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苏菲的世界(英文版)连载6

2006-01-17 00:00

  "And you are going to talk about them today, these empiricists?"

  "I'm going to attempt to, yes. The most important empiricists——or philosophers of experience——were Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, and all three were British. The leading rationalists in the seventeenth century were Descartes, who was French; Spinoza, who was Dutch; and Leibniz, who was German. So we usually make a distinction between British empiricism and Continental rationalism."

  "What a lot of difficult words! Could you repeat the meaning of empiricism?"

  "An empiricist will derive all knowledge of the world from what the senses tell us. The classic formulation of an empirical approach came from Aristotle. He said: 'There is nothing in the mind except what was first in the senses.' This view implied a pointed criticism of Plato, who had held that man brought with him a set of innate 'ideas' from the world o ideas. Locke repeats Aristotle's words, and when Locke uses them, they are aimed at Descartes."

  "There is nothing in the mind…… except what was first in the senses?"

  "We have no innate ideas or conceptions about the world we are brought into before we have seen it. If we do have a conception or an idea that cannot be related to experienced facts, then it will be a false conception. When we, for instance, use words like 'God,"eternity,' or 'substance,' reason is being misused, because nobody has experienced God, eternity, or what philosophers have called substance. So therefore many learned dissertations could be written which in actual fact contain no really new conceptions. An ingeniously contrived philosophical system such as this may seem impressive, but it is pure fantasy. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophers had inherited a number of such learned dissertations. Now they had to be examined under a microscope. They had to be purified of all hollow notions. We might compare it with panning for gold. Most of what you fish up is sand and clay, but in between you see the glint of a particle of gold."

  "And that particle of gold is real experience?"

  "Or at least thoughts that can be related to experience. It became a matter of great importance to the British empiricists to scrutinize all human conceptions to see whether there was any basis for them in actual experience. But let us take one philosopher at a time."

  "Okay, shoot!"

  "The first was the Englishman John Locke, who lived from 1632 to 1704. His main work was the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. In it he tried to clarify two questions. First, where we get our ideas from, and secondly, whether we can rely on what our senses tell us."

  "That was some project!"

  "We'll take these questions one at a time. Locke's claim is that all our thoughts and ideas issue from that which we have taken in through the senses. Before we perceive anything, the mind is a 'tabula rasa'——or an empty slate."

  "You can skip the Latin."

  "Before we sense anything, then, the mind is as bare and empty as a blackboard before the teacher arrives in the classroom. Locke also compared the mind to an unfurnished room. But then we begin to sense things. We see the world around us, we smell, taste, feel, and hear. And nobody does this more intensely than infants. In this way what Locke called simple ideas of sense arise. But the mind does not just passively receive information from outside it. Some activity happens in the mind as well. The single sense ideas are worked on by thinking, reasoning, believing, and doubting, thus giving rise to what he calls reflection. So he distinguished between 'sensation' and 'reflection.' The mind is not merely a passive receiver. It classifies and processes all sensations as they come streaming in. And this is just where one must be on guard."

  "On guard?"

  "Locke emphasized that the only things we can perceive are simple sensations. When I eat an apple, for example, I do not sense the whole apple in one single sensation. In actual fact I receive a whole series of simple sensations——such as that something is green, smells fresh, and tastes juicy and sharp. Only after I have eaten an apple many times do I think: Now I am eating an 'apple.' As Locke would say, we have formed a complex idea of an 'apple.' When we were infants, tasting an apple for the first time, we had no such complex idea. But we saw something green, we tasted something fresh and juicy, yummy …… It was a bit sour too. Little by little we bundle many similar sensations together and form concepts like 'apple,"pear,"orange.' But in the final analysis, all the material for our knowledge of the world comes to us through sensations. Knowledge that cannot be traced back to a simple sensation is therefore false knowledge and must consequently be rejected."

  "At any rate we can be sure that what we see, hear, smell, and taste are the way we sense it."

  "Both yes and no. And that brings us to the second question Locke tried to answer. He had first answered the questio of where we get our ideas from. Now he asked whether the world really is the way we perceive it. This is not so obvious, you see, Sophie. We mustn't jump to conclusions. That is the only thing a real philosopher must never do."

  "I didn't say a word."

  "Locke distinguished between what he called 'primary' and 'secondary' qualities. And in this he acknowledged his debt to the great philosophers before him—— including Descartes.

  "By primary qualities he meant extension, weight, motion and number, and so on. When it is a question of qualities such as these, we can be certain that the senses reproduce them objectively. But we also sense other qualities in things. We say that something is sweet or sour, green or red, hot or cold. Locke calls these secondary qualities. Sensations like these——color, smell, taste, sound——do not reproduce the real qualities that are inherent in the things themselves. They reproduce only the effect of the outer reality on our senses."

  "Everyone to his own taste, in other words."

  "Exactly. Everyone can agree on the primary qualities like size and weight because they lie within the objects themselves. But the secondary qualities like color and taste can vary from person to person and from animal to animal, depending on the nature of the individual's sensations."

  "When Joanna eats an orange, she gets a look on her face like when other people eat a lemon. She can't take more than one segment at a time. She says it tastes sour. I usually think the same orange is nice and sweet."

  "And neither one of you is right or wrong. You are just describing how the orange affects your senses. It's the same with the sense of color. Maybe you don't like a certain shade of red. But if Joanna buys a dress in that color it might be wise to keep your opinion to yourself. You experience the color differently, but it is neither pretty nor ugly."

  "But everyone can agree that an orange is round."

  "Yes, if you have a round orange, you can't 'think' it is square. You can 'think' it is sweet or sour, but you can't 'think' it weighs eight kilos if it only weighs two hundred grams. You can certainly 'believe' it weighs several kilos, but then you'd be way off the mark. If several people have to guess how much something weighs, there will always be one of them who is more right than the others. The same applies to number. Either there are 986 peas in the can or there are not. The same with motion. Either the car is moving or it's stationary."

  "I get it."

  "So when it was a question of 'extended' reality, Locke agreed with Descartes that it does have certain qualities that man is able to understand with his reason."

  "It shouldn't be so difficult to agree on that."

  "Locke admitted what he called intuitive, or 'demonstrative,' knowledge in other areas too. For instance, he held that certain ethical principles applied to everyone. In other words, he believed in the idea of a natural right, and that was a rationalistic feature of his thought. An equally rationalistic feature was that Locke believed that it was inherent in human reason to be able to know that God exists."

  "Maybe he was right."

  "About what?"

  "That God exists."

  "It is possible, of course. But he did not let it rest on faith. He believed that the idea of God was born of human reason. That was a rationalistic feature. I should add that he spoke out for intellectual liberty and tolerance. He was also preoccupied with equality of the sexes, maintaining that the subjugation of women to men was 'man-made.' Therefore it could be altered."

  "I can't disagree there."

  "Locke was one of the first philosophers in more recent times to be interested in sexual roles. He had a great influence on John Stuart Mill, who in turn had a key role in the struggle for equality of the sexes. All in all, Locke was a forerunner of many liberal ideas which later, during the period of the French Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, came into full flower. It was he who first advocated the principle of division of powers……"

  "Isn't that when the power of the state is divided betwen different institutions?"

  "Do you remember which institutions?"

  "There's the legislative power, or elected representatives. There's the judicial power, or law courts, and then there's the executive power, that's the government."

  "This division of power originated from the French Enlightenment philosopher Montesquieu. Locke had first and foremost emphasized that the legislative and the executive power must be separated if tyranny was to be avoided. He lived at the time of Louis XIV, who had assembled all power in his own hands. 'I am the State,' he said. We say he was an 'absolute' ruler. Nowadays we would call Louis XIV's rule lawless and arbitrary. Locke's view was that to ensure a legal State, the people's representatives must make the laws and the king or the government must apply them."

  Hume

  …commit it then to the flames…

  Alberto sat staring down at the table. He finally turned and looked out of the window.

  "It's clouding over," said Sophie.

  "Yes, it's muggy."

  "Are you going to talk about Berkeley now?"

  "He was the next of the three British empiricists. But as he is in a category of his own in many ways, we will first concentrate on David Hume, who lived from 1711 to 1776. He stands out as the most important of the empiricists. He is also significant as the person who set the great philosopher Immanuel Kant on the road to his philosophy."

  "Doesn't it matter to you that I'm more interested in Berkeley's philosophy?"

  "That's of no importance. Hume grew up near Edinburgh in Scotland. His family wanted him to take up law but he felt 'an insurmountable resistance to everything but philosophy and learning.' He lived in the Age of Enlightenment at the same time as great French thinkers like Voltaire and Rousseau, and he traveled widely in Europe before returning to settle down in Edinburgh toward the end of his life. His main work, A Treatise of Human Nature, was published when Hume was twenty-eight years old, but he claimed that he got the idea for the book when he was only fifteen."

  "I see I don't have any time to waste."

  "You have already begun."

  "But if I were going to formulate my own philosophy, it would be quite different from anything I've heard up to now."

  "Is there anything in particular that's missing?"

  "Well, to start with, all the philosophers you have talked about are men. And men seem to live in a world of their own. I am more interested in the real world, where there are flowers and animals and children that are born and grow up. Your philosophers are always talking about 'man' and 'humans,' and now here's another treatise on 'human nature.' It's as if this 'human' is a middle-aged man. I mean, life begins with pregnancy and birth, and I've heard nothing about diapers or crying babies so far. And hardly anything about love and friendship."

  "You are right, of course. But Hume was a philosopher who thought in a different way. More than any other philosopher, he took the everyday world as his starting point. I even think Hume had a strong feeling for the way children——the new citizens of the world—— experienced life."

  "I'd better listen then."

