25 - ENFANT TERRIBLE
The knowledge of children seems to adults incomplete, even amusing, and in any case quite useless. Children have not yet learned to adapt themselves to their surroundings. They judge without regard either to the physical or the social conditions of life. Every child is in a certain sense an enfant terrible. The anxious mother never lets her child out of her sight for a moment. She rightly fears that, left to itself, it would do mischief: it might say or do something naughty, since it has not the "knowledge" possessed by adults. Children are guarded until they achieve experience of life, that is, until they learn to limit themselves sufficiently to be able to exist in our world. "Relative" knowledge, that is, the knowledge determined by the conditions of our earthly being, is thus clearly that of adults. Children, on the other hand, have a non-relative, absolute, but practically quite unusable and even dangerous knowledge. Unfortunately men refuse to see this. Even clear-sighted Plotinus was convinced of the contrary: "In childhood we practise the capacities which belong to our complicated - i.e. limited - being, and the supreme principle rarely sends us light from its heights" (I, i, 2). From this it is deduced that the knowledge of children must be rejected absolutely.
My view is that this is a very great and sad error. The contrary should be the case. We should learn from children and await revelation from them. Our whole philosophic interest, our whole pure thirst for knowledge should be directed towards restoring in our memory what we received in the happy time when all impressions of being were new to us and we took up into ourselves reality without submitting ourselves to the postulates dictated by practical needs. If we want "absolute" knowledge, if we want to see "directly" as a living and reasonable being sees which is bound by no presuppositions, which still fears nothing and is not even afraid of becoming "terrible", then our first commandment must be: Be as children. But this is not granted to adults. Adults "make" their way in life - they have no time for memory. And who would like to turn into an enfant terrible! Only old men, especially very old men who have "no future", live in the past, and above all in the distant past, their early youth and their childhood. But these old men are listened to as little as children and "superfluous" men. Moreover, like children, they are not particularly good at speaking: they are always easily beaten by logical arguments... And so men remain in their limited knowledge, which is useful, and not terrible, and have even created the "postulate" that such knowledge is the most perfect.
26 - DEUS EX MACHINA
The "struggle for existence" appears to us a perfectly objective conclusion from observation, in fact, even as a "simple" statement of fact. But these words contain a whole theory with all the intent inherent in human theories. Why do we struggle for existence? A stone, a piece of iron, water - do they struggle? They are simply there, nothing more. Everything in nature is quite indifferent towards its fate. To a stone, even the most precious, it is one whether it lies on the floor of the sea or on a high mountain, whether it is set in gold or in iron. It is one to it whether it is cold or hot, clean or dirty, even whether it keeps its shape or is crushed to powder. And so it is with everything in nature. It is there, quite convinced that, happen what may, its being cannot be taken from it. Only the Living struggles. The Living needs something, something which can also not be, that can be taken away, and for which one must struggle if one wishes to keep it. This "need", this possibility of "losing" and "keeping" and the consequent necessity of struggle - is a mysterious, supernatural element that has intruded, God knows whence, into the indifferent milieu of the indifferent, natural being. At this "need", at the riddle of this "need", philosophy has to begin with its questioning and examination. For before life appears with its "need" there are and can be no questions.
Even the question of causality, outside living needs, is an empty and senseless question; it is even no question at all, but the purest illusion. Water turns into steam or ice - we ask why? The question has only a sense if we decide in advance that steam is not water and ice also not water; that the one was there first and then the other appeared and we want to explain to ourselves how the one turns into the other, how something "new" appears on the earth. But if we were not, ourselves, beings for which "all is not one", beings which wish, endeavour, and "value" according to their wishes and their endeavour, then steam and ice would be nothing "new", "different" in relation to water; in the same way the beauty of heaven, of the morning star, or of a sequence of notes would be nothing to us. In the inanimate world, the material and the ideal, there is also nothing "new" and no "difference", as there is in it no beauty, no ugliness, nothing important or unimportant. When the snow melts on the mountains and the rivers overflow their banks, then there exists for the man who distinguishes the snow on the mountains from water in flood a relationship of cause and effect; to man it is not one where the water is and what form it wears. If the snow turns into water, gets into the river, and the river floods or destroys a village, man is disquieted, he begins to ask, and then for the first time the apparently "objective" question of causality arises.
