Historical development

The method  that we now know as the See Judge Act has a long history that can be traced to the mid 19th century “Observation Method” developed by Frédéric Le Play.

Le Play was a classmate and friend of Alphonse Gratry at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris during the 1820s.

Significantly, Gratry would make a significant contribution also to the SJA with his work on the theory of induction.

Another of Le Play’s friends, indeed his neighbour, at Place St Sulpice in Paris, was the philosopher Léon Ollé-Laprune, who spoke of the need to “see clearly, judge well and conclude (decide)”.

The work of these men was in turn picked up by Marc Sangnier and the leaders of the Sillon movement at the turn of the 20th century.

The Sillon transformed Le Play’s “method of observation” into their “method of democratic education” for promoting and maximising “the consciousness and responsibility” of each person through their study circles.

A Sillon counsellor, the Dominican philosopher, AD Sertillanges wrote of the need to “seek, judge, and act”.

These methods also proved influential in Belgium where a young Victoire Cappe gave a talk in 1911 divided into three parts, namely facts, principles and solutions.

These were some of the intellectual and methodological roots of the jocist method developed by Cardijn that has since become famous as the “See Judge Act” method.