§7. The Method of Authority

59. When society is broken into bands, now warring, now allied, now for a time subordinated one to another, man loses his conceptions of truth and of reason. If he sees one man assert what another denies, he will, if he is concerned, choose his side and set to work by all means in his power to silence his adversaries. The truth for him is that for which he fights.

60. The next step which is to be expected in a logical development not interrupted by accidental occurrences will consist in the recognition that a central authority ought to determine the beliefs of the entire community. As far as morals and religion go, this plan admirably fulfills its purpose of producing uniformity. But in order that it may do this, it is desirable that there should be another less absolute authority which shall declare, not infallibly but yet with a weight of collective learning, the propositions which science from time to time puts out of reasonable doubt, and which shall aid the researches of competent investigators. The value of such services in the development of science is immense; though they are accompanied by very serious disadvantages in not allowing to unofficial studies the weight which ought to be accorded to them. The history of science is full of examples of this sort.

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