Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

328                 First Principles

God and Philosophies

All philosophies, if you ride them home, are nonsense;
but some are greater nonsense than others. It is perhaps
because God does not set much store by or wish to encourage
them that he has attached such very slender rewards to

Common Sense, Reason and Faith

Reason is not the ultimate test of truth nor is it the court
of first instance.

For example: A man questions his own existence; he
applies first to the court of mother-wit and is promptly told
that he exists; he appeals next to reason and, after some
wrangling, is told that the matter is very doubtful; he pro-
ceeds to the equity of that reasonable faith which inspires
and transcends reason, and the judgment of the court of first
instance is upheld while that of reason is reversed.

Nevertheless it is folly to appeal from reason to faith
unless one is pretty sure of a verdict and, in most cases
about which we dispute seriously, reason is as far as we
need go.

The Credit System

The whole world is carried on on the credit system; if
every one were to demand payment in hard cash, there would
be universal bankruptcy. We think as we do mainly because
other people think so. But if every one stands on every one
else, what does the bottom man stand on ? Faith is no
foundation, for it rests in the end on reason. Reason is no
foundation, for it rests upon faith.


We are not won by argument, which is like reading and
writing and disappears when there is need of such vanity,
or like colour that vanishes with too much light or shade, or
like sound that becomes silence in the extremes. Argument
is useless when there is either no conviction at all or a very
strong conviction. It is a means of conviction and as such