But there is nothing objective in it. The world "as a whole" has remained as it was. It is man for whom, through the enigmatic decision of a mysterious and incomprehensible fate, it is no longer indifferent where and in what state - solid, fluid, or gaseous - the water is; man who divided the world into parts and gave to each part a name, he it is who first conceived questions, or rather, he did not even conceive them himself but some being inspired him with them, a being after whose image he was created, that is, a being which is essentially not "indifferent" but "passionate", can rejoice and be sorry, wish, fear, triumph, love, hate, etc. For an indifferent being to whom all was one, like a stone, a circle, a straight line, a round number, the law of contradiction or any other law, could never distinguish the water in the valley from the snow on the mountains, the cloud from the rainbow, not even law from lawlessness, chaos from cosmos.
As long as indifference reigned, if it reigned and was the principle of the universe, there could be no question of causal connections. At the best there would be "something", and that would be all - but most probably there would be nothing at all. If, therefore, we reflect on causal connections we must direct our attention first and foremost to the most inexplicable form of these connections: on the connection of the outer world with the inner world of humanity. The snow thaws on the mountains - that is the "cause" why men drown in the valleys, are condemned to death or, as it was with the inhabitants of Egypt, have life and superfluity assured them. What have the snow and the life of humanity in common? In order to hide the riddle which lies here, human understanding, which dislikes disquietude, seeks to explain cause and effect and to discover the connecting links in the chain. It finds them, hides and overcomes for a while its unrest. But only for a while. Unrest cannot be expelled from life. It lies in wait for us at every step, it has even slunk secretly into modern positive philosophy, which has expunged from life everything "unnatural", or rather "supernatural", with such consistency and self-assurance.
With this ceaseless and ever growing disquietude every man must deal for himself. And perhaps this must be so, perhaps it is the greatest and most important event of our lives if we, deprived of every support of common thought, are forced to confront the last secret face to face - monos pros monon, as Plotinus solemnly called it. And then it is that the "question of causality" reveals itself before us in its whole depth and menacing force. So, for example, with torture. We all know that physical injuries cause pain. Physiologists, psychologists, and philosophers, each have their own good explanation of the origin of pain, and all explanations agree in the end in one thing: that there is no reason for questioning here: that pain is a natural phenomenon like other natural phenomena and has no superior right to an explanation. If one knocks oneself one feels pain. Yes, but this is either an absurdity or a great mystery. One knocks a tree, a stone, metal, one even knocks an organic body, a corpse, and no pain arises. Why, then, are we so frightfully shocked when we read reports about torturings and cannot imagine what would happen to us if a man were tortured before our eyes? Or is that a lack of scientific method, is it prejudice of the monos? The ancients, Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans, Platonists, were not afraid of asking themselves such a question, and they answered it openly. They declared that pain had nothing to do with man, that it was an adiaphoron (something indifferent); pain belonged to the body but not to the soul; for the soul there were only virtue and wisdom and, therefore, a wise and virtuous man must be happy even if he were burned in the tyrant Phalaris's brazen bull. Plotinus taught that the death of friends and relations did not matter to us; we must be indifferent even towards the destruction of our fatherland.
So, and only so, must the question be posed. We think that the ancients had passed from the field of theory into that of practice, but this is a false view which hinders us both from understanding the ancients and from seeing our own prejudice. We interpret the ancients as Xenophon did Socrates. Even Xenophon saw in Socrates only a noble moralist anxious to make men better. We have discovered that Xenophon did not understand Socrates, and we seek for the true Socrates in Plato's works. It is time to recognize that it would be a mistake to see in the post-Aristotelean philosophy only practical endeavours or at any rate predominantly practical endeavours. It is just the reverse - it is our scientific attitude which is predominantly practical. Only we do not notice that we, like all men in every age, identify our fortuitous and temporal interests with the eternal. We are convinced that we are seeking unselfishly for an unselfish, objective truth simply because we have carefully hidden our "selfishness" and do not see it.
