Send us your blog post, blog address, address of other great sites or suggestions by email.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Treatise On Political Economy by Tracy, Count Destutt

A Treatise
Political Economy

Elements of Ideology, or a treatise on the will and itseffects.
The faculty of will is a mode and a consequence of the faculty of perception.
We have just finished the examination of our means of knowledge. We must employ them in the study of our faculty of will to complete the history of our intellectual faculties.
The faculty of willing produces in us the ideas of wants and means, of riches and deprivation, of rights and duties, of justice and injustice, which flow from the idea of property, which is itself derived from the idea of personality. It is necessary therefore first to examine this latter, and to explain beforehand with accuracy what the faculty of willing is.
The faculty of willing is that of finding some one thing preferable to another.
It is a mode and a consequence of the faculty of feeling.

From the faculty of will arise the ideas of personality and property
The self of every one of us is for him his own sensibility.
Thus sensibility alone gives to a certain point, the idea of personality.
But the mode of sensibility, called the will or willing faculty, can alone render this idea of personality complete; it is then only that it can produce the idea of property as we have it. The idea of property arises then solely from the faculty of will; and moreover it arises necessarily from it, for we cannot have an idea of self without having that of the property in all the faculties of self and in their effects. If it was not thus, if there was not amongst us a natural and necessary property, there never would have been a conventional or artificial property.
This truth is the foundation of all economy, and of all morality; which are in their principles but one and the same science.

From the faculty of will arise all our wants and all our means
The same intellectual acts emanating from our faculty of will, which cause us to acquire a distinct and complete idea of self, and of exclusive property in all its modes, are also those which render us susceptible of wants, and are the source of all our means of providing for those wants.
For 1st. Every desire is a want, and every want is never but the need of satisfying a desire. Desire is always in itself a pain.
2d. When our sensitive system re-acts on our muscular system these desires have the property of directing our actions, and thus of producing all our means.
Labour, the employment of our force, constitutes our only treasure and our only power.
Thus it is the faculty of will which renders us proprietors of wants and means, of passion and action, of pain and power.
Thence arise the ideas of riches and deprivation.

From the faculty of will arise also the ideas of riches and deprivation
Whatsoever contributes, mediately or immediately, to the satisfaction of our wants is for us a good; that is to say, a thing the possession of which is a good.
To be rich is to possess these goods; to be poor is to be without them.
They arise all from the employment of our faculties, of which they are the effect and representation.
These goods have all two values amongst us; the one is that of the sacrifices they cost to him who produces them, the other that of the advantages which they procure for him who has acquired them.
The labour from which they emanate has then these two values.
Yes labour has these two values. The one is the sum of the objects necessary to the satisfaction of the wants that arise inevitably in an animated being during the operation of his labour. The other is the mass of utility resulting from this labour.
The latter value is eventual and variable.
The first is natural and necessary. It has not however an absolute fixity; and it is this which renders very delicate all economical and moral calculations.
We can scarcely employ in these matters but the considerations drawn from the theory of limits.

From the faculty of will arise also the ideas of liberty and constraint
Liberty is the power of executing our will. It is our first good. It includes them all. A constraint includes all our evils, since it is a deprivation of the power to satisfy our wants and accomplish our desires.
All constraint is sufferance; all liberty is enjoyment. The total value of the liberty of an animated being is equal to that of all his faculties united.
It is absolutely infinite for him and without a possible equivalent, since its entire loss imports the impossibility of the possession of any good.
Our sole duty is to augment our liberty and its value.
The object of society is solely the fulfilment of this duty.

Finally, from the faculty of will arise our ideas of rights and duties
Rights arise from wants, and duties from means.
Weakness in all its kinds is the source of all rights, and power the source of all duties; or in other words of the general duty to employ it well, which comprehends all the others.
These ideas of rights and duties are not so essentially correlative as is commonly said. That of rights is anterior and absolute.
An animated being by the laws of his nature has always the right to satisfy his wants, and he has no duties but according to circumstances.
A sentient and willing being, but incapable of action, would have all rights and no duties.
This being supposed capable of action, and insulated from every other sensible being, has still the same plenitude of rights, with the sole duty of properly directing his actions and well employing his means for the most complete satisfaction of his wants.
Place this same being in contact with other beings who develope to him their sensibility too imperfectly to enable him to form conventions with them; he has still the same rights, and his duties or rather his sole duty is only changed, so far as he must act on the will of these beings, and is under a necessity to sympathise more or less with them. Such are our relations with the brutes.
Suppose this same sensible being in relation with beings with whom he can completely communicate and form conventions, he has still the same rights unlimited in themselves, and the same sole duty.
These rights are not bounded, this duty is not modified by the conventions established; but because these conventions are so many means of exercising these rights, of fulfilling this duty better and more fully than before.
The possibility of explaining ourselves and not agriculture, grammar and not Ceres, is our first legislator. It is at the establishment of conventions that the just and unjust, properly speaking, commence.

The general considerations just read begin to diffuse some light over the subject with which we are occupied, but they are not sufficient. We must see more in detail what are the numerous results of our actions; what are the different sentiments which arise from our first desires, and what is the best possible manner of directing these actions and sentiments. Here will be found the division which I have announced. I shall begin by speaking of our actions.
Tracy- Treatise on Political Economy, A

No comments:

Post a Comment