« PreviousContinue »
488. He who leaves a certainty for an uncertainty, undoes the former, and renders the latter useless. Chanakya.
Those who support startling paradoxes in society, must expect severe treatment. By the articles
conquerors never spare those who maintain indefensible positions.
490. A wrong principle of judgment multiplies absurdities or mistakes in proportion to the period of its exercise.-W. B. Clūlow.
491. The sense of our ignorance, or at least of our limited knowledge, may be itself a preservative against scepticism; for it should teach us to confine our conclusions within the limits of that knowledge; and to make the evidence that we can comprehend the ground of our belief of what we cannot.W. Danby.
492. There are some conclusions that solve every thing without explaining any thing. Such is our reference to supreme wisdom and power, to supply our want of efficient causes, and our inability to reconcile apparent contrarieties.-W. Danby.
493. A false conclusion is an error in argument, not a breach of veracity.--Letters of Junius.
494. General conclusions should never be formed without some attention at least to the details which must necessarily be connected with them.-W. Danby.
495. Nothing is so difficult as tracing effects up to their causes, nothing so easy as the invention of causes for effects.
496. It is not uncommon for effects to react with double force
their causes: and when this happens, all of them conspire to the increase of those evils which they respectively produce.—Dr Parr.
497. We are apt to imagine that we have a full knowledge of what is familiar to our observation, not considering how superficial that observation is : and consequently how imperfect is all our knowledge.W. Danby.
498, None can judge well of things of importance who doth not thoroughly know all the particulars; because often one circumstance, and that the least, doth alter the whole case. Yet I tell thee, that one doth often judge well, who is only acquainted with the generals; and the same man shall judge worse when he hath heard the particulars; because, if a man's head be not very sound, and free from passions, he is readily confused, and doth vary, hearing many particulars.-Guicciardini.
499. What is sophistry? It is in using arguments that are in opposition to reason; but those who do not think deeply or fairly enough to see how far arguments are reconcileable to reason, will be apt to call those sophistical that are in fact so reconcileable to, and even those that perfectly accord with, reason. -W. Danby.
500. It is a dangerous and pernicious thing to disguise or pervert truth in any case: but to avoid this, the circumstances of the case, and all that is connected with it, should be fairly and judiciously considered.-W. Danby.
501. The noblest spirits are most sensible' of the possibility of error, and the weakest do most hardly lay down an error.—Dr Whichcote.
502. Dogmatism and obstinacy are the natural consequences of partial decisions, or rather the causes of 'them; for when one side or part of a question only is examined, there can be no comparative, and consequently no satisfactory judgment formed.W. Danby.
503. We all love to be in the right. Granted. We like exceedingly to have right on our side, but are not always particularly anxious about being on the side of right. We like to be in the right when we are so; but we do not like it, when we are in the wrong. At least it seldom happens that anybody, after emerging from childhood, is very thankful to those who are kind enough to take trouble for the sake of guiding him from the wrong to the right. Few in any age have been able to join heartily in the magnanimous declaration uttered by Socrates in the Gorgias: I am one who would gladly be refuted, if I should say anything not true,-and would gladly refute another, should he say anything not true, but would no less gladly be refuted, than refute. For I deem it a greater advantage ; inasmuch as it is a greater advantage to be freed from the greatest of evils, than to free another; and nothing, I conceive, is so great an evil as a false opinion of matters of moral concernment.-Guesses at Truth.
504. False reasoners are often best confuted by giving them the full swing of their own absurdities. Some arguments may be compared to wheels, where half a turn will put every thing upside down
that is attached to their peripheries ; but if we complete the circle, all things will be just where we found them. Hence, it is common to say,
that arguments that prove too much, prove nothing. I once heard a gentleman affirm, that all mankind were governed by a strong and over-ruling influence, which determined all their actions, and over which they had no control; and the inference deducible from such a position was, that there was no distinction between virtue and vice. Now, let us give this mode of reasoning full play. A murderer is brought before a judge, and sets up this strong and over-ruling propensity in justification of his crime. Now, the judge, even if he admitted the plea, must, on the criminal's own showing, condemn him to death. He would thus address the prisoner : You had a strong propensity to commit a murder, and this, you say, must do away the guilt of your crime; but I have a strong propensity to hang you for it, and this, I say, must also do away with the guilt of your punishment.-Lacon.
505. What are called parallel cases are dangerous things in argumentation, especially when pushed to excess as they are liable to be. Few methods of illustration or proof are more futile, or more open to the attacks of a subtile polemic. The remark of Lord Chesterfield, in censure of those who in ordinary conversation resort to supposed parallels from antiquity, is applicable to most similar expedients to set off truth, error, or personal consequence. “ There never were, since the creation of the world, two cases exactly parallel.” He adds, however, with much sense, “Take into your consideration, if you please, cases seemingly analogous ; but take them as helps only, not as guides.” Even if the outward circumstances of any given events were strictly alike, the state of the agents and of society at the
time will always be found different, from the perpetual flux and peculiarity of all minds, individual or collective.-W. B. Clulow.
506. It would be one of the nicest of problems, requiring for its solution consummate skill both in physiology and in ethics, to determine, in certain cases, the lines which separate mental aberration from idiosyncrasy on the one hand, and from moral delinquency on the other.-W. B. Clulow.
507. All truth consists in the relation of our ideas to each other, or in the conformity of those ideas to external objects; and wheresoever that relation, or that conformity exists, the ideas belonging to either are unalterably just, and the proposition expressing those ideas must for ever be true.—Dr Parr.
508. Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets, and statutes, and standards.—John Milton.
509. The mass of diversified truths which lie beneath the outward appearances of things, never enters into the imagination of the generality; as when the eye gazes on the wide and uniform surface of the ocean, it little dreams perhaps of the rocks and valleys, the beds of coral, or the forests which sleep below, or of the living prodigies that people and replenish its interior recesses.-W. B. Clulow.
510. Truth of whatever kind is only fact or reality. But in a multitude of instances, mankind are much fonder of fiction than of reality; all false sentiments being so many fictions or fancies in place of facts. One reason may be, that there is often considerable difficulty in arriving at facts, but little or none in