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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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First Principles

The Baselessness of Our Ideas

THAT our ideas are baseless, or rotten at the roots, is what few
who study them will deny; but they are rotten in the same
way as property is robbery, and property is robbery in the
same way as our ideas are rotten at the roots, that is to say it
is a robbery and it is not. No title to property, no idea and
no livir ; form (which is the embodiment of idea) is indefeasible
if searcn be made far enough. Granted that our thoughts are
baseless, yet they are so in the same way as the earth itself is
both baseless and most firmly based, or again most stable and
yet most in motion.

Our ideas, or rather, I should say, our realities, are all of
them like our Gods, based on superstitious foundations. If
man is a microcosm then kosmos is a megalanthrope and that
is how we come to anthropomorphise the deity. In the eternal
pendulum swing of thought we make God in our own image,
and then make him make us, and then find it out and cry
because we have no God and so on, over and over again as a
child has new toys given to it, tires of them, breaks them and
is disconsolate till it gets new ones which it will again tire of
and break. If the man who first made God in his own image
had been a good model, all might have been well; but he was
impressed with an undue sense of his own importance and, as
a natural consequence, he had no sense of humour. Both
these imperfections he has fully and faithfully reproduced in
his work and with the result we are familiar. All our most
solid and tangible realities are but as lies that we have told too
often henceforth to question them. But we have to question
them sometimes. It is not the sun that goes round the world
but we who go round the sun.

If any one is for examining and making requisitions on title