Major Figure in the Positivist Movement in historical scholarship
Men are made uneasy; they flinch; they cannot bear the sudden light; a general restlessness supervenes; the face of society is disturbed, or perhaps convulsed; old interests and old beliefs have been destroyed before new ones have been created. These symptoms are the precursors of revolution; they have preceded all the great changes through which the world has passed.
It is an undoubted fact that an overwhelming majority of religious persecutors have been men of the purest intentions, of the most admirable and unsullied morals… Such men as these are not bad, they are only ignorant; ignorant of the nature of truth, ignorant of the consequences of their own acts.
The great enemy of knowledge is not error, but inertness. All that we want is discussion; and then we are sure to do well, no matter what our blunders may be. One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved.