Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Samuel Butler

The main feature in their system is the prominence which they give to a study which I can only translate by the word ‘hypothetics.’ They argue thus — that to teach a boy merely the nature of the things which exist in the world around him, and about which he will have to be conversant during his whole life, would be giving him but a narrow and shallow conception of the universe, which it is urged might contain all manner of things which are not now to be found therein. To open his eyes to these possibilities, and so to prepare him for all sorts of emergencies, is the object of this system of hypothetics. To imagine a set of utterly strange and impossible contingencies, and require the youths to give intelligent answers to the questions that arise therefrom, is reckoned the fittest conceivable way of preparing them for the actual conduct of their affairs in after life.


Samuel Butler, describing the residents of the imagined southern hemispheric utopians in his satirical novel, Erewhon, 1872.

By: Redactor

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