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True indeed, the strangeness of this opinion will detract much from its credit; but yet we should know that nothing is in itself strange, since every natural effect has an equal dependance upon its cause, and with the like necessity doth follow from it; so that it is our ignorance which makes things appear so: and hence it comes to pass, that many more evident truths seem incredible, to such who know not the causes of things. You may as soon persuade some country peasants that the moon is made of green cheese, (as we say) as that it is bigger than his cart-wheel, since both seem equally to contradict his sight, and he has not reason enough to lead him farther than his senses. Nay, suppose (saith Plutarch) a philosopher should be educated in such a secret place, where he might not see either sea or river, and afterwards should be brought out where one might shew him the great ocean, telling him the quality of that water, that it is brackish, salt, and not portable, and yet there were many vast creatures of all forms living in it, which make use of the water as we do of the air; questionless he would laugh at all this, as being monstrous lies and fables, without any colour of truth. Just so will this truth which I now deliver appear unto others, because we never dreamt of any such matter as a world in the moon; because the state of that place hath as yet been veiled from our knowledge, therefore we can scarcely assent to any such matter. Things are very hardly received, which are altogether strange to our thoughts and our senses. The soul may with less difficulty be brought to believe any absurdity, when as it has formerly been acquainted with some colours and probabilities for it; but when a new, and an unheard of truth shall come before it, though it have good grounds and reasons, yet the understanding is afraid of it as a stranger, and dares not admit it into his belief, without a great deal of reluctancy and trial. And besides, things that are not manifested to the senses, are not assented unto without some.labour of mind, some travel and discourse of the understanding; and many lazy souls had rather quietly repose themselves in an easy error, than take pains to
search out the truth. The strangeness then of this opinion which I now deliver, will be a great hindrance to its belief; but this is not to be respected, by reason it cannot be helped. I have stood the longer in the Preface, because that prejudice which the mere title of the book may beget, cannot easily be removed without a great deal of preparation: and I could not tell otherwise how to rectify the thoughts of the reader, for an impartial survey of the following discourse.
I must needs confess, though I had often thought with myself that it was possible there might be a world in the moon, yet it seemed such an uncouth opinion, that I never durst discover it, for fear of being counted singular and ridiculous; but afterward, having read Plutarch, Galileus, Keplar, with some others, and finding many of mine own thoughts confirmed by such strong authority, I then concluded that it was not only possible there might be, but probable that there was another habitable world in that planet. In the prosecuting of this assertion, I shall first endeavour to clear the way from such doubts as may hinder the speed or ease of farther progress. And because the suppositions implied in this opinion, may seem to contradict the principles of reason or faith, it will be requisite that I first remove this scruple, shewing the conformity of them to both these, and proving those truths that
may make way for the rest; which I shall labour to perform in the second, third, fourth, and fifth chapters, and then proceed to confirm such propositions which do more directly belong to the main point in hand.
That a plurality of worlds doth not contradict any prin
ciple of reason or faith.
as might become a god; but withal, he censured that manner of writing to be very unfitting for a philosopher ; because there was nothing proved in them, but matters were delivered as if they would rather command than persuade belief. And it is observed, that he sets down nothing himself, but he confirms it by the strongest reasons that may be found, there being scarce an argument of force for any subject in philosophy, which may not be picked out of his writings; and therefore it is likely if there were in reason a necessity of one only world, that he would have found out some such necessary proof as might confirm it; especially since he labours for it so much in two whole chapters. But now all the arguments which he himself urges in this subject, are very weak, and far enough from having in them any convincing power*. Therefore it is likely that a plurality of worlds doth not contradict any principle of reason. However, I will set down the two chief of his arguments from his own works, and from them you may guess the force of the other.
The first is this t: Since every heavy body doth naturally kend downwards, and every light body upwards, what a huddling and confusion must there be, if there were two places for gravity, and two places for lightness ? For it is probable that the earth of that other world would fall down to this centre, and so mutually the air and fire here ascend to those regions in the other; which must needs much derogate from the providence of nature, and cause a great disorder in his works. But ratio hæc est minimè firma,
(saith Zanchy*.) And if you well consider the nature of gravity, you will plainly see there is no ground to fear any such confusion; for heaviness is nothing else but such a quality as causes a propension in its subject to tend downwards towards its own centre : so that for some of that earth to come hither, would not be said a fall, but an ascension, since it is moved from its own place; and this would be impossible (saith Ruvio t) because against nature, and therefore no more to be feared than the falling of the heavens.
If you reply, that then according to this, there must be more centres of gravity than one; I answer, it is very probable there are; nor can we well conceive what any piece of the moon would do, being severed from the rest in the free and open air, but only return unto it again.
Another argument he had from his master Plato I, That there is but one world, because there is but one first mover, God.
Infirma etiam est hæc ratio (saith Zanchy); and we may justly deny the consequence, since a plurality of worlds doth not take away the unity of the first Mover, Ut enim forma substantialis, sic primum efficiens apparentem solummodo multiplicitatem induit per signatam materiam (saith a countryman of ours 5.) As the substantial form, są the efficient cause hath only an appearing multiplicity from its particular matter. You may see this point more largely handled, and these arguments more fully answered by Plutarch in his book, “ Why Oracles are silent," and Jacob Carpentarius in his comment on Alcinous,
But our opposites, the interpreters themselves, (who too often do jurare in verba magistri) will grant that there is not any strength in these consequences; and certainly then such weak arguments could not convince that wise philosapher, who in his other opinions was wont to be swayed by the strength and power of reason; wherefore I should rather think that he had some by-respect, which made him * De operibus Dei, par. 2. lib. 2. cap. 2. + De Cælo, 1. 1. c.9.q.1. Metaphys. I. 12. c. 8. Diog. Laert. lib. 3. Nic. Hill. de Philosoph. Epic. partic. 379.
first assent to this opinion, and afterwards strive to prove it. Perhaps it was because he feared to displease his scholar Alexander*; of whom it is related, that he wept to hear a disputation of another world, since he had not then attained the monarchy of this ; his restless wide heart would have esteemed this globe of earth not big enough for him, if there had been another ; which made the satyrist say of him,
Æstuat infælix angusto limite mundi t. ” That he did vex himself, and sweat in his desires, as şs being penned up in a narrow room, when he was con☆« fined but to one world.” Before, he thought to seat himself next the gods, but now, when he had done his best, he must be content with some equal, or perhaps superior kings.
It may be, that Aristotle was moved to this opinion, that he might thereby take from Alexander the occasion of this fear and discontent; or else, perhaps, Aristotle himself was as loth to hold the possibility of a world which he could not discover, as Alexander was to hear of one which he could not conquer. It is likely that some such by-respect moved him to this opinion, since the arguments he urges for it are confessed by his zealous followers and commentators, to be very slight and frivolous; and they themselves grant, what I am now to prove, that there is not any evidence in the light of natural reason, which can sufficiently manifest that there is but one world.
But however some may object, would it not be inconvenient and dangerous to adınit of such opinions that do destroy those principles of Aristotle which all the world hath so long followed?
This question is much controverted by some of the Romish divines I: Campanella hath writ a treatise in defence of it, in whom you may see many things worth the reading and notice.
To it I answer, That this position in philosophy doth
* Plutarch. de tranq. anim.
† Juvenal. # Apologia pro Galileo.