Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Search for Truth by Charles Peguy

I came across this short piece a while ago, and my interpretation of it has changed. Originally, I read it as being nihilistic, because he talks about leaving one opinion, going to another, and rejecting that one in turn, thinking that what he was getting at was being against all beliefs. Now, I see it as being about balance in what you do, what you think, what you believe. The solution isn't to go against everything but to go back to the start and integrate all of it into your belief system.

"I believe that in the history of the world one could easily find a very great number of examples of persons who, suddenly perceiving the truth, seize it. Or, having sought and found it, deliberately break with their interests, sacrifice their interests, break deliberately with their political friendships and even with their sentimental friendships. I do not believe that one find many examples of men who, having accomplished this first sacrifice, have had the second courage to sacrifice their second interests, their second friendships. For it commonly happens that they find their new friends are worth no more than the old ones, that their second friends are worth no more than the first. Woe to the lonely man, and what they fear most is solitude. They are most willing, for the sake of the truth, to fall out with half of the world. All the more so when, by thus falling out with half of the world--not without a little repercussion--they usually make partisans among the second half of the world; partisans who ask nothing better than to be the antagonists of the first half. But if, for the love of this same truth, they foolishly go about breaking with this second half, who will become their partisans?--

A brave man--and so far, there are not many--for the sake of the truth breaks with his friends and his interest. Thus a new party is formed, originally and supposedly the party of justice and truth, which in less than no time becomes absolutely identical with the other parties. A party like the others; like al the others; as vulgar; as gross; as unjust; as false. Then for this second time, a superbrave man would have to be found to make a second break: but of these, there are hardly any left.--

And yet, the life of an honest man must be an apostasy and a perpetual desertion. The honest man must be a perpetual renegade, the life of an honest man must be a perpetual infidelity. For the man who wishes to remain faithful to truth must make himself continually unfaithful to all the continual, successive, indefatigable renascent errors. And the man who wishes to remain faithful to justice must make himself continually unfaithful to inexhaustibly triumphant injustices."

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