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By Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Joseph J. Bien

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Thus the very attempt to understand the past completely would oblige us to order the facts, to place them in a hierarchy, in a progression or a regression. In so doing we recapture the very movement of the past. It is true that the Kulturmensch is a modern type. History appears as a spectacle only to those who have decided to consider all the solutions and who place themselves before the solutions, freely disposed toward all. History thus stands in contrast to both the narrow and the profound passions which it considers.

Even the search for motives, says Weber, involves ideal types. It is not a question of coinciding with what has been lived but rather of deciphering the total meaning of what has been done. To understand an action, it is necessary to restore the horizon, which is to say, not only the perspective of the agent but also the "objective" content. One could thus say that history is action in the realm of the imaginary, or even the spectacle that one gives oneself of an action. Conversely, action consults history, which teaches us, says Weber, certainly not what must be willed, but the true meaning of our volitions.

28 / ADVENTURES OF THE DIALECTIC he says no to others and to things, even this is an action, and it is he who gratifies the sterile wishes of the politics of ultimate ends [la politi que du coeur]: If in these times, which, in your opinion, are not times of "sterile" excitation-excitation is not, after all, genuine passion-if now suddenly the Weltanschauungs-politicians crop up en masse and pass the watchword, "The world is stupid and base, not I," "The responSibility for the consequences does not fall upon me but upon the others whom I serve and whose stupidity or baseness I shall eradicate," then I declare frankly that I would first inquire into the degree of inner poise backing this ethic of ultimate ends.

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