Quotation by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The English public are not yet ripe to comprehend the essential difference between the reason and the understanding,—between a principle and a maxim—an eternal truth and a mere conclusion from a generalization of a great number of facts.... Suppose Adam watching the sun sinking under the horizon for the first time; he is seized with gloom and terror, relieved with scarce a ray of hope of ever seeing the glorious light again. The next evening when it declines, his hopes are stronger but mixed with fear, and even at the end of 1000 years, all that a man can feel, is hope and an expectation so strong as to preclude anxiety. Compare this in its highest degree with the assurance which you have that the two sides of any triangle are greater than the third. This demonstrated of one triangle is seen to be eternally true of all imaginable triangles. This is the truth perceived at once by the reason, wholly independently of experience. It is and must ever be so, multiply and vary the shapes and sizes of triangles as you may.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), British poet, philosopher, critic. Specimens of the Table Talk of the Late Samuel Taylor Coleridge, entry for August 24, 1831 (1835).
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