We can’t do without experience; but so far we haven’t had any foundations for experience, or only very weak ones. No-one has searched out and stored up a great mass of particular events that is adequate
or in any other way
to inform the intellect. On the contrary, learned men— relaxed and idle—have accepted, as having the weight of legitimate evidence for constructing or confirming their philosophy, bits of hearsay and rumours about experience. Think of a kingdom or state that manages its affairs on the basis not of •letters and reports from ambassadors and trustworthy messengers but of •street-gossip and the gutter! Well, the way philosophy has managed its relations with experience has been exactly like that.
Nothing examined in enough careful detail,
is to be found in natural history. And observations that are loose and unsystematic lead to ideas that are deceptive and treacherous.