Eliphas Levy

QUESTION. What is truth?
ANSWER. Idea identical with being. {101}<<WEH NOTE: Obvious error: confusion of map with territory.>>

Q. What is reality?
A. Knowledge identical with being.

Q. What is reason?
A. The Word identical with being.

Q. What is justice?
A. The motive of acts identical with being.

Q. What is the absolute?
A. Being.

Q. Can one conceive anything superior to being?
A. No; but one conceives in being itself something supereminent and transcendental.

Q. What is that?
A. The supreme reason of being.

Q. Do you know it, and can you define it?
A. Faith alone affirms it, and names it God.

Q. Is there anything above truth?
A. Above known truth, there is unknown truth.

Q. How can one construct reasonable hypotheses with regard to this truth?
A. By analogy and proportion.

Q. How can one define it?
A. By the symbols of faith.

Q. Can one say of reality the same thing as of truth?
A. Exactly the same thing.

Q. Is there anything above reason?
A. Above finite reason, there is infinite reason.

Q. What is infinite reason?
A. It is that supreme reason of being that faith calls God.<<WEH NOTE: This is the characteristic phrase of the philosophy of 18th century enlightenment: "God is Reason" --- also the characteristic error. 19th century philosophy continued this into Determinism and the now discredited concept of "Natural Law".>>

Q. Is there anything above justice? {102}
A. Yes; according to faith, there is the Providence of God, and the sacrifice of man.

Q. What is this sacrifice?
A. It is the willing and spontaneous surrender of right.

Q. Is this sacrifice reasonable?
A. No; it is a kind of folly greater than reason, for reason is forced to admire it.

Q. How does one call a man who acts according to truth, reality, reason and justice?
A. A moral man.

Q. And if he sacrifices his interests to justice?
A. A man of honour.

Q. And if in order to imitate the grandeur and goodness of Providence he does more than his duty, and sacrifices his right to the good of others?
A. A hero.

Q. What is the principle of true heroism?
A. Faith.

Q. What is its support?
A. Hope.

Q. And its rule?
A. Charity.

Q. What is the Good?
A. Order.

Q. What is the Evil?
A. Disorder.

Q. What is permissible pleasure?
A. Enjoyment of order.

Q. What is forbidden pleasure?
A. Enjoyment of disorder. {103}

Q. What are the consequences of each?
A. Moral life and moral death.

Q. Has then hell, with all its horrors, its justification in religious dogma?
A. Yes; it is a rigorous consequence of a principle.

Q. What is this principle?
A. Liberty.

Q. What is liberty?
A. The right to do one's duty, with the possibility of not doing it.

Q. What is failing in one's duty?
A. It involves the loss of one's right. Now, right being eternal, to lose it is to suffer an eternal loss.

Q. Can one repair a fault?
A. Yes; by expiation.

Q. What is expiation?
A. Working overtime. Thus, because I was lazy yesterday, I had to do a double task to-day.

Q. What are we to think of those who impose on themselves voluntary sufferings?
A. If they do so in order to overcome the brutal fascination of pleasure, they are wise; if to suffer instead of others, they are generous; but if they do it without discretion and without measure, they are imprudent.

Q. Thus, in the eyes of true philosophy, religion is wise in all that it ordains?
A. You see that it is so.

Q. But if, after all, we were deceived in our eternal hopes?
A. Faith does not admit that doubt. But philosophy herself should reply that all the pleasures of the earth are not {104} worth one day of wisdom, and that all the triumphs of ambition are not worth a single minute of heroism and of charity.