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false result was proved, or the unreason of the result itself. In any ordinary case, this condition of strife, of course, would last but a short time; but if the problem were really one of great complexity, capable of being solved only by long-continued effort, and especially if demanding the joint effort of many minds, it is evident that (the nature of the process not being consciously recognised—the master giving no hint), this condition of strife and opposition might go on very long. Now mankind are situated thus as a class before Nature ; she is our schoolmistress, we are her pupils ; she carries us through one reductio ad absurdum after another, and she gives us no hint.
So, if we overlook this law, we turn our efforts into a false direction. The true use of the results that are gained by our very best efforts, on a starting point that is incomplete, consists not in their being held, but in their being given up in the right way. To discover that right way of giving up even the very best results we could attain is man's true task; the task that perpetually comes to him, and must come to him again and again, so long as his knowledge remains incomplete, and his powers of perceiving limited. Our true end is to banish the ignorance within, and attain a true starting-point; and if we do not thoroughly accept it, we divide into hostile camps the powers which Nature gave us for mutual aid, and waste in fruitless fighting energies which, if we perceived our task aright, would be found to be each other's complements.
This is perfectly simple. There is certainly nothing in what has been said that is not entirely well known; but is it fairly applied in any relation of human thought ? Simple as it is, its consequences are very great. One of these is, that in every case we are bound to ask not only whether the forces which move us are those of truth, but whether the basis on which they operate is also true. Nature calls us, in order to attain true knowledge, to regard two things; not only whether our conclusions are truly drawn, but whether the premisses from which we draw them are also true : but we tend to content ourselves with regarding one of these alone. When we perceive that a power of truth is leading us ---clear reason or obvious fact-it seems to us that we fulfil all our duty if we follow it; a duty, indeed, we do thus fulfil, but it is only half. Truth on a basis of ignorance means not truth, but error. We must be prepared for this.
Another result of this nature of learning is, that the true right always comes to us in the form of giving up right. For the conclusions imposed on us by sound
reason or true observation, while there is ignorance in the basis, though they are false, come to us in the form of truth. Ignorance within imposes on man a false law—the law of thinking according to the appearances: a law he cannot disobey, yet in the obeying of which no true duty is done; in yielding to truth he enacts falsehood; his right is a wrong right, his truth a false truth. In respect to knowledge, absence within means false rights without.
Now to this cause is due the chief part of the difficulty that is found in the advance of truth. It arises from the demand, that is inevitable in new knowledge, for a letting go of that which has been enforced upon the mind by proofs to which the mind was bound to submit. Evidently this is a much harder task than merely yielding to proof, and consenting to accept evidence, and give up prepossessions. Difficult as this demand may be to minds constituted as ours are, it is a difficulty vastly inferior to that of abandoning opinions to which not prejudice or indolence has inclined us, but which our best zeal, our most rigid accuracy, even in spite of our own inclinations, it may be, have compelled us. Truth identifies itself in the soul of man, and rightly, with the highest moral obligation: to give up what truth has evidently and consciously compelled upon us—and the more if it be a thing distasteful to us, and calling on us for restraint of feelings we tend to indulge-affects the soul as a crime. This it is that has made the advance of knowledge so slow in times past ; has embittered it with anger, stained it with blood. This: that ignorance imposes a false right. Not for follies, prejudices, indolence, indifference, have men striven against their brothers; but for the voice of God within their souls; for that which was most precious; for which, if they had not striven to the utmost, they had lost more than all knowledge could repay.
But also this fact, that the difficulty in the advance of knowledge lies in the demand it makes for the giving up of that which the pursuit of truth has imposed, and relaxing the grasp on that which has inevitably identified itself with right; this fact gives absolute assurance of the prevalence of truth. If that which opposed it were prejudice, or indolence, or any form of desire for ill, then it might wage a doubtful strife. Perchance man's evil (though far be it from us to believe it possible) might have been too strong. But since what most opposes truth is a false thought of truth itself, truth cannot fail to triumph. The powers that oppose it are its own; casting it down, they bear it up; its seeming enemies yield up their own life to make it live. For this submission of man's soul to
truth, which in ignorance gives the false truth its power, is that which ensures the yielding of the ignorance when the choice is fairly brought before man's mind. The false truths gain their power only by the ignorance which perverts truth to falsity; and when habit ceases to invest them with this usurped dominion, there is no more a contest to be waged.
Thus, in so far as our advance consists in the gaining of a completer starting point, this consequence is involved: the true attainment of knowledge means that that which was a duty becomes no more a duty. Our learning must have this character whenever it fulfils our chief requirement, and penetrates deeper into regions of ignorance unassailed before. It is essentially a deliverance, a setting free. Because the character, above all, of ignorance is that it is a binder of bonds, an imposer of falsity with the outside characters of truth; falsity against which we struggle in vain, while the ignorance is still within us, because ignorance perverts the very power of truth to enchain us, and yet against which man struggles with absolute success, because through his very obedience his deliverance is wrought.
This becomes more evident when the various forces which are engaged in a correction of the premiss are considered. In its most usual form it has been a