56. The anonymous author of the long review of the Discourse in the Journal des Sçavans, October, 1751, p. 220, took exception to this statement in the following terms:

And [in the Discourse ] ethical truths have only an evidence of the heart, founded on the sentiment of the conscience, and completely different from the evidence of the intelligence attributed to speculative truths. Are not the first principles of ethics of an evidence recognized by the light of Reason? Do men have no rule for their action other than conscience? Has M. d’Alembert realized the frightful consequences of such a principle?

D’Alembert defended himself in a later edition of the Discourse for having, as he wrote, “admitted with Pascal the existence of some truths which come to the heart and others which, without being in conflict, come to the mind.” ( Oeuvres, I, 15). Besides, he seems to say here that conscience is shaped at least in part by our intellectual conception of good and evil.


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