Our Astonishment. There is a profound and fundamental

Our Astonishment. There is a profound and fundamental satisfaction in the fact that science ascertains things that hold their ground, and again furnish the basis for new researches: it could certainly be otherwise. Indeed, we are so much convinced of all the uncertainty and caprice of our judgments, and of the everlasting change of all human laws and conceptions, that we are really astonished how persistently the results of science hold their ground! In earlier times people knew nothing of this changeability of all human things; the custom of morality maintained the belief that the whole inner life of man was bound to iron necessity by eternal fetters: perhaps people then felt a similar voluptuousness of astonishment when they listened to tales and fairy stories. The wonderful did so much good to those men, who might well get tired sometimes of the regular and the eternal. To leave the ground for once! To soar! To stray! To be mad!: – that belonged to the paradise and the revelry of earlier times; while our felicity is like that of the shipwrecked man who has gone ashore, and places himself with both feet on the old, firm ground – in astonishment that it does not rock.


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