic image, Smith is not a champion of liberalism (cf. Michaël Biziou, Adam Smith et l’origine du libéralisme, Paris: PUF, 2003). On the contrary, for this economist-philosopher, virtue is necessary for social regulation – a virtue that seems to us analogous to the duty of fraternity in the French motto. Moreover, for Smith, “the problem is not so much to liberate the market from state intervention as to liberate the state from merchant intervention” (p. 180), or, in today’s parlance, from the corruption of lobbies; F. C., Philosophie 2005/3 (n° 86), pp. 86-92.[]
  43. Cf. Marie-des-Neiges RuffoPlato – Le mythe des races”, Implications philosophiques, Sept. 2009.[]
  44. “The sphere of sociopolitics is marked by a dilemma, indeed an unresolved contradiction, between a human world of law and a suprahuman world of justice”, Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Une utopie de la raison : essai sur la politique moderne, Paris: Table Ronde, 2002, p. 43.[]
  45. Ibid., p. 67.[]
  46. In Christian language, it refers to the creation of man by a God-Love (Deus charitas est) and to Christ as “unique neighbor” (Borella).[]
  47. Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men, p. 28 French book).[]
  48. We owe him this neologism from 1834, initially pejorative as qualifying an authoritarian organization of society (absolute socialism).[]
  49. Bruno Viard, Anthologie de Pierre Leroux, inventeur du socialisme, Lormont: Le Bord de l’Eau, 2007, p. 265.[]
  50. Miguel Abensour, “Utopie et démocratie” (“Utopia and democracy”), op. cit., p. 33.[]
  51. Ibidem.[]
  52. Ibid., p. 34.[]
  53. Cf. Rudolf Steiner.[]