Saturday, September 14, 2013


Considerations Against Dogmatizing, VI

Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680), Scepsis Scientifica: or, Confest Ignorance, the Way to Science; in an Essay of the Vanity of Dogmatizing and Confident Opinion, ed. John Owen (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co, 1885), pp. 201-202 (from Chap. XXVII):
(6.) It betrays a poverty and narrowness of spirit, in the Dogmatical assertors. There are a set of Pedants that are born to slavery. But the more generous spirit preserves the liberty of his judgement, and will not pen it up in an Opinionative Dungeon; with an equal respect he examines all things, and judgeth as impartially as Rhadamanth: When as the Pedant can hear nothing but in favour of the conceits he is amorous of; and cannot see, but out of the grates of his prison; the determinations of the nobler Mind, are but temporary, and he holds them, but till better evidence repeal his former apprehensions. He won't defile his assent by prostituting it to every conjecture, or stuff his belief, with the luggage of uncertainties. The modesty of his expression renders him infallible; and while he only saith, he Thinks so, he cannot be deceiv'd, or ever assert a falshood. But the wise Monseur Charron hath fully discourst of this Universal liberty, and sav'd me the labour of enlarging. Upon the Review of my former considerations, I cannot quarrel with his Motto: in a sense Je ne scay, is a justifiable Scepticism, and not mis-becoming a Candidate of wisdom. Socrates in the judgement of the Oracle knew more than All men, who in his own knew the least of any.
Rhadamanth, i.e. Rhadamanthus: judge of the dead (Plato, Gorgias 524 A)
Je ne scay, i.e. Je ne sçay: I know not. Pierre Charron (1541-1603), De la Sagesse II.2: "J'ay fait graver sur la porte de ma petite maison que j'ay fait bastir à Condom, l'an 1600, ce mot, je ne sçay" (I had inscribed on the door of the little house which I had built at Condom in the year 1600 this motto: I know not).

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