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we are not angry if a man says we have an headache, but are angry if told we use a weak argument or make a wrong choice? The reason of this is that we are quite certain we have no headache, or are not lame, but we are not equally sure that our judgment is correct. So having no assurance but that we see with our whole powers of sight, we are startled and confounded when another with equal powers sees the exact opposite, especially when a thousand others laugh at our decision; for then we must prefer our light to that of so many others, a daring and difficult matter. There is never this contradiction in feeling as to a cripple.
Man is so framed that by dint of telling him he is a fool he believes it, and by dint of telling it to himself he makes himself believe it. For man holds a secret communing with himself, which it behoves him well to regulate Corrumpunt mores bonos colloquia prava. We must keep silent as much as possible, and converse with ourselves only of God, whom we know to be true, and thus we persuade ourselves of truth.
I will not suffer him to rest on himself, nor on another, so that being without a resting place or repose
If he exalt himself I humble him, if he humble himself I exalt him, and ever contradict him, till he comprehend that he is an incomprehensible monster.
The greatness of man consists in thought.
A thinking reed.-Not from space must I seek my dignity, but from the ruling of my thought. I should have no more if I possessed whole worlds. By space the Universe encompasses and swallows me as an atom, by thought I encompass it.
Man is but a reed, weakest in nature, but a reed which thinks. It needs not that the whole Universe should arm to crush him. A vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But were the Universe to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which has slain him, because he
knows that he dies, and that the Universe has the better of him. The Universe knows nothing of this.
All our dignity therefore consists in thought. By this must we raise ourselves, not by space or duration, which we cannot fill. Then let us make it our study to think well, for this is the starting-point of morals.
The greatness of man is great in that he knows he is miserable. A tree does not know that it is miserable. It is therefore little to know ourselves little, and it is great to know ourselves little.
Thus his very infirmities prove man's greatness. They are the infirmities of a great lord, of a discrowned king.
The greatness of man is so evident that it is even proved by his littleness. For what in animals is nature we call in man littleness, whereby we recognise that his nature being now like that of animals he is fallen from a better nature which once was his.
For what man ever was unhappy at not being a king, save a discrowned king? Was Paulus Emilius unhappy at being no longer consul? On the contrary, all men thought him happy in having filled that office, because it was involved in it that it should be but temporary. But Perseus was thought so unhappy in being no longer king, because the condition of royalty involved his being always king, that it was thought strange he could bear to live. No man thinks himself unhappy in having but one mouth, but any man is unhappy if he have but one eye. No man was ever grieved at not having three eyes, but any man is inconsolable if he have none.
Perseus, King of Macedon.-Paulus Emilius reproached Perseus for not killing himself.
There is no misery apart from sensation. A ruined house is not miserable. Man only is miserable. Ego vir videns.
It is then thought which makes man's being, and without
this we cannot conceive him. What is it in us which feels pleasure? The hand? The arm? The flesh? The blood? We see that it must be something immaterial.
I can easily conceive a man without hands, feet, head, for it is only experience which teaches us that the head is more necessary than the feet. But I cannot conceive a man without thought; he would be a stone or a brute.
Man is evidently made for thought, this is his whole dignity and his whole merit; his whole duty is to think as he ought. Now the order of thought is to begin with self, and with its author and its end.
Now of what thinks the world? Never of these things, but of dancing, playing the lute, singing, making verses, tilting at the ring, etc., of fighting, making ourselves kings, without thinking what it is to be a king, or what to be a
Thought. The whole dignity of man lies in thought. But what is this thought? how foolish it is!
Thought is then in its nature admirable and incomparable. It must have strange defects to be despicable, but it has these, and so nothing is more ridiculous. How great it is in essence, how vile in defects!
Contraries. After having shown the vileness and the greatness of man.-Let man now estimate his value. Let him love himself, because he has a nature capable of good, buf let him not therefore love the vileness which exists in that nature. Let him despise himself, because this capacity is void, but let him not therefore despise his natural capacity. Let him hate himself, let him love himself: he has in himself the power of knowing the truth and being happy, and yet has found no truth either permanent or satisfactory.
I would then lead man to the desire of finding it; to be free from passions and ready to follow it where he may find it, knowing how his knowledge is obscured by the passions. he should hate in himself the desires which
bias his judgment, that they may neither blind him in making his choice, nor obstruct him when he has chosen.
I blame equally those who take on themselves to praise
man, those who take on themselves to blame him, and those who merely amuse themselves; I can approve those only who seek with tears.
The stoics say, "Retire within yourselves, there will you find your rest;" which is not true. Go out of yourselves, seek your happiness in diversion; " nor is that true, for sickness may come.
Happiness is neither without us nor within us; it is in God, both without us and within_us.
OF THE DECEPTIVE POWERS OF
F the deceptive powers.-Man is only a subject full of natural error, which is indelible without grace. Nothing shows him the truth, everything deceives him. These two principles of truth, reason and the senses, in addition to the fact that they are both wanting in sincerity, reciprocally deceive each other. The senses trick the reason by false appearances, and gain from reason in their turn the same deception with which they deceive; reason avenges herself. The passions of the soul trouble the senses, and make on them false impressions. They lie and deceive, outvieing one another.
But beyond those errors which come by accident, and by a lack of intelligence, with these heterogeneous faculties . . . To begin thus the chapter on the deceptive powers.
Imagination. This is that deceitful part of man, the mistress of error and falsity, the more knavish that she is not always so, for she would be an infallible rule of truth, if she were an infallible rule of lying. But being for the most part false, she gives no mark of her character, stamping the true and the false with the same die
I speak not of fools, but of the wisest men, and it is among them that imagination has the great gift of persuasion. Reason protests in vain, for she can make no true estimate.
This proud potentate, who loves to rule and domineer over her enemy, reason, has established in man a second