Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 7: The Intellect > Chapter 2: The Service of Intellect

The Service of Intellect

1
The cultivation of intelligence is one of the supreme duties of man. Fact-fed thinking--hard, deep, rational, and thorough--is what converts vague surmise into unbreakable certainty, blind belief or tormenting doubt into irrefutable knowledge, and native error into new truth.

2
By forming clearer ideas of the Overself's activity, he can better co-operate with it, and more effectually remove the obstacles which obstruct that activity within him.

3
Unless he exercises his reason and that at its subtlest pitch--how is he going to wake up from this dream of spinning planets in which he sleeps by the mesmeric power of some unseen and unknown Sage?

4
All knowledge is beneficial to man in varying degrees. The knowledge of his own soul, being the highest degree of human knowledge, offers the greatest degree of benefit to man.

5
It is to those who follow traditional religion that this analytical approach (which could disturb faith) has little to say. Yet for others outside the traditions--atheists, materialists, and agnostics--it will certainly be of help.

6
Man did not first know through his eyes or hands that electricity exists but only through his powers of reasoning. We know in our best moments that we are merely recipients of power, goodness, and understanding.

7
What the higher self is trying to do in us may be obstructed through ignorance or assisted by knowledge.

8
When man refuses to use his intelligence in settling his affairs it is only because he has not sufficiently developed his intelligence to be able to use it in this way. However, philosophically speaking, he is blinded by the ego and so seeks satisfaction rather than truth. Such a one does not know that truth brings satisfaction in its train.

9
Intellect is most useful as a servant but most tyrannical as a master. It may hinder progress or accelerate it. Hence, although the philosopher thinks as keenly as any other man, he does not allow his whole self to be submerged in the thinking process.

10
The magnificent spectacle of the universe does have a meaning but it is only discoverable when we put such prejudices aside and accept the deliverances of analytic reason concentrated in its impeccable and searching quest.


Cultivation of intelligence

11
As his conception of the truth becomes clearer, his aspiration to realize it in his life becomes stronger. This is so and must be so.

12
It is wise to be intellectually familiar with the various ways of approach to the Overself, for this expands one's outlook and enlarges one's tolerance; but one should also know what is the correct way for oneself.

13
The intelligence which man possesses will not merely enable him to distinguish between truth and falsity in the consideration of external things, but will finally fulfil itself in enabling him to distinguish between the truth and falsity about his own internal being. That is to say, it will lead him to the knowledge of his own true self, his Overself.

14
Many of the opinions which have found lodgement in his head are not there through impartial investigation or intelligent enquiry but through the accidents of prejudice, bias, or heredity.

15
In all intellectual and scholastic studies, there is a secondary result which, whether recognized or not, is their most valuable one when judged from an evolutionary standpoint. It is the power of concentrated attention. Even if the student fails to master his subject or to solve his problem, nevertheless to the extent that he sincerely and diligently tries, this power is necessarily drawn upon, used, and developed. Both the mental effort needed to attend to the subject or problem and the desire to wrest the meaning of it, benefit the student even when his studies fail in their specific object. From the one he progresses a step forward toward greater ability to concentrate. From the other he gets a stimulus to his aspiration for truth. One day both will be applied to the spiritual quest.

16
He lifts himself above the herd, and becomes a student of philosophy, who sees how most people come to rest or even go to sleep in mere opinion. They have not enquired further whether it be truth--perhaps because they lack either the intellectual competence to do so or the preliminary knowledge of comparative opinion which shows up its contradictoriness, perhaps because they begin to find truth displeasing to their biased temperament and disagreeable to their prejudiced mind, perhaps because they are overawed by the massive impressiveness of tradition, authority, and established institutional teaching, or finally perhaps because the truth might prove disturbing to their personal position.

17
When clever able experienced and idealistic men tell you, for example, that a particular doctrine negates all that Christ stood for, and when other men, equally clever able experienced and idealistic, tell you that it fulfils Christ's ideals, then you have a clear illustration of the truth that some people are able to hold on to their present views only by shutting their eyes and stopping their ears to other ones.

18
The intellectual study of these truths is not without great value. It prepares him for their eventual realization, nourishes his soul, strengthens his higher will, and encourages his finer hopes. Moreover, holy reverence is born of itself as he meditates on the picture of universal intelligence which thus unfolds before his gaze.

