CHAPTER VIII – The Intelligence, the Will, and the Sensibility in the Determination of Human Acts

May 23, 2019


The Intelligence, the Will, and the Sensibility in the Determination of Human Acts

The previous considerations call for an explication on the role of the intelligence, the will, and the sensibility in the relations between error and passion.

Plunder of a church during the French Revolution. Painting by Victor-Henri Juglar.

It could seem that we are affirming that every error is conceived by the intelligence to justify some disorderly passion. Thus, a moralist who affirms a liberal maxim would always be moved by a liberal tendency.

That is not what we think. The moralist may arrive at a liberal conclusion solely through weakness of the intelligence affected by Original Sin. In such a case would there necessarily be some moral fault of another nature, carelessness, for instance? This is a question beyond the scope of our study.

What we do affirm is that, historically, this Revolution had its ultimate origin in an extremely violent ferment of the passions. And we are far from denying the great role of doctrinal errors in this process.

Boissy d’Anglas saluting the head of deputy Féraud, 1st prairal An III (20th of May 1795), by Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard, taken by Rama.

Authors of great worth — de Maistre, de Bonald, Donoso Cortes, and so many others — have written numerous studies on these errors and the way each was derived from the other, from the fifteenth to the sixteenth century, and so on till the twentieth century. Therefore, it is not our intention to insist on this matter here.

It does seem to us, however, particularly opportune to focus on the importance of the passional factors and their influence in strictly ideological aspects of the revolutionary process in which we find ourselves. For, as we see it, little heed is paid to this point. On account of this, people do not see the Revolution in its entirety and consequently adopt inadequate counter-revolutionary methods.

We will now add something about the way in which passions can influence ideas.

Perhaps none of his works, however, has had such a profound impact as the essay, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, translated into the world’s major languages.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), Part I, Chap VIII, p. 55


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