The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

ADDENDUM
THE MYTH OF THE SOLUTION

We commonly say 'this is a political problem' and go on to ask for its 'solution' and complain that it is not found. This is a way of speaking so well-established that it cannot be changed, or indeed avoided, but it should be realized that it is highly misleading.

The word 'problem' is loaded with memories of our studious childhood, when problems were set to us by the master. We concentrated our attention to understand the terms of the problem, and then bent our backs over our desks, striving to discover the answer. Many a time we floundered helplessly, but while failing we were aware that some of our fellows were finding the solution. On some occasions we rejoiced that we had solved the problem, and found out afterwards that we had given a faulty answer. Whether we had failed to find any solution or had handed in a spurious solution, when the master afterwards expounded the treatment of the problem on the blackboard and set down the solution, there was no shadow of doubt in our minds that that was what we should have found: if we had produced a different answer, we would not dream of taking up the cudgels in its favour. Such ready subservience to the answer written out by the master was in no degree a submission to his personal authority. It followed from our now perceiving that that answer, and that answer alone, satisfied the terms of the problem. And while we might feel some chagrin that we had missed or mistaken it, some annoyance at our own stupidity, on the other hand we would experience a joy of seeing things clearly.

This then was the answer which was waiting for us all the time. It is a pity that we did not find our way to it, or that we took another way which led us astray. It would have been pleasing to have won this answer by our own efforts: but in surrendering to it, now that it stands to reason, there is also a pleasure; and the answer, henceforth, is no less our own than if we had reached it alone. We are just as ready to champion the answer against any doubter, we have no doubt that he will be brought to see its rightness, and be grateful to us for his own acquired conviction. Such is the psychological attitude of Man to 'the solution'.

-204-

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The Pure Theory of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I- Approach- Politics as History 1
  • Chapter 1- Configuration and Dynamics 3
  • Chapter 3- On the Nature of Political Science 29
  • Part II- Setting- Ego in Otherdom 41
  • Chapter 1- Of Man 43
  • Chapter 2- Home 48
  • Chapter 3- Otherdom 55
  • Part III- Action- Instigation and Response 67
  • Chapter 1- Instigation 69
  • Chapter 2- Response 83
  • Part IV- Authority- ''Potestas'' and ''Potentia'' 97
  • Chapter 1- On Being Heard 99
  • Chapter 2- The Law of Conservative Exclusion 109
  • Chapter 3- Place and Face 118
  • Part V- Decision 129
  • Chapter 1- The People 131
  • Chapter 2- The Committee, I (judicial or Political) 146
  • Chapter 3- The Committee, II (foresight, Values and Pressures) 157
  • Part VI- Attitudes 167
  • Chapter 1- Attention and Intention 169
  • Chapter 2- The Team against the Committee 176
  • Chapter 3- The Manners of Politics 187
  • Addendum the Myth of the Solution 204
  • Conclusion 213
  • Index 215
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