  "As an empiricist, Hume took it upon himself to clean up all the woolly concepts and thought constructions that these male philosophers had invented. There were piles of old wreckage, both written and spoken, from the Middle Ages and the rationalist philosophy of the seventeenth century. Hume proposed the return to our spontaneous experience of the world. No philosopher 'will ever be able to take us behind the daily experiences or give us rules of conduct that are different from those we get through reflections on everyday life,' he said."

  "Sounds promising so far. Can you give any examples?"

  "In the time of Hume there was a widespread belief in angels. That is, human figures with wings. Have you ever seen such a creature, Sophie?"

  "No."

  "But you have seen a human figure?"

  "Dumb question."

  "You have also seen wings?"

  "Of course, but not on a human figure."

  "So, according to Hume, an 'angel' is a complex idea. It consists of two differentxperiences which are not in fact related, but which nevertheless are associated in man's imagination. In other words, it is a false idea which must be immediately rejected. We must tidy up all our thoughts and ideas, as well as our book collections, in the same way. For as Hume put it: If we take in our hands any volume …… let us ask, 'Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?' No. 'Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?' No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

  "That was drastic."

  "But the world still exists. More fresh and sharply outlined than ever. Hume wanted to know how a child experiences the world. Didn't you say that many of the philosophers you have heard about lived in their own world, and that you were more interested in the real world?"

  "Something like that."

  "Hume could have said the same thing. But let us follow his train of thought more closely."

  "I'm with you."

  "Hume begins by establishing that man has two different types of perceptions, namely impressions and ideas. By 'impressions' he means the immediate sensation of external reality. By 'ideas' he means the recollection of such impressions."

  "Could you give me an example?"

  "If you burn yourself on a hot oven, you get an immediate 'impression.' Afterward you can recollect that you burned yourself. That impression insofar as it is recalled is what Hume calls an 'idea.' The difference is that an impression is stronger and livelier than your reflective memory of that impression. You could say that the sensation is the original and that the idea, or reflection, is only a pale imitation. It is the impression which is the direct cause of the idea stored in the mind."

  "I follow you——so far."

  "Hume emphasizes further that both an impression and an idea can be either simple or complex. You remember we talked about an apple in connection with Locke. The direct experience of an apple is an example of a complex impression."

  "Sorry to interrupt, but is this terribly important?"

  "Important? How can you ask? Even though philosophers may have been preoccupied with a number of pseudoproblems, you mustn't give up now over the construction of an argument. Hume would probably agree with Descartes that it is essential to construct a thought process right from the ground."

  "Okay, okay."

  "Hume's point is that we sometimes form complex ideas for which there is no corresponding object in the physical world. We've already talked about angels. Previously we referred to crocophants. Another example is Pegasus, a winged horse. In all these cases we have to admit that the mind has done a good job of cutting out and pasting together all on its own. Each element was once sensed, and entered the theater of the mind in the form of a real 'impression.' Nothing is ever actually invented by the mind. The mind puts things together and constructs false 'ideas.' "

  "Yes, I see. That is important."

  "All right, then. Hume wanted to investigate every single idea to see whether it was compounded in a way that does not correspond to reality. He asked: From which impression does this idea originate? First of all he had to find out which 'single ideas' went into the making of a complex idea. This would provide him with a critical method by which to analyze our ideas, and thus enable him to tidy up our thoughts and notions."

  "Do you have an example or two?"

  "In Hume's day, there were a lot of people who had very clear ideas of 'heaven' or the 'New Jerusalem.' You remember how Descartes indicated that 'clear and distinct' ideas in themselves could be a guarantee that they corresponded to something that really existed?"

  "I said I was not especially forgetful."

  "We soon realize that our idea of 'heaven' is compounded of a great many elements. Heaven is made up of 'pearly gates,"streets of gold,"angels' by the score and so on and so forth. And still we have not broken everything down into single elements, for pearly gates, streets of gold, and angels are all coplex ideas in themselves. Only when we recognize that our idea of heaven consists of single notions such as 'pearl,"gate,"street,"gold,"white-robed figure,' and 'wings' can we ask ourselves if we ever really had any such 'simple impressions.' "

  "We did. But we cut out and pasted all these 'simple impressions' into one idea."

  "That's just what we did. Because if there is something we humans do when we visualize, it's use scissors and paste. But Hume emphasizes that all the elements we put together in our ideas must at some time have entered the mind in the form of 'simple impressions.' A person who has never seen gold will never be able to visualize streets of gold."

  "He was very clever. What about Descartes having a clear and distinct idea of God?"

  "Hume had an answer to that too. Let's say we imagine God as an infinitely 'intelligent, wise, and good being.' We have thus a 'complex idea' that consists of something infinitely intelligent, something infinitely wise, and something infinitely good. If we had never known intelligence, wisdom, and goodness, we would never have such an idea of God. Our idea of God might also be that he is a 'severe but just Father'——that is to say, a concept made up of 'severity','justice,' and 'father.' Many critics of religion since Hume have claimed that such ideas of God can be associated with how we experienced our own father when we were little. It was said that the idea of a father led to the idea of a 'heavenly father.' "

  "Maybe that's true, but I have never accepted that God had to be a man. Sometimes my mother calls God 'Godiva,' just to even things up."

  "Anyway, Hume opposed all thoughts and ideas that could not be traced back to corresponding sense perceptions. He said he wanted to 'dismiss all this meaningless nonsense which long has dominated metaphysical thought and brought it into disrepute.'

  "But even in everyday life we use complex ideas without stopping to wonder whether they are valid. For example, take the question of T——or the ego. This was the very basis of Descartes's philosophy. It was the one clear and distinct perception that the whole of his phi-losophy was built on."

  "I hope Hume didn't try to deny that I am me. He'd be talking off the top of his head."

  "Sophie, if there is one thing I want this course to teach you, it's not to jump to conclusions."

  "Sorry. Go on."

  "No, why don't you use Hume's method and analyze what you perceive as your 'ego.' "

  "First I'd have to figure out whether the ego is a single or a complex idea."

  "And what conclusion do you come to?"

  "I really have to admit that I feel quite complex. I'm very volatile, for instance. And I have trouble making up my mind about things. And I can both like and dislike the same people."

  "In other words, the 'ego concept' is a 'complex idea.' "

  "Okay. So now I guess I must figure out if I have had a corresponding 'complex impression' of my own ego. And I guess I have. I always had, actually."

  "Does that worry you?"

  "I'm very changeable. I'm not the same today as I was when I was four years old. My temperament and how I see myself alter from one minute to the next. I can suddenly feel like I am a 'new person.' "

  "So the feeling of having an unalterable ego is a false perception. The perception of the ego is in reality a long chain of simple impressions that you have never experienced simultaneously. It is 'nothing but a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed one another with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement,' as Hume expressed it. The mind is 'a kind of theater, where several perceptions successively make their appearance; pass, re-pass, slide away, and mingle in an infinite variety of postures and situations.' Hume pointed out that we have no underlying 'personal identity' beneath or behind these perceptions and feelings which come and go. It is just like the images on a movie screen. They change so rapidly we do not register that the film is made up of single pictures. In reality the pictures are not connected. The film is a collectio of instants."

  "I think I give in."

  "Does that mean you give up the idea of having an unalterable ego?"

  "I guess it does."

  "A moment ago you believed the opposite. I should add that Hume's analysis of the human mind and his rejection of the unalterable ego was put forward almost 2,500 years earlier on the other side of the world."

  "Who by?"

  "By Buddha. It's almost uncanny how similarly the two formulate their ideas. Buddha saw life as an unbroken succession of mental and physical processes which keep people in a continual state of change. The infant is not the same as the adult; I am not the same today as I was yesterday. There is nothing of which I can say 'this is mine,' said Buddha, and nothing of which I can say 'this is me.' There is thus no T or unalterable ego."

  "Yes, that was typically Hume."

  "In continuation of the idea of an unalterable ego, many rationalists had taken it for granted that man had an eternal soul."

  "Is that a false perception too?"

  "According to Hume and Buddha, yes. Do you know what Buddha said to his followers just before he died?"

  "No, how could I?"

  " 'Decay is inherent in all compound things. Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Hume could have said the same thing. Or Democritus, for that matter. We know at all events that Hume rejected any attempt to prove the immortality of the soul or the existence of God. That does not mean that he ruled out either one, but to prove religious faith by human reason was rationalistic claptrap, he thought. Hume was not a Christian, neither was he a confirmed atheist. He was what we call an agnostic."

  "What's that?"

  "An agnostic is someone who holds that the existence of God or a god can neither be proved nor disproved. When Hume was dying a friend asked him if he believed in life after death. He is said to have answered:

  "It is also possible that a knob of coal placed upon the fire will not burn."

  "I see."

  "The answer was typical of his unconditional open-mindedness. He only accepted what he had perceived through his senses. He held all other possibilities open. He rejected neither faith in Christianity nor faith in miracles. But both were matters of faith and not of knowledge or reason. You might say that with Hume's philosophy, the final link between faith and knowledge was broken."

  "You say he didn't deny that miracles can happen?"

  "That didn't mean that he believed in them, more the opposite. He made a point of the fact that people seemed to have a powerful need of what we today would call 'supernatural' happenings. The thing is that all the miracles you hear of have always happened in some far distant place or a long, long time ago. Actually, Hume only rejected miracles because he had never experienced any. But he had not experienced that they couldn't happen either."

  "You'll have to explain that."

  "According to Hume, a miracle is against the laws of nature. But it is meaningless to allege that we have experienced the laws of nature. We experience that a stone falls to the ground when we let go of it, and if it didn't fall——well, then we experienced that.'1"

  "I would say that was a miracle——or something supernatural."

  "So you believe there are two natures——a 'natural' and a 'supernatural.' Aren't you on the way back to the rationalistic claptrap?"

