REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENCE
you are not one of those people who look upon the tricks by means of which readers can be deceived by words, as happy discoveries. That is why you will not condemn me for having attached great worth to a myth which gives to socialism such high moral value and such great sincerity. It is because the theory of myths tends to produce such fine results that so many seek to dispute it.
The mind of man is so constituted that it cannot remain content with the mere observation of facts, but always attempts to penetrate into the inner reason of things. I therefore ask myself whether it might not be desirable to study this theory of myths more thoroughly, utilising the enlightenment we owe to the Bergsonian
philosophy. The attempt I am about to submit to you is doubtless very imperfect, but I think that it has been planned in accordance with the only method which can possibly throw light on the problem. In the first place, we should notice that the discussions of the moralists hardly ever come into contact with what is truly fundamental in our individuality. As a rule, they simply try to appraise our already completed acts with the help of the moral valuations formulated in advance by society, for the different types of action commonest in contemporary life. They say that in this way they are determining motives; but these motives are of the same nature as those which jurists take account of in criminal justice; they are merely social valuations of facts known to everybody. Many philosophers, especially the ancients, have believed that all values could be deduced from utility, and if any social valuation does exist, it is surely this latter,—theologians estimate transgressions by the place they occupy on the road which, according to average human experience, leads to mortal sin; they are thus