But our "selfishness" is amply revealed in the very conception of causality, although we are not thinking either of Phalaris's bull or of our immediate needs. For if there were no interestedness there would also be no idea of causality. Our interest is twofold. On the one hand, the outer world must be divided into parts for us to be able to overcome them; on the other hand, those parts must be connected as closely as possible in order to leave nothing, or as little as possible, of the unforeseen which nips in the bud the possibility of any systematic progress. At the most, one can say that in the world, which we divide into parts, phenomena do take place as though the world were composed of different parts and as though those parts determined one another. It is certain that were not we, like Xenophon, preoccupied only with utilitarian ends, we should not interest ourselves in what look like relationships existing between what look like parts. We should try to grasp what lies behind the "looks like", and then those cases would seem to us the most important in which we could catch behind the natural order even the merest glimpse of deus ex machina, not what "looks like one" but in very truth existent, as in the previous example of the knock and the pain. Neither the knock nor anything connected with it in the sense of physical changes, explains the pain. When pain came, it was without any "explanations" or "reason" whatever, and if it testifies to anything, it is only to something quite inexplicable, as the harmonia praestabilita, the creative fiat, etc. And thus the law of causality, the principle of the regularity of phenomena, and, indeed, the whole idea of self-sufficient order are assumptions highly useful, for practical purposes, but totally ungrounded and erroneous. The self-sufficient, eternal, "natural" order is the purest fiction, and a fiction, at that, created in deference to our limitations, as Xenophon, in deference to his limitations, created Socrates the moralist for himself and posterity. This must be admitted openly, without lulling ourselves and our unquiet to sleep by reflecting on the great achievements of the human spirit.
These great achievements have, of course, given us much. But even had they given, and could they give, ten times as much, yet we must not make of them an idol. There is no need to renounce the gifts of the earth, but we must not forget heaven for their sakes. However much we may have attained in science, yet we must remember that science can give us no truth, because, by its very nature, it will not and cannot seek for the truth. The truth lies there where science sees the "nothing", in that single, uncontrollable, incomprehensible thing which is always at war with explanation, the "fortuitous". Science would make unremarkable everything remarkable. Science is only happy and content when, after it has done its work, it has left a field bare of opposition. But despite science, the unremarkable refuses to lose all its meaning, it strains all its forces to become as remarkable as possible, to transform itself from a point, from the non-being to which science condemned it, into a giant Deus - even a Deus ex machina (that does not daunt it) - an arbitrary fiat, etc. Whether this is done with "sufficient reason", whether the principle or postulate of regularity is maintained, whether the "eternal" order is infringed or no - this troubles it as little as regularity, causality, order, and all the rest of the ideal world trouble about the real world.
27 - WHAT IS BEAUTY?
All allow this to be a just question, and we clearly do not suspect that in raising this question we are shutting ourselves off from access to the best there is in the world. It seems to us so natural to interest ourselves in the essence of beauty. Alcibiades was beautiful; Helen, for whose sake Troy fell, was beautiful. Eurydice, for whose sake Orpheus went down into the underworld, was beautiful; this statue is beautiful, this picture, the sky over me, the sea, a sonata of Mozart's; there are many beautiful things made even by craftsmen, such as the binding of an old Bible, etc. If, we think, there are so many beautiful things, there must also be beauty, and then after we have grasped the "essence" of beauty, we shall penetrate into the secret of the universe, we shall reach the source from which that streams into the world which we hold for the supreme value. This is so obvious that no one even thinks that the contrary might be possible: that after we had mastered the "source" of beauty, we should lose beauty, just as the stupid, greedy beggar in the fairy story, after he had killed the goose (which was also the source of golden eggs), had nothing left but the dirty entrails. What we hold for the "source" is in its nature no source but a deceptive will-o'-the-wisp. That is a riddle, but it is so. We must choose between beautiful objects and "beauty". We must admit that we call both Helen and Eurydice beautiful, but that they have no "common factor".
Or, more accurately, what they have in common does not constitute their essence. Orpheus would not have gone down into the underworld for Helen's sake, the Greeks would not have gone to Troy for love of Eurydice. So, too, with Cleopatra. Pascal remarks that if Cleopatra's nose had been a little shorter history would have taken another turn. That is a profound and just thought; history is usually guided by infinitely minute quantities. We who have the "fortune to be participators in "great" historical events know this only too well. But it is equally true that if another woman of even greater intrinsic beauty had ruled Egypt instead of Cleopatra, Caesar and Antony might not have noticed her, while Octavius might have been bewitched by her. And more: the beautiful sky cannot replace the beautiful sea, but neither can the beautiful sea replace a beautiful picture. If, then, we follow the habit of reason and compare beautiful objects with one another, the result will be the opposite of the usual: we shall be amazed, not at their similarity, but at their absolute contrasts. The beautiful in Eurydice has nothing but the name in common with the beautiful in Helen, as St. Paul has nothing in common with Pavel Chichikov [the hero of Gogol's Dead Souls]. And even less - if comparison is possible in such case - has beautiful Eurydice in common with the beautiful sea. Every beautiful thing is something absolutely irreplaceable and thus bears no comparison with anything else. Precisely for that reason, the word "beauty" tells us nothing at all about beautiful things. And no conclusions can be drawn from the "conception" of beauty or the "idea" of beauty, about beautiful works of art or nature. The pleasure given by the contemplation of the beautiful is the only "common factor", but it does not lie in the beautiful objects. And were someone to find a method of evoking such "pleasure" through artificial excitement of the nerves, we should not thank him for his gift. In short, if we insist on cross-examining"beauty" and explaining it, we shall have to cross-examine separately every single object which has got, in this way or the other, into the category of beautiful things.