19
When it is said that all is opinion, it must further be said that all views of God exist in the minds of men as their opinions, too. The value of such opinions is only what these men give to it. For a view which is beyond the mental capacity of an unevolved person is of little value to him, whereas it may be life-saving to an evolved truth-seeker.

20
If the critical sense were lacking, how could a man perceive the insufficiency of earthly aims, the transitoriness of earthly life, and the unsatisfactoriness of earthly happiness? And without such perception why should he turn away to seek spiritual satisfactions?

21
Every man who has enough capacity to reflect upon his life-experience, has also to acknowledge that some power superior to himself--let him call it chance or God, fate or spirit--exists.

22
The same intellect whose activity deters most men from discovering God's presence within themselves can be used to discover this presence. Something like this was noticed by Francis Bacon in England, and he put his idea into one of his essays.

23
So much that we esteem as solid fact is quite often nothing more than merely imagination. Enquiry is necessary.

24
It is the philosopher's business to reject falsehood and therefore he refuses to swallow misleading statements merely because they have been well-baited on the surface with the sugar of true ones.

25
It is queer and comical how those who have studied a subject only casually and hurriedly, will often be quite dogmatic and most positive in their conclusions about it.

26
Time and thought, experience and experiment, study and practice, initiation and instruction are all needed to teach a man how to distinguish between the final truth and its countless counterfeits. With growing enlightenment and increasing confidence, he becomes more expert.

27
The intensity with which a view is held tells us something about its holder, nothing about the truth of that view.

28
When they must form an opinion, come to a decision, make a judgement, or choose between alternatives, men consult past experience, listen to authority, obey tradition, or yield to the strongest elements in their own personal character.

29
The imagination creates its own idols which it worships as the true God. Therefore reason must be called in to cast them down.

30
Disillusionment about pseudo- or half-truths often precedes discovery of the real or full truth.

31
Too many simple persons, whether Orientals or Occidentals, do not seem able to distinguish between mere mythology and authentic history. The development of a discriminating faculty is as necessary in religion as in the marketplace.

32
If the mind has been trained to reject falsehood, be it born from within self or received from others, it will be better able to let the Truth shine unhindered in itself.

33
The first value of correct teaching is that it purges the seeker of many errors in understanding. This purgation in its turn saves him from committing many errors in conduct. Here is its practical value. The second value is that its light instantly exposes imposture, charlatanry, exploitation, or evil in other teachings and in their exponents.

34
There are true as well as false opinions, adequate as well as groundless beliefs. We may freely hold opinions and beliefs, provided they are supported by sufficient evidence.

35
Before enlightenment can be received into consciousness, a measure of sharpness to discern the real from its appearance, as well as of detachment, must be acquired.

36
We learn to discriminate in practical affairs and among material things as to what they seem to be and what they really are. But the faculty can be applied on a much higher level of existence and a more abstract one, depending on the cultural or personal quality of a man. Its highest application is to separate the Truth about God, the Universe, and oneself from its appearances and their Realities.

37
With contradictions eliminated or reconciled, with errors corrected and new fertile concepts introduced, and with his ideas ranged in an orderly pattern, he can attain some intellectual clarity.

38
Not only was there some fact as well as some exaggeration in Anatole France's assertion--sceptic and cynic though he usually was--that "all is Opinion!" but it could be restated as "All is secondhand opinion!"

39
They wittingly or unwittingly impose their own opinions, theories, beliefs, and concepts upon the object perceived or the happening experienced. The result may come near to, or be far from, the truth, depending on their advancement, but it is unlikely to be the whole truth.

40
The value of metaphysical knowledge lies in the fact that it is a safeguard against error for it shows how to discriminate between reality and the appearance of it. Neither the deceptions of individuals nor the errors of mystical experience can then succeed.

41
Even if a man succeeded in getting others to accept his views, even if everyone accepted them, it is unlikely that they will accept them always.

42
Every opinion has been written down in the books, including the opinion that truth requires us to hold no opinion.

43
Suggestion from outside enters largely into the opinions and beliefs, the views and outlook, of masses of people. It is just as true, possibly truer, of the mystically minded, be they seekers or gurus, be they Orientals or Westerners. What is really known--rather than echoed back--dwindles down to a residue.

44
He may be poised in the tranquillity of these grand concepts or poisoned by the negative fogs of false ones.

45
Convert a man to your opinion and you have him for long; compel him to adopt it and you have never really got him.

46
We must work hard to elicit the truth from the medley of beliefs and opinions which rule us, and to extract the reality from the medley of illusions and glamours which hold us.