  "Maybe, but I still think the stone will fall to the ground every time I let go."

  "Why?"

  "Now you're being horrible."

  "I'm not horrible, Sophie. It's never wrong for a philosopher to ask questions. We may be getting to the crux of Hume's philosophy. Tell me how you can be so certain that the stone will always fall to the earth."

  "I've seen it happen so many times that I'm absolutely certain."

  "Hume would say that you have experienced a stone falling to the ground many times. But you have never experienced that it will always fall. It is usual to say that the stone falls to the ground because of the law of gravitation. But we have never experienced such a law. We have only experienced that things fall."

  "Isn't that the same thing?"

  "Not completely. You say you believe th stone will fall to the ground because you have seen it happen so many times. That's exactly Hume's point. You are so used to the one thing following the other that you expect the same to happen every time you let go of a stone. This is the way the concept of what we like to call 'the unbreakable laws of nature' arises."

  "Did he really mean it was possible that a stone would not fall?"

  "He was probably just as convinced as you that it would fall every time he tried it. But he pointed out that he had not experienced why it happens."

  "Now we're far away from babies and flowers again!"

  "No, on the contrary. You are welcome to take children as Hume's verification. Who do you think would be more surprised if the stone floated above the ground for an hour or two——you or a one-year-old child?"

  "I guess I would."

  "Why?"

  "Because I would know better than the child how unnatural it was."

  "And why wouldn't the child think it was unnatural?"

  "Because it hasn't yet learned how nature behaves."

  "Or perhaps because nature hasn't yet become a habit?"

  "I see where you're coming from. Hume wanted people to sharpen their awareness."

  "So now do the following exercise: let's say you and a small child go to a magic show, where things are made to float in the air. Which of you would have the most fun?"

  "I probably would."

  "And why would that be?"

  "Because I would know how impossible it all is."

  "So…… for the child it's no fun to see the laws of nature being defied before it has learned what they are."

  "I guess that's right."

  "And we are still at the crux of Hume's philosophy of experience. He would have added that the child has not yet become a slave of the expectations of habit; he is thus the more open-minded of you two. I wonder if the child is not also the greater philosopher? He comes utterly without preconceived opinions. And that, my dear Sophie, is the philosopher's most distinguishing virtue. The child perceives the world as it is, without putting more into things than he experiences."

  "Every time I feel prejudice I get a bad feeling."

  "When Hume discusses the force of habit, he concentrates on 'the law of causation.' This law establishes that everything that happens must have a cause. Hume used two billiard balls for his example. If you roll a black billiard ball against a white one that is at rest, what will the white one do?"

  "If the black ball hits the white one, the white one will start to move."

  "I see, and why will it do that?"

  "Because it was hit by the black one."

  "So we usually say that the impact of the black ball is the cause of the white ball's starting to move. But remember now, we can only talk of what we have actually experienced."

  "I have actually experienced it lots of times. Joanna has a pool table in her basement."

  "Hume would say the only thing you have experienced is that the white ball begins to roll across the table. You have not experienced the actual cause of it beginning to roll. You have experienced that one event comes after the other, but you have not experienced that the other event happens because o/the first one."

  "Isn't that splitting hairs?"

  "No, it's very central. Hume emphasized that the expectation of one thing following another does not lie in the things themselves, but in our mind. And expectation, as we have seen, is associated with habit. Going back to the child again, it would not have stared in amazement if when one billiard ball struck the other, both had remained perfectly motionless. When we speak of the 'laws of nature' or of 'cause and effect,' we are actually speaking of what we expect, rather than what is 'reasonable.' The laws of nature are neither reasonable nor unreasonable, they simply are. The expectation that the white billiard ball will move when it is struck by the black billiard ball is therefore not innate. We are not born with a set of expectations as to what the world is like or how things in the world behave. The world is like it is, and it's something we get to know."

  "I'm beginning to feel as if we're getting off the track again."

  "Not i our expectations cause us to jump to conclusions. Hume did not deny the existence of unbreakable 'natural laws,' but he held that because we are not in a position to experience the natural laws themselves, we can easily come to the wrong conclusions."

  "Like what?"

  "Well, because I have seen a whole herd of black horses doesn't mean that all horses are black."

  "No, of course not."

  "And although I have seen nothing but black crows in my life, it doesn't mean that there's no such thing as a white crow. Both for a philosopher and for a scientist it can be important not to reject the possibility of finding a white crow. You might almost say that hunting for 'the white crow' is science's principal task."

  "Yes, I see."

  "In the question of cause and effect, there can be many people who imagine that lightning is the cause of thunder because the thunder comes after the lightning. The example is really not so different from the one with the billiard balls. But is lightning the cause of thunder?"

  "Not really, because actually they both happen at the same time."

  "Both thunder and lightning are due to an electric discharge. So in reality a third factor causes them both."

  "Right."

  "An empiricist of our own century, Bertrand Russell, has provided a more grotesque example. A chicken which experiences every day that it gets fed when the farmer's wife comes over to the chicken run will finally come to the conclusion that there is a causal link between the approach of the farmer's wife and feed being put into its bowl."

  "But one day the chicken doesn't get its food?"

  "No, one day the farmer's wife comes over and wrings the chicken's neck."

  "Yuck, how disgusting!"

  "The fact that one thing follows after another thus does not necessarily mean there is a causal link. One of the main concerns of philosophy is to warn people against jumping to conclusions. It can in fact lead to many different forms of superstition."

  "How come?"

  "You see a black cat cross the street. Later that day you fall and break your arm. But that doesn't mean there is any causal link between the two incidents. In science, it is especially important not to jump to conclusions. For instance, the fact that a lot of people get well after taking a particular drug doesn't mean it was the drug that cured them. That's why it's important to have a large control group of patients who think they are also being given this same medicine, but who are in fact only being given flour and water. If these patients also get well, there has to be a third factor——such as the belief that the medicine works, and has cured them."

  "I think I'm beginning to see what empiricism is."

  "Hume also rebelled against rationalist thought in the area of ethics. The rationalists had always held that the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is inherent in human reason. We have come across this idea of a so-called natural right in many philosophers from Socrates to Locke. But according to Hume, it is not reason that determines what we say and do."

  "What is it then?"

  "It is our sentiments. If you decide to help someone in need, you do so because of your feelings, not your reason."

  "What if I can't be bothered to help?"

  "That, too, would be a matter of feelings. It is neither reasonable nor unreasonable not to help someone in need, but it could be unkind."

  "But there must be a limit somewhere. Everyone knows it's wrong to kill."

  "According to Hume, everybody has a feeling for other people's welfare. So we all have a capacity for compassion. But it has nothing to do with reason."

  "I don't know if I agree."

  "It's not always so unwise to get rid of another person, Sophie. If you wish to achieve something or other, it can actually be quite a good idea."

  "Hey, wait a minute! I protest!"

  "Maybe you can try and explain why one shouldn't kill a troublesome person."

  "'That person wants to live too. Therefore you ought not to kill them."

  "Was that a logical reason?"

  "I don't know."

  "What you did was to draw a conclusion from a descriptive sentence——That person wants to live too'——t what we call a normative sentence: 'Therefore you ought not to kill them.' From the point of view of reason this is nonsense. You might just as well say 'There are lots of people who cheat on their taxes, therefore I ought to cheat on my taxes too.' Hume said you can never draw conclusions from is sentences to ought sentences. Nevertheless it is exceedingly common, not least in newspaper articles, political party programs, and speeches. Would you like some examples?"

  "Please."

  " 'More and more people want to travel by air. Therefore more airports ought to be built.' Do you think the conclusion holds up?"

  "No. It's nonsense. We have to think of the environment. I think we ought to build more railroads instead."

  "Or they say: The development of new oilfields will raise the population's living standards by ten percent. Therefore we ought to develop new oilfields as rapidly as possible."

  "Definitely not. We have to think of the environment again. And anyway, the standard of living in Norway is high enough."

  "Sometimes it is said that 'this law has been passed by the Senate, therefore all citizens in this country ought to abide by it.' But frequently it goes against people's deepest convictions to abide by such conventions."

  "Yes, I understand that."

  "So we have established that we cannot use reason as a yardstick for how we ought to act. Acting responsibly is not a matter of strengthening our reason but of deepening our feelings for the welfare of others. "Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger,' said Hume."

  "That's a hair-raising assertion."

  "It's maybe even more hair-raising if you shuffle the cards. You know that the Nazis murdered millions of Jews. Would you say that there was something wrong with the Nazis' reason, or would you say there was something wrong with their emotional life?"

  "There was definitely something wrong with their feelings."

  "Many of them were exceedingly clear-headed. It is not unusual to find ice-cold calculation behind the most callous decisions. Many of the Nazis were convicted after the war, but they were not convicted for being 'unreasonable.' They were convicted for being gruesome murderers. It can happen that people who are not of sound mind can be acquitted of their crimes. We say that they were 'not accountable for their actions.' Nobody has ever been acquitted of a crime they committed for being unfeeling."

  "I should hope not."

  "But we need not stick to the most grotesque examples. If a flood disaster renders millions of people homeless, it is our feelings that determine whether we come to their aid. If we are callous, and leave the whole thing to 'cold reason,' we might think it was actually quite in order that millions of people die in a world that is threatened by overpopulation."

  "It makes me mad that you can even think that."

  "And notice it's not your reason that gets mad."

  "Okay, I got it."

  Berkeley

  …like a giddy planet round a burning sun…

  Alberto walked over to the window facing the town. Sophie followed him. While they stood looking out at the old houses, a small plane flew in over the rooftops. Fixed to its tail was a long banner which Sophie guessed would be advertising some product or local event, a rock concert perhaps. But as it approached and turned, she saw quite a different message: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HILDE!

  "Gate-crasher," was Alberto's only comment.