There can be no question of mastering in the conception or the idea the whole infinite variety of beautiful objects. We shall be answered that it is simply impossible, not only to examine, but even to look at all beautiful objects, that even ten lives as long as Methuselah's would not suffice for this enterprise. I know myself that it is impossible. But I know, too, that it is one of the rare cases of impossibility which one greets from one s whole heart as something desired. There is no need for any one to master the "variety" of beauty in the idea or in any other way, for the moment that variety were mastered, the living source of beauty would dry up once for all. And there is no need, either, to ask what beauty is. But he who loves beauty and seeks it never asks what he seeks and loves. He does not need to justify and explain himself "before all men not even before himself. He knows that it is quite unimportant that the beauty which he treasures and loves should be that beauty which all can see at anytime. Even with generally recognized works of art the best does not reveal itself with the certainty for which the theoreticians of the beautiful care. Only that reveals itself which is alike for all, that which is of secondary importance. For this reason the philosophers of aesthetics who have tried to attain the like for all have not got beyond commonplaces, and have not unveiled the secret of beauty. And, of course, they will not unveil it. They will not be able to cross-examine all beautiful objects; they cannot master the variety. But what they can learn through examination is not worth discovering; it does not hide itself, it lies there open before all men's eyes.
28 - LIBERUM ARBITRIUM INDIFFERENTIAE
Wherein does the central question of free will lie? It is generally represented thus: Am I forced in every case to act in a certain way, or am I free also to act otherwise? A brave soldier remains on the battlefield under hostile fire, although he could also flee. A good man gives his last shirt to a beggar, although he could also not give it. Honourable Cordelia speaks the truth which destroys her, although she could also have lied. Virtuous Brutus kills his friend Caesar and involves himself in a civil war which he hates, although he could have lived quietly at home with Portia. Where, then, have we to seek freedom of will? in the fact that the soldier did not flee, that the man gave his shirt, that Cordelia spoke the truth, and Brutus lifted up the dagger against Caesar? or are all these "actions" nothing but externals, while the essence of freedom lies not in the actions, but before them, not even in the decisions, but earlier still in the "will" itself? The soldier stands under fire, Cordelia speaks the truth, Brutus kills his friend - all this is only the ordo et connexio rerum, behind which lies the ordo et connexio idearum, and it is in the latter, the ideas, that the essence and secret of freedom lies hidden. A flash of lightning might have killed Caesar, a parrot might speak the truth or a drunken man get rid of his shirt; the "actions" would have been the same, but there would have been no trace of freedom. This "freedom" lies somewhere far away and deep, while actions are only pure externals, from which we draw conclusions with more or less justice about the inner happenings of human life.
For that reason the question of freedom of will has so vast an importance in the history of human thought. It seldom arises independently. It is always connected with the basic question of being, and it has burned up and glowed with especial vehemence in those epochs in which men were revising their views on the ultimate bases of life. So it was during the Pelagian dispute, and in Luther's dispute with Erasmus. Luther abandoned "free will" to his opponent, quite gladly and without a struggle - in so far as it was not a question of good or evil, of the salvation or destruction of the soul. For him Buridan's ass was no problem; the problem began where the discussion reached the relation of man to God. It was the same difference as between Augustine and Pelagius: is man saved through his own force, through "works", "merit", or through grace? Augustine, quoting St. Paul and the prophet Isaiah, spoke of grace; Pelagius, trusting his own reason, required works. The Greeks, too, pondered not a little on this question, and tried to solve it, in a slightly different form but with the greatest earnestness. Was Oedipus acting freely when he killed his father and married his mother? Or was Pharaoh in the Bible acting freely when he kept the Jews back in Egypt, when it is written in the Scriptures that "God hardened his heart". In both cases a man performs actions of world-historic importance, is punished for them most heavily, and is clearly not in the least free in respect of them. Destiny, the gods, God, are over us~ all is determined through the will of the Supreme Principle, against which none can set himself. Even a sparrow does not fall to the ground against the will of Providence, as Hamlet says and the Scriptures teach. Thus, if men reflect on free will they cannot leave untouched the primary source of life.
