On several different occasions, Proudhon attempted to show the unity of his various works. In 1845, for example, he proposed in his notebooks to produce an account of his work to date under the title Théorie de la Certitude (Theory of Certainty.) During his exile in Belgium, however, he began to organize his publications as a single series, beginning with the new edition of Justice (under the banner “Essais d’une philosophie populaire”) and continuing with War and Peace and Theory of Taxation (where the series title became “Essais d’une philosophie pratique,” but the numbering continued in order.
In 1858, the first edition of Justice in the Revolution and in the Church was subtitled “Nouveaux principes de philosophie pratique” (“New principles of practical philosophy.”)
Early in 1859, Proudhon completed Comment les affaires vont en France, et pourquoi nous aurons la guerre, si nous l’avons : à propos des nouveaux projets de traités entre les compagnies de chemin de fer et l’Etat (How Business Goes in France, and Why We Will Have War, If We Have It…), and the book was typeset, but ultimately not published. It nds with the following passage:
Our aim is to teach the people, in a series of publications of which we give the specimen today, to know, through the observation of phenomena and with the help of the light that every man bears in his consciousness, the reason and unreason of things; to form in this way, regarding all the objects of nature and society that most interest them, a set of correct ideas, and for all the circumstances where liberty intervenes, principles of action that will not lead them astray: which is the whole of philosophy.
In the next number, we will seek the reason for the existence of the Empire and its end, according to the lesson of political economy, the lesson of history.
At the same time, we will say what we mean by Popular Philosophy.
In 1860, the revised edition of Justice was published as a series of individual, numbered studies.
- Comment les affaires vont en France (selections) (1859)
- Ms. 2605 — Essais d’une philosophie populaire. — No. 1. (date?)