Page:Georges Sorel, Reflections On Violence (1915).djvu/19

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5
LETTER TO DANIEL HALEVY

of lectures for some time one becomes familiar with the order of his ideas and gets one's bearings more easily amidst the novelties of his philosophy.

The defects of my manner of writing prevent me getting access to a wide public; but I think that we ought to be content with the place that nature and circumstances have assigned to each of us, without desiring to force our natural talent. There is a necessary division of functions in the world; it is a good thing that some are content to work, simply that they may submit their reflections to a few studious people, whilst others love to address the great mass of busy humanity. All things considered, I do not think that mine is the worst lot, for I am not exposed to the danger of becoming my own disciple, as has happened to the greatest philosophers when they have endeavoured to give a perfectly symmetrical form to the intuitions they brought into the world. You will certainly not have forgotten the smiling disdain with which Bergson has spoken of this infirmity of genius. So little am I capable of becoming my own disciple that I am unable to take up an old work of mine again with the idea of stating it better, or even of completing it; it is easy enough for me to add corrections and to annotate it, but I have many times vainly tried to think the past over again.

Much more, then, am I prevented from ever becoming the founder of a school;[1] but is that really a great

  1. I think it may be interesting to quote here some reflections borrowed from an admirable book of Newman's: "It will be our wisdom to avail ourselves of language, as far as it will go, but to aim mainly, by means of it, to stimulate in those to whom we address ourselves, a mode of thinking and trains of thought similar to our own, leading them on by their own independent action, not by any syllogistic compulsion. Hence it is that an intellectual school will always have something of an esoteric character; for it is an assemblage of minds that think, their bond is unity of thought, and their words become a sort of tessera, not expressing thought but symbolising it" (Grammar of Assent, p. 309). As a matter of fact, the schools have hardly ever resembled this ideal sketched out by Newman.