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 popularity of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and psychological inertia. one of the stereotypes of concept and speech therefore exploded are such words as "You cannot act with no getting your fingers soiled" "Work is freedom" "We needs to stick to the present of heritage" and "Women locate their freedom (dignity) in paintings" a definite variety of those outdated saws preside over our way of life.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 traditional present of society. they're authorised as so yes that we nearly by no means query them. They serve right away as adequate reasons for every thing and as "clinchers" in too many arguments. Ellul explores the ways that such clichés misinform us and forestall us from having autonomous thoughts-and actually maintain 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 growing its personal. What Ellul has performed is to face nonetheless lengthy sufficient to examine them rigorously, assault them with cool cause, and depart them nakedly uncovered. during this outstanding rfile, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the provider of truths that regularly are merciless, yet continually are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is frequently hilarious and consistently healing approximately issues of first significance.
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Extra resources for A critique of the new commonplaces.
People extol the courage of the astronaut, and they are right; they extol the greatness of man, and nobody would question it! On all sides we hear these appeals to the biggest, the farthest, the highest, a more total concentration of energy. We are at the outer- man may in fact cease to be man by exceeding his limit. And as the sound barrier was broken, so it may be that as yet we have known only the prehistory of humanity; this invisible wall that man has always come up against may be about to cave in at last in a double most point, where explosion.
To act according to a value —hypocrisy! To follow a morality do self to frightful — $2 that JACQUES ELLUL ] would actually prevent me from doing doing or being hypocrisy! Not — feel like opinion at once but to think it over, or being what to I my to express censor it hypocrisy! The important thing yourself. But since nor by intention, nor I its can grasp is never to pretend, always to be this self by a is defined neither by value, nor by an past, its essence, since only in the impression of the moment, this self merely you follow your guts, most elementary thing, your desires in the reaction to the present, sincerity consists in reflecting the present.
If he would be rather surprised, for it provides an excuse, a front, and a bleach job for all those who delight in getting their hands into the political manure and worry very little and sometimes not at all ( and for that matter would be quite incapable of worrying even if they wanted to ) about having clean hands. But it also serves to justify the impotent intellectuals, the Parisian intelligentsia, who it on a diet of live words, in doing nothing. For is it not the least important characteristic of this commonplace that it is invoked by those who do nothing and who claim to have dirty hands in order to give the impression that they have done something.