Talk:Afrikan Aleksandrovich Spir
|WikiProject Biography||(Rated C-class)|
|WikiProject Russia||(Rated Redirect-class)|
|WikiProject Philosophy||(Rated C-class, Mid-importance)|
Spir's writings are totally unavailable.You would think that his connection to Nietzsche would generate some demand.Lestrade 15:27, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Lestrade
AVAILABILITY Manuscripts, personal papers, photographs books of and on African Spir are availables at the Library of Geneva (Bibliothèque de Genève, formerly Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire de Genève), where they can be consulted. Cf. the catalogue: Fabrizio Frigerio, Catalogue raisonné du fonds African Spir, Genève, 1990. (RigdzinPhurba (talk) 08:04, 20 July 2009 (UTC))
Tolstoy & Spir
You are affirming that Tolstoy was influenced by Spir, after 1896. That is possible, but considering all that was published by Tolstoy before that year, such an affirmation may require some further explantions, especially since his ideas may not have changed noticeably after 1894, accordingly to M. Lozowy from McGill university. - writings on religion in the 1880, non-resistance in 1893 and articles such as Patriotism and christianity, and Patriotism or Peace ? in 1894 and 1896. I just got a book published in 1937 by the daughter of Spir ("Paroles d'un sage: choix de pensées d'African Spir. Paris; Je sers, 1937, and Genève; Labor, 65 pp., published at the occasion of his one hundreth anniversary) The biographer says indeed that Tolstoy had only known the works of Spir "a few years after" 1890 - after he was buried. But of the hundred thoughts by Spir, I can only see one, to the best of my knowledge, that Tolstoy may possibly have taken from Spir, since it is expressed in Slavery of our time, dated 1900 (on the concept on property, it says that it is not true that some people should own things that nobody else should have a right to use.) And it may well be that this idea could also be found in the Kingdom of God. Tolstoy was apparently so "impressed" by Spir, that he found an editor in Moscow that published, in 1901, a Russian version of a work by Spir. At his point, it would be interesting, and important, to clarify whether Tolstoy was indeed influenced by Spir, or it just happened that on religion, morals, economics and war, their search brought them to very similar conclusions. When her daughter spoke about her father, and mention also Tolstoy, did she only suggest that Spir had the same ideas that the great Russian author ? Thanks - André Boivin Québec —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 19:16, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
We read in the journal of Tolstoy (from Wikisource, May 2nd 1896 : "Still another important event the work of African Spier. I just read through what I wrote in the beginning of this notebook. At bottom, it is nothing else than a short summary of all of Spier's philosophy which I not only had not read at that time, but about which I had not the slightest idea. This work clarified my ideas on the meaning of life remarkably, and in some ways strengthened them. The essence of his doctrine is that things do not exist, but only our impressions which appear to us in our conception as objects. Conception (Vorstellung) has the quality of believing in the existence of objects. This comes from the fact that the quality of thinking consists in attributing an objectivity to impressions, a substance, and a projecting of them into space." - Tolstoy himself recognized the influence of Spir, I admit; how he expressed it in his own writings is just another matter... André - Qc —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 20:19, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Information about Spir
I felt obliged to transmit you the following information. I sincerely apologize for all the mistakes I made, for English is not my mother tongue. With a few minor corrections in the spelling, you have here many first hand quotations.
A little book has awakened my interest for African Spir : "Paroles d’un sage : choix de pensée d’African Spir, publiées avec une Esquisse biographique par Mme Édouard Claparède-Spir [Appendix: "Le devoir d’abolir la guerre"]. Paris; Éditions "Je sers" (Genève; Éditions Labor), 1937, 65 pp.” - It is the book published for the centennial of his birth. The fact that the author is named Mme Édouard Claparède-Spir, although both parts of the book are signed by “H. C.-S.” probably means that the daughter of African Spir, Hélène, - who happened to have signed this copy of the book “Hélène Claparèd (E)- Spir, for the last "e" is unreadable - was married to a certain Mr. Édouard, and still kept, - although the front cover does not mention her at all - the name of her father. After reading this book, and wanting to learn more, I have found that this page contains a few errors.
“His Greek mother, Helena Arsenowna Spir (née Poulevich), was the daughter of a famous painter.” Not true. I quote Hélène Claparède-Spir, while translating: [His mother] was the daughter of the major Poulevitch and little daughter, by her mother, of the greek painter Logino.” [p. 10]
“From the age of eight Afrikan was educated at military academies.” I do not believe he went to a military school at the age of eight. Hélène wrote: “Accordingly to the custom of the noble family, boys were instructd first in a Lycée, then, in a militry school, with a view to take a rank in the army. Alo the little African was pitilessly dragged away from his quiet and happy life, to be plced in a boarding school, where he felt totally lost among noisy boys. Around 15 of age (...) he went through an intense religious crisis, spending hours hours knealed dowm at prayer. Accordingly to the Russian law, he was baptised in the greco-orthodox religion, which was the one of her mother, whereas his father was protestant. To join a monastery, to live there in the detachment from things of this world, of a pure and saint life, such was then his wish, which however he was not to realize. For, yielding to the entreaties of his mother, he followed the traditional channels, and enter the preparatory military school.” [p. 11-12]
“In 1878 Spir contracted a lung infection. On the advice of his doctor, he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he spent five years.” Hélène wrote, “around 1880”: “After having enjoy until then a good health in general, Spir contrated, around 1880, a severe pneumonia followed by rechute, from which he was left with an unfortunate cough for the rest of his days.” [p. 18-19]
More importantly, you should not ascribe his decision to the “advice of a doctor” His daughter wrote: “Thinking that the climate would be more favorable to the strenghtening of his health, Spir decided, in 1880, with one accord with his wife, to settle down in the sides of the Léman. (Pensant qu’en Suisse le climat serait plus favorable à la consolidation de sa santé, Spir décida, en 1880, d’un commun accord avec sa femme, d’aller se fixer sur les bords du Léman.) [p. 19]. His wife seems more important in this decision, accordingly to their daughter, than any “advice of a doctor”. In addition, his father, Dr. Alexander Spir, “slept almost all the time outdoors - he used to prescribe air cure, hydrotherapy, massage, exercice, etc”, [p. 8], and such an exemple, and the precepts that goes with, were certainly enough for him to decide to move to Switzerland. All the more than his book, La Certitude en Médecine (Certainty in medicine), published in St-Petersburg in 1835, gave rise to the cabale of his fellows physicians, and Guizot never gave a follow-up for the publication of its French translation in 1836 [p. 9], which suggest that any air cure in Switzerland might not have been a common advice from a doctor at this time.
That “advice of a doctor” masks very unhappily some important aspects of his apparent character, and may be totally misleading about his life.
1) He was not an hypochondriac, and nowhere we see that the distress of his body prevented him to work calmly, and with serenity, until the end of mortal life. “He never complained” [p. 29]
2) M. Hèlene Claparède-Spir discuss again that decision at another place in her little book, very noticeably just after what she said of Tolstoy in 1901 [p. 27 - see below], which may well be the major reason in my opinion: “As he had neither close parents [left] in Russia , nor any perspect to ever go back in these far away regions, ant that, on the other hand, he was straight off appealed to the liberal and democratic institutions of Switzerland, Spir wanted to acquired the Switzerland citizenship...” [p. 27-28]. Now replace that information with another earlier in his life: “... to grant freedom to these lasts (serfs), and, in addition, to each one of them housing, a piece of land and some money. This spontaneous act of generosity, much before the official abolition of serfdom in Russia, naturally could not help to provoke against him the wraths from the neighbouring landlords, absolutely not inclined to initate his example” [p. 13]. Although negative, this seems part of the reason for him to decide to move.
Indeed, we do not see him especially concerned with his health in Lausanne: “It is during that sojourn in Lausanne, that Spir prepared, et published, from 1884 to 1885, the definitive edition of his Gesammelte Schriften in four volumes, of which the two first contain the theoretical presentation of his system, the two others, the practical philosophy which logically springs from it” [p. 20-21]
3) Very importantly, Spir was motivated by the love of study, and the love of truth. “Spir resign of the duty of the navy, et devoted himself totally to study.” [p. 13] It is not said that he devoted himself to his well-being. Spir is the man who wrote: “What is the use for a man to have at his disposal a large field of action, if within himself he remains confine to the narrow limits of his individuality”; “When a man make of his personnal interests the mainspring of his life and he is greedy to make use of everything that can benefit him, he naturally enters into conflict with other persons, acting also in their interests, hence the disagreements that can become a humndred years old, and drive whole generations to a mutual hate”; “So many really divine individuals humanity has not already produced ! Heros in the moral sense, who never got tired to practice renouncement and charity; bright intelligences who opened to the mind new ways and horizons; poets and wonderful artists, who created for him the image of an ideal world, the reflect of perfection. These are as many proofs of the presence of the absolu in the midst of humanity, for him that does not discover the immediate proof of that in himself.”; “If pity was always equally alive and acting in all individuals and in all circumstances, we could do away with moral. Unfortunately, it is not compassion, but rather it’s contrary, selfishness, that act most strongly in us.” [sayings from in his “Choix de pensées”]
My argument that he moved to Lausanne because it was a good place to work is further supported by the reason of his next moving, to Geneva: “... Spir had, for a number of reasons, decided to settle down definitively in Geneva, with his wife and his daughter...” Footnote: “One of the main reason of this change of residence, is that he was afraid that with time he would not be able to find in Lausanne the stocks of books which he needed. For he spent most of his time reading. As he could not, because of his cough, go to read there and then, we had to bring him once a week un big stock of books - chosen according to the catalogues of the public library, in the most various fields. It was thus very important to him to ensure for the futur sufficient stocks of books; he wished, also, to have at hand the main french, german and english magazines, in order to fell more in touch with the thinking world. Maybe did he also hoped, in Geneva, to have some chances to come to contact with intellectuals circles, to fell less isolated.” [p. 28-29]
About his family life: His daughter Hélène wrote: “ If reading and meditation were, besides his pen, his only occupation, music remained his only distraction, and his consolation his sad isolation. When his wife played an adagio of Beethoven to the piano, his being was like overjoyed in a supra-terrestrial world in which music reflected en som eway the supreme beauty. Apart from his intense intellectual work, Spir appreciated the quiet and serene family life; but sometimes, in this house, where there never was a strife, he was seen like lost in the thoughts that painfully grapped him.” [p. 20]
“... his wife - a musician as good as a wary housewife and economical - could, at least, get him the pure enjoyment of her art, playing him his favorite pieces. As for his daughter, whom he cherished, and whose tender affection was, in his monotonous life, like a ray of sun, he reared her with real pedagogical sense, and above all, also, by hos exemple.” [p. 29-30]
You have to stress the high moral charater of Spir, and its complete absence of attachment to wordly possessions, if you want the reader to know who he really was: 1) when he freed his serfs: “His first act when taking possession of his lands, which included large pieces of lands and numerous serfs, was to grant freedom to these lasts, and, in addition, to each one of them housing, a piece of land and some money.” [p. 13] 2) “He sold his estates at a ridiculously low price and distributed almost all of his possessions [p. 13]...