  Heavy black clouds from the hills to the south were now beginning to gather over the town. The little plane disappeared into the grayness.

  "I'm afraid there's going to be a storm," said Alberto.

  "So I'll take the bus home."

  "I only hope the major isn't behind this, too."

  "He's not God Almighty, is he?"

  Alberto did not reply. He walked across the room and sat down again by the coffee table.

  "We have to talk about Berkeley," he said after a while.

  Sophie had already resumed her place. She caught herself biting her nails.

  "George Berkeley was an Irish bishop who lived from 1685 to 1753," Alberto began. There was a long silence.

  "Berkely was an Irish bishop ……" Sophie prompted.

  "But he was a philosopher as well……"

  "Yes?"

  "He felt that current philosophies and science were a threat to the Christian way of life, that the all-pervading materialism, not least, represented a threat to the Christian faith in God as creator and preserver of all nature."

  "He did?"

  "And yet Berkeley was the most consistent of the empiricists."

  "He believed we cannot know any more of the world than we can perceive through the senses?"

  "More than that. Berkeley claimed that worldly things are indeed as we perceive them, but they are not 'things.' "

  "You'll have to explain that."

  "You remember that Locke pointed out that we cannot make statements about the 'secondary qualities' of things. We cannot say an apple is green and sour. We can only say we perceive it as being so. But Locke also said that the 'primary qualities' like density, gravity, and weight really do belong to the external reality around us. External reality has, in fact, a material substance."

  "I remember that, and I think Locke's division of things was important."

  "Yes, Sophie, if only that were all."

  "Goon."

  "Locke believed——just like Descartes and Spinoza—— that the material world is a reality."

  "Yes?"

  "This is just what Berkeley questioned, and he did so by the logic of empiricism. He said the only things that exist are those we perceive. But we do not perceive 'material' or 'matter.' We do not perceive things as tangible objects. To assume that what we perceive has its own underlying 'substance' is jumping to conclusions. We have absolutely no experience on which to base such a claim."

  "How stupid. Look!" Sophie thumped her fist hard on the table. "Ouch," she said. "Doesn't that prove that this table is really a table, both of material and matter?"

  "How did you feel it?"

  "I felt something hard."

  "You had a sensation of something hard, but you didn't feel the actual matter in the table. In the same way, you can dream you are hitting something hard, but there isn't anything hard in a dream, is there?"

  "No, not in a dream."

  "A person can also be hypnotized into 'feeling' things like warmth and cold, a caress or a punch."

  "But if the table wasn't really hard, why did I feel it?"

  "Berkeley believed in a 'spirit.' He thought all our ideas have a cause beyond our consciousness, but that this cause is not of a material nature. It is spiritual."

  Sophie had started biting her nails again.

  Alberto continued: "According to Berkeley, my own soul can be the cause of my own ideas——just as when I dream——but only another will or spirit can be the cause of the ideas that make up the 'corporeal' world. Everything is due to that spirit which is the cause of 'everything in everything' and which 'all things consist in,' he said."

  "What 'spirit' was he talking about?"

  "Berkeley was of course thinking of God. He said that 'we can moreover claim that the existence of God is far more clearly perceived than the existence of man."'

  "Is it not even certain that we exist?"

  "Yes, and no. Everything we see and feel is 'an effect of God's power,' said Berkeley. For God is 'intimately present in our consciousness, causing to exist for us the profusion of ideas and perceptions that we are constantly subject to.' The whole world around us and our whole life exist in God. He is the one cause of everything that exists. We exist only in the mind of God."

  "I am amazed, to put it mildly."

  "So 'to be or not to be' is not the whole question. The question is also who we are. Are we really human beings of flesh and blood? Does our world consist of real things——or are we encircled by the mind?"

  Sophie continued to bite her nails.

  Alberto went on: "Material reality was not the only thing Berkeley was questioning. He was also questioning whether 'time' and 'space' had any absolute or independent existence. Our own perception of time and space can also be merely figments of the mind. A week or two for us need not be a week or two for God ……"

  "You said that for Berkeley this spirit that everything exists in is the Christan God."

  "Yes, I suppose I did. But for us ……"

  "Us?"

  "For us——for you and me——this 'will or spirit' that is the 'cause of everything in everything' could be Hilde's father."

  Sophie's eyes opened wide with incredulity. Yet at the same time a realization began to dawn on her.

  "Is that what you think?"

  "I cannot see any other possibility. That is perhaps the only feasible explanation for everything that has happened to us. All those postcards and signs that have turned up here and there…… Hermes beginning to talk …… my own involuntary slips of the tongue."

  "I……"

  "Imagine my calling you Sophie, Hilde! I knew all the time that your name wasn't Sophie."

  "What are you saying? Now you are definitely confused."

  "Yes, my mind is going round and round, my child. Like a giddy planet round a burning sun."

  "And that sun is Hilde's father?"

  "You could say so."

  "Are you saying he's been a kind of God for us?"

  "To be perfectly candid, yes. He should be ashamed of himself!"

  "What about Hilde herself?"

  "She is an angel, Sophie."

  "An angel?"

  "Hilde is the one this 'spirit' turns to."

  "Are you saying that Albert Knag tells Hilde about us?"

  "Or writes about us. For we cannot perceive the matter itself that our reality is made of, that much we have learned. We cannot know whether our external reality is made of sound waves or of paper and writing. According to Berkeley, all we can know is that we are spirit."

  "And Hilde is an angel……"

  "Hilde is an angel, yes. Let that be the last word. Happy birthday, Hilde!"

  Suddenly the room was filled with a bluish light. A few seconds later they heard the crash of thunder and the whole house shook.

  "I have to go," said Sophie. She got up and ran to the front door. As she let herself out, Hermes woke up from his nap in the hallway. She thought she heard him say, "See you later, Hilde."

  Sophie rushed down the stairs and ran out into the street. It was deserted. And now the rain came down in torrents.

  One or two cars were plowing through the downpour, but there were no buses in sight. Sophie ran across Main Square and on through the town. As she ran, one thought kept going round and round in her mind: "Tomorrow is my birthday* Isn't it extra bitter to realize that life is only a dream on the day before your fifteenth birthday? It's like dreaming you won a million and then just as you're getting the money you wake up."

  Sophie ran across the squelching playing field. Minutes later she saw someone come running toward her. It was her mother. The sky was pierced again and again by angry darts of lightning.

  When they reached each other Sophie's mother put her arm around her.

  "What's happening to us, little one?"

  "I don't know," Sophie sobbed. "It's like a bad dream."

  Bjerkely

  …an old magic mirror Great-grandmother had bought from a Gypsy woman ……

  Hilde Moller Knag awoke in the attic room in the old captain's house outside Lillesand. She glanced at the clock. It was only six o'clock, but it was already light. Broad rays of morning sun lit up the room.

  She got out of bed and went to the window. On the way she stopped by the desk and tore a page off her calendar. Thursday, June 14, 1990. She crumpled the page up and threw it in her wastebasket.

  Friday, June 15, 1990, said the calendar now, shining at her. Way back in January she had written "15th birthday" on this page. She felt it was extra-special to be fifteen on the fifteenth. It would never happen again.

  Fifteen! Wasn't this the first day of her adult life? She couldn't just go back to bed. Furthermore, it was the last day of school before the summer vacation. The students just had to appear in church at one o'clock. And what was more, in a week Dad would be home from Lebanon. He had promised to be home for Midsummer Eve.

  Hilde stood by the window and looked out over the garden, down toward the dock behind the little red boat-house. The motorboat had not yet been brought out for the summer, but the old rowboat was tied up to the dock. She must remember to bail the water out of it after last night's heavy downpour.

  Asshe was looking out over the little bay, she remembered the time when as a little girl of six she had climbed up into the rowboat and rowed out into the bay alone. She had fallen overboard and it was all she could do to struggle ashore. Drenched to the skin, she had pushed her way through the thicket hedge. As she stood in the garden looking up at the house, her mother had come running toward her. The boat and both oars were left afloat in the bay. She still dreamed about the boat sometimes, drifting on its own, abandoned. It had been an embarrassing experience.

  The garden was neither especially luxuriant nor particularly well kept. But it was large and it was Hilde's. A weather-beaten apple tree and a few practically barren fruit bushes had just about survived the severe winter storms. The old glider stood on the lawn between granite rocks and thicket. It looked so forlorn in the sharp morning light. Even more so because the cushions had been taken in. Mom had probably hurried out late last night and rescued them from the rain.

  There were birch trees——bj0rketreer——all around the large garden, sheltering it partly, at least, from the worst squalls. It was because of those trees that the house had been renamed Bjerkely over a hundred years ago.

  Hilde's great-grandfather had built the house some years before the turn of the century. He had been a captain on one of the last tall sailing ships. There were a lot of people who continued to call it the captain's house.

  That morning the garden still showed signs of the heavy rain that had suddenly started late last evening. Hilde had been awakened several times by bursts of thunder. But today there was not a cloud in the sky.

  Everything is so fresh after a summer storm like that. It had been hot and dry for several weeks and the tips of the leaves on the birch trees had started to turn yellow. Now it was as if the whole world had been newly washed. It seemed as if even her childhood had been washed away with the storm.

  "Indeed, there is pain when spring buds burst……" Wasn't there a Swedish poet who had said something like that? Or was she Finnish?

  Hilde stood in front of the heavy brass mirror hanging on the wall above Grandmother's old dresser.

  Was she pretty? She wasn't ugly, anyway. Maybe she was kind of in-between ……

  She had long, fair hair. Hilde had always wished her hair could be either a bit fairer or a bit darker. This in-between color was so mousy. On the positive side, there were these soft curls. Lots of her friends struggled to get their hair to curl just a little bit, but Hilde's hair had always been naturally curly. Another positive feature, she thought, were her deep green eyes. "Are they really green?" her aunts and uncles used to say as they bent over to look at her.

