Man and his Dwelling Place
An Essay towards the Interpretation of Nature
By James Hinton
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date:August 2010
Original Publication Year:1859
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511693052.031
Subjects: History of ideas and intellectual history
READER AND WRITER.
R. IF I have understood you rightly, what you say rests upon this principle: That the defective state of man causes our feeling not to correspond with the truth of things; so that we can only understand aright either ourselves or the world by remembering that man is wanting in life.
W. It is so. I say that all defect, perceived as absolutely existing, apart from us, proves itself by its very nature to be due to man's own condition; implies defect in relation to him.
R. Your position, I grant, is a reasonable one to consider; but there remain many grave objections. I will not mention the strangeness of the idea, and the alteration it demands in our way of thinking. That may be due only to its novelty. It may be as natural to conceive of defect within us, as without us-of ourselves as being conscious of defect, as to conceive the opposite-when once we are familiar with the thought. It would be unfair to press you with that as an argument, which may rest only upon custom. But let me mention, first, an objection which should weigh much with every reasonable man. Do you not put yourself in opposition to the universal opinions of mankind, and give direct contradiction to sentiments which have all the authority that human conviction can bestow? And this, not on some few points in which we might expect that error should be detected, but in relation to the entire scope of human thought. Is it not most unlikely that you are right?