If a single sentence may summarize the character of Spir, it may be this one: “There is only one thing in the world which is really valuable, it is to do good.”
You really have to clarify what you mean by “was influenced by” and “influenced” so and so.; here are some clues. I quote again his daughter: “In many coutries, indeed, prominent persons already devoted themselves to the study of his works, especially of Denken und Wirklichkeit; men such as Max Müller, the renknown orientalist from Oxford; Hans Vainhinger, who became the founder of the philosophy of “Als ob”; G. Heymans, the futur psychologist of Groningue, Bahnsen, F. Jodl, William James, Renouvier, Paul Janet, etc. It may also appears astonishing that Nietzsche was also interested by Spir... For a long time [Nietsche] studied Denken und Wirklichkeit.” (En divers pays, en effet, des hommes de marque s’adonnait à l’étude de ses œuvres, notamment de Denken und Wirklichkeit; des hommes tels que Max Müller, le grand orientaliste d’Oxford; Hans Vaihinger, qui devint le fondateur de la philosophie de « Als ob »; G. Heymans, le futur psychologue de Groningue, Bahnsen, F. Jodl, William James, Renouvier, Paul Janet, etc. Il peut aussi sembler étonnant que Nietzsche se soit, lui aussi, intéressé à Spir…(…) Nietzsche a longuement étudié Denken und Wirklichkeit.» [pp. 24-25]
Is it because one liked an author that he was influenced by him ? If this is true, Spir may have also been influenced by John Stuart Mill: “Spir would have much liked to see one of his books published in England, the country of the two philosophers, Stuart Mill and David Hume, that he appreciated very particularly, et who always stayed his preferred authors, “because, he said, of their clarity et of their perfect sincerity.” (« Spir aurait aussi beaucoup aimé voir publié un des livres en Angleterre, le pays des deux philosophes, Stuart Mill et David Hume, qu’il appréciait tout particulièrement, et qui sont toujours restés ses auteurs préférés, « à cause, disait-il, de leur clarté et de leur parfaite bonne foi. » [footnote, p. 24]
“...the doctrine of Spir have neverthless spread more in the world: important works were devoted to them; they were the object of various doctorate thesis, in Germany, in italiy, in France, et some professors chose them as the topic of their university courses.” Footnote: “In his essay on the Dualism of Spir, prsented at la sorbonne in january 1914, M. G. Huan said that the doctrine of this philosopher, “although little mentionned, exert on his contemporaries an obvious and profound effect; mais those very same who were the most strongly under his influence did not believe themselves to be obliged to confess it publicly.”; « Avec le temps, les doctrines de Spir se sont tout de même répandues davantage dans le monde: d’importants travaux leur ont été consacrés; elles ont fait l’object de diverses thèse de doctorat, en Allemagne, en Italie, en France, et certains professeurs les ont choisies comme sujet de leurs cours universitaires. » Note en bas de page: « Dans sa dissertation sur le Dualisme de Spir, présentée à la Sorbonne en janvier 1914, M. G. Huan dit que la doctrine de ce philosophe, « bien que peu mentionnée, exerça sur ses contemporains une action évidente et profonde; mais ceux-là même qui subirent le plus fortement son influence ne se crurent pas tenus d’en faire publiquement l’aveu. » [p. 26]
And what about the Christian influence in the thought of Spir ? He wrote: “The precept to worship God “in spirit and in truth” recommand to worship him as an inward and moral force, witohout physical attributes et with no link with fears and egoist wishes.”; “For those who do not need to work to provide for their maintenance, to confer to their lives a content worthy of themselves. Now, this purpose can be attained only if we do not act solely with a view to our own benefits, but with a view to the benefit of all. Chrsit said: “Where is your treasure, there also will be your heart.”; “Religion is not simply a theory, it is a higher life, of which morality is an integral part - a life devoted to the worshio of the good and the true, for God, the absolu, is the supreme source of all perfection.”; “The duty of the State is double; it must strive to perfect its member, by promoting their intellectual and moral progress, et try to keep the right and the justice in their mutual relationships.”; “The first principle from which stems the moral of about all people at all time; it is summarize in this precept: Love thy neighbour as thyself, and: not to do unto others what you would not they should do unto you »
For my part, I have known Spir as a great moralist, and a wise man; he gave me an image of saintliness; compared to the centennial book, we do not this in the actual page of Wikipedia.
Apart from his detachment of wordly possessions, and his extreme humility, his complete absence of vanity, a central fact of his life is that he was almost unknown as an author. This topic could be further developed.
His daughter wrote: “All the tragic of his existence is revealed in these few lines, beginning of a “Preface”, which he had writtent, during the severe illnesse that almost carried him off, in anticipation of a posthumous edition of his German works: I hope that my death will break the strange fate that seemed thrown at everything that emanate from me; the most obvious things, coming from me, did not get a response from others, the most indubitable appear to them false or questionable, the most essential without any value. Thus it befell that the doctrine based on the noticing of facts of an immediate certainty, doctrine capable of promoting in the world the greatest and most beneficial spiritual evolution, encounter neither support, nor understanding...” [p. 22]
Why not add : “He wished he could have published one of his books in England” [Footnote, p. 24] - where were his prefered authors ?
Why not add : “However, in his own country, he remained almost totally ignored.” [p. 26], as his daughter wrote, which seems important in his life, and establish also a link with what Tolstoy did in 1901 for Spir.
“However, in his own country, he remained almost totally ignored. He hardly had, besides, relationships with Russia - for which he kept, hewever, a deep attachment; particularly for his own native land, Ukraine, which he liked, sometimes, to sing in small-russian the so distinctive melody. If he never wrote anything in his mother tongue, it is because he was thinking that we could not publish anything from him in Russia.” [p. 26] - which tend to confirm that he did not return to Russia only to be able to work in peace.
Your affirmation that “Spir influenced Tolstoy” needs further explanations, because 1) Accordingly to M. Lozowy, professor at the faculty of Russian and Slavonic studies at McGill University (Montréal): “Tolstoy expressed the major parts of his conceptions in two major works: What should we do ? (1886) and The kingdom of God is within you (1893). These are two “sums” of many hundred pages... After the publication of these books, the political though of Tolstoï did not really evolve.” [Éric Lozowy. Léon Tolstoï: Écrits politiques. Montréal; Éd. Écosociété, 2003, p. 34 - last page of intro.]. 2) Hélène Claparède-Spir wrote: “Tolstoy was very sorry that he had not been introduced to the author of Denken und Wirklichkeit, with whom he would have so much liked to be able to discuss. We can even ask ourselves if, put previously in personal relations with Spir, he would have not come to revise some of his theories." (« Tolstoï était navré de n’avoir pas connu l’auteur de Denken und Wirklichkeit, avec lequel il eut tant aimé pouvoir discuter. On peut même se demander si, mis antérieurement en rapports personnels avec Spir, il n’en serait pas venu à réviser certaines des se théories. »). Hélène wrote that, in other words, “if things had been otherwise”, Tolstoy may have revised some of his theories, so I am eager to learn what you mean by Tolstoy was “influenced by” Spir. I do not question the affirmation, but it appears debatable.
In the little book I have, the only thing I can see that Tolsoy has, maybe, borrowed from Spir as an author - if he did not expressed that idea somewhere before 1896 - is the following : Spir wrote: “Possessions of this world have not been for the exclusive use of such or such category of individuals.” («Les biens de ce monde n’ont pas été créés pour l’usage exclusif de telle ou telle catégorie d’individu », whereas Tolsoy wrote « Is it true that people should not use articles needful to satisfy their requirements if these articles are the property of other people ?“ - Laws concerning taxes, land and property In Slavery of our times, 1900, Dodd, Mead and company). An author like Proudhon also said something similar. So, I would like to see your “influenced Tolstoy” supported by more relevant information than my own limited search, and in particular, I wonder if that influence was not limited to some economical matters. It will probably seems obvious to anyone familiar with the thought of Tolstoy that much of the ideas on religion, non-violence, war and patriotism were expressed, after his conversion to Christianity, but before 1896.
You are also mistaken on what Tolstoy did about the works of Spir, when writing “[Tolstoy] succeeded in gaining permission from the Russian censorship for publication of Russian versions of Spir's works, which had originally been published in German.” I quote again Hélène Claparède-Spir: “Tolstoy made step after step in order to find an editor for the Russian translation - made by N. Bracker - of the Esquisses de philosophie critique [first published in German, as you wrote]. He succeeded to bring it out at Moscow, in 1901, but he renounced, at the last moment, to join to it an “Introduction” lest his name be prejudicial to the distribution of this book.” (Tolstoï multiplia les démarches en vue de trouver un éditeur pour la traduction russe - faite par N. Bracker - des Esquisses de philosophie critique. Il réussit à la faire paraître à Moscou, en 1901, mais renonça, au dernier moment, à y joindre une « Introduction » de crainte que son nom ne portât préjudice à la diffusion de ce livre.) [p. 27] - Thus, accordingly to Mme Hélène C.-Spir, what Tolstoy did for the publication involved a publisher, and not the censorship. [p. 27] - Tolstoy wrote a letter to the daughter of Spir, which was published as a fac-similé, jointly to “Une journée chez Léon Tolstoï” in the magazine Le Monde Nouveau (Paris, August 1928).
In the references, you may wish to add to “Un précurseur: A. Spir” that the foreword was writtent by Georges Duhamel.
