Sunday, March 14, 2010

Epistemology in Moby Dick

After several careful pages of musing on whether the whale's "spoutings are, after all, really water, or nothing but vapor," Ishmael (the narrator) sets off this epistemological explosion on faith and reason:

And so, through all the thick mists of the dim doubts in my mind, divine intuitions now and then shoot, enkindling my fog with a heavenly ray. And for this I thank God; for all have doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye.--Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 85, "The Fountain."

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