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THE STRENGHT of a mind…the amount of TRUTH February 27, 2012

Posted by aldelsol in TRUTH.
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 Nobody will very readily regard a doctrine as true merely because it makes people happy or virtuous–excepting, perhaps, the amiable “Idealists,” who are enthusiastic about the good, true, and beautiful, and let all kinds of motley, coarse, and good-natured desirabilities swim about promiscuously in their pond. Happiness and virtue are no arguments. It is willingly forgotten, however, even on the part of thoughtful minds, that to make unhappy and to make bad are just as little counter- arguments.

A thing could be TRUE, although it were in the highest degree injurious and dangerous; indeed, the fundamental constitution of existence might be such that one succumbed by a full knowledge of it–so that the strength of a mind might be measured by the amount of “truth” it could endure–or to speak more plainly, by the extent to which it REQUIRED truth attenuated, veiled, sweetened, damped, and falsified.

But there is no doubt that for the discovery of certain PORTIONS of truth the wicked and unfortunate are more favourably situated and have a greater likelihood of success; not to speak of the wicked who are happy–a species about whom moralists are silent. Perhaps severity and craft are more favourable conditions for the development of strong, independent spirits and philosophers than the gentle, refined, yielding good-nature, and habit of taking things easily, which are prized, and rightly prized in a learned man.

Presupposing always, to begin with, that the term “philosopher” be not confined to the philosopher who writes books, or even introduces HIS philosophy into books!–Stendhal furnishes a last feature of the portrait of the free-spirited philosopher, which for the sake of German taste I will not omit to underline–for it is OPPOSED to German taste. “Pour etre bon philosophe,” says this last great psychologist, “il faut etre sec, clair, sans illusion. Un banquier, qui a fait fortune, a une partie du caractere requis pour faire des decouvertes en philosophie, c’est-a-dire pour voir clair dans ce qui est.”

BGE-39

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