To "1899. Nouvelles esquisses de philosophie critique. Paris: Félix Alcan." You could well mentionned that the book was reprinted in 1930, with an introduction by Léon Brunschwicg. In additon: The “Nouvelle Esquisse de Philosophie Critique”, of which M. Xavier Léon, editor in chief of La Revue de Métaphysique et Morale, directly discerned the value and originality, were published by him, in that magazine, from 1895 to 1896. Consequently, they were collected in one volume due to the care of M. A. Penjon, professor at Lille University, who made himslef, after the death of Spir, the zelous disseminator of his ideas in France.”
Thus, you may add this nice little book as a reference : « Mme Édouard (Hélène) Claparède-Spir. Paroles d’un sage : choix de pensée d’African Spir, publiées avec une Esquisse biographique par Mme Édouard Claparède-Spir [Appendix: "Le devoir d’abolir la guerre"]. Paris; Éditions "Je sers" (et Genève; Éditions Labor), 1937, 65 pp. » - The centennial book
This book also includes the portrait of Spir, which is a reproduction from of a drawing by Charlotte Ritter, that you have on this page.
And Hélène Claparède-Spir concluded the Esquisse biographique of hr father by saying: “His mortal remains were - for there was not yet a crematory in Geneva - buried with neither pomp nor ceremony in the cemetery of St-Georges, where, on his tomb, on a simple white stone in the shape of an opened book, these words of the Gospel are engraved: “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (“Sa dépouille mortelle fut - comme il n’y avait encore pas de crématoire à Genève -inhumé sans pompe ni cérémonie au cimetière St-Georges, où, sur sa tombe, une simple pierre blanche en forme de livre ouvert, porte gravés ces mots de l’Évangile : La lumière lui dans les ténèbres, Mais les ténèbres ne l’ont point reçue. - which we can read in John I, 5.
I felt obliged to send everybody news of this centennial book of African Spir, a signed copy, which was found by a friend of mine a week ago in Québec City... on the side of the street in a garbage bin ! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 126.96.36.199 (talk) 19:58, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
After reading the above, I am starting to suspect that Spir was influenced by Schopenhauer. That may be the connection to Tolstoy, who was strongly under Schopenhauer's influence. Renunciation, compassion, loss of self, asceticism, giving away property and possessions, quietism, living as a monk, Christianity, music, etc. are topics that Schopenhauer discussed often. Spir, who was a voracious reader and also a student of Kant, would have found Schopenhauer's works. Nietzsche was known to search out and read the books of those who were students of Schopenhauer, like Mainländer and von Hartmann. He would have found Spir through his interest in Schopenhauer. By the way, the German word "Vorstellung," which Schopenhauer used in the title of his main work, does not mean "conception." It means "representation," as in a mental image of an external object. According to Kant and Schopenhauer, we cannot know things as they exist apart from being mental images in our minds. We can only know Vorstellungen or representations of things. We can't know things–in–themselves. Although Schopenhauer claims that the thing–in–itself is Will or impulsive desire, which is the basic underlying reality. Is this also what Spir claimed?Lestrade (talk) 20:33, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Lestrade
Additional information on Spir, from the Esquisse Biographique
Here are further quotations from « Paroles d’un sage : choix de pensée d’African Spir, publiées avec une Esquisse biographique par Mme Édouard Claparède-Spir. Paris; Éditions "Je sers", 1937, 65 pp.” - I sincerely apologize for any mistake caused by imperfect knowledge of Shakespeare’s tongue. I sometimes report, in addition to my translation, the original text, between brackets, with “Fr.” when I kept a reasonable doubt on the quality of the translation.
[When Spir was at the preparatory military school]: Hélène S.C. wrote: “A fortuitious circumstance was to steer his mind (“orienter son esprit”, Fr.) in a new direcction. Indeed, the French traduction, by Tissot, of the Critique de la Raison Pure, by Kant, was made to fell into his hands (“Le hasard...fit tomber entre ses mains...., Fr.). This work, on which he meditated for a long time, awakening his taste and his aptitude for philosophy, gave his mind a permanent impression. He was then eager to obtain some more books of French and German thinkers, including Descartes and Voltaire, even thought he could only devote too rare moments to his dear studies (“à ses chères études”, Fr.). He was all wrapped up by his sailor life....” [p. 12]
“In order to come in touch with the thinking world, the futur philosopher undertook in 1862 a long trip in Occident; he visited Berlin, Paris, London, Leipzig, Heidelberg; followed some courses in philosophy, physics (by Helmholtz), in natural sciences, anatomy, etc. Returned to his Russian solitude, after more than two years of absence, he setted to work again with renewed ardor. He was gnerally found absorbed in books, or, the pen in his hand, writing some manuscript. He also liked to translate plays of Shakespeare and Goethe, whose works filled him with enthusiasm.” P. 14]
“...he went to inhabit Leipzig en 1867. The previous year, he had already published at an (“chez un”, Fr.) editor of this town his first book : Die Warheit, (The truth), under the pseudonym of “Prais”, anagram of: A. Spir. Not long after, he regretted this prematured publication, considering that his thought was not yet expounded with all the desirable order and clarity in it. He then made destroy (“Il fît alors détruire...”, Fr.) all the copies of this work, and after having completely rewrited its content, published it a new, with the same title, but this time under his name - in 1867.
Then, La Recherche de la Certitude (The search for certitude, - translator) was published in 1869, whose Preface contains some declarations that particularly deserves to be evoked in these times.” Footnote 1: “In the Preface of this book: forschung nach der Gewissheit, preface dated December 1868, Spir notably says: “... The development, and even the existence, of the modern civilisation, will very likely depend of the fact (- dépendront vraisemblablement du fait que..., Fr.) that we will have recognized the postulates of truth, of certainty, and that we will have act consequently in the practical field - it is Hélène C.Spir who underline. All that rest on a contradictory basis is inevitably destined to disappear... The basis of the moral and social life have become lapsed (“caduques”, Fr.). The fragility (“fragilité”, Fr.) and the contradictory state of these basis reveal themselves by the very fact that (“se révèlent par le fait même...”, Fr.) that they can not assert themselves in the long-term (“à la longue”, Fr.). Therefore, what could still save the present civilisation from the fate that underwent previous civilisations, if not Certitude, Truth ? Only truth never contradicts itself (“Seule la vérité ne se contredit jamais”, Fr.), it is unshakeable and immutable. It is only on it that we will be able to put together (or develop, - “édifier”, Fr.) something lasting. This is why I declare that we have to work from now on (“dès à présent”, Fr.) to the search for certitude, that it is the most needed thing that be. (“la chose la plus nécessaire qui soit”, Fr. - it is Hélène who underlined in italics.) [p. 14-15] As Hèlène worte elsewhere “...practice was with him inseparable from theory, his life was always in conformity to his principles; he used to live what he was teaching, and was of an absolute honesty” [p. 32].
I go on with the previous quotation [p. 15]: “In this very same year, he also made appear his Vorshlag en die Feunde einer vernünftigen Lebensführung, project for the founding of a sort of lay coenobium (“coenobium”, Fr.). Suffering from being deprived of (or going without) all family relationship, all friend and work fellow, he had worked out in detail the plan of a free community (“communauté libre”, Fr.), aimed at (“destinée à”, Fr.) bringing together men of various positions, professions and nationalities, having a same moral and social ideal (It is the translator who underline), men equally anxious to live an harmonious and rational life. As this initiative did not meet the desired echo (“n’a pas rencontré l’écho voulu”, Fr.), his project could not be realized at that time (“alors”, Fr.); he made up his mind, neverthless, to renew his attempts at a later time. But a few years later, having the occasion to make acquaintance with a likeable young lady of 23 years old, who came to Leipzig for her music studies, he married her, in Stuttgart, in 1872, et came to live in this town in the house of his father-in-law (...) which compelled him to renounce to all the resources of an universitary city.” [p. 16]
Hélène summarize the noble purpose that animated Spir: “The son was to know the same moral sufferings than the father. The latter (“celui-ci”, Fr.) believed he was bringing to men the secret of the body health (“le secret de la santé du corps”, Fr. - see above, Alexander Spir, “La certitude en médecine), by indicating them the principles of a life more in accrodance with their physical nature; the former (“celui-là”, Fr.) was bringing them the secret, even more precious, of the salvation of the soul, by revealing them the basic principle of their moral nature (the translator underline this point). Neither of them were to be heard. What added to the fate from which this philosopher had to suffer, was that he was a foreigmer, deprived of (going without ?...) all university degree, and, what is more, too discreet and reserved to personally push himself forward. Also, nothing is astonishing that in a country were titles and ranks play a so important role, no one dared to advocate the philosophical system of this unknown man, or (as a negation - ...”nul n’ait osé.... ni...”, Fr.) testify in favor of his ideas, whose originality (the translator underline) was, nevertheless, obvious.” [p. 16-17]
Whoever may have “influenced Spir”, I suggest that before he become very familiar with his philosophy, one should remember that single little word of his daughter, that his “originality” [p. 17] was obvious.
And Spir expressed himself on that situation, in which he found himself. Hélène quoted African “ 'Nothing is so far away from my thought, he said on this matter, than to wish to impose myself to other people attention. Anyone who has recognize the vanity of individuality will not set a lot of value on fame. The only thing that is valuable, is to do good.' ” - Then Hélène goes on: “And he thought acting towards this objective (“Et il estimait agir dans ce but,”, Fr.) spreading the doctrines it was given to him to reveal (“qu’il lui était donné de révéler”, Fr.) to men, and that he considered as something impersonal, universal, from which he was only the depositary (“dont il n’était que le dépositaire”, Fr.). - Hèlene quote again Spir: 'Doctrine that one may reject and condemn, he said, at least for some more time, but that one will never be able to refute' (“Qu’on ne pourra jamais réfuter”, Fr.)” [p. 17-18]
Then Hélène explained that this is why, being so humble, he always kept an unshakable faith in this portion of the truth he was transmitting. And then she quote a letter of Spir to the professor Penjon, published in the Revue de Métaphysique et Moral in July 1919, in which he protest agaist the title of “master” that was given to him, and also said “The doctrine expounded by me is the true, but I am not its author,” (“La doctrine exposée par moi est la vraie, mais je n’en suis pas l’auteur.”) [p. 18]
I have reported above that Spir prepared and published, in 1884 and 1885, Gesammelte Schriften in four volumes, the two first presenting the theoretical system, and the two others the practical philosophy that springs from it. - In my very limited knowledge of the question, it seems to me that is a major leg of his earlier reading of Kant. But maybe more than just that. Again, with my very limited knowledge of Spir’s philosophy, it really seems to be a central feature of his whole work.- Hélène C.-Spir quote from the book just mentioned above, a long extract, at page 21 of the centenial book: “In the Foreword come with the last of these volumes, Spir express himself as follows: '...I have devoted long years of my life to the exclusive search of a few essential points concerning the field of knowledge (“la rechercher exclusive de quelques points essentiels concernant le domaine de connaissance”, Fr.); points of a decisive importance for the whole spiritual life (“pour toute la vie spirituelle”, Fr.) . In this, I have not pursued any other objective than to etablish exact data (“... d’autre but que celui d’établir des données exactes”, Fr.), and any preconceived tendency remained not known to me (“et toute tendance préconçue m’est restée étrangère”, Fr.)
