Chapter 22
Citizenship, education and philosophy

Our guiding thread for the establishment of moral elements in accordance with the general objective of this book, namely to allow the greatest number to benefit from progress, is the passage from myth to reason, that is setting the frame according to the data that sociology has revealed of human nature, instead of relying on the culture inherited from the slow evolution of great myths. Already in 1885, Guyau, in Esquisse d'une morale sans obligation ni sanction, set himself the same objective: “We therefore propose to research what would be and how far could go a morality where no "prejudice" would have any part, where everything would be reasoned and appreciated at its true value, either in fact of certainties, or in fact of simply probable opinions and hypotheses.” However, the development that follows is not up to the task, simply because Guyau, just like Marx, does not benefit from advances in sociology, so he does not master the implications of the concept of cognitive dissonance conceptualized in 1957 by Festinger, some aspects of which we discussed in Chapter 3.

Let us start again from our initial philosophical objective which is to put progress at the service of all. We will now establish a moral as a necessary condition.
For this, let's first note that the big sentence "the freedom of some stops where that of others begins" loses almost all its meaning when we integrate the consequences of cognitive dissonance, which shows us that the fact of repeatedly harming the other is generally accompanied by a lie to oneself which makes the nuisance invisible to its author. For example, a boss does not exploit his workers: he struggles to give them work, paid within the limits of what market constraints impose on him.
From there, "Do not lie to yourself" becomes a necessary condition to ensure that progress is not diverted by some, in full good conscience. This is what justifies putting this imperative as the basis of our morals.

For Kant already, morality meant never lying. However, like Marx, Kant had a philosophical basis based on the Enlightenment, which made him suppose that Man can be clairvoyant as soon as he decides to take the trouble to think. But cognitive dissonance invalidates this. Therefore, it is a long-term work that should be carried out on oneself. Here are various implications.

First of all, the educational model can only be the repetition of virtuous acts, which amounts to giving reason to Plato, and explaining the scientific reason. The effect of repeating virtuous acts is to align dissonant with immoral.

In addition, we saw in Chapter 15 the need for the education system to set itself the objective of overcoming digital illiteracy, instead of being content with an employability objective.

Still at the educational level, but more particularly in higher education, it is a question of replacing the promotion of the "winner" as an archetypal model by the promotion of the rational man, that is to say capable of treating cognitive dissonance by readjusting one's knowledge, which in most cases means realizing that one had generalized beforehand. This implies putting forward mathematics, and more particularly one of the fundamental aspects of mathematics, which is the search for whether a set of hypotheses is sufficient to affirm a given conclusion, or did we generalize in passing, that is to say that we switched from demonstration to dogma without realizing it. An attentive reader will have noticed that the Cartesian doubt has just been transformed from a tool for access the truth into a tool for moral work.
More generally, it is advisable to apply in the education system all the recommendations mentioned in the part "Conditions of a reliable decision-making process" of chapter 7.

Festinger also reports that following an earthquake, people who were further from the epicenter, therefore did not see the destructions, developed more rumors. We deduce from this the necessity that every citizen performs, one week per year, in another organization, a work drawn by random.

Finally, it is important that all citizens learn to reason by carrying out strategic studies throughout their existence, as mentioned in chapters 7, then 10 and 11.

What is philosophy?

We saw in Chapter 6 that we define philosophy as the attempt to answer two questions:


How to deal with the stress of the death, past or future, of those we love, possibly starting with ourselves?


How to get out of mutually destructive natural attitudes, namely mainly generalized nepotism as described in the documentary Caribbean Primates? Refer to Chapter 3 for the presentation of this documentary.

Conversely, we exclude rhetoric from philosophy, that is to say the art of discourse, because even if it was taught in many schools of philosophy, it is nonetheless a tool for conquest of power, which is very often contrary to the second object of philosophy which we have just exposed. The success of rhetoric corresponds to the fact that this is very often what people came to seek in the schools of philosophy.