  Hilde considered whether the image she was studying was that of a girl or that of a young woman. She decided it was neither. The body might be quite womanly, but the face reminded her of an unripe apple.

  There was something about this old mirror that always made Hilde think of her father. It had once hung down in the "studio." The studio, over the boathouse, was her father's combined library, writer's workshop, and retreat. Albert, as Hilde called him when he was home, had always wanted to write something significant. Once he had tried to write a novel, but he never finished it. From time to time he had had a few poems and sketches of the archipelago published in a national journal. Hilde was so proud every time she saw his name in print. ALBERT KNAG. It meant something in Lillesan^, anyway. Her great-grandfather's name had also been Albert.

  The mirror. Many years ago her father had joked about not being able to wink at your own reflection with both eyes at the same time, except in this brass mirror. It was an exception because it was an old magic mirror Great-grandmother had bought from a Gypsy woman just after her wedding.

  Hilde had tried for ages, but it was just as hard to wink at yourself with both eyes as to run away from your own shadow. In the end she had been given the old amily heirloom to keep. Through the years she had tried from time to time to master the impossible art.

  Not surprisingly, she was pensive today. And not unnaturally, she was preoccupied with herself. Fifteen years old ……

  She happened to glance at her bedside table. There was a large package there. It had pretty blue wrapping and was tied with a red silk ribbon. It must be a birthday present!

  Could this be the present? The great big present from Dad that had been so very secret? He had dropped so many cryptic hints in his cards from Lebanon. But he had "imposed a severe censorship on himself."

  The present was something that "grew bigger and bigger," he had written. Then he had said something about a girl she was soon to meet——and that he had sent copies of all his cards to her. Hilde had tried to pump her mother for clues, but she had no idea what he meant, either.

  The oddest hint had been that the present could perhaps be "shared with other people." He wasn't working for the UN for nothing! If her father had one bee in his bonnet——and he had plenty——it was that the. UN ought to be a kind of world government. May the UN one day really be able to unite the whole of humanity, he had written on one of his cards.

  Was she allowed to open the package before her mother came up to her room singing "Happy Birthday to You," with pastry and a Norwegian flag? Surely that was why it had been put there?

  She walked quietly across the room and picked up the package. It was heavy! She found the tag: To Hilde on her 15th birthday from Dad.

  She sat on the bed and carefully untied the red silk ribbon. Then she undid the blue paper.

  It was a large ring binder.

  Was this her present? Was this the fifteenth-birthday present that there had been so much fuss about? The present that grew bigger and bigger and could be shared with other people?

  A quick glance showed that the ring binder was rilled with typewritten pages. Hilde recognized them as being from her father's typewriter, the one he had taken with him to Lebanon.

  Had he written a whole book for her?

  On the first page, in large handwritten letters, was the title, SOPHIE'S WORLD.

  Farther down the page there were two typewritten lines of poetry:

  TRUE ENLIGHTENMENT IS TO MAN LIKE SUNLIGHT TO THE SOIL

  ——N.F.S. Grundtvig

  Hilde turned to the next page, to the beginning of the first chapter. It was entitled "The Garden of Eden." She got into bed, sat up comfortably, resting the ring binder against her knees, and began to read.

  Sophie Amundsen was on her way home from school. She had walked the first part of the way with Joanna. They had been discussing robots. Joanna thought the human brain was like an advanced computer. Sophie was not certain she agreed. Surely a person was more than a piece of hardware?

  Hilde read on, oblivious of all else, even forgetting that it was her birthday. From time to time a brief thought crept in between the lines as she read: Had Dad written a book? Had he finally begun on the significant novel and completed it in Lebanon? He had often complained that time hung heavily on one's hands in that part of the world.

  Sophie's father was far from home, too. She was probably the girl Hilde would be getting to know ……

  Only by conjuring up an intense feeling of one day being dead could she appreciate how terribly good life was…… . Where does the world come from? …… At some point something must have come from nothing. But was that possible? Wasn't that just as impossible as the idea that the world had always existed?

  Hilde read on and on. With surprise, she read about Sophie Amundsen receiving a postcard from Lebanon: "Hilde Moller Knag, c/o Sophie Amundsen, 3 Clover Close……"

  Dear Hilde, Happy 15th birthday. As I'm sure you'll understand, I want to give you a present that will help you grow. Forgive me for sending the card c/o Sophie. It was the easiest way. Love from Dad.

  The joker! Hilde knew her father had always been a sly one, but today he had really taken her by surprise! Instead of tying the card on the package, he had written it into the book

  But poor Sophie! She must have been totally confused!

  Why would a father send a birthday card to Sophie's address when it was quite obviously intended to go somewhere else? What kind of father would cheat his own daughter of a birthday card by purposely sending it astray? How could it be "the easiest way"? And above all, how was she supposed to trace this Hilde person?

  No, how could she?

  Hilde turned a couple of pages and began to read the second chapter, "The Top Hat." She soon came to the long letter which a mysterious person had written to Sophie.

  Being interested in why we are here is not a "casual" interest like collecting stamps. People who ask such questions are taking part in a debate that has gone on as long as man has lived on this planet.

  "Sophie was completely exhausted." So was Hilde. Not only had Dad written a book for her fifteenth birthday, he had written a strange and wonderful book.

  To summarize briefly: A white rabbit is pulled out of a top hat. Because it is an extremely large rabbit, the trick takes many billions of years. All mortals are born at the very tip of the rabbit's fine hairs, where they are in a position to wonder at the impossibility of the trick. But as they grow older they work themselves ever deeper into the fur. And there they stay . . .

  Sophie was not the only one who felt she had been on the point of finding herself a comfortable place deep down in the rabbit's fur. Today was Hilde's fifteenth birthday, and she had the feeling it was time to decide which way she would choose to crawl.

  She read about the Greek natural philosophers. Hilde knew that her father was interested in philosophy. He had written an article in the newspaper proposing that philosophy should be a regular school subject. It was called "Why should philosophy be part of the school curriculum?" He had even raised the issue at a PTA meeting in Hilde's class. Hilde had found it acutely em-barrassing.

  She looked at the clock. It was seven-thirty. It would probably be half an hour before her mother came up with the breakfast tray, thank goodness, because right now she was engrossed in Sophie and all the philosophical questions. She read the chapter called "Democritus." First of all, Sophie got a question to think about: Why is Lego the most ingenious toy in the world? Then she found a large brown envelope in the mailbox:

  Democritus agreed with his predecessors that transformations in nature could not be due to the fact that anything actually "changed." He therefore assumed that everything was built up of tiny invisible blocks, each of which was eternal and immutable. Democritus called these smallest units atoms.

  Hilde was indignant when Sophie found the red silk scarf under her bed. So that was where it was! But how could a scarf just disappear into a story? It had to be someplace……

  The chapter on Socrates began with Sophie reading "something about the Norwegian UN battalion in Lebanon" in the newspaper. Typical Dad! He was so concerned that people in Norway were not interested enough in the UN forces' peacekeeping task. If nobody else was, then Sophie would have to be. In that way he could write it into his story and get some sort of attention from the media.

  She had to smile as she read the P.P.S. in the philosophy teacher's letter to Sophie:

  If you should come across a red silk scarf anywhere, please take care of it. Sometimes personal property gets mixed up. Especially at school and places like that, and this is a philosophy school.

  Hilde heard her mother's footsteps on the stairs. Before she knocked on the door, Hilde had begun to read about Sophie's discovery of the video of Athens in her secret den.

  "Happy birthday ……" Her mother had begun to sing halfway up the stairs.

  "Come in," said Hilde, in the middle of the passage where the philosophy teacher was talking directly to Sophie from the Acropolis. He looked almost exactly like Hilde's father——with a "black, well-trimmed beard" and a blue beret.

  "Happy birthday, Hilde!"

  "Uh-huh."

  "Hilde?"

  "Just put it there."

  "Aren't you going to …… ?" "You can see I'm reading."

  "Imagine, you're fifteen!"

  "Have you ever been to Athens, Mom?"

  "No, why do you ask?"

  "It's so amazing that those old temples are still standing. They are actually 2,500 years old. The biggest one is called the Virgin's Place, by the way."

  "Have you opened your present from Dad?"

  "What present?"

  "You must look up now, Hilde. You're in a complete daze."

  Hilde let the large ring binder slide down onto her lap.

  Her mother stood leaning over the bed with the tray. On it were lighted candles, buttered rolls with shrimp salad, and a soda. There was also a small package. Her mother stood awkwardly holding the tray with both hands, with a flag under one arm.

  "Oh, thanks a lot, Mom. It's sweet of you, but I'm really busy."

  "You don't have to go to school till one o'clock."

  Not until now did Hilde remember where she was, and her mother put the tray down on the bedside table.

  "Sorry, Mom. I was completely absorbed in this."

  "What is it he has written, Hilde? I've been just as mystified as you. It's been impossible to get a sensible word out of him for months."

  For some reason Hilde felt embarrassed. "Oh, it's just a story."

  "A story?"

  "Yes, a story. And a history of philosophy. Or something like that."

  "Aren't you going to open the package from me?"

  Hilde didn't want to be unfair, so she opened her mother's present right away. It was a gold bracelet.

  "It's lovely, Mom! Thank you very much!"

  Hilde got out of bed and gave her mother a hug.

  They sat talking for a while.

  Then Hilde said, "I have to get back to the book, Mom. Right now he's standing on top of the Acropolis."

  "Who is?"

  "I've no idea. Neither has Sophie. That's the whole point."

  "Well, I have to get to work. Don't forget to eat something. Your dress is on a hanger downstairs."