If on the one hand, it was implausible in itself that a so careful investigation, focuses on a so limited number of points, did not lead to a noticeable result (“résultat notable”, Fr.) having a glance (should I translate litteraly : a glance thrown at, (in French “un regard jeté à...”, Fr) on the first volumes of this collection will be sufficient to show, on the other hand, that the results I provide (“fournis par moi”, Fr.) have attained the highest degree of precision possible (“le plus haut degré de précision possible”, Fr.) I strive constantly to go to the bottom of matters, to define problems in a rigorous way, and to give the proof of everything I put forward (“...de fournir la preuve de tout ce que j’avance”, Fr.). But as I have neither title nor reference, my doctrines is believed not to deserve to catch public attention (this kind of English inversion... “…le public croit que mes doctrines ne méritent pas de retenir l’attention public”, Fr.); also it was never thought advicable until now to submit them to a serious and detailed public discussion. However, every man gifted with reason (“doué de raison”, Fr.) know how much is precious the least little bit of truth (“...la moindre parcelle de vérité...”, Fr.), in what regards the first principles of knowledge - the very fate of humanity is to be dependant on (- will... ?... “dépendra de..”, Fr.) the fact that we will suceed or not in discerning the true nature of men and things. To neglect, may it be only the most tiny chance of winning from this point of view, is therefore a heavy sin agaist humanity which has to suffer to such a degree from a lack of true and thorough knowledge. (Sorry if... “Négliger, ne serait-ce que la plus infime chance de gain sous ce rapport, est donc un lourd péché contre l’humanité qui a tant à souffrir du manque de connaissance vraie et profonde”, original in French.)'
A work on Spir that is not yet listed in this page of Wikepedia: Footnote, p. 19; “It is regrettable, also, that Spir was not aware of a long article that the professor Astié, from the university of Lausanne, had devoted, in 1877, to Denken und Wirklichkeit, in the 'Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie', and was the very first published review on this work. Unfortunately, the name of the author is distorted in it (“s’y trouve défiguré”, Fr.), turned into 'Spitz'” - Here I can not help thinking about Tolstoy’s journal, Mai 2 1896, in which Spir was tranformed into (rigged out with the name of) “Spier” ! - misquoted by L. Tolstoy or Wikisource ? - I would tend to think that the error lies in Wikisource.
About a reference mentioned above, which could be considered among works on Spir: Footnote, p, 23: “About the introduction by Léon Brunschwicg, I quote always Hélène C.-S.: “Recently, in 1930, a new edition of his Esquisse de Philosophie Critique - already out of print for a long time - appeared (“chez”, Fr. ) Alcan, at the president of the 'Société Française de Philosophie' instigation, with an introduction by M. Léon Brunschwicg, professor at the Sorbonne, who pay a fine tribute to the memory of Spir.”
Another work by Spir, not yet mentioned in the main page, which may be his latest, and quote Lessing (an “influence” ?): “It is in Geneva that Spir wrote his Nouvelles Esquisses de Philosophie Critique, which, to his regret, he had to renounce to publish, by lack of means (or money...). Consequently, he ceased almost completely to write. However, he still wrote a few articles, including one; De la distinction du bien et du mal (in English, On the distinction of right and wrong), and another: De l’immortalité - that were more especially the subject of his reflections then. And he gathered them together under the title: Deux questions vitales, in a little booklet that appeared, without author name (“sans nom d’auteur”, Fr.), at (“chez”, Fr.) Stapelmohr, in Geneva, in january 1890, a short time before his death.” Footnote: “On the clear yellow cover of the little anonymous brochure, the author had inscribed (or should I translate written down ?) as an epigraph, these words of Lessing: ' It will surely come, the time of a new everlasting Gospel which is promised to us in the very books of the New Testament.' “ [p. 30]
Another author mentioned in the Esquisse biographique, where his daughter also wrote about herself: “She was still young, when her father began to read to her, with his warm and stirring voice (“voix chaude et vibrante”, Fr.), the beautiful pages of Plato by which he believed, probably, he could awaken some of this enthusiasm for the things of the mind, he was so much wishing to see developed in her (“...les choses de l’esprit qu’il devait tant souhaiter voir s développer chez elle.”, Fr.) (p. 30)
Here is a potentially important point of comparison - maybe rather an exemple than an influence as such... ? - for the philosophy or Spir: [When in Lausanne] “As some short reviews of his books, from his editor in Leipzig, generally denoting a superficial examination of his theories, which had been the object of so long and careful researches, very seldom reached him, Spir could suppose that his philosophy had hardly arisen any interest (“n’avait guère suscité d’intérêt”, Fr.) in Germany. Consequently he turned to France, thinking to find there more understanding for his ideas(“pensant y trouver plus de compréhension pour ses idées”, Fr.). And he set to write in French his Esquisses de Philosophie Critique, in order to render his view accessible to the French public, whom he esteemed especially qualified to understand him, since all things considered he only had renewed ' the attempt of Descartes, to put everything into question, and to recognize as true only that would present itself with the nature of an absolute certainty. ' (« Il se tourna alors vers la France, pensant y trouver plus de compréhension pour ses idées. Et il se mit à rédiger ses Esquisses de Philosophie Critique, afin de rendre sa pensée accessible au public français, qu’il estimait particulièrement qualifié pour le comprendre, puisqu’il n’avait en somme que ' renouveler la tentative de Descartes, de remettre tout en question, et de ne reconnaître comme vrai, que ce qui se présenterait avec le caractère d’une certitude absolue.' - here Hélène is apparently quoting African expressing his own aim in the Nouvelle Esquisse de Philosophie - then Hélène goes on to recall that, because of a bad reception in France, he completed these Esquisses with the Nouvelles Esquisses. [p. 22-23]
A few words about Nietzsche : I reported above, after Hélène C.-Spir, “It may also appears astonishing that Nietzsche was also interested by Spir,” I now present the whole passage regarding this author: - “...also interested by Spir, and to the extent that, when the professor Eucken arrived in Bâle, to succeed him in his chair at University, Nietzsche asked him, it seems (“parait-il”, Fr.), eagerly at once, if he was knowing something about the character of Spir ? At least it seems (“il semble du moins”, Fr.) that he succeded to get hold of (“se procurer”, Fr.) some information about the previous history of the latter, since his friend Overbeck, professor of theology at the University of Bâle, related that, in their intimate conversations, Nietzsche was sometimes speaking about Spir the philosopher, ' an ancien navy officer '. It is, in any case, a fact that Nietzsche studied Denken und Wirklichkeit for a long time.” [p. 24-25]
Footnote 1, which explain how there are information for ever lost on the influence of Spir on Nietzsche: “Many pages of the copy of this work that possessed by Nietzsche (2e ed., 1877) still show the trace of numerous marginal notes which he had done there, as well as the mark of the texts underlined by him with a pencil. Unfortunately, these notes were almost all wholly cutted (“presque entièrement rognés”, Fr.) by the bookbinder, when after the death of the author of Zarathustra, his sister had all the books covered with beauticul covers (“soeur fît revêtir de belles couvertures tous les livres”, Fr.) all the books which he valued particularly (“auxquels il tenait particulièrement,” Fr.) to decorate the shelves of the Nietzche-Archiz library (“la bibliothèque du Nietzche-Achiv”, Fr.)” [p. 25]
Footnote ended, back to main text: “And one is no more so surprised that he may have felt attracted to Spir (“qu’il ait pu se sentir attiré vers”, Fr.), that other great unrecognized (“cet autre grand méconnu”, Fr.), when he have read the solitary Nietzsche, where his personnality reveal itself in a new light.” Footnote 2: “ Indeed, in this little book, appeared in the beginning of 1914, the author, Mme Foerster-Nietzsche, gives unpublished details on the life and character of Nietzsche. She relates in it, not only how he suffered to feel solitary and unknown, but also how he deplored the ' revolting abuse ' that was made of his Surhomme, the meaning of which ' the signification was voluntarily or unwillingly distorted ' to the point that it terrified him. (“il déplorait ' l’abus révoltant ' qu’on a fait de son Surhomme, dont on a ' volontairement ou involontairement faussé le sens ', au point qu’il en était ' épouvanté ' “, Fr.) In an unpublished letter, dated 1884, he said : ' I shudder at the thought that men who have no mandate for it, and have no qualification whatsoever for it, will one day used my authority.' (“ ' Je frémis à la pensée que des hommes qui n’en n’ont pas mandat, et ne sont absolument pas qualifié, se réclameront un jour de mon autorité.' “, Fr.). But this is the torment of every great teacher of humanity (“grand maître de l’humanité”, Fr.), to know that accordingly to circumstances and events, he can be a blessing for humanity, ou become fatal to it. ' (be attentive to the original text in French: “être en bénédiction pour l’humanité, ou, lui devenir fatal”, Fr.) (Der einsame Nietzsche, p. 273. - See also on this subject the article: ' Nietzsche et Spr ', published in Les Nouvelles Littéraires, Paris, 27 Jan., 1930.)” [footnote ended p. 26]
A remark, about ascetism, to which Spir should not be related, accordingly to his daughter: Hélène wrote, p. 32: “However, if he did profess et practice self-control, he never went as far as to advocate ascetism; in his opinion, it is contrary to sound reason to unaturally deprive oneself excessively, detrimental not only to the body, but to the mind. The nobility of his moral being manifested into by his whole person...” (“Toutefois, s’il prêcha et pratiqua la maîtrise de soi, il n’alla jamais jusqu’à préconiser l’ascétisme : selon lui, c’était contraire à la saine raison que de s’imposer artificiellement des privations excessives, préjudiciables non seulement au corps mais à l’esprit. La noblesse de son être moral se traduisait par toute sa personne…. », Fr.) [p. 32]
An anecdote, in which one can make a rapprochement between Spir and... Savonarole, Jerome, the Italian monk, prophet of its kind, that was burned by the inquisition at the end of the 15th century. I aways quote Hélène, footnote, p. 11: “Already when little, he was remarked by some particular features; thus, he showed (or revealed or manifested...) a sort of instinctive aversion for jewellery, notably for earrings; and if the person who took him in her arms were wearing such an auricular adornment the baby was beginning crying and would not stop (“commençait à pleurer et n’avait de cesse”, Fr.) till she had removed them. This dislike for jewellery and the flashy (or showy, “clinquant” en français) persisted - during ? - all his life. He regarded this kind of ornament as a survival of primitive people - with the exception of art jewellery (“bijoux d’art”, Fr.), like, for instance, nice - I am afraid I do not have the English word for “beaux carnées” - flesh-coloured.(?)” - Indeed, Savonarole had children trained to take off, all jewellery to ladies - together with dice to gamblers and alcool to drunkmen - in the street of Florence.