47
Any fool can say "I know," that is, can have an opinion.

48
Mass stupidity is not, and never can be, a satisfactory substitute for individual intelligence.

49
Far too often private opinions are passed off as God's oracles, man-made institutions as God's instruments, and group propaganda as factual history. The masses, lacking both discrimination and information are led like sheep by the mass media.

50
How can a credulous fool attain supernormal wisdom? How can the man who is unable to discriminate intelligently in small matters suddenly become able to discriminate in transcendent ones? The jump is not possible.

51
Most people do not know the difference between an opinion and a truth, and do not make the effort to distinguish between them.

52
Is it not better to force illusions into accord with the realities than to go on being pleasantly deceived by them?

53
We must not be doctrinaires; we must not sit at the sanctified feet of the god of opinion.

54
The intellectual purificatory work begins by clearing his mind of errors, illusions, and superstitions. These things lead him astray, both during meditation and out of it, from his search for truth.


Balance of intellect and feeling

55
Sincerity is not enough. Every aspirant needs this, of course, but he also needs other things. An aspirant may be totally sincere, yet may take a wrong direction. His mind may be filled with erroneous beliefs despite his sincerity. So to his sincerity he should add right knowledge, for this will guide him, this will uphold him, and this will safeguard him.

56
The result of a solely intellectual outlook devoid of religious faith or mystical intuition, is failure to offer mental peace or cherish moral goodness.

57
We are not casting stones at intellectual knowledge; it has its place. But let it be kept in its place. Let it not become a usurper. The higher mysticism first satisfies the intellect's demands, then transcends them. It does not, like the lower mysticism, reject or ignore them.

58
Gotama, the author of Nyaya Sutras on Logic, defends the value of intellect as follows: Although the intellect admittedly cannot grasp reality (Brahman), it is nevertheless necessary in order to set a standard, to show what reality is, as such, so that it shall be recognized. A pair of scales cannot weigh themselves but they are necessary in order to weigh other things. Similarly, the intellect cannot yield reality but can measure it so to speak or indicate what is and what is not reality. Hence it is most valuable as a corrective to mysticism and yoga.

59
The moral code which a man obeys is itself the result of his view of life, whether the latter be imposed on him from without or developed from within.

60
The futility and unwisdom of utter reliance upon feelings, unchecked by reason, was tragically evidenced by the sad case of Nijinsky, the famous Russian dancer, who after delighting audiences in the world's chief capitals became insane and for more than twenty years had to withdraw from his artistic career and pass most of his days in a sanatorium. Nijinsky kept a diary in the early days of his illness, in which we find sentences like the following: "I am God. I am God. I am God." Throughout those pages Nijinsky insists on feeling rather than thinking as a source of wisdom, and feeling he defines as "intuitions, proceeding from the unconscious." The man who claimed to be God was, however, unable to fulfil himself as a human being. Why? Because he was really unbalanced for he rejected utterly the claims of Reason, and he denounced "mental" people as being "dead."

61
(1) Yes, mystical experience must collaborate with rational thought. But there is a higher kind of mysticism, which prunes away the accidental and penetrates to the essential. (2) Intellectual knowledge is certainly relative. But what lies beyond it is for us ultimate truth. That there may be a truth beyond this in turn need not concern us at present, for nobody could either dispute it or demonstrate it. (3) The urge for higher knowledge is not an act of the ego but a prompting from the Overself. That it gets mixed, in its earlier phases, with egoistic desires is true but these slowly fall away.

62
The intellect is a faculty that man is endowed with, not by Satan to trap him, but in accordance with the divine World-Idea. Man is learning how to use it. If he is using it wrongly today, the consequences will tutor him in time and he will use it rightly tomorrow.

63
When the mystical bent of mind is not steadied by rational reflection, there is grave danger of mistaking satisfaction for truth, utility for knowledge.

64
Socrates taught that character was somehow dependent on intelligence: the better quality of the one was a consequence of the better quality of the other. Therefore cultivate clear intelligence, he said. Long after, Spinoza repeated this advice.

65
The need of coping with life forces us to develop intelligence or else to go on suffering the consequences of being stupid.

66
Even the world-picture of a higher condition available to those who will work and sacrifice for it is not without value. It shows a model to use and emulate, a standard to seek and form oneself by.