Another way of approaching things, more scientific but just as philosophical, is to start from the question "What is man?" in the sense of: what have we inherited from evolution as an animal species; and once thus understood what is instinctive in each of us, what culture to add, that is to say what should we add artificially through social conditioning, to obtain in the end the most harmonious result possible? By harmonious is meant the minimum level of stress in individuals. This clearly points us towards the Caribbean Primates report seen in Chapter 2, as an entry point for philosophical reflection. This report also shows us that stress comes mainly from generalized nepotism, which justifies the adoption of the question "How to get out of mutually destructive attitudes?" as the focal point of philosophical thinking.

In his attempt to popularize the great philosophical theories, Luc Ferry breaks down each philosophical school in the form of three elements: a vision of the world, a moral, and finally recipes for life.

The vision of the world of modern science

What we are going to try to show here is on the one hand what modern science is, which will lead us to clarify some bases of logic and of the functioning of sciences, that is to say, to make a little epistemology. It is on the other hand, that the vision of the world resulting from modern science is the only one that it is still reasonable to adopt in the XXIᵉ century, which will lead us to link it to other parts of this book.
Let’s start by providing some landmark to those who will find it difficult to follow developments concerning logic: what we mean by modern science is the sciences or the parts of sciences which correspond to the strict application of scientific method, that is, mathematics, physics, biology, part of medicine, and part of sociology. The other human sciences such as history or economics are clearly not part of it; we will now see why.

A scientific discourse is one which takes the form of "If A then B" in which A defines a set of conditions such that a person who reads this statement can by satisfying all the conditions described in A, reproduce the experiment, and see B for itself. Generally, A takes the form "A₁ and A₂ and A₃ etc". This same scientific proposition falls as soon as a person formulates a counterexample, ie a proposition of the type "If A and C then not B", and that other people verify this second proposition. Put more simply, the initial proposition falls as soon as someone shows that the conditions set were not precise enough to guarantee the result.

For centuries, the universally accepted and only logic used has been that set out by Aristotle in the Organon. It was an integral part of all classical philosophical training. This logic is based on the notion of properties - for example, being an animal - and favors three-step reasonings, which are called syllogisms. However, this logic is limited: it fails to grasp the arithmetic properties, such as being twelve. At the end of the 19th century, Gottlob Frege, to overcome this difficulty, defined a new formalism which laid the foundations of modern logic: the predicate calculus, also named first-order logic. This has many advantages, in particular the fact that any mathematical reasoning - be it logical, arithmetic, analytical, or even geometric - can be expressed using this formalism, and even then verified by a machine.
However, at the very moment when the formalism of logic finally becomes complete and rigorous, philosophers turn away from it. Thus, if the Louis Bordet Philosophy Manual of 1932 is still half made up of a "Logic" section which deals with epistemology, the current French philosophy program no longer deals with logic. Since this has not been reintegrated into mathematics at the high school level, it is simply no longer widely taught. Knowing that it remains the foundation of science, that understanding the mechanics of logic, and training in its use, constitute the basis for being able to produce or verify a scientific discourse (1), to stop teaching it seems to us to at least questionable, when at the same time we deplore the proliferation of alternative truths following the appearance of the new media that social networks are.
Developing a critical mind is good, provided you start with the basics, and the basics remains logic, otherwise one will quickly confuse scientific discourse with rhetorical discourse. In doing so, one switches from science to anti-science, which we will cover a little further, with the consequence, as we will see, of the increase in social violence.

