By Jacques Ellul
Jacques Ellul-much much less solemn in temper than usual-here cracks open political and sociological commonplaces, destructively and wittily demonstrating how our unthinking recognition of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and psychological inertia. one of the stereotypes of suggestion and speech hence exploded are such words as "You cannot act with no getting your fingers soiled" "Work is freedom" "We needs to persist with the present of heritage" and "Women locate their freedom (dignity) in paintings" a definite variety of those outdated saws preside over our way of life. they enable us to appreciate each other and to swim within the usual present of society. they're approved as so convinced that we nearly by no means query them. They serve without delay as adequate reasons for every little thing and as "clinchers" in too many arguments. Ellul explores the ways that such clichés deceive us and forestall us from having autonomous thoughts-and in reality retain us from dealing with the issues to which they're theoretically addressed. they're the "new commonplaces" simply because the 19th century introduced forth many such commonplaces (they are enshrined in Leon Bloy's Exégése and Flaubert's Dictionnaire des idées reçues), so our century has been busy developing its personal. What Ellul has performed is to face nonetheless lengthy sufficient to examine them rigorously, assault them with cool cause, and go away them nakedly uncovered. during this awesome record, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the provider of truths that frequently are merciless, yet continually are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is frequently hilarious and regularly healing approximately issues of first significance.
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Is it Why this doctrine? we must be Why this ban- a question of thought, a question of commitment we have seen, commitment to nothing effechow fine that would be! Certain writers are (although, as tive)? " In other words, to be committed is to assure oneself an audience, to attract customers. You think I am exaggerating? Sartre said as much The in Jewish Question. To make your living as an intellectual "you must seduce, arrest, most important thing is win people's confidence reputation: you make .
Wisdom of Nations can offer. does not go beyond this it to apply After . it all, to The common fruit of sense, common but tries life. common sense is useful, in our time, has the right to despise tion of behavior, it carries a real and nobody, especially it. Fruit of the observa- weight of wisdom, for the A Critique of the New Commonplaces very slowness of its 23 [ creation assures the seriousness of the And in addition to the mediocrity of its ideal, Wisdom of Nations provides a pessimistic view of man, conclusion.
These dogmatic statements that the commonplace carries within it probability and a judgment of value. mainstream of history not only neither true nor good. For it is is hold everything in one hand! by —that this ruined, is, if thread we admit if it is tell us both a judgment of What is outside the without force, but is precisely the discovery of this sense of history that enables us, as tion dis- If we were we admit saying, to a single excep- that a single truth does not —then everything falls apart, hang everything is and the thread of history becomes once again a tangled skein.
A critique of the new commonplaces. by Jacques Ellul