  Finally her mother disappeared down the stairs. So did Sophie's philosophy teacher; he walked down the steps from the Acropolis and stood on the Areopagos rock before appearing a little later in the old square of Athens.

  Hilde shivered when the old buildings suddenly rose from the ruins. One of her father's pet ideas had been to let all the United Nations countries collaborate in reconstructing an exact copy of the Athenian square. It would be the forum for philosophical discussion and also for disarmament talks. He felt that a giant project like that would forge world unity. "We have, after all, succeeded in building oil rigs and moon rockets."

  Then she read about Plato. "The soul yearns to fly home on the wings of love to the world of ideas. It longs to be freed from the chains of the body ……"

  Sophie had crawled through the hedge and followed Hermes, but the dog had escaped her. After having read about Plato, she had gone farther into the woods and come upon the red cabin by the little lake. Inside hung a painting of Bjerkely. From the description it was clearly meant to be Hilde's Bjerkely. But there was also a portrait of a man named Berkeley. "How odd!"

  Hilde laid the heavy ring binder aside on the bed and went over to her bookshelf and looked him up in the three-volume encyclopedia she had been given on her fourteenth birthday. Here he was——Berkeley!

  Berkeley, George, 1685-1753, Eng. Philos., Bishop of Cloyne. Denied existence of a material world beyond the human mind. Our sense perceptions proceed from God. Main work: A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).

  Yes, it was decidedly odd. Hilde stood thinking for a few seconds before going back to bed and the ring binder.

  In one way, it was her father who had hung the two pictures on the wall. Could there be any connection other than the similarity of names?

  Berkeley was a philosopher who denied the existence of a material world beyond the human mind. That was certainly very strange, one had to admit. But it was not easy to disprove such claims, either. As regards Sophie, it fitted very well. After all, Hilde's father was respon-sible for her "sense perceptions."

  Well, she would know more if she read on. Hilde looked up from the ring binder and smiled when se got to the point where Sophie discovers the reflection of a girl who winks with both eyes. "The other girl had winked at Sophie as if to say: I can see you, Sophie. I am here, on the other side."

  Sophie finds the green wallet in the cabin as well—— with the money and everything! How could it have made its way there?

  Absurd! For a second or two Hilde had really believed that Sophie had found it. But then she tried to imagine how the whole thing must appear to Sophie. It must all seem quite inscrutable and uncanny.

  For the first time Hilde felt a strong desire to meet Sophie face to face. She felt like telling her the real truth about the whole business.

  But now Sophie had to get out of the cabin before she was caught red-handed. The boat was adrift on the lake, of course. (Her father couldn't resist reminding her of that old story, could he!)

  Hilde gulped a mouthful of soda and took a bite of her roll while she read the letter about the "meticulous" Aristotle, who had criticized Plato's theories.

  Aristotle pointed out that nothing exists in consciousness that has not first been experienced by the senses. Plato would have said that there is nothing in the natural world that has not first existed in the world of ideas. Aristotle held that Plato was thus "doubling the number of things."

  Hilde had not known that it was Aristotle who had invented the game of "animal, vegetable, or mineral."

  Aristotle wanted to do a thorough clearing up in nature's "room." He tried to show that everything in nature belongs to different categories and subcategories.

  When she read about Aristotle's view of women she was both irritated and disappointed. Imagine being such a brilliant philosopher and yet such a crass idiot!

  Aristotle had inspired Sophie to clean up her own room. And there, together with all the other stuff, she found the white stocking which had disappeared from Hilde's closet a month ago! Sophie put all the pages she had gotten from Alberto into a ring binder. "There were in all over fifty pages." For her own part, Hilde had gotten up to page 124, but then she also had Sophie's story on top of all the correspondence from Alberto Knox.

  The next chapter was called "Hellenism." First of all, Sophie finds a postcard with a picture of a UN jeep. It is stamped UN Battalion, June 15. Another of these "cards" to Hilde that her father had put into the story instead of sending by mail.

  Dear Hilde, I assume you are still celebrating your fifteenth birthday. Or is this the morning after? Anyway, it makes no difference to your present. In a sense, that will last a lifetime. But I'd like to wish you a happy birthday one more time. Perhaps you understand now why I send the cards to Sophie. I am sure she will pass them on to you.

  P.S. Mom said you had lost your wallet. I hereby promise to reimburse you the 150 crowns. You will probably be able to get another school I.D. before they close for the summer vacation. Love from Dad.

  Not bad! That made her 150 crowns richer. He probably thought a homemade present alone wasn't enough.

  So it appeared that June 15 was Sophie's birthday, too. But Sophie's calendar had only gotten as far as the middle of May. That must have been when her father had written this chapter, and he had postdated the "birthday card" to Hilde. But poor Sophie, running down to the supermarket to meet Joanna.

  Who was Hilde? How could her father as good as take it for granted that Sophie would find her? In any case, it was senseless of him to send Sophie the cards instead of sending them directly to his daughter.

  Hilde, like Sophie, was elevated to the celestial spheres as she read about Plotinus.

  I believe there is something of the divine mystery in everything that exists. We can see it sparkle in a sunflower or a poppy. We sense more of the unfathomable mystery in a butterfly that flutters from a twig—— or in a goldfish swimming in a bowl. But we are closest to God in our own soul. Only there can we become one with the greatest mystery of life. In truth, at very rare moments we can experience that we ourselves ae that divine mystery.

  This was the most giddying passage Hilde had read up to now. But it was nevertheless the simplest. Everything is one, and this "one" is a divine mystery that everyone shares.

  This was not really something you needed to believe. It is so, thought Hilde. So everyone can read what they like into the word "divine."

  She turned quickly to the next chapter. Sophie and Joanna go camping the night before the national holiday on May 17. They make their way to the major's cabin……

  Hilde had not read many pages before she flung the bedclothes angrily aside, got up, and began to walk up and down, clutching the ring binder in her hands.

  This was just about the most impudent trick she had ever heard of. In that little hut in the woods, her father lets these two girls find copies of all the cards he had sent Hilde in the first two weeks of May. And the copies were real enough. Hilde had read the very same words over and over. She recognized every single word.

  Dear Hilde, I am now so bursting with all these secrets for your birthday that I have to stop myself several times a day from calling home and blowing the whole thing. It is something that simply grows and grows. And as you know, when a thing gets bigger and bigger it's more difficult to keep it to yourself. . .

  Sophie gets a new lesson from Alberto. It's all about Jews and Greeks and the two great cultures. Hilde liked getting this wide bird's-eye view of history. She had never learned anything like it at school. They only gave you details and more details. She now saw Jesus and Christianity in a completely new light.

  She liked the quote from Goethe: "He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth."

  The next chapter began with a piece of card which sticks to Sophie's kitchen window. It is a new birthday card for Hilde, of course.

  Dear Hilde, I don't know whether it will still be your birthday when you read this card. I hope so, in a way; or at least that not too many days have gone by. A week or two for Sophie does not have to mean just as long for us. I shall be coming home for Midsummer Eve, so we can sit together for hours in the glider, looking out over the sea, Hilde. We have so much to talk about. . .

  Then Alberto calls Sophie, and this is the first time she hears his voice.

  "You make it sound like a war."

  "I would rather call it a battle of wills. We have to attract Hilde's attention and get her over on our side before her father comes home to Lillesand."

  And then Sophie meets Alberto Knox disguised as a medieval monk in the twelfth-century stone church.

  Oh, no, the church! Hilde looked at the time. A quarter past one …… She had forgotten all about the time.

  Maybe it wouldn't matter so much that she cut school on her birthday. But it did mean that her classmates wouldn't be celebrating with her. Oh well, she had always had plenty of well-wishers.

  Soon she found herself receiving a long sermon. Alberto had no problem slipping into the role of a medieval priest.

  When she read about how Sophia had appeared to Hildegard in visions, she turned once again to her encyclopedia. But this time she found nothing about either of them. Wasn't that typical! As soon as it was a question of women or something to do with women, the en-cyclopedia was about as informative as a moon crater. Was the whole work censored by the Society for the Protection of Men?

  Hildegard of Bingen was a preacher, a writer, a doctor, a botanist, and a biologist. She was "perhaps an example of the fact that women were often more practical, more scientific even, in the Middle Ages."

  But there was not a single word about her in the encyclopedia. How scandalous!

  Hilde had never heard that God had a "female side" or a "mother nature." Her name was Sophia, apparently——but she was apparently not worth printer's ink, either.

  The nearest she could find in the encyclopedia was an entry about the Santa Sophia Church in Constantinople (now Istanbul), named Hagia Sophia, which means Sacred Wisdom. But there was nothing about it being female. That was censrship, wasn't it?

  Otherwise, it was true enough that Sophie had revealed herself to Hilde. She was picturing the girl with the straight hair all the time ……

  When Sophie gets home after spending most of the morning in St. Mary's Church, she stands in front of the brass mirror she took home from the cabin in the woods.

  She studied the sharp contours of her own pale face framed by that impossible hair which defied any style but nature's own. But beyond that face was the apparition of another girl.

  Suddenly the other girl began to wink frantically with both eyes, as if to signal that she was really in there on the other side. The apparition lasted only a few seconds. Then she was gone.

  How many times had Hilde stood in front of the mirror like that as if she was searching for someone else behind the glass? But how could her father have known that?

  Wasn't it also a dark-haired woman she had been searching for? Great-grandmother had bought it from a Gypsy woman, hadn't she? Hilde felt her hands shaking as they held the book. She had the feeling that Sophie really existed somewhere "on the other side."

  Now Sophie is dreaming about Hilde and Bjerkely. Hilde can neither see nor hear her, but then——Sophie finds Hilde's gold crucifix on the dock. And the crucifix——with Hilde's initials and everything——is in Sophie's bed when she wakes after her dream!

