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Thomas Reid on Rational Induction and Empiricism


Although some conjectures may have a considerable degree of probability, yet it is evidently in the nature of conjecture to be uncertain. In every case, the assent ought to be proportioned to the evidence; for to believe firmly what has but a small degree of probability is a manifest abuse of our understanding. Now, though we may, in many cases, form very probable conjectures concerning the works of men, every conjecture we can form with regard to the works of God has as little probability as the conjectures of a child with regard to the works of a man. The wisdom of God exceeds that of the wisest man, more than that of the wisest man exceeds the wisdom of a child. If a child were to conjecture how an army is to be formed in the day of battle, how a city is to be fortified, or a state governed, what chance has he to guess right? As little chance has the wisest man, when he pretends to conjecture how the planets move in their courses, how the sea ebbs and flows, and how our minds act upon our bodies …