As for Schopenhauer, I do regret to tell you that Hélène C.-Spir do not mention him at all her Esquisse biographique of her father.
It may be that one need not consider first a third author to relate Spir and Tolstoy. A careful consideration in this regard is especially needed, since both were authors with a tremendous philosophical and cultural background, that we may not so easily grasp at first sight. One has to consider the possibility, not necessarily of an “influence”, - which require and deserve to be investigated - but a sort of philosophical kinship, a process by which two men, which had each one performed original researches, have reached similar conclusions, which one may consider as a testimony in favor of the truth of what they said to us. May you allow me to illustrate this audacious proposal.
Tolstoy’s comment in his journal, May 1896, has two parts, and I would like to convey the idea that the first one deserves some consideration. He wrote “I just read through what I wrote... it is nothing else than a short summary of all of Spier's philosophy... about which I had not the slightest idea.” How is this possible ? Is this not totally astounding, incredible ? Listen, Tolstoy realized, 14 years after his conversion to Christianity, - and a lot of writings - that Spir had said what he had himself already written ! I let you judge by yourself: for example, in 1893, Tolstoy wrote his book intitled The kingdom of God is within you, or Christianity not as a mystical doctrine but as a new life-conception. Then, in May 1896, he is deeply impressed by the work - Please notice Tolstoy wrote “work” and not “works”; so it may be he has only known Denken und Wirklichkeit, Thought and Reality - of Spir. Now let me quote two selected thoughts (from the “Choix de pensées” of his daughter). Spir wrote, “Religion is not simply a theory, it is a higher life, of which morality is an integral part - a life devoted to the worship of the good and the true, for God, the absolu, is the supreme source of all perfection”, as well as “The real good, we possess it inwardly as soon as we set to work with a view to his realization: the kingdom of God is within you” (“Le vrai bien, on le possède intérieurement dès qu’on se met à travailler en vue de sa réalisation: Le royaume des cieux est au-dedans de vous”, Fr.) - which could be used as such, to accurately summarize the whole book of Tolstoy, - if you include in that respect the doctrine of non-resistance to evil by violence !
And this together with subjects secondary to these two essential principles, which sprang naturally from them, as one goes from a theoretical system to its practical consequences, as when Spir first studied Kant: “The most sacred duty, the supreme and urgent work, is to deliver humanity from the malediction of Cain - fratricidal war.”(“Le devoir le plus sacré, la tâche suprême et urgente, c’est de délivrer l’humanité de la malédiction de Caïn - la guerre fratricide.”).[p. 51] etc.
That is why I do believe that the “link” between Spir and Tolstoy is, instead of renunciation, or ascetism, a wonderful moral ideal, which is, philosophically, essentially connected with truth, and may relate to the fundamental renewal that Spir attempted to accomplish in philosophy, in a way following Kant’s footstep, by searching principles that were sure, unshakable and immutable (“a moral and social ideal”; “the basic principles of the moral nature of man”... - see above)
I believe one should not make comparisons only for the sake of publicity, for instance between Spir and Nietsche as the first remark in this page of discussion suggest.
Spir wrote: “We can, following the exemple of Kant, consider the moral development and improvement of men, as the supreme goal of human evolution.” (Choix de pensée, In the book of Hélène quoted above, p. 61)
“The moral personnality of Spir followed an ascending progression from childhood, aiming incessantly towards a greater inward perfection; hence, in him, a moral degree that was only given to a few men to be able to attain.” ("La personnalité morale de Spir a suivi une évolution ascendante dès sa jeunesse, tendant sans cesse vers plus de perfectionnement intérieur; de là, chez lui, un niveau moral qu’il n’a été qu’à peu d’hommes de pouvoir atteindre", Fr.) [p. 32] - Thus one may say that Spir was, in the true sense of the word, a philosopher, that is a lover of truth.
At the end of his life, during a flus epidemic, the wife and the daughter of Spir took first their bed. He took care of them at that time. Then Spir was overcome by fever. He said to them, “It is sweet to die when one has done his work, down here” (“ici-bas”, Fr.) He then found himself paralized. He could only stutter (or stammer) “putting together his energy in a final attempt, he succeded in distinctly articualting these words: Fiat Lux !” - These were the last spoken words of African Spir.
Parole d'un sage: Choix de pensée (Selected thoughts) d'African Spir
Here is a draft English version of all the “collected thoughts" that are on the pages 36 to 62 of the 1937 book by Hélène Claparède-Spir, Paroles d’un sage, who presents them, on page 35, as following: “The thoughts repoduced here are extracted from the different writings of Spir. There are un certain number (of them) that were published by him, (both) in German and in French, in analogous (or similar terms), in a more or less developed form, which has allowed to use one version or the other, or to merge (or amalgamate) them here and there (“par endroits”, Fr.), naturally without changing (or change, or twisting, - “sans altérer”, Fr.) their meaning. - H. C.-S.
“The doctrine expounded by me is the true one, but I am not its author. I have only been, so to speak, the soil in which it has germinated and has developed itself with an extreme slowness in the course of long years. Also there has never been such a disproportion between the man and his work than in my case, and what is the saddest (or the saddest in this, - “et ce qui est le plus triste”, Fr.), is that one has to suffer because of (“pâtir de”, Fr.) the incapacity and the weakness of the other. A man more capable than me, possessing this doctrine, would already have stirred (or moved, - remuer”, Fr.) the world.” - Esquisse biographique, p. 18
“Religion is not simply a theory, it is a higher life, of which morality is an integral part - a life devoted to the worship of the good and the true, for God, the absolute, is the supreme source of all perfection” (“La religion n’et pas une smple théorie, elle est une vie supérieure, dont la moralité fait partie intégrante - une vie vouée au culte du bien et du vrai, car Dieu, l’absolu est la source de toute perfection”, Fr.) - p. 40.
“The precept to worship God 'in spirit and in truth' recommand to worship him as an inward and moral force, without physical attributes and with no relation to fears and egoist wishes.” - p. 40 - [The quotation is from the Gospel of John, VII, 24 - translator]
“If we accomplish a good deed, a charity in the hope of (getting...) future rewards, or with a more or less confessed (or admitted) ulterior motive to profit from personal advantages (“d’en retirer quelque avantage personnel”, Fr.), we are probably doing a useful thing, but which is devoided of any (“tout”, Fr.) truly moral character (or disposition)” - p .39
“The virue preached by devout persons is the virtue of the slave who always believe themselves under the eye of the master. However, Jésus said: 'Serve God not as slaves, but as sons in the house'" [For instance Galatian, IV, 6-8, - the translator] - p. 39
“The distinction between right and wrong (“la distinction du bien et du mal”, Fr.), is nothing else than their unyielding (or implacable) opposition; thus the moral consciousness is an innate and intimate revelation of the absolute, which goes beyond (or goes pass, or exceed) every empirical data (or given information). It is only on these principles that we will be able to establish (“pourront être édifiées”, Fr.) the real basis of morality.”- p. 60 - Hélène underlined
“There is a radical dualism between the empirical nature of man and its moral nature.” - p. 59
“Arbitrariness and true liberty are as distinct from each other that the empirical nature is distinct from the higher nature of man.” - p. 50
“We can, following the exemple of Kant, consider the moral development and improvement of men, as the supreme goal of human evolution.” - p. 61
“If man do not find in himself the required (or wished, or wanted, - “voulue”, Fr.) force to accomplish his moral aspirations, he can try to purt himself in the conditions suitable to assist (or promote, or further, -“favoriser”, Fr.) his self-control.” - p. 50 [Spir rejected ascetism: for it is “opposed to sound reason to unnaturally impose onself extreme hardships”- Esquisse biographique, p. 32
“The moral improvement demands an evolution leading to a higher consciousness. (....()....” - p. 60 - Hélène underlined
“The concept of absolute, hence (or whence) springs, in the moral field, the moral laws or norms, represent, in the field of knowledge, the principle of identity, which is the fundamental law of the thought; norms of logic springs from it, that govern the thought (or mind) in the field of science.” (“Le concept de l’absolu, d’où découlent, dans le domaine moral, les lois ou normes morales, constitue, le principe d’identité, qui est la loi fondamentale de la pensée; il en découle les normes logiques qui régissent la pensée dans le domaine de la science.”) - p. 59 - [Hélène C.-Spir had underlined - translator]
“The divine element manifests itself (or show up) in man as well by his aptitude for science, than by his aptitude for virtue. True morality, true philosophy and true art are in their essence (“dans leur essence”, Fr.) religious.” - p. 40
“There are (or is) indeed no contradiction between science and religion, the fields of which are different, and which, far from mutually fighting and persecute, must, on the contrary, complete each other.” - p. 39
“The more a man is successful in getting out (or coming out) from his own individuality, of his egoist self, and to control (or dominate) the instincts of his physical nature, the more his character, by rising above material contingencies, widen, become free and independent.” - p. 60
“For those who do not need to work to provide for their maintenance, it is a question of conferring to their lives a content worthy of themselves. Now, this purpose can be attained only if we do not act solely with a view to our own benefits, but with a view to the benefit of all. Christ said: 'Where is your treasure, there also will be your heart.'” - p. 56
“To sacrifice the moral to the physical, as is done in these days, is to sacrifice reality for a shadow.” - p.61
“Devoting ourselves too much to an exclusive search of a material happiness, of ephemerous (or fleeting) goods, one fails to appreciate (“méconnaît”, Fr.) the true(or real)realities of life and one let the spirit (or mind) decline and dry up (or waste away, or become insensitive) (“En s’adonnant trop exclusivement à la recherche d’un bonheur matériel, de biens éphémères, on méconnaît les vraies réalités dela vie et on laisse s’étioler et se dessécher l’esprit.”, Fr.) - p. 49
“Place (or put) a spider on top of a mountain, it will only try to catch flies; alas, they are many those who, in the figurative meaning, have spider’s eyes.” - p. 52
“In life we only try to produce, to win, and enjoy the more we can; in science, to discoverand invent the more we can; in religion, to dominate (or rule over) on the greatest number of people we can; whereas the forming of the character, the further development (or in-dept analysis, “appronfondissement”, Fr.) of the faculties of the intelligence (“les facultés de l’intelligence”, Fr.), the refinement of the consciousness and of the heart, are considered incidental (or subordinate) things.” -p. 52 - This reminds me the book by the: Sesame and lilies.English author John Ruskin, - tranlator.
