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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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298           Truth and Convenience

the antiquity of the instinct that, on the whole, directs us
towards truth. We cannot self-vivisect ourselves in respect
of such a vital function, though we can discharge itnormally
and easily enough so long as we do not think about it.


The pursuit of truth is chimerical. That is why it is so hard
to say what truth is. There is no permanent absolute un-
changeable truth; what we should pursue is the most con-
venient arrangement of our ideas.


There is no such source of error as the pursuit of absolute


A. B. was so impressed with the greatness and certain
ultimate victory of truth that he considered it unnecessary
to encourage her or do anything to defend her.

He who can best read men best knows all truth that need
concern him ; for it is not what the thing is, apart from man's
thoughts in respect of it, but how to reach the fairest compro-
mise between men's past and future opinions that is the fittest
object of consideration ; and this we get by reading men and


Truth should not be absolutely lost sight of, but it should
not be talked about.


Some men love truth so much that they seem to be in con-
tinual fear lest she should catch cold on over-exposure.


The firmest line that can be drawn upon the smoothest
paper has still jagged edges if seen through a microscope.
This does not matter until important deductions are made on
the supposition that there are no jagged edges.