Marginalia, no.238

He could criticize a theory, but he could not judge a man.

~ Maurice Ashley [of James I], England in the Seventeenth Century

‘Do you consider facts or theories more important?’ I once took a personality test that asked the question. I had this notion at the time that facts were unsubtle, that all the real puzzles worth pondering were on the side of theory. Of course I had it backwards. It’s the relative simplicity of theory that enables us to argue about it. For all the summary descriptions they allow, facts themselves (material objects, physical laws, human individuals) are ultimately imponderable. Facts float on the void.

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