To the child, Nature gives various means of rectifying any mistakes he may commit respecting the salutary or hurtful qualities of the objects which surround him. On every occasion his judgments are corrected by experience; want and pain are the necessary consequences arising from false judgment; gratification and pleasure are produced by judging aright. Under such masters, we cannot fail to become well informed; and we soon learn to reason justly, when want and pain are the necessary consequences of a contrary conduct.
In the study and practice of the sciences it is quite different; the
false judgments we form neither affect our existence nor our welfare;
and we are not forced by any physical necessity to correct
them. Imagination, on the contrary, which is ever wandering beyond the
bounds of truth, joined to self-love and that self-confidence we are
so apt to indulge, prompt us to draw conclusions which are not
immediately derived from facts…