Foscarini, Paolo Antonio, An epistle to fantoni, 1661

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ſeems) not onely to Phyſical Reaſons, and Common Principles
received on all hands (which cannot do ſo much harm) but alſo
(which would be of far worſe conſequence) to many Authori-
ties of ſacred Scripture: Upon which account many at their
firſt looking into it, explode it as the moſt fond Paradox and
Monſtrous Capriccio that ever was heard of. Which thing pro-
ceeds only from an antiquated and long confirmed Cuſtome,
which hath ſo hardened men in, and habituated them to Vul-
gar, Plauſible, and for that cauſe by all men (aſwell learned as
unlearned) Approved Opinions, that they cannot be removed
one ſtep from them: So great is the force of Cuſtome (which
not unfitly is ſtiled a ſecond Nature) prevailing over the whole
World, that touching things men are rather pleaſed with, de-
lighted in, and deſirous of thoſe, which, though evil and obnox-
ious, are by uſe made familiar to them, than ſuch, wherewith,
though better, they are not accuſtomed and acquainted.
So in
like manner, and that chiefly, in Opinions, which when once they
are rooted in the Mind, men ſtart at, and reject all others
whatſoever; not only thoſe that are contrary to, but even all
that ever ſo little diſagree with or vary from theirs, as harſh to
the Ear, diſcoloured to the Eye, unpleaſant to the Smell, nauſe-
ous to the Taſt, rough to the Touch.
And no wonder: For
Phyſical Truths are ordinarily judged and conſidered by men,
not according to their Eſſence, but according to the preſcript of
ſome one whoſe deſcription or definition of them gaines him
Authority amongſt the vulgar.
Which authority nevertheleſs
(ſince 'tis no more than humane) ought not to be ſo eſteemed, as
that that which doth manifeſtly appear to the contrary, whether
from better Reaſons lately found out, or from Senſe it ſelf, ſhould
for its ſake be contemned and ſlighted; Nor is Poſterity ſo to be
confined, but that it may, and dares, not only proceed farther,
but alſo bring to light better and truer Experiments than thoſe
which have been delivered to us by the Ancients.
For the Ge-
nius's of the Antients, as in Inventions they did not much ſur-
paſs the Wits of our times; ſo for the perfecting of Inventions
this Age of ours ſeems not only to equal, but far to excell former
Ages; Knowledge, whether in the Liberal or Mechanical Arts,
daily growing to a greater height.
Which Aſſertion might be
eaſily proved, were it not that in ſo clear a caſe, there would be
more danger of obſcuring, than hopes of illuſtrating it with any
farther light.
But (that I may not wholly be ſilent in this point) have not the
ſeveral Experiments of Moderns, in many things, ſtopped the
mouth of Venerable Antiquity, and proved many of their great-
teſt and weightieſt Opinions, to be vain and falſe?
The Doctrine

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