We tend to think that there must be a coherent position held by the author of a text, and that all the parts of that text contribute to it; but we should be able to see that a book is a series of propositions, each of them satisfying in some way, and not necessarily quite coherent, though that is often and admirably the aim. It is even possible that the juxtaposition of two incompatible propositions may be a source of attraction for both reader and writer, for in passing from one to the other without raising the question of their compatibility we may gain some extra sense of security. That is to say, one of the greatest talents of poets and philosophers may be to so collocate propositions from warring families that the conflict becomes invisible. – We have the impression of peace.
This impression may not be very difficult to create, for the simple fact that a series of propositions is printed as if it had continuity may mask what would be, in another form, speech say, palpable discontinuity. Those volumes which are assembled from several essays, written over a long period of time, but pretending to cohesion, are obvious examples; however, there is no guarantee that a chapter written at one sitting, or a paragraph, or a sentence, or a phrase, is any more integrated. All these could be said to function as forms invented to the give the appearance of a developing and internally integral argument. They are binding agents. It is most important to see that this does not discredit the book or paragraph, since any means of reconciling opposites is welcome. In the experience of reading a book or a poem, it is actually the case that the warring propositions are at peace; and that peace is not an illusion, even though the propositions will quickly trade blow for blow outside these forms.