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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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3io                First Principles

we can search too, and can require the title of the state as
against any other state, or against the world at large. But
suppose we succeed in this, we must search further still and
show by what title mankind has ousted the lower animals, and
by what title we eat them, or they themselves eat grass or one

See what quicksands we fall into if we wade out too far from
the terra firma of common consent! The error springs from
supposing that there is any absolute right or absolute truth,
and also from supposing that truth and right are any the less
real for being not absolute but relative. In the complex of
human affairs we should aim not at a supposed absolute
standard but at the greatest coming-together-ness or con-
venience of all our ideas and practices ; that is to say, at their
most harmonious working with one another. Hit ourselves
somewhere we are bound to do : no idea will travel far without
colliding with some other idea. Thus, if we pursue one line of
probable convenience, we find it convenient to see all things
as ultimately one : that is, if we insist rather on the points of
agreement between things than on those of disagreement. If
we insist on the opposite view, namely, on the points of dis-
agreement, we find ourselves driven to the conclusion that
each atom is an individual entity, and that the unity between
even the most united things is apparent only. If we did not
unduly insist upon—that is to say, emphasise and exaggerate
—the part which concerns us for the time, we should never get
to understand anything ; the proper way is to exaggerate first
one view and then the other, and then let the two exaggerations
collide, but good-temperedly and according to the laws of
civilised mental warfare. So we see first all things as one,
then all things as many and, in the end, a multitude in unity
and a unity in multitude. Care must be taken not to accept
ideas which though very agreeable at first disagree with us
afterwards, and keep rising on our mental stomachs, as
garlic does upon our bodily.



Imagination depends mainly upon memory, but there is a
small percentage of creation of something out of nothing with