“If we recognize, following the materialist theories, that only the physical nature exist, and that man contain (“renferme”, Fr.) no higher essence, divine, which, by one side of his being, raise (promote or improve...) him above his animal nature, it would be a question (“il ne saurait être question”, Fr.) neither of obligation, nor of moral responsability; then the supreme good would consist for him, indeed, to satisfy his appetites and his natural inclinations (fondness or partiality, -“penchant”, Fr.), to look for the pleasure and flee from (scud, shun, avoid, -“fuir”, Fr.) pain. In this case, there could be neither religion nor moral, since religion is precisely what raise man above vulgar (or common, - “vulgaire”, Fr.) reality, and that moral is the very negation of selfishness.” - p. 41
“What is the use for a man to have at his disposal a large field of action, if within himself he remains confine to the narrow limits of his individuality” - p. 49
“What determinate events is, beside national, dynastic and particular egoism, the instinct of domination and conquest, in one word, forceBold text. Judging by the history of humanity, harms that men have had to suffer, harms (“les maux”, Fr.) that men have to suffer by their nature are minute in comparison (“en regard”, Fr.) to these they inflict to each others. The most fantastic imagination might not (“ne saurait”, Fr.) fabricate (“forger”, Fr) some cruelties, injustices and perfidies (or perfidiousnesses) that men have not exceeded in practice.” - p. 55
“When under the influence of certain (or some) reasons (or causes) (alcohol, war, etc - added Spir here) the low instincts are unbridled (or unrestrained), the brute appears (or come forward, “apparait”, Fr.) and rule over (or dominate), stifling every (“toute”, Fr.) noble, generous impulse; it is then the ruin (or downfall or decline) of any humanity in man.” - p. 48
“Outward, thanks to the knowledge of physical laws, man could subdue (or subjugate...) nature, but inwardly, he remained a slave to it. For, when all is said and done, at what is aiming all this display (or deployment) of activity, if not to realized outward profits, to provide material pleasure (or enjoyment). It is not the first time that men sell their birth right for a dish of lentils, and thus disown (or repudiate or deny) the best of thmeselves.” - p. 36 - second thought of the book, - translator.
“To succeed in brilliant businesses, to achieve great success, that is what the ambition and efforts of the majority of men aim at (or direct at or have their eyes on, “c’est ce à quoi visent l’ambition et les efforts de la majorité des hommes” Fr.) but after all (or at the end of the day), what do they get for it (“Qu’est-ce qu’ils en retirent”, Fr.) Softer cushions, better meat (Here there seems to be a mistake in the book of Hélène C.-Spir, for it is written “une meilleure chère”, what one may translate by 'a better dear'... whether its homonymous, chair, is 'meat'), more outward thoughtfuls (“prévenance extérieures”, Fr.), maybe decorations (or medals)... that is all. And to think that there are found serious men who consume (or waste, “consument”, Fr.) their whole existence in the pursuit and the expectation of these trivialities.” - p. 49
“The need for sociability induce man to be in touch with his fellow men. However, this need might not (“ne saurait”, Fr.) find its full (or complete) satisfaction in the conventional (or superficial, - “conventionnel”, Fr.) and deceitful world, in which (or where) everyone is mainly (or mostly) trying to assert oneself in front of others (“devant les autres”, Fr.), to appear, and hoping to find in society (“mondaine”, Fr.) relationships some advantages for his interest and vanity (or vainglory or conceit”, Fr.).” - p. 53
“Experience shows that what great role pratice and experience play in education; pratice, the prolonged exercice lead to habit: exemple suggests imitation. Habit can become a second nature, but, wrongly directed (or guided), it may also heighten (or intensify) unfortunate tendencies and be an obstacle to progress.” P. 57
“The physical (or material, “matériel” Fr.) man, who does not imagine that everyhting is relative, yield (or bow down before, “s’incline”, Fr.) to outer force, that impress him (or command him respect) from outside, and whose effects are tangible to him, whether they manifest themselves by force, wealth or by domination.” P.50
“If the confusion of spirits, obsession of consciousness (“obnubilation of...”, Fr.), abandonment of religious and moral principles was to become widespread, the consequences could be become such that we would finally see crop up (“on verrait...surgir”, Fr.) in the very heart of the civilisation, a new and apalling barbarism capable to engulf (or engulfing, - “engloutir,” Fr.) all the acquisitions of the past.” - p. 37
“Men spend their life down here in the worship of petty (or mean) interests and the search of perishable things, and with that (“et avec cela”, Fr.) they pretend to perpetuate for all eternity their self (“moi”, Fr.) so hardly worthy (“digne”, Fr.) of it.” - p. 51
“A good man (“un homme de bien”, Fr.) never wholly perishes, the best part of his being outlives (or survives) in eternity.” - P. 44
“Nothing that rest on some contradictory basis shall succeed or last in the long run (“ne saurait réussir ou durer, à la longue”, Fr.); all that involve (or imply...) a contradiction is fatally destined, early or late, to disintegrate and disappear.” - p. 37
“The appalling and shameful scene (“spectacle”, Fr.) of disarray and illogicality that manifest itself in the thought and deeds of men, will no longer be seen, once these will possess an enlighten consciouness.” p. 61
“Man is in pursuit of two goals: he is looking for happinesse and, being by essence empty (“étant vide par essence”, Fr.), he is trying to fill (or take up, - “remplir”, Fr.) his life; the latter reason play a more considerable role than we ordinarily think. What we take for vainglory, ambition, love of power and riches (or wealth), is often, indeed, a need to mask this emptiness, a need to let one’s hair down (or to live it up), to put oneself on a false scent or trail. (de se donner le change”, Fr.) - p. 56
“What is missing to our civilisation, is the soul, the spiritual unity, the basis. That is why everything in it is pretence and contrivance (“façade et artifice”, Fr.); why also, in spite of the progress and marvellous improvement they have accomplished in the external realm (“domaine extérieur”, Fr.) men have, in general, become themselves neither better, nor happier. They have neglected too much the essential; their own perfecting (or improvement - “perfectionnement”, Fr.)” - p. 36 -First thought of the book, - translator.
“There are some who esteem that it is a naivety to believe that a moral regeneration may be possible (“soit possible”, Fr.); now, if this was not the case, it would not be worth the trouble that humanity continue to vegetate without aim.” - p. 61
“To reform society, and with it humanity, there is only one mean; to transform the mentality of men, to direct them (“les orienter”, Fr.) in a new spirit.” - p. 60
“On the account (or for the reason that, or... from the fact that... “Du fait que”, Fr.) that one person advocate and want something, it does not follow that others have to want it too; only the postulates of reason and certitude are identicals, invariables, and can always be of use to everyone as a fulcrum (“point d’appui”, Fr.) with a view to a free agreement (“entente libre”, Fr.).” - p. 42
“We would not (- “On ne saurait”, Fr.) permanently change by violence a state of affairs; we can repress (or restrain) resistances for a certain time (or some while), but not attain (result in or lead to) thus a lasting result (“On ne saurait par la violence changer définitivement un état de choses; on peut comprimer les résistances un certain temps, mais non aboutir à un résultat durable.”, Fr.)” - p. 46
“It is not on the ruin of liberty that we may (in the future... - “pourra”, Fr.) build justice.” - p. 46
“See that unfortunate soldier who is falling hurt to death (“tombe blessé à...”, Fr.) on the battlefield; he learns that his folks have vanquished and dies happy. He detached himself from himself (s’est détacher de lui-même”, Fr.), has identified himself with something greater and more lasting than himself; his homeland (“patrie”, Fr.); thus, while dying as an individual, he has the certainty to survive in a larger existence.” - p. 53
“Education has a tremendous power on man. Can’t we see to which astonishing disciple the people of Sparte have submitted (“s’est plié”, Fr.) for centuries, and this with a view to very petty purposes: purely outer greatness, the military predominace of Sparte. This example proves that man can everything on themselves when they want it (“peuvent tout sur eux-mêmes quand ils le veulent”, Fr.); therefore it would only be a question of making them will the good.” - p. 58
“A man, engaged in his simple reflections in everyday life, will comprehend neither the possibility, nor the benefits of self-sacrifice, but, when given (“qu’on lui donne”, Fr.) a great cause to defend, and he will find only natural to sacrifice oneself for it.” - p. 53
“The basic notion of justice, is that the rights of everybody are equals, in principle. In the rights of others, we have to respect our own rights. It is only in that condition that we can reasonnably require that it be respected by others.” - p. 44 - Gandhi said the same thing in All men are brothers; Simone Weil too, at the beginning of L’enracinement.