  Hilde forced herself to think hard. Surely she hadn't lost her crucifix as well? She went to her dresser and took out her jewelry case. The crucifix, which she had received as a christening gift from her grandmother, was not there!

  So she really had lost it. All right, but how had her father known it when she didn't even know it herself?

  And another thing: Sophie had apparently dreamed that Hilde's father came home from Lebanon. But there was still a week to go before that happened. Was Sophie's dream prophetic? Did her father mean that when he came home Sophie would somehow be there? He had written that she would get a new friend ……

  In a momentary vision of absolute clarity Hilde knew that Sophie was more than just paper and ink. She really existed.

  The Enlightenent

  ……from the way needles are made to the way cannons are founded…

  Hilde had just begun the chapter on the Renaissance when she heard her mother come in the front door. She looked at the clock. It was four in the afternoon.

  Her mother ran upstairs and opened Hilde's door.

  "Didn't you go to the church?"

  "Yes, I did."

  "But…… what did you wear?"

  "What I'm wearing now."

  "Your nightgown?"

  "It's an old stone church from the Middle Ages."

  "Hilde!"

  She let the ring binder fall into her lap and looked up at her mother.

  "I forgot the time, Mom. I'm sorry, but I'm reading something terribly exciting."

  Her mother could not help smiling.

  "It's a magic book," added Hilde.

  "Okay. Happy birthday once again, Hilde!"

  "Hey, I don't know if I can take that phrase any more."

  "But I haven't…… I'm just going to rest for a while, then I'll start fixing a great dinner. I managed to get hold of some strawberries."

  "Okay, I'll go on reading."

  Her mother left and Hilde read on.

  Sophie is following Hermes through the town. In Alberto's hall she finds another card from Lebanon. This, too, is dated June 15.

  Hilde was just beginning to understand the system of the dates. The cards dated before June 15 are copies of cards Hilde had already received from her dad. But those with today's date are reaching her for the first time via the ring binder.

  Dear Hilde, Now Sophie is coming to the philosopher's house. She will soon be fifteen, but you were fifteen yesterday. Or is it today, Hilde? If it is today, it must be late, then. But our watches do not always agree . . .

  Hilde read how Alberto told Sophie about the Renaissance and the new science, the seventeenth-century rationalists and British empiricism.

  She jumped at every new card and birthday greeting that her father had stuck into the story. He got them to fall out of an exercise book, turn up inside a banana skin, and hide inside a computer program. Without the slghtest effort, he could get Alberto to make a slip of the tongue and call Sophie Hilde. On top of everything else, he got Hermes to say "Happy birthday, Hilde!"

  Hilde agreed with Alberto that he was going a bit too far, comparing himself with God and Providence. But whom was she actually agreeing with? Wasn't it her father who put those reproachful——or self-reproachful——words in Alberto's mouth? She decided that the comparison with God was not so crazy after all. Her father really was like an almighty God for Sophie's world.

  When Alberto got to Berkeley, Hilde was at least as enthralled as Sophie had been. What would happen now? There had been all kinds of hints that something special was going to happen as soon as they got to that philosopher——who had denied the existence of a material world outside human consciousness.

  The chapter begins with Alberto and Sophie standing at the window, seeing the little plane with the long Happy Birthday streamer waving behind it. At the same time dark clouds begin to gather over the town.

  "So 'to be or not to be' is not the whole question. The question is also who we are. Are we really human beings of flesh and blood? Does our world consist of real things——or are we encircled by the mind?"

  Not so surprising that Sophie starts biting her nails. Nail-biting had never been one of Hilde's bad habits but she didn't feel particularly pleased with herself right now. Then finally it was all out in the open: "For us—— for you and me——this 'will or spirit' that is the 'cause of everything in everything' could be Hilde's father."

  "Are you saying he's been a kind of God for us?" "To   be   perfectly  candid, yes.He  should   be ashamed of himself!" "What about Hilde herself?" "She is an angel, Sophie." "An angel?" "Hilde is the one this 'spirit' turns to."

  With that, Sophie tears herself away from Alberto and runs out into the storm. Could it be the same storm that raged over Bjerkely last night——a few hours after Sophie ran through the town?

  As she ran, one thought kept going round and round in her mind: "Tomorrow is my birthday*. Isn't it extra bitter to realize that life is only a dream on the day before your fifteenth birthday? It's like dreaming you won a million and then just as you're getting the money you wake up."

  Sophie ran across the squelching playing field. Minutes later she saw someone come running toward her. It was her mother. The sky was pierced again and again by angry darts of lightning.

  When they reached each other Sophie's mother put her arm around her.

  "What's happening to us, little one?"

  "I don't know," Sophie sobbed. "It's like a bad dream."

  Hilde felt the tears start. "To be or not to be——that is the question." She threw the ring binder to the end of the bed and stood up. She walked back and forth across the floor. At last she stopped in front of the brass mirror, where she remained until her mother came to say dinner was ready. When Hilde heard the knock on the door, she had no idea how long she had been standing there.

  But she was sure, she was perfectly sure, that her reflection had winked with both eyes.

  She tried to be the grateful birthday girl all through dinner. But her thoughts were with Sophie and Alberto all the time.

  How would things go for them now that they knew it was Hilda's father who decided everything? Although "knew" was perhaps an exaggeration. It was nonsense to think they knew anything at all. Wasn't it only her father who let them know things?

  Still, the problem was the same however you looked at it. As soon as Sophie and Alberto "knew" how everything hung together, they were in a way at the end of the road.

  She almost choked on a mouthful of food as she suddenly realized that the same problem possibly applied to her own world too. People had progressed steadily in their understanding of natural laws. Could history simply continue to all eternity once the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle of philosophy and science had fallen into place? Wasn't there a connection between the development of ideas and science on the one hand, and thegreenhouse effect and deforestation on the other? Maybe it was not so crazy to call man's thirst for knowledge a fall from grace?

  The question was so huge and so terrifying that Hilde tried to forget it again. She would probably understand much more as she read further in her father's birthday book.

  "Happy birthday to you ……," sang her mother when they were done with their ice cream and Italian strawberries. "Now we'll do whatever you choose."

  "I know it sounds a bit crazy, but all I want to do is read my present from Dad."

  "Well, as long as he doesn't make you completely delirious."

  "No way."

  "We could share a pizza while we watch that mystery on TV."

  "Yes, if you like."

  Hilde suddenly thought of the way Sophie spoke to her mother. Dad had hopefully not written any of Hilde's mother into the character of the other mother? Just to make sure, she decided not to mention the white rabbit being pulled out of the top hat. Not today, at least.

  "By the way," she said as she was leaving the table.

  "What?"

  "I can't find my gold crucifix anywhere."

  Her mother looked at her with an enigmatic expression.

  "I found it down by the dock weeks ago. You must have dropped it, you untidy scamp."

  "Did you mention it to Dad?"

  "Let me think …… yes, I believe I may have."

  "Where is it then?"

  Her mother got up and went to get her own jewelry case. Hilde heard a little cry of surprise from the bedroom. She came quickly back into the living room.

  "Right now I can't seem to find it."

  "I thought as much."

  She gave her mother a hug and ran upstairs to her room. At last——now she could read on about Sophie and Alberto. She sat up on the bed as before with the heavy ring binder resting against her knees and began the next chapter.

  Sophie woke up the next morning when her mother came into the room carrying a tray loaded with birthday presents. She had stuck a flag in an empty soda bottle.

  "Happy birthday, Sophie!"

  Sophie rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She tried to remember what had happened the night before. But it was all like jumbled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. One of the pieces was Alberto, another was Hilde and the major. A third was Berkeley, a fourth Bjerkely. The blackest piece of all was the violent storm. She had practically been in shock. Her mother had rubbed her dry with a towel and simply put her to bed with a cup of hot milk and honey. She had fallen asleep immediately.

  "I think I'm still alive," she said weakly.

  "Of course you're alive! And today you are fifteen years old."

  "Are you quite sure?"

  "Quite sure. Shouldn't a mother know when her only child was born? June 15, 1975 …… and half-past one, Sophie. It was the happiest moment of my life."

  "Are you sure it isn't all only a dream?"

  "It must be a good dream to wake up to rolls and soda and birthday presents."

  She put the tray of presents on a chair and disappeared out of the room for a second. When she came back she was carrying another tray with rolls and soda. She put it on the end of the bed.

  It was the signal for the traditional birthday morning ritual, with the unpacking of presents and her mother's sentimental flights back to her first contractions fifteen years ago. Her mother's present was a tennis racket. Sophie had never played tennis, but there were some open-air courts a few minutes from Clover Close. Her father had sent her a mini-TV and FM radio. The screen was no bigger than an ordinary photograph. There were also presents from old aunts and friends of the family.

  Presently her mother said, "Do you think I should stay home from work today?"

  "No, why should you?"

  "You were very upset yesterday. If it goes on, I think we should make an appointment to see a psychiatrist."

  "That won't be necessary."

  "Was it the storm——or was it Alberto?"

  "What about you? You said: What's happening to us, little one?"

  "I was thinking of you running around town to meet some mysterious person …… Maybe it's my fault." "It's not anybody's 'fault' that I'm taking a course in philosophy in my leisure time. Just go to work. School doesn't start till ten, ande're only getting our grades and sitting around."

  "Do you know what you're going to get?" "More than I got last semester at any rate."

  Not long after her mother had gone the telephone rang.

  "Sophie Amundsen."

  "This is Alberto."

  "Ah."

  "The major didn't spare any ammunition last night."

  "What do you mean."

  "The thunderstorm, Sophie."

  "I don't know what to think."

  "That is the finest virtue a genuine philosopher can have. I am proud of how much you have learned in such a short time."

