Monday, July 11, 2011

The sound that wasn't wanted

Mlle de l'Espinasse: Once I have seen inert matter change into something sensitive, there is nothing left to marvel at .. You have two great phenomena, the transi-tion from a state of inertia to one of sensitivity, and spontaneous generation; let them satisfy you, and draw correct conclusions from them and in a natural order, where nothing is great or small, permanent or variable in the absolute. Beware of the fallacy of the ephemeral .. Doctor, what is the fallacy of the ephemeral?

Dr Bordeu: That of a transient being who believes in the immutability of things.

Mlle de l'Espinasse: Like Fontenelle's rose, who declared that no gardener had ever been known to die? .. Why can't these philosophers of yours express themselves as gracefully as Fontenelle? We should understand them then.


Denis Diderot
D'Alembert's Dream
Leonard Tancock, translation
Penguin, 1966©

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