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forbids the use of wine ;' and his successors abolished universities. By this, also, many Christians have condemned literature, misunderstanding the counsel of Saint Paul, who adviseth no further than to beware of philosophy. On this foundation were built the conclusions of soothsayers in their augurial and tripudiary divinations, collecting presages from voice or food of birds, and conjoining events unto causes of no connection. Hereupon also are grounded the gross
mistakes in the cure of many diseases, not only from the last medicine and sympathetical receipts, but amulets, charms, and all incantatory applications ; deriving effects not only from inconcurring causes, but things devoid of all efficiency whatever.
The fourth is, the fallacy of the consequent; which, if strictly taken, may be a fallacious illation in reference unto antecedency, or consequency; as, to conclude, from the position of the antecedent, to the position of the consequent, or from the remotion of the consequent, to the remotion of the antecedent. This is usually committed when in connexed propositions the terms adhere contingently. This is frequent in oratory illations; and thus the Pharisees, because he canversed with publicans and sinners, accused the holiness of Christ. But, if this fallacy be largely taken, it is committed in any vicious illation, offending the rules of good consequence; and so it may be very large, and comprehend all false illations against the settled laws of logick. But the most usual inconsequencies are from particulars, from negatives, and from affirmative conclusions in the second figure, wherein, indeed, offences are most frequent, and their discoveries not difficult.
1 Upon this consequence, dc.] Meaning probably that Mahomet forbad the use of wine, when his motive was to prevent its abuse only ; but his experience had taught him that the only means of effecting this would be to prohibit it altogether.
· Philosophy.] The apostle bids beware of vaine philosophie : where the worde (vaine) is a sufficient commentarye to a Christian, that by forbidding that which is indeed vaine, he advanceth true philosophye : such as is that of the hexameron, or six dayes creation : whereon many of the ancient Christians have left admirable treatises, setting forth in those workes the incomprehensible wisdom, and majesty and omnipotency of the Creator, and his unpromerited inexhausted goodness unto us, for whom he ordained the use of them all: that by our acknowledgment, the abundant grace might redound to his glorye ; as itt hath don in all ages by that divine philosophical treatise of Moses philosophie, mentioned in the 20th page, line 6, in the passage beginning “And though Galen," &c.— Wr.
Of other more immediate Causes of Error ;-viz. Credulity and Supinity.
A THIRD cause of common errorsis, the credulity of men, that is, an easy assent to what is obtruded, or a believing, at first ear, what is delivered by others. This is a weakness in the understanding, without examination assenting unto things which, from their natures and causes, do carry no persuasion; whereby men often swallow falsities for truths, dubiosities for certainties, feasibilities for possibilities, and things impossible as possibilities themselves. Which, though a weakness of the intellect, and most discoverable in vulgar heads, yet hath it sometime fallen upon wiser brains, and great advancers of truth. Thus many wise Athenians so far forgot their philosophy, and the nature of human production, that they descended unto belief that the original of their nation was from the earth, and had no other beginning, than from the seminality and womb of their great mother. Thus it is not without wonder how those learned Arabicks so tamely delivered
their belief unto the absurdities of the Alcoran. How the noble Geber, Avicenna, and Almanzor should rest satisfied in the nature and causes of earthquakes, delivered from the doctrine of their prophet; that is, from the motion of a great bull, upon whose horns all the earth is poised.4
3 A third cause of common errors.] The first cause being mistake, or misapprehension ; the second fallacious, or false inferences.
4 How the noble Geber, &c.] Sale's Koran having been in vain examined for some justification of this passage, I requested my learned friend, Mr. W. ). Black, to refer to the works of Geber, Almanzor, and Avicenna, in the library of the British Museum. He did so, without success, as appears from the following extracts from his obliging reply :
"I have diligently perused (but in vain) the Rhasis of Almanzor, (1497, folio), and Taragua's Alphabetical Arrangement or Common Place Book of Avicenna (Burdigal, 4to. 1520), and two editions of Geber, the latter being, as I think, the same book as you mean. .
"This little duodecimo volume contains several curious tracts not named in the title, all which I have also perused, and the only notice
How their faiths could decline so low as to concede their generations in heaven to be made by the smell of a citron, or that the felicity of their paradise should consist in a jubilee of conjunction, that is, à coition of one act prolonged unto fifty years. Thus is it almost beyond wonder, how the belief of reasonable creatures should ever submit unto idolatry; and the credulity of those men scarce credible (without presumption of a second fall) who could believe a Deity in the work of their own hands. For although in that ancient and diffused adoration of idols unto the priests and subtiler heads, the worship, perhaps, might be symbolical, and as those images some way related unto their deities; yet was the idolatry direct and downright in the people'; whose credulity is illimitable, who may be made believe that anything is God; and may be made believe there is no God at all.
And, as credulity is the cause of error, so incredulity oftentimes of not enjoying truth: and that not only an obstinate incredulity, whereby we will not acknowledge assent unto what is reasonably inferred, but any academical reservation in matters of easy truth, or rather sceptical infidelity against the evidence of reason and sense. For these are conceptions of earthquakes I can any where find, is in “ Avicenna Mineralia,” p. 248, in the beginning of the 2nd chapter. “De Causa Montium.”
“Montes quoque quandoque fiunt ex causa essentiali, quandoque ex causa accidentali. Ex essentiali causa, ut ex vehementi motu terræ elevatur terra et fit mons.'
