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But as Nature seems to have observed a kind of justice and compensation in everything, she hasn’t neglected philosophers more than the rest of the creation, but has provided them with a consolation amid all their disappointments and afflictions. This consolation principally consists in their invention of the words ‘faculty’ and ‘occult quality’. After the frequent use of a term that is significant and intelligible, we often omit the idea that we mean to express by it, and preserve only the custom by which we recall the idea when we want to; so it naturally happens that after the frequent use of a term that is wholly insignificant and unintelligible, we fancy it to be on the same footing with the meaningful ones and to have a meaning that we don’t actually have in mind but that we could bring to mind if we thought about it… . By this means these philosophers set themselves at ease, and eventually arrive through •an illusion at the same ‘don’t care’ attitude that common people achieve through •their stupidity, and true philosophers achieve through •their moderate scepticism. They need only to say that a phenomenon that puzzles them arises from a ‘faculty’ or an ‘occult quality’ and there’s an end of all dispute and enquiry about it!

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