A course on predicate calculus is beyond the scope of this book. I'll just take a non-trivial example to illustrate the scientific method:
" The earth is round "
Is this a scientific proposition? At first glance, this does not seem obvious, because this proposition does not have the form "If A then B". In fact, it has. What is particular to this example is that A is empty. In other words, this sentence should be read in the form "If no particular condition then the Earth is round".
At this point, we can retort that this is not a proof. Certainly, but a scientific proposition is not a proof, just an assertion that no one can contradict. A proof is a surplus which exists only in mathematics and which makes it possible to show in advance that no one will ever be able to contradict this proposition. A proven proposition is called a theorem, and an unproven proposition is called a conjecture. Each science establishes its own rules to determine among the propositions those which it judges worthy of interest (2). It is the social organization dimension specific to each science. A science that retains propositions too easily would be drowned in dispersion, and a science that would set too strong constraints would miss interesting propositions that it needs to move forward. These selection rules that each science gives itself evolves as the science develops. In mathematics, the proposition must be prooved (theorem), or important and unsuccessful invalidation work has taken place (conjecture) for a proposition to be accepted. In astronomy, it must not only explain phenomena that are difficult to explain without this proposition, but it is also preferable that it predicts something that will only be verified at a later point in history. In general, a simple proposition, which is therefore only likely, will not be accepted, unless there are additional indications that suggest that it is true. It is on this level that modern science has distinguished itself from the science included in Greek philosophy in which to be plausible was deemed sufficient. In addition, still generally, only the simplest and especially the most general propositions are retained. A final point to understand the merits of this limit that each science gives itself by filtering the selected propositions: one of the most impressive results of the predicate calculus, the incompleteness theorem by Kurt Gödel, is precisely to demonstrate that there exists propositions that we do not know how to demonstrate, so if mathematics retained en masse the unproven propositions, we would be at fear to end up with an arithmetic explosion of propositions of the type "If A then it may be that B" which would ultimately only limit the practical interest of the field.

Now let's see what happens if someone says:
" The Earth is flat "
In this case, we can drop the statement by the following counter proposition:
"If I go to the international space station, and I look through the window, then I see that the earth is not flat"
Here, C is:
" I'm going to the international space station, and I'm looking out the window. "
Let's go on a bit to understand what science is.
Our initial claim that the Earth is round can also be partially invalidated:
" If I measure the equator, I get 40,074 km more or less 1 km near, and if I measure a meridian and its opposite, I get 4,008 km more or less 1 km near, so the Earth is not round. "
In fact, our initial proposal was too rough, and should have been formulated as:
"The Earth is a sphere with a circumference of 40,000 km with a measurement error of less than 1% and a deformation of less than 1%. "
Which brings us to understanding that the evolution of modern science is quite rarely a complete invalidation of a scientific proposition, but much more frequently a need to complete the experimental conditions or to clarify the limits of the conclusion. The most famous illustration of this is quantum mechanics which did not invalidate Newtonian mechanics, but simply needed to clarify its field of application and its precision.

Let's now take the proposition:
" God exists "
In the same way as before, we can present it in scientific form in the form "If no particular condition, then God exists". Here, what poses problem from the point of view of science, and where Pascal went wrong on the methodological level by advancing a proof, is that the problem of such an assertion is not so much to know if it is true or false, but to define what God is. God is not something that can be observed directly, precisely, like gravity. From the point of view of science, we must therefore deduce its existence from its predictable effects. Indeed, if God is not directly perceptible and has no perceptible effects, then he is unrelated to the real world as understood by science since there is no scientific proposition where the A would imply the existence of God, and the B would imply something verifiable which is only true if A. In the end, the phrase "God exists" amounts to asserting that something undefined exists, therefore is not a valid scientific propositions. In summary, this second example simply shows us that contrary to everyday speech, science supposes to precisely define everything we talk about. A sentence like "The sky is blue" seems perfectly clear to us, until we wonder "What is the sky?" and "What is the blue color?".

Let us now explain why the world view of modern science is the only one that is reasonable to adopt in the 21st century.
We indicated in the introduction that one of the two subjects of philosophy is to allow us to get out of mutually destructive natural attitudes. Now, if we reduce beliefs to what science has established, then the different beliefs do not oppose each other, therefore individuals have no reason to confront each other to resolve a dispute on beliefs. Conversely, as soon as the worldview includes dogmatic beliefs, then the beliefs of one individual or group may be at odds with that of another, and in this case, the temptation will be strong in the dominant group to impose their beliefs on everyone, if only to reduce their own level of cognitive dissonance, and we saw in Chapter 2 that this will generally result in a confrontation of the type "us against them".


