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notwithstanding all differences in point of apprehension.—Dr Whichcote.
428. The essential idea of opinion seems to be, that it is a matter about which doubt can reasonably exist, as to which two persons can without absurdity think differently. The existence of an object before the eyes of two persons would not be a matter of opinion, nor would it be a matter of opinion that twice two are four. But when testimony is divided, or uncertain, the existence of a fact may become doubtful, and therefore, a matter of opinion.—Lewis.
429. It seems possible, and even not very difficult, for two truly candid and intelligent persons to understand each other upon any subject.-Hartley.
430. Things may be viewed in such different lights, that it is possible we may be thought to contradict ourselves, when we really do not.-W. Danby.
431. True unanimity is that which proceeds from a free judgment arriving at the same conclusion after an investigation of the fact.--Bacon.
432. Men's apprehensions are often nearer than their expressions; they may mean the same thing when they seem not to say the same thing.Dr Whichcote.
433. I remember it was with extreme difficulty that I could bring my master to understand the meaning of the word opinion, or how a point could be disputable ; because reason taught us to affirm or deny only when we are certain, and beyond our knowledge we cannot do either. So that controversies, disputes, and positiveness in false and dubious propositions, are evils unknown among the Houyhnhnms.-Dean Swift.
434. Those who have no opinion of their own, are perhaps the most likely to adopt a wrong one, or at least it is an even chance whether they do or not; for being incapable of forming an opinion of their own, they are equally so of distinguishing between the good and bad which they meet with in others; and this incapacity leaves them no resource but in an obstinate adhesion to the opinion they may happen to have adopted.-W. Danby.
435. There are many who take up their opinions without having been incited by any previous doubt to the examination of the subject on which they have formed them. They have no idea that conviction can be the result of such a process.
These can hardly be ranked among the thinkers. But what is curious is, that those who
their opinions, are often the most obstinate in adhering to them, without very well knowing why. These then can hardly be ranked among the reasonable. Instead of having “proved all things,” they have not even proved what they have adopted. Neither the one nor the other of these rational beings seems to understand what doubt is :. they jump at once from perfect ignorance to perfect certitude, or what they take for such. They can hardly say, “My heart became the convert of my head."—W. Danby.
436. Most commonly the weakest are most wilful; and they that have the least reason, have the most self-conceit.-Dr Whichcote.
437. A man has as much right to use his own understanding in judging of truth, as he has a right to use his own eyes to see his way; therefore it is no offence to another, that any man uses his own right.-Dr Whichcote.
438. Every man has a right to give his opinion, and no man has a right to dictate to others; if the first was not done, there could be no discussion; if the second was done, all discussion would be precluded, or something worse would be substituted in its stead. -W. Danby.
439. The freest possible scope should be given to all the opinions, discussions, and investigations of the learned ; if frail they will fall, if right they will remain ; like steam they are dangerous only when pent in, restricted, and confined. These discordancies in the moral world, like the apparent war of the elements in the natural, are the very means by which wisdom and truth are ultimately established in the one, and peace and harmony in the other.Lacon.
persuade myself that the life and faculties of man, at the best but short and limited, cannot be employed more rationally or laudably than in the search of knowledge: and especially of that sort which relates to our duty, and conduces to our happiness. In these enquiries, therefore, wherever I perceive any glimmering of truth before me, I readily pursue and endeavour to trace it to its source, without any reserve or caution of pushing the discovery too far, or opening too great a glare of it to the public. I look upon the discovery of any thing which is true, as a valuable acquisition of society, which cannot possibly hurt or obstruct the good effect of any other truth whatsoever: for they all partake of one common essence, and necessarily coincide with each other; and like the drops of rain which fall separately into the river, mix themselves at once with the stream, and strengthen the general current.-Dr Middleton.
441. Though men's reasons and opinions vary, as do their faces; yet truth is homogeneous, uniform, and ever of the same complexion, in all ages and nations. -Dr T. Fuller.
442. With regard to authority, it is the greatest weakness to attribute infinite credit to particular authors, and to refuse his own prerogative to Time, the Author of all authors, and therefore of all authority.-Bacon.
443. Disregard for the mere authority of great names has occasioned most of our best things, yet is commonly viewed with the utmost suspicion and ill-will. Thus it was with Copernicus on reviving the Pythagorean doctrine respecting the Solar system; with Harvey in reference to the circulation of the blood ; not to mention the contempt attached to Lord Bacon by so many writings of his time, Sir Edward Coke among the number, for disabusing the world of the speculative absurdities which had led it astray. The Reformation itself was nothing but an insurrection of individual judgment against the most extensive, potent, and in some respects most venerable authority ever exercised by man.-W. B. Clulow.
444. Let no man, upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studied in the book of God's word, or in the book of God's works,-divinity or philosophy: but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both: only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling, to use, and not to ostentation; and again, that they do not unwisely mingle or confound these learnings together.-Bacon.
445. No opinion can be heretical but that which is not true. Conflicting falsehoods we can comprehend; but truths can never war against each other. I affirm, therefore, that we have nothing to fear from the results of our enquiries, provided they be followed in the laborious but secure road of honest induction. In this way we may rest assured that we shall never arrive at conclusions opposed to any truth, either physical or moral, from whatsoever source that truth
nay rather (as in all truth there is a common essence), that new discoveries will ever lend support and illustration to things which are already known, by giving us a larger insight into the universal harmonies of nature. - Professor Sedgwick.
446. A proper estimation and acknowledgment of the difficulties of an abstruse question, are, perhaps, the best means of producing an agreement between persons who entertain opposite opinions upon it. It is an appeal from their prejudices, or their biasses, to the standard of reason and common sense.—W. Danby.
447. The more men really know, the more they will agree together: it is ignorance that breeds disputes and discord. But this real knowledge must first be attained ; and perhaps the giving and receiving it may both be difficult. Without it they never can understand one another; and misunderstanding, as I have said before, is quarrelling.-W. Danby.
448. As long as there are different degrees of understanding among men, and as those understandings are influenced by their passions, so long will it be impossible to make them agree upon any subject that requires a right understanding and feeling to judge of it.-W. Danby.