Thence, too, there arises at first sight this curious paradox: many men, or many men who have thought and felt deeply, have denied man's freedom of will with all the strength of conviction of which they have become capable only in moments of supreme spiritual exaltation, and have thus agreed in their assertions with the superficial materialists who have "simply drawn their conclusions from the general thesis of the prevailing regularity of phenomena in the world. And I think that an ordinary determinist, even one not particularly acute, if he listened to Luther or St. Paul, would prefer any liberum arbitrium to that servum arbitrium which they have undertaken to defend. For one must be blind and dumb not to feel under all their arguments, even the most abstract, the doctrine of faith, of grace and of Almighty God who created our world after His image out of nothing. The same can be said of Spinoza, Schopenhauer, and even Kant. They deny man freedom of will because they clearly cannot make up their minds to place so precious a treasure in the hands of a mortal and limited being. Spinoza in his youth, bearing Descartes in mind, admitted man's freedom of will; at that time a man placed in the situation of Buridan's ass would have been no man but a wretched ass, if he had taken no decision. In his riper years, however, when he had grasped the essence of things more deeply, he too felt that man must not be allowed the right of dominating his destiny; and with his native decision he did not even stop before obvious nonsense and declared categorically that a man who had got into the position of Buridan's ass would have died of hunger.
I think that Spinoza experienced a quite particular satisfaction in the right - the inner and consequently quite unfounded right (tertium genus cognitionis - cognitio intuitiva!) - . - of proclaiming aloud so challenging a nonsense. It is hardly possible to believe that he did not realize the nonsensicality of the assertion that a famished or even a merely hungry man who had to choose between two bits of bread equidistant from him would die of hunger rather than make a choice because he had no "reason" for preferring the one to the other. If he did say so, it was only to open a rift in the idea of the possibility of human free will. God, he maintained, and God alone possessed free will. It would be madness to leave man to take any decisions "freely". God had given freedom once, to the first man, and now saw that anything was preferable to what resulted: man exchanged Paradise for our toilsome life on earth. Who knows what more he might have contrived, what further disasters he might have called down on himself, if after expulsion from Paradise, he had been left with freedom? Only if one assumes that God is indifferent towards His creation, that everything is all one to Him, that His basic qualities are indifference and dispassionateness - only so can one abandon man quietly and even so indifferently to himself. In such a case "freedom" and "necessity" are equivalent conceptions which are swallowed up in impersonal indifference.
Of course, Spinoza's paradox is, strictly speaking, quite unnecessary. Man can well be allowed to make use of what is God's attribute; only, the precious treasure must not be placed at the disposal of a limited and ignorant entity. Thus Luther came far nearer to the truth when, disregarding logical consistency, he gave man full authority to do as he would, within the limits of practical acts. Even Kant, who was clearly trying to express in scientific form what Luther put in the phraseology of religion, sinned grievously against the truth when he made the whole field of empiria dependent on the principle of necessity. In the empirical field man is granted a certain freedom - but only within the limited measure suitable to a limited entity. He can go right or left, choose which he will of several like objects, even act in more important cases (I should not care to say which) without considering anything but his fortuitous whim. But the more grave, weighty, and important the dilemma confronting man, the more the possibility of free action vanishes for him; to choose between good and evil, to decide his metaphysical destiny, is not granted to man. If a chance leads us to the edge of the abyss, if, after many years of peaceful, carefree life, some menacing "to be or not to be" confronts us, like Hamlet, then it seems to us as though some new, enigmatic power - perhaps beneficent, perhaps hostile - were guiding and determining our action. Ordinary determinism, with its inclination towards "natural" explanations, refuses to perceive this - for its whole purpose lies in not going beyond the limits of what it is accustomed to consider comprehensible. If man actually receives help from some strange and mysterious source - one must accept it, as one accepts all that is profitable, but one may not imagine a "mystery", for this is too enigmatic, and threatens one, if one notices it, with extreme disquiet.
