I remember having read something like

No matter how long we debate about the existence of the external world, at the end of the evening we all exit the room through the door

Or something like that.. I think it is a quote from one of the early British empiricists, or related to one of them in some way. Can anyone identify it and provide the exact quotation as well as the related circumstances?

2 Answers 2


David Hume wrote this line in his character Cleanthes's voice, in Part One of Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion:

Whether your scepticism be as absolute and sincere as you pretend, we shall learn by and by, when the company breaks up: we shall then see, whether you go out at the door or the window; and whether you really doubt if your body has gravity, or can be injured by its fall; according to popular opinion, derived from our fallacious senses, and more fallacious experience.

The context is that Philo has just responded to Cleanthes's endorsement of teaching children piety. Philo's opening response involves expressing the importance of a general skepticism, of caution about certainty and thinking that we understand what we cannot actually explain. Cleanthes is then challenging Philo in this passage on how sincere his skepticism is.

  • 1
    This is it, I also remember the window part now. Funny how it changed form in my head (I wonder what Hume would say about this perception :)
    – fkaralis
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 18:08

Maybe Hume? Slightly similar

Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have, I any influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, invironed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty.

Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther. (A Treatise of Human Nature)

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