French prudence during World War I

Just a short follow up to my previous post: AD Sertillanges’ analysis of the virtue of prudence does indeed pre-date his 1916 book on the moral philosophy of St Thomas.

In a 20 September 1914 conference entitled ‘La prudence française’, the sixth in a series on ‘La vie héroïque” exhorting local soldiers to bravery following the outbreak of what we now know as World War I, Sertillanges compares German “imprudence” with French prudence (of which he is also critical).

The interesting aspect from the point of view of the emergence of the See Judge Act, is that Sertillanges already divides his analysis of prudence into three acts: counsel, judgement and imperative decision.

“La prudence a trois actes,” he writes, “le conseil, le jugement, la décision impérative.”

In fact, he again gives the impression that he is applying a familiar framework or tool to a new situation, namely the war.

I’ll have to keep looking for his earlier writings.

Stefan Gigacz


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