Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Philosophy we can say is nothing else but the study of wisdom and truth. We may expect that those who have spent most time in it should enjoy a greater calm and serenity of mind, a greater clearness and evidence of knowledge, and be less disturbed with doubts and difficulties than other men.

Yet, we see the illiterate bulk of mankind that use plain common sense, and governed by the dictates of nature, for the most part easy and undisturbed. To them nothing that is familiar appears unaccountable or difficult to comprehend. They do not complain of any want of evidence in their senses, and are out of all danger of becoming skeptics. But no sooner do we depart from sense and instinct to follow the light of a superior principle, to reason, meditate and reflect on the nature of things, a thousands doubts spring up in our minds concerning those things which before we seemed fully to comprehend.

Prejudices and errors of sense discover themselves to our view; and, endeavoring to correct these by reasons, we are insensibly drawn into paradoxes, difficulties, and inconsistencies, which multiply and grow upon us as we advance in speculation. Finally having wandered through many intricate mazes, we find ourselves just where we were, or worse, sit down in a forlorn skepticism.

The cause of this is thought to be the obscurity of things, or the natural weakness and imperfection of our understandings. Besides, the mind of man being finite, when it treats things which partake of infinity, it may run into absurdities and contradictions, out of which it is impossible to extricate itself, it being of the nature of infinite not to be comprehended by that which is finite.

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