The Book of Lies





"Explain this happening!"


"It must have a 'natural' cause."
"It must have a 'supernatural' cause."


Let these two asses
be set to grind corn.


May, might, must, should, probably, may be, we may safely assume, ought, it is hardly questionable, almost certainly — poor hacks! let them be turned out to grass!


Proof is only possible in mathematics, and mathematics is only a matter of arbitrary conventions.


And yet doubt is a good servant but a bad master; a perfect mistress, but a nagging wife.


"White is white" is the lash of the overseer: "white is black" is the watchword of the slave. The Master takes no heed.


The Chinese cannot help thinking that the octave has 5 notes.


The more necessary anything appears to my mind, the more certain it is that I only assert a limitation.


I slept with Faith, and found a corpse in my arms on awaking; I drank and danced all night with Doubt, and found her a virgin in the morning.


The title of this chapter is drawn from paragraph 7.

We now, for the first time, attack the question of doubt.

"The Soldier and the Hunchback" should be carefully studied in this connection. The attitude recommended is scepticism, but a scepticism under control. Doubt inhibits action, as much as faith binds it. All the best Popes have been Atheists, but perhaps the greatest of them once remarked, "Quantum nobis prodest haec fabula Christi".

The ruler asserts facts as they are; the slave has therefore no option but to deny them passionately, in order to express his discontent. Hence such absurdities as "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité", "In God we trust", and the like. Similarly we find people asserting today that woman is superior to man, and that all men are born equal.

The Master (in technical language, the Magus) does not concern himself with facts; he does not care whether a thing is true or not: he uses truth and falsehood indiscriminately, to serve his ends. Slaves consider him immoral, and preach against him in Hyde Park.

In paragraphs 7 and 8 we find a most important statement, a practical aspect of the fact that all truth is relative, and in the last paragraph we see how scepticism keeps the mind fresh, whereas faith dies in the very sleep that it induces.

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