It was the general opinion of ancient nations, that the divinity alone was adequate to the important office of giving laws to men... and modern nations, in the consecrations of kings and in several superstitious chimeras of divine rights in princes and nobles, are nearly unanimous in preserving remnants of it... Is the jealousy of power and the envy of superiority, so strong in all men, that no considerations of public or private utility are sufficient to engage their submission to rules for their own happiness? Or is the disposition to imposture so prevalent in men of experience, that their private views of ambition and avarice can be accomplished only by artifice? — … There is nothing in which mankind have been more unanimous; yet nothing can be inferred from it more than this, that the multitude have always been credulous and the few artful. The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature: and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had any interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of heaven, any more than those at work upon ships or houses, or labouring in merchandize or agriculture: it will for ever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. As Copley painted Chatham, West, Wolf and Trumbull, Warren and Montgomery; as Dwight, Barlow, Trumbull and Humphries composed their verse and Belknap and Ramzay history; as Godfrey invented his quadrant and Rittenhouse his planetarium; as Boylston practised inoculation and Franklin electricity; as Paine exposed the mistakes of Raynal and Jefferson those of Buffon, so unphilosophically borrowed from the Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains those despicable dreams of de Pauw — neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than ordinary arts and sciences, only as of more importance. Called without expectation and compelled without previous inclination, though undoubtedly at the best period of time both for England and America, to erect suddenly new systems of laws for their future government, they adopted the method of a wise architect, in erecting a new palace for the residence of his sovereign. They determined to consult Vitruvius, Palladio and all other writers of reputation in the art; to examine the most celebrated buildings, whether they remain entire or in ruins; compare these with the principles of writers; and enquire how far both the theories and models were founded in nature, or created by fancy: and, when this should be done, as far as their circumstances would allow, to adopt the advantages and reject the inconveniences, of all. Unembarrassed by attachments to noble families, hereditary lines and successions, or any considerations of royal blood, even the pious mystery of holy oil had no more influence than that other of holy water: the people universally were too enlightened to be imposed on by artifice; and their leaders, or more properly followers, were men of too much honour to attempt it. Thirteen governments thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favour of the rights of mankind.[Preface to 'A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America', 1787]
John Adams
The problem with a lot of people who read only literary fiction is that they assume fantasy is just books about orcs and goblins and dragons and wizards and bullshit. And to be fair, a lot of fantasy is about that stuff.The problem with people in fantasy is they believe that literary fiction is just stories about a guy drinking tea and staring out the window at the rain while he thinks about his mother. And the truth is a lot of literary fiction is just that. Like, kind of pointless, angsty, emo, masturbatory bullshit.However, we should not be judged by our lowest common denominators. And also you should not fall prey to the fallacious thinking that literary fiction is literary and all other genres are genre. Literary fiction is a genre and I will fight to the death anyone who denies this very self-evident truth.So, is there a lot of fantasy that is raw shit out there? Absolutely, absolutely, it’s popcorn reading at best. But you can’t deny that a lot of lit fic is also shit. 85% of everything in the world is shit. We judge by the best. And there is some truly excellent fantasy out there. For example, Midsummer Night’s Dream; Hamlet with the ghost; Macbeth, ghosts and witches; I’m also fond of the Odyessey; Most of the Pentateuch in the Old Testament, Gargantua and Pantagruel.Honestly, fantasy existed before lit fic and if you deny those roots you’re pruning yourself so closely that you can’t help but wither and die.
Patrick Rothfuss
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and because firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the case against a miracle is—just because it is a miracle—as complete as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined to be. Why is it more than merely probable that all men must die, that lead cannot when not supported remain suspended in the air, that fire consumes wood and is extinguished by water, unless it is that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature and for things to go differently there would have to be a violation of those laws, or in other words a miracle? Nothing is counted as amiracle if it ever happens in the common course of nature. When a man who seems to be in good health suddenly dies, this isn't a miracle; because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet often been observedto happen. But a dead man’s coming to life would be a miracle, because that has never been observed in any age or country. So there must be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, because otherwise the event wouldn't count as a ‘miracle’. And as a uniform experience amounts to a proof, we have here a direct and full proof against the existence of any miracle, just because it’s a miracle; andsuch a proof can’t be destroyed or the miracle made credible except by an opposite proof that is even stronger.This clearly leads us to a general maxim that deserves ofour attention:No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless it is of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact that it tries to establish. And even in that case there is a mutual destruction ofarguments and the stronger one only gives us an assurance suitable to the force that remains to it after the force needed to cancel the other has beensubtracted.
David Hume