believe that matters were reversed? In short, as we often dream that
we dream, heaping dream upon dream, may it not be that this half of our
life, wherein we think ourselves awake, is itself only a dream on which the
others are grafted, from which we wake at death, during which we have as few
principles of truth and good as during natural sleep, these different
thoughts which disturb us being perhaps only illusions like the flight of
time and the vain fancies of our dreams?
These are the chief arguments on one side and the other.
I omit minor ones, such as the sceptical talk against the impressions of
custom, education, manners, country and the like. Though these influence the
majority of common folk, who dogmatise only on shallow foundations, they are
upset by the least breath of the sceptics. We have only to see their books
if we are not sufficiently convinced of this, and we shall very quickly
become so, perhaps too much.
I notice the only strong point of the dogmatists, namely, that, speaking in
good faith and sincerely, we cannot doubt natural principles. Against this
the sceptics set up in one word the uncertainty of our origin, which
includes that of our nature. The dogmatists have been trying to answer this
objection ever since the world began.
So there is open war among men, in which each must take a part and side
either with dogmatism or scepticism. For he who thinks to remain neutral is
above all a sceptic. This neutrality is the essence of the se