Now let's see what the opposite of science is. Naively, one might think that it is the assertion of false, doctrinaire things, like for example "The Earth is flat". However, this would show that we have confused science and truth. Let's resume. Science is an approach which seeks to formulate solid "If A then B" propositions, that is to say propositions nobody could put at fault. In order not to take anti-scientists for fools that they are not necessarily, let's define anti-science rather as the fact of formulating propositions "If A then B" in which the objective, the ultimate value of selection of interesting propositions, is no longer the fact that the proposition cannot be faulted, but the fact that the proposition is likely and above all that effect B is socially valued.

Take for example the statement "To succeed, one must devellop its network". It can be formulated in the form "If you devellop your network then you succeed". From the point of view of pure logic, the second proposition is not equivalent to the first. The correct equivalent in pure logic would be the opposite "If you don't devellop your network then you don't succeed". But in anti-science, we don't care! What makes the anti-scientific value of the proposition "If you devellop your network then you succeed" is the fact that succeeding is seen as something important.
In other words, science selects the propositions which are irrefutable, anti-science selects the simply probable propositions which have the most interesting consequences.

We now come to the interesting affirmation of this part: in our reasoning, our exchanges with others, on the media, anti-science is ultra dominant.
The two booming anti-scientific theories at the start of the 21st century are coaching with "If ... then you will better succeed" propositions and personal development with "If ... then you will be happier" propositions. "

The problem with anti-science is that the promise is often broken. It would not be a serious issue if we were purely rational beings whose conclusion would be: I allowed myself to mistake my desires for realities, it did not work, I received a good lesson and the next time I will be less naive vis-à-vis the gurus. However, our nature is rather cognitive dissonance. So rather than denounce the initial proposition, which would require questionning our past decision, and therefore our capacity for judgment, we prefer to find an external, added cause, which will allow us to justify that it did not work, but that it should have. In fact, on the one hand, we become in solidarity with the guru who will be able to prosper in this way, and on the other hand we transfer our hatred linked to dissatisfaction with the result not achieved on something or someone who is not at all responsible with the initial failure.
This is so true that an experienced guru often delivers, implicitly, and at the same time as his proposition, the suggestion of an outside potencial cause of failure.
In the end, we created a shared belief that can o be reused to wage a battle of the type "us against them", where "them" are the external causes of the failures.
In summary, anti-science starts from a positive proposition "to succeed" or "to be happy" and in fact produces an increase in social violence in order to purge failures. The only ones who really benefit are the anti-science gurus who find some social success there.

The stoician precepts of life

The recipes for life that we retain are mainly inherited from the Stoic school. Why the Stoic school rather than another? Because it raises the least contradictions with the whole of this book, in particular the vision of man subjected to generalized nepotism and cognitive dissonance, presented in the first part of the book.

The first recipe is the maieutics of Socrates, in the fifth century BC. JC, which consists in advancing thinking by asking questions. From our point of view, it is the beginnings of modern science. Indeed, asking questions, this leads in practice to specify the A in a proposition "If A then B". Now the most frequent error in our reasoning is precisely to have a formulation of A that is too general or too approximate.
The second illustration of the importance of maieutics comes from the article Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony that we mentioned at the end of chapter 3. John W. Meyer and Brian Rowan show that organizations tend to operate according to commonly accepted rules, but which are ultimately based on concepts that have not been demonstrated. Asking lots of questions helps switch from the initial affirmation of the appropriate attitude, because it corresponds to the standards of the profession, to the concepts which underlies it, then by continuing the questioning, to the awareness that all of it is ultimately based on gratuitous statements.

The other two come from the late Stoics, during the first two centuries of our era:


First of all, Epictetus, in his Manual, invites us to separate what depends on oneself and what does not depend on oneself. Then, on the one hand, one should not worry about what does not depend on oneself, and on the other hand one must exercise all one's intelligence and courage on what depends on oneself.
Marc Aurèle, in his Thoughts, adds a testimony of the practical difficulties encountered in implementing the precept of Epictetus.