67
It is not enough to mean well, it is not enough to believe one is doing right, it is not enough to be earnest, sincere, innocent of evil motives. It is just as essential to possess a balanced mentality, sound reasoning capacity, and unbiased attitude. The Spanish Inquisitors were sometimes saints, Hitler was an ascetic. Many who have brought misery upon mankind were men of excellent private character: the defects of these people were mental rather than moral, and led them to bad thinking and worse judgement. The moral of this is plain: intelligence must be cultivated as fully if not more so than emotions.

68
The role of reason in the human psyche is to keep its balance.

69
The education of a man is worth no more than what he is worth inside himself. If he is evil within, he will be aided by a developed intellect to do more harm to others than he would have been able to do without it. If he is good within, he will have more capacity through education to do good to others.

70
A thorough mastery and understanding of the Hidden Teaching--even if it be intellectual only--will help to refine, educate, and to some extent, even dissolve the ego, if the knowledge thus obtained is applied. Truth is a dynamic, not a narcotic.

71
The mystic may sneer at reason, but when he wants to justify his mysticism, either to himself or to others, he has to fall back on reason to do so.

72
It has always seemed to me that the one great theme around which Shakespeare hung all his writing was, in his own words: "There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so." Certainly right thinking is even more important than right action. For if two men both perform the same deed rightly but one does so on false reasons and the other on true ones, the first is always liable to slip later into wrong action but not the second.

73
Our problems can never be solved by dealing with them as we do, in passion and prejudice, unless indeed we find a new passion for Rightness and a new prejudice for Truth.

74
The integrity of his intellectual conscience will one day demand from every man a search for spiritual knowledge to confirm, sustain, or even replace his present spiritual faith.

75
The studies should stimulate him to start, continue or intensify the exercises, regimes, and practices, but they cannot act as a substitute for them.

76
Without deserting the use of sharp reasoning, yet without abandoning the piety of worshipful feeling, he follows obediently the light which has been shown him. Using the symbols of mysticism, it is a harmonious co-operation of head and heart.

77
It is easier to substitute feeling for thinking when it is hard to balance the claims of opposing doctrines.

78
We must fearlessly subpoena our faith to appear before the court of common sense; if it is afraid to do that it is not worthy of being held.

79
He wants the vigorous facts, not the vague sentimentalities. He wants mysticism but only after ridding it of its deficiencies and thrusting aside its limitations.

80
The mystical attack upon intellect has sufficient basis to justify it up to a certain point. But when it goes beyond that point and unreservedly praises the holy imbecile and listens with bated breath to his utterances, it renders a disservice to mysticism. If all this enormous human evolution is to end in men feeling like children and acting like fools, is there not a danger that they may go farther and turn into idiots? Life today is too challenging to be met successfully by the brainless or foolish. It is also nonsense for any mystic of the religious devotional school to say that intellect is useless and unnecessary on the spiritual path. It may be so on his particular path--although even there his assertion is arguable--but it is certainly not so on the other paths. How can it harm a seeker to acquire all possible knowledge about the quest, to know all that he can gather from the history of mysticism, the biography of mystics, the psychology of mystical states, and the philosophy of mystical thinkers? Thus equipped, he is surely better equipped to find his way in what is, after all, a dim and obscure territory. And how can he learn these things without studying books, listening to lectures, discussing ideas, and exchanging experiences with others?

81
If men of high intelligence are trained in theology, at some point the intelligence is forsaken or led to subserve faith.

82
The cleavage of the mental functions in the form of an irrational attitude towards religion combined with a rational attitude towards everything else, is quite common. It is not distant from the mental disease called schizophrenia.

83
Each mistake in action is the result of a preceding mistake in thought.

84
What is lost by bringing a higher intelligence to the study of spiritual topics? Nothing--if the person is sufficiently balanced to use it properly.

85
Too many mystics of the emotional-devotional type have, while rightly scorning intellect's limitation, wrongly decried reason's services.

86
Dynamite serves the mining engineer and the road builder very well. Fire serves the kitchen cook very well. But if she brings dynamite into contact with fire in her kitchen, both may destroy her. Knowledge is not only her power but also her protection.

87
When the aspirant has great devotion to the Overself but little understanding of it, Nature will halt him at a certain stage of his spiritual career and compel him to redress the balance.

88
The educated mind is repelled by superstition, the reasonable mind by fanaticism. Yet both need the fortifying support of a spiritual teaching.

