07 Jun Appearances are everywhere equal (MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE)
They (Pyrrhonians) have reserved for themselves a marvellous advantage in battle, having eased themselves of the care of defence. If you strike them, they care not, provided they strike too, and they turn every thing to their own use. If they overcome, your argument is lame; if you, theirs; if they fall short, they verify ignorance; if you fall short, you do it; if they prove that nothing is known, ‘tis well; if they cannot prove it, ‘tis also well: “That when like sentiments happen pro and con in the same thing, the assent may on both sides be more easily suspended.”
And they make account to find out, with much greater facility, why a thing is false, than why ‘tis true; that which is not, than that which is; and what they do not believe, than what they do.
Their way of speaking is: “I assert nothing; it is no more so than so, or than neither one nor t’other; I understand it not. Appearances are everywhere equal; the law of speaking, pro or con, is the same. (Sextus Empiricus)
Nothing seems true, that may not seem false.” Their sacramental word is that is to say, “I hold, I stir not.” This is the burden of their song, and others of like stuff. The effect of which is a pure, entire, perfect, and absolute suspension of judgment. They make use of their reason to inquire and debate, but not to fix and determine. Whoever shall imagine a perpetual confession of ignorance, a judgment without bias, propension, or inclination, upon any occasion whatever, conceives a true idea of Pyrrhonism.
As to what concerns the actions of life, they are in this of the common fashion. They yield and give up themselves to their natural inclinations, to the power and impulse of passions, to the constitution of laws and customs, and to the tradition of arts; (Sextus Empiricus)
“For God would not have us know, but only use those things.” (Cicero)
They suffer their ordinary actions to be guided by those things, without any dispute or judgment. The fantastic, imaginary, and false privileges that man had usurped of lording it, ordaining, and establishing, he has utterly quitted and renounced.
Yet there is no sect but is constrained to permit her sage to follow several things not comprehended, perceived, or consented to, if he means to live.
He has a body, he has a soul; the senses push them, the mind spurs them on. And although he does not find in himself this proper and singular sign of judging, and that he perceives that he ought not to engage his consent, considering that there may be some false, equal to these true appearances, yet does he not, for all that, fail of carrying on the offices of his life with great liberty and convenience. How many arts are there that profess to consist more in conjecture than knowledge; that decide not on true and false, and only follow that which seems so!
There are, say they, true and false, and we have in us wherewith to seek it; but not to make it stay when we touch it. We are much more prudent, in letting ourselves be regulated by the order of the world, without inquiry.
A soul clear from prejudice has a marvellous advance towards tranquillity and repose.
The Essays of Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne