Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/243

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221
DISCIPLES OF DESCARTES.

cellency and set up some cat's music there. I was expelled as a ringleader; Meyer slipped through with a whole head; so I was a martyr for a doctrine which, as I saw later, Regius himself did not rightly understand. I wandered about Holland and stayed for some months with Descartes himself. I know nearly every sentence of his doctrine, but I never could acquire the penetrative contemplativeness necessary to follow this germ through all its trellis work of development to the lattice of mathematical certainty."

"It is often so with me too," said Meyer; "I returned from my philosophical pilgrimage, on which I would conquer the Holy Sepulchre, wrong-side up, or, as our proverb says, 'feet foremost.'"

"Oldenburg has described the struggle better as one for contemplative power," replied Spinoza. "Look around; here, there and everywhere you see illusion and error. What assurance have you that all you see, all you know by experience, and feel in your heart is aught else than illusion and deception? What is so firmly and deeply founded that it cannot be torn up by doubts? So you close your eyes, cut loose from all your surroundings, and then, thus isolated, the whole visible world is cast into nonentity; you yourself perhaps a nonentity too? How do you know that you really exist? Here you are at the end of doubt, and here a still, small voice cries to you, 'I, I am, for I think, I