“The realization of justice is, in the actual state of things, a matter of life or death for society and for civilisation itself.” - p. 55
“Deep down, everything boils down (“au fond tout se ramène”, Fr.) to the following simple question; Do we really want justice and the realization in this world of higher principles, or else do we want to serve selfish, short-sighted (à courte vue”, Fr.) interests, which, when all is said and done, are also prejudicial (or detrimental, or harmful) to those very same that pursue them ?” - p. 55
“The first principle from which stems the moral of about all people at all time; it is summarized in this precept: Love thy neighbour as thyself, and: do as you would be done by.” - p. 38 [“... moral consciousness is an innate and intimate revelation of the absolute, which exceed every empirical data...” - see above]
“If pity was always equally alive and acting in all individuals and in all circumstances, we could do away with moral. Unfortunately, it is not compassion, but rather it’s contrary, selfishness, that act most strongly in us.” - p. 57
“To be effective, morality has to be reasoned (or worked out). To want (“vouloir”, Fr.) to repress evil only by coercion, and to obtain morality by a sort of training with the help of constraint, without motivating it from within, is to make it an unnatural result, devoided of lastind value.” - p. 59
“As long as men, in their aberration (“aberration”, Fr.), will go out of their way (“s’ingénieront”, Fr.) in every manners (“de toutes manières”, Fr.) to harm and torment each others, it is an urgent duty, for those who are conscious of the absurdity of such a state of affairs, to strive to put them in the picture about (or throw light on) their wildness (“égarements”, Fr.) - p. 38
“A savage (or primitive) man, questioned (or asked) on what is good and what is wrong, answered: 'Right is when I defeat (or beat or hit) and deprive (or strip) others; wrong is when I am beated and deprived by them.' This is (“c’est là,” Fr.) the voice of the natural man, who does not understand that good is always good, and wrong is always wrong, whether it happens to ourselves or it happens to others.” - p. 43
“Apart from selfish reasons, such as fear of punishments, fear of blame, of dishonour, etc, there remains only two motives that can stop (or prevent, “empâecher”, Fr.) men from acting badly; the natural sense of commiseration (or “sympathy”, - “commisération”, Fr.) for one’s fellow men - compassion, and the influence of education, by association of ideas (“par l’association d’idées”, Fr.) - habit.” - p. 57
“The fact that men have a same origin and live in the same universe means that they are representatives of a same unity. Deep down, they are also related (or connected) among them; that they consider (or not) themselves as strangers, this just depends on the feeling (or sensation) that dictate their relationships. In their country, two fellow coutrymen whose paths berely cross (or see each only only briefly) with inferrence, would effusively rush themselves up (or throw themselves) into each other arms if they would happen to meet in a desert, among Cannibles.” - p. 42
“Infringing upon (or encroaching) the right of a single person, we overthrow (or turn upside down) the whole order on which rest legal agreements; for if we break (or transgress or violate) the undertakings enter unto (“les engagements contractés”, Fr.), nothing assure that we will not break them, possibly (“éventuellement”, Fr.) in another.” - p. 45
“When a man make of his personnal interests the mainspring of his life and he is greedy to make use of everything that can benefit him, he naturally enters into conflict with other persons, acting also in their interests, hence the disagreements that can become a hundred years old, and drive whole generations to a mutual hate” - p. 42
“It depends on ourselves to be to each others, either a blessing or a torment.” - p. 37
“In this world everything that is won to the ideal, is an eternal (or imperishable, - “impérissable”, Fr.) good. - p. 53
“Nothing is more stimulating and more salutary to (or for) the inner (or inward) development than the exemple of men devoted to the good. It is in the company of men pursuing a same ideal that the still weavering (or unsteady) soul can set oneself (“se fixer”, Fr) and stick to (or attach to) everything that is noble and generous.” - p. 58
“Men who have sacrifice their well-being, and even their lives, for the cause of truth or the public good, are, from an empirical point of view - which scorn (“fait fi”, Fr.) virtue and altruism - regarded as insane or fools; but, from a moral standpoint, they are heros who do honour (“qui honorent”, Fr.) humanity.” - p. 38
“The well understood equity as well as interest of society demand that we work on much more to prevent crime and offenses than to punish them.” - p. 52
“As long as men will not be freed from their errors and delusions, humanity will not be able to go towards (“marcher vers”, Fr.) the accomplishment of its true destinies.” - p. 60
“The most sacred duty, the supreme and urgent work, is to deliver humanity from the malediction of Cain - fratricidal war.” - p. 51
“The intellectual development of man, far from having get men away from war, has, rather, on the contrary, bring them to a refinment always more perfected in the art of killing. They even came to raise the methods of slaughter to the rank of "science"... We would not (On ne saurait”, Fr.) imagine a more extraordinary moral blindness !” - p. 55
“Besides the progress of industry and technique, we see a growing discontent among the masses; we see, besides the expansion (“expansion,”, Fr.) of instruction, distrust and hatred expanding among nations (“s’étendre la méfiance et la haine entre,” Fr.), that vie with one another (“qui rivalisent à l’envi,” Fr.), by the increase of their armies and the improvement of their engines of murder (“engins meurtriers”, Fr.).” - p. 37 - third thought of the book, translator.
“The feeling (“sens”, Fr.) of solidarity that is born amidst a community rest on the feeling of antagonism arouse (aroused ? arose ?... sorry, - “suscité”, Fr.) by those who are opposed to it. Most of the time we only adhere to a party or a group, in order to better (or more, - “pour mieux se”, Fr.) differentiate ourselves of another.” - p. 42
“To spend for destruction ten times more than for instruction, such is the fashion in our time; and men seriously regard themsleves as rational beings ! ... (...)” - p.50
“So many forces and resources would become available if States, aware (or conscious) of their true (or real) mission, would want to get on (or agree) to abolish every politics aiming at (“visant à”, Fr.) expansion or hegemony; system that maintain among nations a a perpetual distrust and tension, impose on them (or force or compel, “leur impose”, Fr.) formidable armies and crushing war budgets.” - p. 54
At this point, here is a parenthesis about the life of the author, which joined the deed to the word: Hélène included to the book on her father, a very short Appendix, “Le devoir d’abolir la guerre”, which was taken from the second volume of the Germen works or Spir, and had previously been reproduced, I quote, “in the Jounal de Genève, 15 November 1920, at the time of the maiden Assembly of the United Nations, which Spir has, lately (not long ago, “naguère”, Fr.) so much called for (or invite to think about) of all his wishes.” (“tant appelée de ses voeux”, Fr.). The following is a footnote added to this text, that Spir published in the first edition of Recht und Unrecht, in 1879, as an Appendix, under the title of “Considération sur la guerre” - and which was published again in 1931, in Propos sur la guerre. : “To declare (or say) that the establishment of international institutions intended (or used) to settle (or solve) conflicts among people without having recourse to war, this is purely gratuitious affirmation. What sense (or meaning) can it be to declare impossible, something that has been neither wished (or wanted, “voulue”, Fr.) seriously, nor tried to put into practice ? In truth, there are not any impossibility here, no more of a material order than of a metaphysical order. (“En vérité, il n’y a ici aucun impossibilité, pas plus d’ordre matériel que d’ordre métaphysique”, Fr.). Supposing that all responsible potentates, ministers and leaders were to be warned (or were given formal notice ? - “soient mis en demeure de”, Fr.) to agree concerning the establishment (or creation) of international organizations with peaceful workings (“à rouages pacifiques”, Fr.), they would not be very long to come to an agreement on the ways and means (“voies et moyens”, Fr.) to come to settle the problem. And, indeed, how insoluble could be a problem, that requires nothing else than some good will here and there ? It is not a question here of fighting against a terrestrial power, hostile to human beings and independent of their will; it is only for men a matter of overcoming their own passions, et their harmful prejudices. (“En cela”, Fr.) In this, would it be more difficult than to kill one’s fellow men by the hundred of thousands, de destroy entire (or whole) countries et inflict (or impose) crushing expanses to one own people ?” - p. 64-65 - end of parenthesis.
