When man genuinely strives to believe in reasoning, he is unable to do so privately as the quiet recesses of solitude are fertile ground for the recollection of good sense, but must instead share his twisted fallacies with others, bandying about intellectually delinquent phrases as if they mean something, all the while displaying the pretensions of understanding that only blissful ignorance can produce in mistaking socially sanctioned sophistication for a meaningful substitute for faith. In other words, tender reader, man fools himself.
We, on the side of Plato, Descartes, Fenelon, Origen, Pascal, Bossuet, Saint Augustine, Cudworth, Bonald, and other men of faith, understanding, and good sense, are what empiricists have labelled rationalists. We rationalists know that what is called knowledge is really more memory - and man knows it a priori. Before Enlightened scholars profaned sound philosophy, or what is now called theology, the veracity of inherited memory was so fully taken for granted so as to render explication superfluous. But rest assured, tender reader, that before the term and demonic philosophy of empiricism was conjured out of thin air rationalism was as it is now - true in every way sans the sad need to label it.
Might makes right is close to the mark - certainly closer than most. True understanding reveals the why and how of any action for what they are - splendid synonyms. If how and why are the same, then might does not make right, but, rather, is right. Reality comes into focus.
Let us suppose that man is soul, spirit, and body. The moment of release is the surrender of body to spirit; orgasm, the symptom and cause of creation, is supreme carnal pleasure. Likewise, the moment of understanding is the surrender of soul to spirit; faith, the symptom and cause of belief, is supreme spiritual pleasure. The surrender of soul to spirit is not done purposefully but without intention. It is neither planned nor anticipated.
The serenity of silence. The joy of understanding - in silence. The experience of understanding the truth of silence; the surrender; faith. The everlasting beauty of unity. Recognition of that which is - and that which must be. Him.
In closing, Joseph de Maistre:
And in the whole of the moral and political world, what do we know, and what are we able to do? We know the morality handed down to us by our fathers, as a collection of dogmas or useful prejudices adopted by the national mind. But on this point we owe nothing to any man's individual reason. On the contrary, every time this reason has interfered, it has perverted morality.
In politics, we know that it is necessary to respect those powers established we know not how or by whom. When time leads to abuses capable of altering the root principle of a government, we know that it is necessary to remove these abuses, but without touching the principle itself, an act of delicate surgery; and we are able to carry through these salutary reforms until the time when the principle of life is totally vitiated and the death of the body politic is inevitable....
Wherever the individual reason dominates, there can be nothing great, for everything great rests on a belief, and the clash of individual opinions left to themselves produces only skepticism which is destructive of everything. General and individual morality, religion, laws, revered customs, useful prejudices, nothing is left standing, everything falls before it; it is the universal dissolvent.
Let us return again to basic ideas. Any institution is only a political edifice. In the physical and the moral order, the laws are the same; you cannot build a great edifice on narrow foundations or a durable one on a moving or transient base. Likewise, in the political order, to build high and to build for centuries, it is necessary to rely on an opinion or a belief broad and deep: for if the opinion does not hold the majority of minds and is not deeply rooted, it will provide only a narrow and transient base.
Now, if you seek the great and solid bases of all possible institutions of the first and second order, you will always find religion and patriotism.
And if you reflect still further, you will find that these two things are identical, for there is no true patriotism without religion. You will see it shine out only in the ages of belief, and it always fades and dies with it. Once man divorces himself from the divinity, he corrupts himself and everything he touches. His actions are misguided and end only in destruction.
As this powerful binding force weakens in the state, so all the conserving virtues weaken in proportion. Men's characters become degraded, and even good actions are paltry. A murderous selfishness relentlessly presses on public spirit and makes it fall back before it, like those enormous glaciers of the high Alps that can be seen advancing slowly but frighteningly on the area of living things and crushing the useful vegetation in their path.
But once the idea of the divinity is the source of human action, this action is fruitful, creative, and invincible. An unknown force makes itself felt on all sides, and animates, warms, vivifies all things. However much human ignorance and corruption have soiled this great idea with errors and crimes, it no less preserves its incredible influence....