We see no reason for thinking that the opinions of the magistrate on speculative questions are more likely to be right than those of any other man. None of the modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of his neighbors. The chance of his being wiser than all his neighbors together is still smaller.
In our everyday garden grow the rosemary, juniper, ferns and plane trees, perfectly tangible and visible. For these plants that have an illusory relationship with us, which in no way alters their existentiality, we are merely an event, an accident, and our presence, which seems so solid, laden with gravity, is to them no more than a momentary void in motion through the air. Reality is a quality that belongs to them, and we can exercise no rights over it.
The guesses which serve to give mental unity and wholeness to a chaos of scattered particulars, are accidents which rarely occur to any minds but those abounding in knowledge and disciplined in intellectual combinations.
I've seen people recover physical abilities, yet never get over emotional trauma after a serious accident. I've seen other people overcome the psychological and emotional trauma of a serious illness even though they may never fully regain their physical capabilities. Which is the greater healing? Which is the better recovery? If I had the option of choosing between a mediocre life with eyesight or the life I have today, even though I am blind, I'd stay blind and keep the life I have.
A workman of Faraday, the celebrated chemist, one day by accident knocked a beautiful silver cup into a jar of strong acid. In a little while it disappeared, being dissolved into the acid as sugar is in water, and so seemed utterly lost, and the question came up, could it ever be found again? One said it could, but another replied that being dissolved and held in solution by the acid, there was no possibility of recovering But the great chemist, Faraday, standing by, put some chemical mixture into the jar, and in a little while every particle of silver was precipitated to the bottom, and he took it out, now a shapeless mass, and sent it to the silversmith and the cup was restored to the same size and shape as before. If Faraday could so easily precipitate that silver and restore its scattered and invisible particles into the cup, how easily can God restore our sleeping and scattered dust, and change our decayed bodies into the likeness of the glorious body of Christ!
In presenting a mathematical argument the great thing is to give the educated reader the chance to catch on at once to the momentary point and take details for granted: his successive mouthfuls should be such as can be swallowed at sight; in case of accidents, or in case he wishes for once to check in detail, he should have only a clearly circumscribed little problem to solve (e.g. to check an identity: two trivialities omitted can add up to an impasse). The unpractised writer, even after the dawn of a conscience, gives him no such chance; before he can spot the point he has to tease his way through a maze of symbols of which not the tiniest suffix can be skipped.
J. E. Littlewood (1885 - 1977)
Source: A Mathematician's Miscellany, Methuen Co. Ltd., 1953.