  "I am scared that nothing is real."

  "That's called existential angst, or dread, and is as a rule only a stage on the way to new consciousness."

  "I think I need a break from the course."

  "Are there that many frogs in the garden at the moment?"

  Sophie started to laugh. Alberto continued: "I think it would be better to persevere. Happy birthday, by the way. We must complete the course by Midsummer Eve. It's our last chance."

  "Our last chance for what?"

  "Are you sitting comfortably? We're going to have to spend some time on this, you understand."

  "I'm sitting down."

  "You remember Descartes?"

  "I think, therefore I am?"

  "With regard to our own methodical doubt, we are right now starting from scratch. We don't even know whether we think. It may turn out that we are thoughts, and that is quite different from thinking. We have good reason to believe that we have merely been invented by Hilde's father as a kind of birthday diversion for the major's daughter from Lillesand. Do you see?"

  "Yes . . ."

  "But therein also lies a built-in contradiction. If we are fictive, we have no right to 'believe' anything at all. In which case this whole telephone conversation is purely imaginary."

  "And we haven't the tiniest bit of free will because it's the major who plans everything we say and do. So we can just as well hang up now."

  "No, now you're oversimplifying things."

  "Explain it, then."

  "Would you claim that people plan everything they dream? It may be that Hilde's father knows everything we do. It may be just as difficult to escape his omniscience as it is to run away from your own shadow. However—— and this is where I have begun to devise a plan——it is not certain that the major has already decided on everything that is to happen. He may not decide before the very last minute——that is to say, in the moment of creation. Precisely at such moments we may possibly have an initiative of our own which guides what we say and do. Such an initiative would naturally constitute extremely weak impulses compared to the major's heavy artillery. We are very likely defenseless against intrusive external forces such as talking dogs, messages in bananas, and thunderstorms booked in advance. But we cannot rule out our stubbornness, however weak it may be."

  "How could that be possible?"

  "The major naturally knows everything about our little world, but that doesn't mean he is all powerful. At any rate we must try to live as if he is not."

  "I think I see where you're going with this."

  "The trick would be if we could manage to do something all on our own——something the major would not be able to discover."

  "How can we do that if we don't even exist?"

  "Who said we don't exist? The question is not whether we are, but what we are and who we are. Even if it turns out that we are merely impulses in the major's dual personality, that need not take our little bit of existence away from us."

  "Or our free will?"

  "I'm working on it, Sophie."

  "But Hilde's father must be fully aware that you are working on it."

  "Decidedly so. But he doesn't know what the actual plan is. I am attempting to find an Archimedian point."

  "An Archimedian point?"

  "Archimedes was a Greek scientist who said 'Give me a firm point on which to stand and I will move the earth.' That's the kind of point we must find to move ourselves out of the major's inner universe."

  "That would be quite a feat."

  "But we won't manage to slip away before we have finished the philosophy course. While that lasts he has much too firm a grip on us. He has clearly decided that I am to guide you through th centuries right up to our own time. But we only have a few days left before he boards a plane somewhere down in the Middle East. If we haven't succeeded in detaching ourselves from his gluey imagination before he arrives at Bjerkely, we are done for."

  "You're frightening me!"

  "First of all I shall give you the most important facts about the French Enlightenment. Then we shall take the main outline of Kant's philosophy so that we can get to Romanticism. Hegel will also be a significant part of the picture for us. And in talking about him we will unavoidably touch on Kierkegaard's indignant clash with Hegelian philosophy. We shall briefly talk about Marx, Darwin, and Freud. And if we can manage a few closing comments on Sartre and Existentialism, our plan can be put into operation."

  "That's an awful lot for one week."

  "That's why we must begin at once. Can you come over right away?"

  "I have to go to school. We are having a class get-together and then we get our grades."

  "Drop it. If we are only fictive, it's pure imagination that candy and soda have any taste."

  "But my grades ……"

  "Sophie, either you are living in a wondrous universe on a tiny planet in one of many hundred billion galaxies—— or else you are the result of a few electromagnetic impulses in the major's mind. And you are talking about grades! You ought to be ashamed of yourself!"

  "I'm sorry."

  "But you'd better go to school before we meet. It might have a bad influence on Hilde if you cut your last school-day. She probably goes to school even on her birthday. She is an angel, you know."

  "So I'll come straight from school."

  "We can meet at the major's cabin."

  "The major's cabin?"

  …… Click!

  Hilde let the ring binder slide into her lap. Her father had given her conscience a dig there——she did cut her last day at school. How sneaky of him!

  She sat for a while wondering what the plan was that Alberto was devising. Should she sneak a look at the last page? No, that would be cheating. She'd better hurry up and read it to the end.

  But she was convinced Alberto was right on one important point. One thing was that her father had an overview of what was going to happen to Sophie and Alberto. But while he was writing, he probably didn't know everything that would happen. He might dash off something in a great hurry, something he might not notice till long after he had written it. In a situation like that Sophie and Alberto would have a certain amount of leeway.

  Once again Hilde had an almost transfiguring conviction that Sophie and Alberto really existed. Still waters run deep, she thought to herself.

  Why did that idea come to her?

  It was certainly not a thought that rippled the surface.

  At school, Sophie received lots of attention because it was her birthday. Her classmates were already keyed up by thoughts of summer vacation, and grades, and the sodas on the last day of school. The minute the teacher dismissed the class with her best wishes for the vacation, Sophie ran home. Joanna tried to slow her down but Sophie called over her shoulder that there was something she just had to do.

  In the mailbox she found two cards from Lebanon. They were both birthday cards: HAPPY BIRTHDAY——15 YEARS. One of them was to "Hilde M0ller Knag, c/o Sophie Amundsen . . ." But the other one was to Sophie herself. Both cards were stamped "UN Battalion——June 15."

  Sophie read her own card first:

  Dear Sophie Amundsen, Today you are getting a card as well. Happy birthday, Sophie, and many thanks for everything you have done for Hilde. Best regards, Major Albert Knag.

  Sophie was not sure how to react, now that Hilde's father had finally written to her too. Hilde's card read:

  Dear Hilde, I have no idea what day or time it is in Lillesand. But, as I said, it doesn't make much difference. If I know you, I am not too late for a last, or next to last, greeting from down here. But don't stay up too late! Alberto will soon be telling you about the French Enlightenment. He will concentrate on seven points. They are:

  1. Opposition to authority

  2. Rationalism

  3. The enlightenent movement

  4. Cultural optimism

  5. The return to nature

  6. Natural religion

  7. Human rights

  The major was obviously still keeping his eye on them.

  Sophie let herself in and put her report card with all the A's on the kitchen table. Then she slipped through the hedge and ran into the woods.

  Soon she was once again rowing across the little lake.

  Alberto was sitting on the doorstep when she got to the cabin. He invited her to sit beside him. The weather was fine although a slight mist of damp raw air was coming off the lake. It was as though it had not quite recovered from the storm.

  "Let's get going right away," said Alberto.

  "After Hume, the next great philosopher was the German, Immanuel Kant. But France also had many important thinkers in the eighteenth century. We could say that the philosophical center of gravity h. Europe in the eighteenth century was in England in the first half, in France in the middle, and in Germany toward the end of it."

  "A shift from west to east, in other words."

  "Precisely. Let me outline some of the ideas that many of the French Enlightenment philosophers had in common. The important names are Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau, but there were many, many others. I shall concentrate on seven points."

  "Thanks, that I am painfully aware of."

  Sophie handed him the card from Hilde's father. Alberto sighed deeply. "He could have saved himself the trouble …… the first key words, then, are opposition to authority. Many of the French Enlightenment philosophers visited England, which was in many ways more liberal than their home country, and were intrigued by the English natural sciences, especially Newton and his universal physics. But they were also inspired by British philosophy, in particular by Locke and his political philos-ophy. Once back in France, they became increasingly opposed to the old authority. They thought it was essential to remain skeptical of all inherited truths, the idea being that the individual must find his own answer to every question. The tradition of Descartes was very inspiring in this respect."

  "Because he was the one who built everything up from the ground."

  "Quite so. The opposition to authority was not least directed against the power of the clergy, the king, and the nobility. During the eighteenth century, these institu-tions had far more power in France than they had in England."

  "Then came the French Revolution."

  "Yes, in 1789. But the revolutionary ideas arose much earlier. The next key word is rationalism."

  "I thought rationalism went out with Hume."

  "Hume himself did not die until 1776. That was about twenty years after Montesquieu and only two years before Voltaire and Rousseau, who both died in 1778. But all three had been to England and were familiar with the philosophy of Locke. You may recall that Locke was not consistent in his empiricism. He believed, for example, that faith in God and certain moral norms were inherent in human reason. This idea is also the core of the French Enlightenment."

  "You also said that the French have always been more rational than the British."

  "Yes, a difference that goes right back to the Middle Ages. When the British speak of 'common sense,' the French usually speak of 'evident.' The English expression means 'what everybody knows,' the French means 'what is obvious'——to one's reason, that is."

  "I see."

  "Like the humanists of antiquity——such as Socrates and the Stoics——most of the Enlightenment philosophers had an unshakable faith in human reason. This was so characteristic that the French Enlightenment is often called the Age of Reason. The new natural sciences had revealed that nature was subject to reason. Now the Enlightenment philosophers saw it as their duty to lay a foundation for morals, religion, and ethics in accordance with man's immutable reason. This led to the enlightenment movement."

  "The third point."

  "Now was the time to start 'enlightening' the masses. This was to be the basis for a better society. People thought that poverty and oppression were the fault of ig-norance and supertition. Great attention was therefore focused on the education of children and of the people. It is no accident that the science of pedagogy was founded during the Enlightenment."

  "So schools date from the Middle Ages, and pedagogy from the Enlightenment."

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