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diction is no proof of falsehood, nor universal assent, of truth.

24. The instructed mind discovers that as nature carries the imprint of its author stamped on all things, they all have a certain relation to his two-fold infinity. Thus we see that all the sciences are infinite in the extent to which their researches may be carried. Who doubts, for instance, that geometry involves in it an infinity of infinities of propositions? It is infinite also in the multitude and the delicacy of its principles; for who does not perceive that any which are proposed as the last, must rest upon themselves, which is absurd ; and that in fact they are sustained by others, which have others again for their basis, and must thus eternally exclude the idea of an ultimate proposition.

We see at a glance that arithmetic alone furnishes princ ciples without number, and each science the same.

But if the infinitely small is much less discernible than the infinitely great, philosophers have much more readily pretended to have attained to it; and here all have stumbled. This error has given rise to those terms su commonly in use, as “the principles of things, the principles of philosophy ;” and other similar expressions, as conceited, in fact, though not quite so obtrusively so as that insufferably disgusting title, De omni scibili.*

Let us not seek then for assurance and stability. Our reason is perpetually deceived by the variableness of appearances, nothing can fix that which is finite, between the two infinites that enclose it, and fly from it; and

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* The title of a thesis inaintained at Rome by Jean Pic de la Miranadole.

when this is well understood, each man will, I believe, remain quietly in the position in which nature has placed him. This medium state, which has fallen to our lot, being always infinitely distant from the extremes, what matters it whether man has, or has not a little more knowledge of the things round him? If he has, why then he traces them a degree or two higher. But is he not always infinitely distant from the extremes, and is not the longest human life infinitely short of eternity ?

Compared with these infinities, all finite things are equal; and I see no reason why the imagination should occupy itself with one more than another. Even the least comparison that we institute between ourselves and that which is finite, gives us pain.

25. The sciences have two extremities, which touch each other. The one is that pure natural ignorance in which we are born: the other is that point to which great minds attain, who having gone the whole round of possible human knowledge, find that they know nothing, and that they end in the same ignorance in which they began. But then this is an intelligent ignorance which knows itself. Out of the many however, who have come forth from their native ignorance, there are some who have not reached this other extreme; these are strongly tinged with scientific conceit, and set up a claim to be the learned and the intelligent. These are the men that disturb the world; and they generally judge more falsely than all others. The crowd and the men of talent generally direct the course of the world; the others despise it and are despised.

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26. We think ourselves much more capable of reaching the centre of things, than of grasping the circumference. The visible expanse of the world, manifestly surpasses us; but as we visibly surpass little things, we think ourselves on a vantage ground for comprehending them; and yet it does not require less capacity to trace something down to nothing, than up to totality. This capacity, in either case, must be infinite; and it appears to me that he who can discover the ultimate principles of things, might reach also to the knowledge of the infinitely great. The one depends on the other; the one leads to the other. These extremities touch and meet in consequence of their very distance. They meet in God, and in God only.

If man would begin by studying himself, he would soon see how unable he is to go further. How can a part comprehend the whole ? He would aspire probably to know, at least, those parts which are similar in proportion to himself. But all parts of creation have such a relation to each other, and are so intertwined, that I think it is impossible to know one without knowing the other, and even the whole.

Man, for instance, has a relation to all that he knows. He needs space to contain him-time for existence-motion that he may live-elements for his substance.warmth and food to nourish him, and air to breath. He sees the light, he feels his material body. In fact, every thing is allied with him.

To understand man, therefore, we must know wherein it is that air is needful for his support ; and to understand air, we must trace its relation to human life.

Flame will not live without air ; then to comprehend the one, we must comprehend the other also.

when this is well understood, each man will, I believe, remain quietly in the position in which nature has placed him. This medium state, which has fallen to our lot, being always infinitely distant from the extremes, what matters it whether man has, or has not a little more knowledge of the things round him? If he has, why then he traces them a degree or two higher. But is he not always infinitely distant from the extremes, and is not the longest human life infinitely short of eternity ?

Compared with these infinities, all finite things are equal ; and I see no reason why the imagination should occupy itself with one more than another. Even the least comparison that we institute between ourselves and that which is finite, gives us pain.

25. The sciences have two extremities, which touch each other. The one is that pure natural ignorance in which we are born: the other is that point to which great minds attain, who having gone the whole round of possible human knowledge, find that they know nothing, and that they end in the same ignorance in which they began. But then this is an intelligent ignorance which knows itself. Out of the many however, who have come forth from their native ignorance, there are some who have not reached this other extreme; these are strongly tinged with scientific conceit, and set up a claim to be the learned and the intelligent. These are the men that disturb the world; and they generally judge more falsely than all others. The crowd and the men of talent generally direct the course of the world; the others despise it and are despised.

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that this mixture was familiarly comprehensible to us? Yet it is the thing of which we know the least. Man is, to himself, the most astonishing object in nature, for he cannot conceive what body is, still less what spirit is, and less than all, how a body and a spirit can be united. That is the climax of his difficulties, and yet it is his proper being. Modus quo corporibus adhæret spiritus comprehendi ab hominibus non potest, et hoc tamen homo est. *

27. Man, then, is the subject of a host of errors, that divine grace 'only can remove. Nothing shews him the truth; every thing misleads him. Reason and the senses, the two means of ascertaining truth, are not only often unfaithful, but mutually deceive each other. Our senses mislead our reason by false impressions; and reason also has its revenge, by retorting the same trick up

The passions of the soul disturb the senses, and excite evil impressions; and thus our two sources of knowledge mutually lie and deceive each other.

on our senses.

CHAPTER IV.

THE MISERY OF MAN.

NOTHING more directly introduces us to the knowledge of human misery, than an inquiry into the cause of that perpetual restlessness in which men pass their whole lives.

* The union of mind with matter, is a subject utterly incomprehensible to man, and yet this is man's essential nature.

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