Then, in the book On the shortness of live, Seneca invites us to do what is most important instead of wasting our life.

Here are two additional remarks regarding these Stoic precepts:
First of all, note that the problems log, presented in chapter 9, is an application of the Epictetus precept. The key point is the third column, which is not so much aimed at solving the problem, because very often part of the solution does not depend on us, but simply to propose a way to improve the situation, that is to say, to exercise our intelligence and courage on the part that depends on us, instead of taking the part that does not depend on us as an excuse to do nothing in the end, if not to complain.
Then, note that very often, it is the disease, and the prospect of an imminent death that makes us realize the importance of the precept of Seneca. Indeed, the prospect of an imminent and premature death, has the effect of limiting our interest in social advancement, and in fact makes us more receptive to the philosophical precepts that go against our instinct.

Let us now see how the two selected precepts of Epictetus and Seneca respond to the concerns of philosophy as we defined it at the start.

Seneca's precept "do what is important" answers the first question, how to cope with the stress of death. This is an answer which is not entirely satisfactory, but which has the advantage of not requiring the adoption of a belief in a form of continuation of life after death.
We can also see this Seneca precept as a more demanding form of the precept "Having a life that has meaning".

To understand the effect of the Epictetus precept, to distinguish what depends on us from what does not depend on us, we can refer to the book The end of Courage by Cynthia Fleury. It shows us that the most common attitude is to give up opposing what is morally unacceptable, which amounts to giving up fighting against mutually destructive attitudes. However, Epictetus invites us, in situations where we do not have the power to solve the problem as a whole, so far as not to give up acting, therefore to oppose injustice. In particular, the fact of having obeyed cannot be a sufficient excuse. In doing so, we considerably limit the possibility for mutually destructive attitudes to persist indefinitely.
It is important to understand that the precept of Epictetus has nothing to do with the attitude which in the face of a great problem, such as ecology, or world hunger, consists in being satisfied with a small gesture. Indeed, in this case, we did not determine everything that depended on us, and we simply bought a good conscience at lower cost.
The other side of the Epictetus recommendation is just as important: don't worry about things that don't depend on you; this is the basis for not brooding, not worrying unnecessarily, so ... not to be prevented from fully living in the present moment. This is the concept of ataraxia which we will now present with more detail.

The ways of searching for happiness

For a philosopher, the starting question is often that of happiness: is being happy above all having fun, or is being happy above all living in serenity ?

The first option is that of hedonism, and it is the one that seems to be systematically dominant in developed capitalist societies. An extreme illustration would be the adolescent who dreams of spending his life in "mega parties". The success of hedonism is due above all to the fact that its naive version corresponds fairly well to our instinctive search for happiness. However, this naive version does not work well, because the pleasure tends to dull when it is prolonged for weeks or is repeated in the same form. This leads to a perpetual flight forward to escape dissatisfaction, frustration, or a diffuse anxiety of the future, which always returns. We will resume a little later, with more detail,  the conditions for satisfactory hedonism.


The second option is that of looking for ataraxia. To put it simply, atataxia is the feeling of bliss that one can feel simply because nothing is blocking it, neither a present concern, nor anxiety about the future. The best known illustration is that of Buddha. The great advantage of ataraxia is that it is a stable form of happiness, which can last indefinitely if nothing disturbs it.

Another fundamental difference between the two is that hedonism tends to be easier to follow by young people with a strong life drive, while the search for ataraxia becomes easier when the drives falls, and that the experience of seeking pleasure during young age shown its limits.
Another way of looking at things is that hedonism seeks to ensure happiness by filling life, while ataraxia is a process in which happiness is born from the abandonment of all that is superfluous. To spin the metaphor, we could present hedonism as an attempt to fill the container with holes that our happiness is by throwing at it an ever-increasing flow of water.

