Questioning Remains A Duty, An Introduction

“Auctoritas non veritas facit legem.”

Once stated this classical axiom of the political culture (quoted in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan) which says that “authority, and not truth, makes the law”, the position of the questioner becomes unbearable since it’s suddenly related to the short lived crisis of the late adolescent who is under the pressure of life to take a steadier position.

The mature human lives in a clear world full of answers and solutions, which can be compared to or designated as happiness.

Neverthless, if human beings enjoy to think their world and their history in terms of concepts and abstractions, articulating notions to rules in order to build up great sets, they never encapsulate the real in a fixed combination of their abstractions. A waste results from all of this clever economy. The gap of a discrepency can’t be filled.

But, as the world can’t crush nor collapse, the system of abstractions is maintained and some categories of people are in charge of this maintenance. This maintenance is a hard job since it requires to occupy a ground despite the disharmony the occupier is informed and aware of.

Events like two successive World Wars linked in a mid-term historical cycle of 50 years happen as if they were accidental and not structural, the problem of a personality and not the logical result of an average attitude induced by an organizational mode. In other words, deeds that nobody wanted and which eventually “acted” everybody. A state of fact is produced which converts itself “de facto” into a starting point for the new comers. A business of explanations is introduced as a necessity and institutionalized, up until that we forgot the fundamentals.

And, at times, the fundamentals reappear.

In May 2011, I read a long analysis published in 2000 by 2 French experts of the insurance industry. They explained that, since three hundreds years and the beginnings of the worldwide commercial navigation, we live in the “Civilisation Of The Risk” (François Ewald, Denis Kessler : “Les Noces du risque et de la politique“, Le Débat, 2000/2, n°109, Paris). This impressive text made me re-consider my own position in the human space. How to place my own singular subjectivity (my feelings and impressions) in a world which, since so long, relies on principles which are so autonomous from my inner states ? What to do with notions like pleasure, sympathy, belief, trust etc. in a world which is in fact based on and operating through objective considerations which massively imply computations, weights, rates ? I could then consider all my subjective states as deceptive, dangerous, ineffective, a negligible quantity, a useless biological residu associated with a mortal condition… Why not ? Ok ! But then, I had to get subjectively fitted to my new non-subjective situation in the world !

It became obvious that questions could emerge again not specifically from my personal psychological flaws nor from my ignorance of position (as a non initiated to the relevant strategic data) but from the groupal options we chose to follow a long long time ago and on which we built up our universe, without being able to diverge from it now, given our patrimony of achievements and the collection of our reachable or running projects, all the formalism we are bound to. This is why I deduced that questions remain a responsibility, in their choice and in their formulation, and not only the un-grounded behaviour of the one who is not in charge and does not have to produce, daily, positive results which are measured in terms of the satisfaction they offer to a wider public.

I shall try not to storm the reader with a florishing mass of questions. I do not promote questions as having a value per se as a short term dissipation of energy.

I would be very pleased if we could reach some breach in the relevance of certain well established significant axiologies or check out for good the coherence of some collective storytellings like the ones operating around the cycle of World Wars of the first half of the XXth century.

Thank you.


Cover picture : Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan, engraving by Abraham Bosse,
source : See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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