Belief in substance, taken transcendentally, as a critic of knowledge must take it, is the most irrational, animal, and primitive of beliefs; it is the voice of hunger. But when, as I must, I have yielded to this presumption, and proceeded to explore the world, I shall find in its constitution the most beautiful justification for my initial faith, and the proof of its secret rationality. This corroboration will not have any logical force, since it will be only pragmatic, based on begging the question, and perhaps only a bribe offered by fortune to confirm my illusions. The force of the corroboration will be merely moral, showing me how appropriate and harmonious with the nature of things such a belief was on my part. How else should the truth have been revealed to me at all? Truth and blindness, in such a case, are correlatives, since I am a sensitive creature surrounded by a universe utterly out of scale with myself: I must, therefore, address it questioningly but trustfully, and it must reply to me in my own terms, in symbols and parables, that only gradually enlarge my childish perceptions. It is as if Substance said to Knowledge: My child, there is a great world for thee to conquer, but it is a vast, an ancient, and a recalcitrant world. It yields wonderful treasures to courage, when courage is guided by art and respects the limits set to it by nature. I should not have been so cruel as to give thee birth, if there had been nothing for thee to master; but having first prepared the field, I set in thy heart the love of adventure.
Wait, let me first share something I wrote:
To reach the sought-for starting point, Neurath’s ship has to face its destiny in the storm of skepticism — its shipwrecked crew will drift ashore an unexpected land of fiction and speculation. Here they can regroup, build shipyards, and set up bases for new explorations, by land and by sea.
Ok, pardon that feeble attempt at being poetical. I’ll make up for it immediately by giving you this, the most satisfying passage I’ve read in a long time:
The Indians, in asserting the non-existence of every term in possible experience, not only free the spirit from idolatry, but free the realm of spirit (which is that of intuition) from limitation; because if nothing that appears exists, anything may appear without the labour and expense of existing; and fancy is invited to range innocently — fancies not murdering other fancies as an existence must murder other existences. While life lasts, the field is thus cleared for innocent poetry and infinite hypothesis, without suffering the judgement to be deceived nor the heart enslaved.
It is from George Santayana’s excellent book Scepticism and Animal Faith (p. 53).
Bonus quotes, added later:
[A] mind enlightened by scepticism and cured of noisy dogma, a mind discounting all reports, and free from all tormenting anxiety about its own fortunes or existence, finds in the wilderness of essence [-- equivalent to what I call "virtuality"] a very sweet and marvellous solitude. The ultimate reaches of doubt and renunciation open out for it, by an easy transition, into fields of endless variety and peace, as if through the gorges of death it had passed into a paradise where all things are crystallised into the image of themselves, and have lost their urgency and their venom. (p. 76)
All essences and combinations of essences are brother-shapes in an eternal landscape; and the more I range in that wilderness, the less reason I find for stopping at anything, or for following any particular path. Willingly or regretfully, if I wish to live, I must rouse myself from this open-eyed trance into which utter scepticism has thrown me. I must allow subterranean forces within me to burst forth and to shatter that vision. I must consent to be an animal or a child, and to chase the fragments as if they were things of moment. But which fragment, and rolling in what direction? I am resigned to being a dogmatist; but at what point shall my dogmatism begin, and by what first solicitation of nature? [...] (p. 111)