This leads us to present a related notion, that of impermanence. Impermanence is the fact that in life nothing is guaranteed: we can have an enviable sociable position, a loving family, and yet find it hard to feel happy, because we know that we can lose our work tomorrow, that our loved ones may be victims of a sudden accident, etc.
Now what is most difficult to reach ataraxia, whether young or old, and what ultimately makes it a philosophy much more difficult than hedonism, is the acceptance of impermanence. If we do not accept impermanence, we live in the anxiety of tomorrow, of the possible loss of our present happiness, so we do not gain access to ataraxia. But accepting impermanence is nothing less than resolving the first big question of the philosophy that we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, namely "How to deal with the stress of the death, past or future, of those whom we like, possibly starting with ourself? "
Consequently, ataraxia almost always implies a notion of minimalism, of frugality. In fact, the less we have or the less we believe, the less impermanence has grip on us. In other words, it is because the acceptance of impermanence is difficult that the frugality which facilitates it is necessary to have a chance of reaching ataraxia.

Let's sum it up: hedonism seems more accessible, especially when one is young, but does not work well without particular precautions that we will see a little further, and even less and less well when we advance in life; ataraxia seems more effective, but frighteningly difficult to achieve, because of impermanence. Let us now review how the precepts which we have just enumerated act.
Socratic maieutics is a tool for working on ones reason in order to avoid indulging in error.
The first part of the Epictetus precept, that is to exercise all your intelligence and all your courage on what depends on you, is an invitation to effort that does not seem directly linked to ataraxia.
The second part of the Epictetus precept, namely not to worry about what does not depend on us, is clearly a working tool to promote ataraxia.
Finally, Seneca's precept of focusing on what is most important instead of wasting ones life is the tool to work more specifically on the problem of accepting impermanence through the absence of regrets.

It remains therefore just to explain why atataxia requires effort, and therefore the reason for the first part of the Epictetus precept. What is not clarified is a source of concern, so ataraxia presupposes lucidity. However as one becomes lucid, one also becomes one's own moral conscience, that is to say that the fact that one is satisfied with oneself no longer depends so much on the result obtained or on the assessment and recognition by others, but of one's own judgment; this is what Marc Aurelius shows very well. From there, atataxia supposes to be at peace with one's own conscience, therefore to have satisfied the first part of the precept of Epictetus, that is to say, to exercise all of one's courage and intelligence on the part that dependeds on us.
In the end, the first precept of Epictetus, and the effort it implies, are necessary conditions for attaining ataraxia, as well as the acceptance of impermanence.

We have just shown that the Stoic precepts are effective tools for achieving ataraxia. However at an individual level, this is not only the safest way to access stable happiness, but also the best tool for mastering cognitive dissonance. Indeed, what opposes the rational treatment of cognitive dissonance is the refusal to challenge a belief. Once ataraxia has been reached, impermanence has been accepted, therefore the disappearance of ones beliefs.

Finally, ataraxia has a great social virtue which is that it is a very effective means of limiting generalized nepotism where hedonism tends to exacerbate it.
The explanation starts with a remark from the Caribbean Primates report that we used in Chapter 2 to present the concept of generalized nepotism: if an individual seeks to progress in the social hierarchy, it is because his chances of survival as an isolated individual are thin. In other words, the initial motivation is anxiety about a hostile environment. Now, if, thanks to ataraxia, anxiety has generally disappeared, then the motivation for the struggle for social advancement also disappears in favor of simple social collaboration.
Conversely, naive hedonism always requires more, since pleasure tends to dull. So to always get more, the only solution is to always go up the hierarchy in order to get more resources.

Preparatory activities

If we specifically target ataraxia, there are four practices that can help achieve it, but that do not fall under philosophy, that is to say a conscious intellectual practice aimed at enabling us to overcome our instincts.
The first is meditation.
The second is the practice of physical exercise, for example Yoga.
The third method is art in the general sense.
Finally, the fourth is participation in rituals.
The all four cases involve a kind of conditioning aimed at limiting parasitic mental agitation, and there are conditions to be satisfied, at the level of practice, so that it leads to progression towards ataraxia. Studying these conditions is beyond the scope of this book.

