The Improvement of Human Reason eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 166 pages of information about The Improvement of Human Reason.

[Footnote 17:  The word which I have here rendred Starlight, is Zohal in Arabick which signifies Saturn. ’Tis a common way with the Arabian Authors, when they intend to shew a vast disproportion between things, to compare the greater to the Sun and the lesser to Saturn. The meaning of this Distich, is that there is as much difference between what a Man knows by hearsay, or what notions he imbibes in his Education, and what he knows when he comes to examin things to the bottom, and know them experimentally, as there is between Twilight and Noonday.]

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Sec. 1.  Our Ancestors, of Happy Memory, tell us, that there is an Island in the Indian Ocean, situate under the Equinoctial, where Men come into the world spontaneously without the help of Father and Mother.  This Island it seems, is blest with such a due Influence of the Sun, as to be the most temperate and perfect of all places in the Creation; tho’ it must be confess’d that such an Assertion is contrary to the Opinion of the most celebrated Philosophers and Physicians, who affirm that the fourth Climate is the most Temperate.  Now if the reason which they give for this Assertion, viz. That these parts situate under the Equinoctial are not habitable; were drawn, from any Impediment from the Earth, ’tis allow’d that it would appear more probable; but if the reason be, because of the intense Heat (which is that which most of ’em assign) ’tis absolutely false, and the contrary is prov’d by undeniable demonstration.  For ’tis demonstrated in Natural Philosophy, that there is no other cause of Heat than Motion, or else the Contact and Light of Hot Bodies.  ’Tis also prov’d that the Sun, in it self, is not hot, nor partakes of any mix’d Quality:  ’tis prov’d moreover, that the thickest and smoothest Bodies receive Light in the greatest degree of perfection; and next to them, the thicker which are not smooth, and those which are very thin receive no Light at all. (This was first demonstrated by Avicenna, never mention’d before by any of the Ancients.) From these Premises, this Consequence will necessarily follow, viz.  That the Sun do’s not Communicate his Heat to the Earth, after the same manner as hot Bodies heat those other Bodies which are near them because the Sun is not hot in it self.  Nor can it be said that the Earth is heated by Motion, because it stands still, and remains in the same posture, both when the Sun shines upon it, and when it does not, and yet ’tis evident to Sense, that there is a vast difference in it, in respect of Heat and Cold, at those several times.  Nor does the Sun first heat the Air, and so the Earth; because we may observe in hot weather, that the Air which is nearest the Earth, is hotter by much than that which is higher and more remote.  It remains

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The Improvement of Human Reason from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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