“The antagonism between nationalities will lose all its acuteness on the day when neither the iniquitous tendency to oppression and domination, nor the perpetual danger of the threatening preparations for war will exist. (“L’antagonisme entre les nationalités perdra toute son acuité le jour où n’existera plus la tendance inique à l’oppression et à la domination, ni le perpétuel danger des menaçants préparatifs de guerre. », Fr. ”)” - p. 54
I had forgotten the eight following thoughts yesterday: “In ancient times, any man rising up above the common people tried to shape his life according to his principles; it is no longer like than now; it is (because) for the ancients, moral was a principle of inner life, whereas in our days, most of the time one is content to adhere to an official moral, that we recognize in theory, but that one does not care to put into practice.” - p. 39
“If the present civilisation does not acquire some stable moral fondations (“bases morales stables”, Fr.), its existence will hardly be more assured than that of the civilisations that have preceeded it, and which have fallen (or collapse, or failed)” - p. 41
“It must be all the same to the citizens (“ressortissants”, Fr.) of a country that their governing (those in power) speak such language or such other (“telle langue ou telle autre”, Fr.); likewise that it must be all the same to them that these adhere to such or such religion, so long as a full (or complete) liberty is equally garantee for everyone.” - p. 54
“It is to our lack of proper content (“notre manque de contenu propre », Fr.), of our inner emptiness that we need occupations and distractions, otherwise (“faute de quoi”, Fr.) we experience boredom, which is nothing elses than the feeling of unease that take hold of us when our spirit is not absorbed by the mirages of life.” P. 56
“There is only one thing in the world that is really valuable, it is to do good.” - p. 56
“Up to here, in general, we have mainly stuffed the brain of the young people with a indigestible multitude of varios notions, without thinking about enough of the prime necessity to form their character.” - p. 58
“As (“de même que”, Fr.) humanity has begun with flint tools, and has arrived little by little to the so powerful and perfected machines of today, so man, by shaping himself (“en se façonnant”, Fr.) generation after generation, will arrive to a degree of perfection of which, up to here, the exemple was given to us only by rares individuals.” (“De même que l’humanité a commencé par des outils en silex, et est arrivé peu à peu aux machines si puissantes et perfectionnées d’aujourd’hui, de même l’homme, en se façonnant de génération en génération, arrivera à un degré de perfection dont l’exemple ne nous a été donné, jusqu’à présent, que par de rares individus. », Fr.) - p. 62
"Moral improvement (or perfecting) require an evolution leading to a higher consciousness, which is the true torch of life; it is what we have failed too much to appreciate, and that which would be fatal to fail to appreciate any longer (“pluslongtemps”, Fr.); For if we do not take it upon ourselves to remedy in time to the moral colapse (or bankruptcy) that already threaten, the whole civilisation will risks to disappear.” - p. 60
“The duty of the State is double; it must strive to perfect its member, by promoting their intellectual and moral progress, et try to keep the right and the justice in their mutual relationships.” P. 44
“Nothing depict better the poverty of human nature than to see men, placed at the head of a State, and who should, so to speak, embody (or personnify) the law, be concerned (or worried, or preccupied) only with their own prestige and their own particular interests.” P. 51
“In the actual state of social relationships, the forms (“formes”, Fr.) of politeness are necessary as a subsitute to benevolence.” - p .50
“Whoever has recognized the vainglory of individuality will not attach any store (“n’attachera aucun prix à”, Fr.) to fame. The only one thing which is really valuable, it is to do good.” - From the Esquisse biographique, by H. C.-S., p. 17
“The peculiar (or own) value that such and such activity can have for a man rather really depends (“dépend bien plutôt”, Fr.) on the spirit in which it was deployed (or displayed, - “déployée”, Fr.) than its importance or its scope. Thus the most humble work (or task, - “besogne”, Fr.) can be accomplished by a great genius, whereas the highest functions (or offices), such as to rule over a whole people, can be practised in a petty (or mean or stingy) spirit of personal glorification, as it is frequently seen.”, Fr.) - p. 49
“The more gifted by nature is a man, the more is deplorable the abuse that he does by using them to shameful ends. A swindler (or crook) of higher condition is more blameworthy than a vulgar scoundrel; an intelligent eveil-doer, having benefited from a higher education, represent a more saddening phenomenon (“phénomène”, Fr.) than an unfortune illiterate fellow having commited an offence.” - p. 48
“It is erroneous to consider the multiplication (or increase) of needs as a sign of progress, to think that it is necessary to arouse in the people still unpolished (or rough), new needs to bring them to a more civilised life. Similarly (“de même”, Fr.) it is erroneous to expect (or want, or wish, - “vouloir,” Fr.) to measure (or assess) the degree of culture of a man to the degree of refinement he make (or deploy, or unfold) in his methods (“modes”, Fr.) of pleasure (“jouissance”, Fr.) - p. 48 - Gandhi wrote something that is almost word for word the same, in All men are brothers.
“(Generally or) Men in general are too inclined to let themselves be overawed by what is quantitatively great. It is thus that even thoughtful minds let themselves be impressed (“éblouis”, Fr.) by the strenght of Napoléon 1st, to much so that (to the point that) seeing (to see) in his person something august (or majestic), when indeed (in fact) he only have had (“il n’ait eu que”, Fr.) selfish aims (or plans). Half the earth (“globe terrrstre”, Fr.) is put to fire and sword to obtain to a man the pleasant sensation of his own absolute power.” - p. 43
“It goes without saying that only inner greatness possess a true value (“une valeur véritable,”, Fr.) . Any attempt to rise up (or at rising up, - “s’élever”, Fr.) outwardly above others, or to want (or wish) to impose one’s superiority, denote a lack of moral greatness, since we do not try to replace (“suppléer”, Fr.) in that way (.... in French “par là”, Fr.) to what, if we did really possess it, would have no need whatsoever to flaunt itself.” - p. 51
”Injustice having always hold sway (- be predominant, - régné”, Fr.) on earth, there are some who (“d’aucuns”, Fr.) imagine (or pretend) that the existing social order may (“pourra”, Fr.) subsist (or remain) for ever. Whether this order could last until now, this was mainly due to the conviction of people, that it was of divine institution. But this belief is vanishing (or disapearing, or fainting), and with it the only moral support of the actual order will collapse, leaving (or letting) only brutal forces opposed to each others clashing, with no peaceful way out (or solution) (“et avec elle s’effondrera le seul soutient moral de l’ordre présent, ne laissant aux prises que des forces brutales opposés les unes aux autres, sans issue pacifique.”, Fr.) - p. 45
“Until now, exterior (or external) authority still domine (or is the dominant feature) too much in the relationships between men, as well as in their spiritual life. This is due to (comes, - “provient de”, Fr.) the fact that we regard authority, in all fields, as being what makes (or simply, is) the law (“comme étant ce qui fait loi”, Fr.), because in the empirical field, it is always what come first (or take precedence), may it be a force, an individual or an argument, that is winning.” - p. 45
“The supreme blossoming of character lies (or reside) in renounciation (or renuncement) and abnegation of self (“abnégation de soi”, Fr.) - p. 38
“Whether we had a (good) moral intuition more developed, we would be as much morally disgusted by the rapacity of those who try to benefit from, and monopolize (or secure or corner), having no consideration (regardless or irrespective of) for others (“autrui”, Fr.), than we physically are by a sickening (or nauseating) smell.” - p. 43
“As the antagonism between those who possess, and those who do not, is becoming more acute day after day, we can already foresee a moment when it will bring about (“entraînera”, Fr.) severe (big, high, intense, - “grands”, Fr.) disasters, if we do turn (direct, aim, - “dirige”, Fr.) life in time the social life in new directions (or ways, - “dans des voies nouvelles”, Fr.) - 46
“Whether (If) in a banquet somebody was to take it upon himself to snatch pieces from the mouth of the guests, we would be unanimous to find the method iniquitous and brutal (or violent), but if from another source (“par ailleurs”, Fr.) the same is practised in a less apparent (or visible) way (or guise), we hardly show ourselves offended (or shocked) by it (“quand par ailleurs la chose se pratique sous une forme moins apparente, on ne s’en montre guère offusqué.” Fr.) - p. 46
“Possessions of this world have not been for the exclusive use by such or such category of individuals.” p. 52
“The incorporation of every indidual in a collective mechanism of production, would mean the renunciation (or surrender) for man himself of its independance and his dignity as a rational (or thinking, or reasonable) being. The results (or consequences) of such a state of things would be: regression (or retrogression) and deterioration in every fields (or domain) of life. For the true progress consist in the accomplishment of higher ends, et these would be directly (or right off) made impossible in a coercive social mechanism. Let us think to the fate that, in these conditions, new truths would have in store (“Qu’on songe au sort qui, dans ces conditions, serait réservé à des vérités nouvelles”, Fr.)” - p. 47
“The social organization of work is the most complicated and difficult problem that humanity has ever had to solve. It being possible to realize that organization (a difficult translation or me: “Cette organisation ne pouvant être réalisée par”, Fr.) neither by violence, nor by merely external (or outward) or legal measures, it require the free participation of all (or everybody) to the joint (or common, or in commun) work, and, consequently, to a regeneration (or reconditioning) of men that bring them to overcome their selfishness et understand their duty towards themselves et towards the community.” - p. 47
“It is from the education of the new generations that we will especially be able to expect a real moral progress. It is important first of all to develop in it (or 'him', the next generations...) self-control, love of truth and solidarity spirit.” - p. 58
“Only a moral education based on free inner discipline can bring to bear a salutary action and lead to a true morality.” - p. 59
“The belief that the conditioned derives from the unconditioned, wrong from right, represent the most fatal error and the one most fraught with consequences that is (“et la plus lourde de conséquences qui soit”, Fr.) This believe gave rise (or engender) incalculable harms; it has obliterated (or obstructed or cancelled) the religious consciousness and warped the moral judgement; morevoer, it has created an abyss between science and religion, and brought generations of men to atheism.” - p. 40
“So many really divine individuals humanity has not already produced ! Heros in the moral sense, who never got tired to practice renouncement and charity; bright intelligences who opened to the mind new ways and horizons; poets and wonderful artists, who created for him the image of an ideal world, the reflect of perfection. These are as many proofs of the presence of the absolu in the midst of humanity, for him that does not discover the immediate proof of that in himself.” - p. 44
“A same breath will give life to (“animera”, Fr.) men, when they will will have succeeded in overcoming all that divide them et put them in opposition one another; then they will have a feeling of (or be aware, or conscious of) the limits of their individuality wonderfully widen (or broaden) and will (or might) be able to (“pourront”, Fr.) unite in a beneficial (or salutary or kindly) atmosphere of harmony and brotherly concord.” - p. 62 - last thought of the book
“The real good, we possess it inwardly as soon as we set to work with a view to his realization: the kingdom of God is within you”
- Fiat Lux !
"The motto for truly enlighted people is not Fiat cultura, pereit justicia, but Fiat justicia, pereat cultura. (Let justice be done, though the world perish. But culture, useful culture, will not be destroyed." Tolstoy. Culture or freedon In Salvery of our times.
- Regardless of the fact that Spir's daughter never mentioned Schopenhauer, such passages as “The supreme blossoming of character lies (or reside) in renounciation (or renuncement) and abnegation of self (“abnégation de soi”, Fr.)" sound as though they came straight out of the Fourth Book of The World as Will and Representation.Lestrade (talk) 15:44, 19 September 2009 (UTC)Lestrade
The title of his book, Thought and Reality, shows that he was interested in the perennial problem of philosophy: the relation between what is inside and what is outside of the brain. It seems that he was convinced that we can only directly experience what is inside.Lestrade (talk) 17:44, 19 September 2009 (UTC)Lestrade
Afrikan Spir's descent
I doubt that Afrikan Spir was of German descent as the current version states. In the Internet, I didn't find any information about the roots of his father. Where was Alexander Spir born? Who were his parents? Judging from the surname "Spir", this family possibly originated in the Jewish community of Metz (France, Lorraine). But that is only a hypothesis. It would be fine to have more information about Spir's paternal ancestry. (December 12, 2013; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:GregorBrand). — Preceding unsigned comment added by GregorBrand (talk • contribs) 13:03, 12 December 2013 (UTC)
Absolutely no relations with Metz, or Spire, or Jews. The christian name of the father of Alexander Spir was also Alexander, lutheran, born in Stuttgart. See the family papers in Geneva's Library, cf. Fabrizio Frigerio, Catalogue raisonné du fonds African Spir, Genève, 1990.--RigdzinPhurba (talk) 15:02, 3 February 2014 (UTC)