The conditions of a satisfying hedonism

We have just seen that the Stoic precepts are more in the direction of a search for ataraxic happiness, and that this approach is relevant to ensure the stability of happiness, and consistent to limit the effect of the generalized nepotism stemming from our genetic heritage.
However, pleasure, and therefore hedonistic happiness, is absolutely not to be excluded. We will now specify the conditions under which it can also participate in the answer to the second question of philosophy, namely how to get out of mutually destructive attitudes.

Let us start by noting that hedonism can take several more elaborate and above all more satisfying forms than the naive search for immediate pleasure.
First of all, the vitalist variant of Jean-Marie Guyau in Outlines of a morale without obligation or sanction, may prove to be more stable. However, it amounts to considering the isolated individual as opposed to the philosophical question "How to get out of mutually destructive attitudes?" that we have chosen. Guyau did not have the contributions of sociology, so that he did not take into account that this kind of morality ultimately increases the stress due to the exacerbation of generalized nepotism. By a Kantian trick, one could say that this philosophy is not moral because not generalizable. Vitalism can as well take an altruistic appearance as in the open air life of certain forms of scouting, or a cynical appearance in the form "it is normal that the strong crushes the weak", but exactly as we have seen in chapter 2, it is not the benevolent or malicious nature of the individual that causes social ambition to translate into generalized violence, but rather the very nature of generalized nepotism that results mechanically from social ambition.
Next comes the variant of shared pleasure, which we do not exclude a priori. In this case, cognitive dissonance is the problem. Indeed, the pleasures of some do not correspond to the pleasures of others, so the adjustment is done either by hypocrisy, or by lying to oneself, which tends to come out sooner or later in the form of frustration and often violence in one form or another.
This tension is also found at the level of a hedonism framed by a strong moral imperative of respect for others, in order to avoid its overflows. Sociology shows us that the problem is insoluble. As soon as the framing becomes effective enough to avoid the re-emergence of violence in one form or another, the obstacles to pleasure are such that ataraxia seems a more satisfactory way. More precisely, the level of moral framing to be implemented is very variable from one individual to another, depending on his social ambition, his personal creativity, and his capacity for self-framing. In fact, any level of framing set collectively by society can only be unsatisfactory because it is too restrictive vis-à-vis certain individuals while being insufficient vis-à-vis others.
Finally, pleasure sublimated in the form of practicing art is the form often used to present ideal societies freed from work. It is a combination of the previous two: framing imposes the arts as a codified medium of shared pleasure.
In the end, let us remember that human nature presented in chapters 2 and 3, and more particularly the force of the initial motivation of social ambition linked to our genetic heritage, shows us that hedonism which does not ultimately translate into a an increase in violence, and therefore stress at the level of certain individuals, is very difficult to achieve. In other words, the big problem with hedonism is that it has an unfortunate tendency to drift towards each individual for itself, and there is no good universal level of moral framing to avoid it.

Conversely, the most frequent objection to ataraxia alone is: if I no longer have fun in life, then I will be a little dead. Let’s see what lies behind this instinctive concern.
The first question is: have I integrated the precept of Seneca, thus concentrating on the most important thing in my life, or have I found myself a comfortable social situation, but deep down inside me, I know that it is not the most important?
The second question, totally related to the first, is: do I have the courage to do everything that depends on me, that is, to put myself in danger to do what is most important, or am I content with excuses for myself not doing what seems right but not in my best interest?
Once these two questions have been asked, we see that naive hedonistic pleasure is the one that makes it possible to silence one's bad conscience. I have a good situation, which brings me pleasures, which is proof that all is well. If the pleasures stop, then the bad conscience is no longer contained. We arrive at a more difficult formulation to accept, which is that if I no longer have pleasures in life, then I can no longer lie to myself about the fact that everything is fine in a life that has no real meaning.

We can now formulate the conditions for a satisfactory hedonism.
The first is to have a meaningful life.
The second is not to lie to oneself.
The third is not to get pleasure at the expense of others.
The first two conditions are those which avoid finding oneself in the situation of seeking pleasure to hide one's worries as we have just described.
The third condition is that which guarantees that the search for pleasure of each other does not ultimately translate into an increase in conflict. Note again, as we saw in Chapter 3 on cognitive dissonance, that to be efficient, this third condition also supposes the second.