89
Every error rejected and every truth accepted strengthens a man in character and mind.

90
Just as the religious devotee will be moved sooner or later to seek personal experience if he lacks it, so the mystical votary will be moved to seek intellectual enlightenment if he too lacks it. But such an inner movement will only develop where aspiration is strong and continuous, sincere and self-critical.

91
A man's consciousness of himself includes not only his thoughts and acts but also the understanding of them.

92
The intellectual, the scientist or politician, businessman or professional, who has become cold, dry, materialistic, and insensitive, is unbalanced. Yet he thinks he is so levelheaded.

93
A man can get intoxicated by his intellectual-logical thinking as he can with wine, or as the mystic with devotional rapture. The fine balance needed for the clear reception of truth is then absent.

94
All correct thinking must be, and is, accompanied by intense reverence; whilst all ardent devotion of the Divine must be rightly directed towards That which is genuinely divine--and not towards that which is often erroneously thought to be so. If this development is one-sided, there is then the danger that can be seen illustrated anywhere one goes--that is, of knowledge degenerating into dried-up intellectualism, no longer able to influence morals nor control conduct, and of devotion degenerating into superstitious hysteria.

95
To perceive the truth intellectually for the first time through someone else's eyes or book is very important. And to glimpse the truth intuitionally through one's own experience is still more important.

96
Many people lack the broad knowledge which is necessary to form proper judgements or humanitarian appeals; many lack the patience which is necessary to scrutinize these appeals at all adequately while most people lack the impartiality to analyse a situation with insight. This is where the philosopher's counsel may be useful.

97
Even from a rigorously practical standpoint the man who is incapable of reasoned thought is less likely to get on in the world.

98
He will not forget, in being reasonable, to be reverent also.

99
Care is to be taken that the deceptions into which both his logic and his sentimentality are liable to fall, are avoided by the use of sharp discrimination.

100
He has not only to guard against wishful thinking and comfortable believing whenever these collide with truth. He has also to guard against passion--distorted thinking and emotion-warped believing.

101
It is not enough to be emotional about his faith. He ought also to be able to give a coherent statement of the reasons for it.

102
When academic learning runs to excess to the point of becoming dry pedantry bereft of common sense it becomes a nuisance to those who seek truth.

103
If instruction and education leave a person in ignorance of the World-Idea and in illusion concerning the world and self, then they are incomplete, and inadequate to prepare him for life.

104
Those who are unable to think or afraid to think may leap eagerly at the gospel of avoiding thought altogether. For them a bland blankness may bring peace. But how long can it last in the face of life's stern insistent problems, tragedies, or responsibilities?

105
The spiritually paralysed modern mind often skims the surface of things with great brilliance but the poor thing is completely unable to penetrate them.

106
In a region where yogic aberrations and mystical excesses abound so freely, the value of a scientific attitude is immense.

107
His reverential feelings will not be reduced or weakened if supported by intelligence; rather they will be richer, deeper, and balanced.

108
It is not enough to purify the moral nature of evil and sin. It is also needful to purify the intellectual nature of error and delusion. Hence moral discipline must be complemented by an intellectual one.


Doubt and the modern mind

109
If there is one prime feature of the modern mentality it is that reason has replaced faith. We begin by calling into question what our forefathers believed. In the good old days we assumed everything and proved nothing; now we assume nothing and prove everything. The change is fundamental.

110
The weak point of both the ancient sophists and our modern "rationalists" is that they have made a dogma of our doubt. They have set it up as though it were an end in itself instead of a means to an end--truth.

111
Scepticism must in the end, after it has criticized and destroyed everything else, turn its criticism on itself and doubt itself.

112
We do not overcome our doubts by suppressing them, we do not meet our misgivings by denying them, and we do not refute falsehood by shirking questions which happen to be inconvenient.

113
I am too much aware of the diversity of intellectual truths to regard them as other than merely relative. Therefore I prefer a light scepticism.

114
Is it not ironic that the only creature in the universe which doubts God's existence is also the only one--up to that grade--which contains the proof of that existence? The countless germs, worms, insects, reptiles, and mammals below man lack the rational capacity to question, while the higher types of individuated beings above him know too much to utter such a doubt.

115
Reason begins by being sceptical of everything else. It ends by becoming sceptical about itself.

116
It is unwise sceptically to let these truths vanish from our sight, as though we had not even heard of them, for then the groove of old sufferings will have to be cut anew.

