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XXIV
THE INFINITY WHICH BOTH OUR REASON AND OUH SENSES CAN ADMIT

BUT, even to our poor understanding of to-day, the discrepancy between the infinity conceived by our reason and that perceived by our senses is perhaps more apparent than real. When we say that, in a universe that has existed since all eternity, every experiment, every possible combination has been made; when we declare that there is not a chance that that which has not taken place in the uncountable past can take place in the uncountable future, our imagination attributes to the infinity of time a preponderance which it cannot possess. In truth, all that infinity contains must be as infinite as the time at its disposal; and the chances, encounters and combinations that lie therein have not been exhausted in the eternity that goes before us any more than they could be in the eternity that comes after us. There is, therefore, no climax, no changelessness, no immovability. It is probable that the universe is seeking and finding itself every day, that it has not become entirely conscious and does not yet know what it wants. It is almost certain that its ideal is still veiled by the shadow of its immensity and almost evident that the experiments and chances are following one upon the other in unimaginable worlds, compared wherewith all those which we see on starry nights are no more than a pinch of gold-dust in the ocean depths. Lastly, it is very nearly sure that we ourselves, or whatever remains of us  –  it matters not  –  will profit one day by those experiments and those chances. That which has not yet happened may suddenly supervene; and the best state, as well as the supreme wisdom which will recognize and establish it, is perhaps ready to arise from the clash of circumstance. It were not at all astonishing if the consciousness of the universe, in the endeavour to form itself, had not yet met with the aid of the necessary chances and if human thought were seconding one of those decisive chances. Here there is a hope. Small as man and his thought may appear, he has exactly the value of the most enormous forces that he is able to conceive, since there is neither great nor small in the immeasurable; and, if our body equalled the dimensions of all the worlds which our eyes can see, it would have exactly the same weight and the same importance with regard to the universe that it has to-day. The mind alone perhaps occupies in infinity a space which comparisons do not reduce to nothing.

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