We can at this stage draw a parallel between the individual plan of this chapter and the collective plan of the rest of this book. Hedonism is what we would like to be, because it is what gives us the most an impression of individual freedom, like capitalism and its freedom to undertake. Then, objective observation shows that in the same way, its generalized form translates in practice in many people left behind because of the generalized conflict which results from it. From there, we can either seek to just regulate, and this will be a moderately restrictive moral framework on the individual level or social democracy on the collective level, or we can take into account that it is the very nature of the system that is problematic and that it is therefore necessary to consider something else, and this will be ataraxia and the Stoic precepts or the social organization proposed in this book.


Recall that in a philosophy, morality sets the goal, and the precepts or recipes of life provide the tools. Now we have seen that one of the two subjects of philosophy is to allow avoiding mutually destructive natural attitudes. So our ethics must promote attitudes that are not mutually destructive.
The key comes from Leon Festinger who finds that socially destructive attitudes are most often accompanied by a lie to oneself, generally in the form of an arbitrary belief. By applying the logical opposite of Festinger's observation, we obtain that if we do not lie to ourselves, then we will only commit few socially destructive actions. From there, "not to lie to oneself" logically becomes our central moral principle, and it is an objective morality since we have shown that it is a necessary condition not to harm others. From this perspective, the practice of the scientific method, as opposed to rhetoric or anti-science, is also the only credible method.

We can also see that "not lying to oneself" was our second condition for a satisfactory hedonism. This proposal is the most central, because it is essential both to curb a possible headlong rush into pleasure on an individual level, and to limit "to the detriment of others" on a collective level.
Conversely, one cannot fix the pursuit of happiness by ataraxia as a moral principle. Indeed, the only justification for imposing a moral rule is to make the phrase "do no harm to others" credible. However, nothing prevents us from choosing inhibition, that is to say a voluntary personal framework, applied at an appropriate level depending on the specific characteristics of the person, as a method to achieve it.
This is where the Stoic precepts we mentioned earlier come in. No longer lying to oneself is not something one can decide overnight since we saw in the chapter on cognitive dissonance that lying to oneself is generally unconscious. All the same asone cannot decide overnight to attain ataraxia.
In the end, the moral that we have the right to fix is ​​only to not lie to oneself, but then, the Stoic precepts that we have provided as a guide will have a double effect. On the one hand, they lead to respecting this moral, but in addition, they lead to ataraxia which is the most stable form of happiness. In other words, the great virtue of this moral, associated with the Stoic precepts, is that it leads to the liberation of the individual, and not to his sacrifice for the benefit of the group.

Not lying to oneself, it is a necessary point both to get atataraxa and to ensure a satisfactory hedonism. On the other hand, we have not retained as a moral principle to have a meaningful life. Indeed, a moral must include only the bare minimum to satisfy "how to get out of mutually destructive attitudes". Therefore, a moral has no justification to cover everything that is advisable to succeed ones life, which constitutes the precepts of life.
However, "having a meaningful life", which is implied by Seneca's Stoic precept "Doing what is most important", remains a prerequisite for anyone who wants to give themselves the means to succeed ones life. It is simply an individual tool, where the moral fixes a social constraint.


When you learn to build a mathematical proof in middle and high school, you are practicing something fundamentally useful, that is, producing flawless reasoning. An even more formative exercise currently practiced in mathematics is "Among the following propositions, select those which are true, those which are false and say why". This is the basic exercise to train your brain in science since it amounts to testing whether the A of a proposition "If A then B" is sufficiently precise. The problem is that in the absence of a course on logic and epistemology, students will tend to think that this only applies to mathematics, so is irrelevant to real life.

More precisely, the propositions are grouped into sets that are called theories. A new theory is an original way of representing things, the value of which will be linked to its fertility, that is to say the set of new propositions, or new proofs of existing propositions, which it will induce.