117
These secret doubts, these inward vacillations, must be faced and overcome.

118
To doubt is not to deny. We must begin with doubt in order to clear the ground but we would be in a sorry state if we were to end in it. The assertion that all beliefs are relative and untenable, is itself a belief and therefore equally untenable.

119
No doctrine is so sacred that it is not to be questioned. Man cannot escape from his duty to doubt. Each generation must reflect in its own way on the conundrums of existence and be vigorously alive to its own problems, which are not wholly the problems of other epochs, and must face them in a fresh living manner.

120
But when uneasy doubt is pushed to the extreme of settled cynicism, when needful caution is elongated to paralysing cowardice, when scepticism is grown so big that it cannot let the divine get past it into his heart, then the man falls into a bog of materialism and becomes its pitiable victim.

121
Doubt has a legitimate use in the world of thought. Without it, we should be at the mercy of every charlatan, every fool, every exploiter, and every false doctrine. We need not be ashamed therefore to avail ourselves of it at times. Doubt tears the veil off deceit and exposes humbug hidden beneath benevolence.

122
We need not be afraid to question everything, to doubt everything, even the words we use and our own very selves. We have nothing but falsehood, illusion, and self-deception to lose if we take nothing for granted.

123
How shall we begin this study? The best way is the only way for us. We must begin by doubting everything; thus alone may we hope to end by knowing everything.

124
Although we have to begin our metaphysical life by doubting accepted values, we cannot end there; we cannot live forever in an atmosphere of suspended judgement. The process of active living demands that sooner or later we commit ourselves to a definite, if tentative, standpoint, even without reaching absolute certainty. Doubt, therefore, is a provisional and not a permanent attitude.

125
Because truth has been bound up with such absurdities, often for self-interested motives, it behooves us to accept no message without due investigation and deep caution.

126
Because people do not feel their inward divinity, they often deny it. In ancient and even medieval times they were satisfied that it did exist because their simplicity, their uncultivated intellects, created no barriers to this feeling or to faith in it on the authority of tradition and their prophets. We must understand the inevitability of their present scepticism and prove the fact of the Soul as logically, as evidentially as possible. Yet to offer intellectual proof alone is not enough, although a truly excellent step forward. We must also show them how to get the experience of verification for themselves.

127
Scepticism makes conditions which require that truth be presented in a rational form and argued out. Otherwise the intellectual reactions to it will not be fair and just to its value.

128
The value of metaphysical scepticism is to overcome mental inertia, to liberate us from dogma, and to teach us tolerance. It frees us to search for higher truths and nobler values.

129
We must begin by suspecting the data furnished by our five senses. We must learn that appearances are dubious, that they are not to be accepted without searching enquiry.

130
There are two ways open to a sceptic. One is to seek the actual experience of transcending intellect and becoming aware of the Overself; the other is to obtain intellectual proof of it. The first is a hard and long way; the second short and easy.

131
Just as the very presence of suffering starts a search for its relief, so does the very existence of doubt cause a search for truth to begin.

132
They may try to escape from their doubts, perhaps by stifling them, perhaps by ignoring their very existence, perhaps by going to the guru and getting his reassurance again. This course may succeed for a time, even for a lifetime. But it is not conducive to their true welfare.

133
Not only is he to question the dogmas which orthodoxy hands him but even the doubts which scepticism offers instead of them.

134
Those sceptics who reject the possibility of attaining truth are already stating something as truth and thereby refuting their own theory.

135
Because there is no room in philosophic study for naïveté or gullibility, those who suffer from these mental disabilities should first get cured.

136
Where belief comes too easily, error may follow too quickly.

137
To doubt everything and stop at that point, to assent to nothing but criticize every presentation, to meet all affirmative statements with the sceptic's questions--this is the product of sharp intellect, blunt speech, and negative feeling.

138
If a man is too suspicious of being deceived, he may err when truth is presented to him, and so miss the chance of acquiring it. Balance is needed here as elsewhere.

139
To bring one's natural scepticism into a fine balance with the intellectual sympathy these subjects demand is not an easy task, but he must try to do it.

140
We can accept nothing in trust as far as the quest of truth is concerned, although we can and needs must accept most things on trust, so far as the practical purposes of life are concerned.

141
No argument is capable of moving the absolute sceptic, for he does not look into its truth but only into its weaker places.

142
If you do not know whether God exists do not fall into the error of denying that he does exist. It is an error because it is something which we do not know and to make such a positive statement has no justification.



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