5 How their faiths, &c.] It will be sufficient merely to remark, that the ridiculous conceits respecting “generations in heaven” and the “felicity of Paradise,” here attributed to Mohammed, are not to be found in the Korân, or in any genuine commentary upon it. They have much the air of Rabbinical fancies, foisted upon the Mohammedans by their inventors. At the same time, the real dogmas of the prophet of Mecca upon both points, afford, perhaps, as good an illustration of the credulity of the Arabian philosophers as those erroneously ascribed to him in the text. For “according to the saying of the prophet,” if any of the faithful in Paradise be desirous of issue, it shall be conceived by their Houri wives, born, and grown up, within the space of an hour. And the other extraordinary notion alluded to by Browne (for doubtless he was not the originator of it), may have been derived from the declaration of Mohammed, that in order to qualify the blessed for the full enjoyment of the pleasures and delights of Paradise, which they would otherwise sink under, “God will give to every one the abilities of an hundred men.” Vide Sale's Korân, Prelim. Disc. sect. iv.-Br.
befalling wise men, as absurd as the apprehensions of fools, and the credulity of the people, which promiscuously swallow any thing. For this is not only derogatory unto the wisdom of God, who hath proposed the world unto our knowledge, and thereby the notion of himself, but also detractory unto the intellect and sense of man, expressedly disposed for that inquisition. And therefore, hoc tantum scio, quod nihil scio, is not to be received in an absolute sense, but is comparatively expressed unto the number of things whereof our knowledge is ignorant. Nor will it acquit the insatisfaction of those who quarrel with all things, or dispute of matters concerning whose verities we have conviction from reason, or decision from the inerrable and requisite conditions of
And, therefore, if any affirm the earth doth move, and will not believe with us, it standeth still ;6 because he
6 it standeth still.] [In] the booke of God, from Moses unto Christ, there are no lesse than eighty and odd expresse places, affirming in plaine and overt termes the naturall and perpetuall motion of the sun and the moon ; and that the stop or stay of that motion was one of the greatest miracles that ever the whole world beheld: others the rising and setting of them : others, their diurnal course and vigorous activitye upon this lowest world : others, their circulation on this world or earth not only daylye, but annually, by a declination from the midline on both sides, North and South : others (as expressly) the impossibility of any (other) motion in the earth, than that terrible and penal motion of his shaking itt, that made it: others that it cannot be moved totally in his place, nor removed universal out of his place. Soe that were itt nothing else than the veneration and firme beliefe of that Word of His, which the penmen thereof spake not of themselves, but by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they that profess Christianitye should not dare, much lesse adventure to call the letter thereof in question concerning things soe plainly, frequently, constantly, delivered ; should tremble at that curse which is denounced against those that adde any thing unto itt, or diminish any tittle of itt: should feare to raise such a hellish suspition in vulgar mindes, as the Romish church, by undervalewing the majesty and authority thereof, hath done : should bee affrighted to follow that audacious and pernicious suggestion, which Satan used, and thereby undid us all in our first parents ; that God had a double meaning in his commands, in effect condemning God of amphibologye. And all this boldness and overweaning having no other ground, but a seeming argument of some phænomena forsooth ; which notwithstanding, we know the learned Tycho ó 'Aotpovopápxwv, who lived (fifty-two) years since Copernicus, hath by admirable and matchlesse instruments, and many yeares exact observations proved to bee noe better than a dreame, - Wr.
hath probable reasons for it, and I no infallible sense, nor reason against it,8 I will not quarrel with his assertion. But if, like Zeno, he shall walk about, and yet deny there is any motion in nature, surely that man was constituted for Anticyra and were a fit companion for those who, having a
7 probable.] Seeminge.-Wr.
reason against it.]—Other than God's perpetual dictate.-Wr. . Anticyra.] Two cities of the same name, the one in Phocis, the other in Thessaly, famous for producing hellebore, which was esteemed among the ancients the great remedy for madness.
Hence the proverb mentioned by Horace, Naviget Anticyram, which was applied to a person deemed insane ; and hence also the allusion in the text.
A remarkable illustration of Browne's remarks on obstinate and ir. rational scepticism is afforded by the history of meteorites, or of the bodies cast down upon the earth by meteors in the atmosphere. The fall of metallic and stony bodies from the atmosphere, is recorded by writers of every age of classical antiquity, many of whom narrated instances of it that had occured in their own times, or even within their own knowledge. Evidence of the same kind is abundantly to be found throughout the middle and dark ages; and after the reformation, the fall of meteorites was witnessed and described by several natural philosophers of approved eminence and undoubted credit, during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, with the same attendant phænomena as had been described by the historians and writers of all the epochs we have mentioned. In the eighteenth century similar events took place, and were attested by irrefragable moral evidence. But the opi. nion, that nothing was to be believed which could not directly be accounted for, was now very prevalent. The accounts of the fall of meteoric stones were consequently rejected as impossible, and incompatible with the laws of nature; and specimens of stones and iron that had been seen to fall by hundreds of people, were preserved in cabinets of natural history, as ordinary minerals, “which the credulous and superstitious regarded as having fallen from the clouds.” Towards the latter end of the eighteenth century, the attention of several candid men of science was attracted to the subject by some remarkable cases which then occurred: but so powerful was the inclination to negative the question, that accounts of the fall of three similar stones, in as many districts of country, attested in the most convincing manner,
could not obtain credence in the minds of a committee of the French Academy of Sciences, one of whom was the celebrated Lavoisier. At length, however, all the powers of inductive research were exerted upon the subject, which was subjected, in 1801, by the late Mr. Edward Howard, F.R.S., to train of exact research : stones stated to have fallen from meteors in various parts of the world were collected and examined, and shown to bear a decided resemblance to each other, whilst they were altogether dissimilar from every known mineral. In England, this evidence gradually vanquished incredulity, but many foreign savans