Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


The fable of the mountain which, after alarming the whole neighborhood with its outcries in labor, was ridiculed by all present when it became delivered of a mouse, is at once ancient and universal. The company, however, who thus gave way to ridicule were not a company of philosophers. Those who mocked should in reality have admired. A mountain’s being delivered of a mouse was an event as extraordinary, and as worthy of admiration, as a mouse’s being delivered of a mountain. A rock’s producing a rat is a case absolutely prodigious, and the world never beheld anything approaching to such a miracle. All the worlds in the universe could not originate a fly. Thus, in cases where the vulgar mock, the philosopher admires; and where the vulgar strain their eyes in stupid astonishment, he often smiles.

Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14