Is Brotherhood Possible

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  • Book: La fraternité, est-ce possible ?, Bruno Mattei. Audibert, 2003.


From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2005:

Of the 3 ideals of the French Revolution, it is the most nebulous (and was only added in 1848!). Freedom is clear, and equality is in large part described as the equal access to these freedoms. Their contradictions (i.e. another's freedom may limit mine) are partly solved by the 'social contract'.

Fraternity starts not from me, but from the Other, and therefore it is less immediately obvious.

Mattei says that our understanding fluctuates from the abstract to the sentimental, and therefore never acquires a fixed meaning. A compromise has been to view it as a supplemental feeling, to inter-group relations, but which is not seen as vital, and arises only on special moments. It also tends to disappear in the more general notion of solidarity, It is an alien body in the secular tradition.

Brotherhood is simultaneously a meaning, a orientation and 'affects', writes Mattei.

He claims that fraternity is a 'original fact', and that we therefore have a nostalgia for it. It is ontologically and ethically primary to other forms.

Humanity is one, thus it can be considered as family, and 'frater' designates all its members. As a primary metaphysical fact, all we can do is acknowledge it, and all that can happen is that "we do not experience it". It is constitutive of who we are, although it is not an empirical, objective fact.

What kind of experience is it: "rien de moins que l'épreuve du gouffre et de l'abîme de l'autre".

Mattei insists that the relation is not something to be created, it is always already there.

To be able to experience fraternity, we have to develop 'ethical competencies':

   - the ability to create an educational relation
   - the abilitiy to learn and act together
   - the ability to create educational communities.

Bruno Mattei distinguishes:

   - La liberté de l’individu liberal: “Ma liberté commence où s'arrête celle de l’autre”
   - La liberté fraternelle: “Ma liberté commence et continue la ou commence et continue celle des autres