Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quote of the Day: Montaigne (again)

Both of the following quotes are from Michel de Montaigne's essay, Judgment's on God's ordinances must be embarked upon with prudence. The first quote contains the opening lines and the second the closing lines of the essay.

"The real field and subject of deception are things unknown: firstly because their very strangeness lends them credence; second, because they cannot be exposed to our usual order of argument, so stripping us of the means of fighting them. Plato says that this explains why it is easier to satisfy people when talking of the nature of the gods than of the nature of men: the ignorance of the hearers provides such hidden matters with a firm broad course for them to canter along in freedom. And so it turns out that nothing is so firmly believed as whatever we know least about, and that no persons are more sure of themselves than those who tell us tall stories, such as alchemists and those who make prognostications: judicial astrologers, chiromancers, doctors and 'id genus omne.' To which I would add if I dared that crowd of everyday chronicles and interpreters of God's purposes who claim to discover the causes of everything that occurs and to read the unknowable purposes of God by scanning the secrets of his will..."

"We must be content with the light which the Sun vouchsafes to shed on us by its rays: were a man to lift up his eyes to seek a greater light in the Sun itself, let him not find it strange if he is blinded as a penalty for his presumption. 'Quis hominum potest scire consilium dei? aut quis poterit cogitare quid velit dominus?' [For what man can know the counsel of God: or who shall conceive what the Lord willeth? (Wisdom of Solomon 9:13)].

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