But willful blindness towards the unknown and fear of it do not alter the facts: something imperious and irresistible fetters our freedom and guides us towards ends unknown and incomprehensible to us. How could it be otherwise? How could one, I repeat, allow weak, impotent, limited man an even partial share in the solution of the basic problems of his being? How should he, who came but yesterday into the world and is wholly occupied with thinking how to keep a foothold on it - how should he know whither to turn his steps and what to make of himself? Time is infinite, space is infinite, there are innumerable worlds, life's riches and its terrors are inexhaustible, the secrets of the universal structure are incomprehensible - how can an entity hemmed in between so many eternities, infinities, unlimited possibilities, know what it has to do, and how can it choose for itself? Plato, indeed, allowed anamnesis - the recollection of what was in previous lives - but only to a very limited degree. We remember at times what we saw when we lived in freedom, but we remember it rarely and vaguely, and besides, we do not remember the most important things. For that reason, too, Plato believes that the soul solves the fundamental questions of her being before birth, before becoming incarnate in the flesh, when she still has knowledge of the truth, not mere memory, and knows not just a little, but all that need be known. The soul chooses her own lot, but not after she has come down upon earth, but before, when she still lives in the intelligible world. But as soon as she has descended upon earth she loses her knowledge and with it her freedom, and acts now, not as today she thinks it necessary to act, but as she was commanded to act before eternity began, according to the lot which she chose.
We see that the most profound thinkers have suspected a great mystery in freedom of will. Malebranche says textually: "La Liberté est un mystère." And presumably this is so. Every attempt to grasp the idea of freedom, every attempt to strip from her the secret veil in which she has always appeared before the best representatives of philosophic and religious thought, merely leads to the illusion of a solution, and will be punished sooner or later in every sincere inquirer with deep and torturing disappointment. It is impossible to speak of free will (as of anything affecting the first and last truths) in the language of pure conceptions purged of contradiction, if one wishes form and content of the word to correspond even approximately. Either one must simplify reality, i.e. distort it past recognition, or permit oneself inevitable, almost paradoxical contradictions, or else, like Plato, have resort to myths.
Or - and this is obviously the right way out - one must not be above either contradiction or myth. One must agree once for all that all our conceptions, however we construe them, are bi-dimensional, while truth is tri-dimensional or more. Therefore in speaking of free will it is impossible to start from an exceptional case, like Buridan's example. Still less can one rely on the general principle of no effect without cause. Between the "freedom of will" of Buridan's ass, or even of no ass, but a man confronted with a similar dilemma, on the one hand, and Augustine saving his soul or Plato meditating on Socrates' death and the fate of the just on the other, there is so great a difference that to reduce all these cases to a single problem would mean having eyes and not seeing, having ears and not hearing. And a conception covering alike Augustine and Plato and all men and beasts who hesitate before an impending decision and take a decision, would monstrously overstep its competence and terms of reference. This overstepping, which is so customary in philosophy, must be most carefully eschewed by those who still believe that philosophy, although it never has given and never will give final answers to the questions which itself raises, is yet, with art and religion, that which men have always justly esteemed their supreme good. Of course the philosophical solutions of problems are transitory; I even hope that the time is not far off when philosophers will be allowed the privilege of admitting openly that their duty does not lie in solving problems but in the art of depicting life as unnatural, as mysterious and as problematical as possible. Then its chief "failing" - the immense number of questions and the complete lack of answers - will cease to he a failing and turn into an advantage.
29 - QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Posing questions is not the same as asking. A parrot can also pose a question. And in a certain sense all men are nine-tenths parrots. They speak, but behind their words lies nothing more. Thus if somebody asks what is time or what eternity, even what is good, or death, it is not to be thought that he is "knocking" and that, if the Scriptures speak true, it must be opened unto him. He is not knocking at all, he is only pronouncing words. "Knocking" is not so easy, none of us "knock" except on rare, very rare, occasions. And for that reason, perhaps, it is not opened unto us. Even the saints of old often preferred reasoning to knocking. But now, when we have so many books to hand, each a compendium of so many ready-made ideas, who should go seeking at his own peril and risk? Particularly when no one believes the Scriptures. Every one is convinced that it will not be opened, knock as one may, that there is no one there to open. Therefore men prefer to construct ingenious combinations out of old ideas, instead of thinking and seeking - instead, that is, of making the enormous effort which alone brings forth questions worth the answering.