Dialogue on the Threshold

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Saturday, 7 August 2010

De Nihilo

As Nothing is not Something, so every thing which is not Something, is Nothing; and wherever Something is not, Nothing is (...) For instance; when a Bladder is full of Wind, it is full of Something; but when that is let out, we aptly say, there is Nothing in it. The same may be as justly asserted of a Man as of a Bladder. However well he may be bedaubed with Lace, or with Title, yet if he have not Something in him, we may predicate the same of him as of an empty Bladder. (...) Indeed some have imagined, that Knowledge, with the adjective human placed before it, is another word for Nothing. And one of the wisest Men in the world declared, he knew Nothing. But without carrying it so far, this I believe may be allowed: it is at least possible for a Man to know Nothing. And whoever hath read over many Works of our ingenious Moderns, with proper Attention and Emolument, will, I believe, confess, that if he understands them right, he understands Nothing.

Henry Fielding, "An Essay on Nothing", Miscellanies, Vol. 3 (London, 1743)

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