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world now, as a merely casual concourse of atoms to CHAP. produce any thing, Epicurus could have no evidence from sense at all to find out the truth of his hypothesis by. And as little relief can he find from his second criterium, viz. anticipation ; for by his own acknowledgment all anticipation depends on the senses, and men have it only one of these four ways. 1. By incursion, as the species V. Gassend. of a man is preserved by the sight of him. 2. By propor
Epicuri. tion, as we can enlarge or contract that species of a man
Op. tom. i. either into a giant or pigmy. 3. By similitude, as we c. 7. can. 7. may fancy the image of a city by resemblance to one which we have seen. 4. By composition, whereby we may join different images together; as of a horse and a man to make a centaur. Now though it be very questionable how some of these ways belong to a criterium of truth, yet none of them reach our case; for there can be no incursion of insensible particles as such upon our senses: we may indeed by proportion imagine the parvitude of them ; but what is this to the proving the truth of the hypothesis ? Similitude can do no good, unless Epicurus had ever seen a world made so; the only relief must be from composition, and that will prove the origin of the world by atoms to be as true as that there are centaurs in the world, which we verily believe. These are the only criteria which Epicurus would judge of the truth of natural things by, (for the third, passion, relates wholly to things moral, and not physical ;) and now let any one judge whether the hypothesis of the origin of the universe by atoms can ever be proved true, either by the judgment of sense or by anticipation.
The way they had to prove this hypothesis was insuf XIII. ficient; and that was, by proving that the bodies of the world are compounded of such insensible particles. Now granting the thing, I deny the consequence; for what though the composition of bodies be from the contexture of atoms, doth it therefore follow that these particles did casually produce these bodies? Nay, doth it at all follow, that because bodies upon their resolution do fall into insensible particles of different size, figure, and motion, therefore these particles' must be preexistent to all bodies in the world? For it is plain that there is now an universal lump of matter, out of which these insensible particles arise, and whither they return on the dissolution of bodies; and all these various corpuscles may be of the same uniform substance, only with the alteration of size, shape, and motion. But what then? Doth this prove,
BOOK that because particular bodies do now emerge out of the
various configuration and motion of insensible particles of that matter which exists in the world, that therefore this whole matter was produced by the casual occursions of these atoms? It will ask more time and pains than is usually taken by the philosophers, either ancient or modern, to prove that those things, whatsoever they are, whether elements or particles out of which bodies are supposed to be compounded, do exist separately from such compounded bodies, and antecedently to them. We find no Aristotelian elements pure in the world, nor any particles of matter destitute of such a size, figure, and motion, as doth make some body or other. From whence then can we infer either the existence of Aristotle's ma. teria prima, without quiddity, quantity, or quality, or the Epicurean atoms without such a contexture as makes up some bodies in the world ? Our profound naturalist Dr. Harvey, after his most accurate search into the natures and generation of things, delivers this as his experience and judgment concerning the commonly reputed elements or principles of bodies. For, speaking of the different opinions of Empedocles and Hippocrates, and Democritus
and Epicurus, concerning the composition of bodies, he Harvey de adds, Ego vero neque in animalium productione, nec omnino
in ulla corporum similarium generatione (sive ea partium animalium, sive plantarum, lapidum, mineralium, &c. fuerit,) vel congregationem ejusmodi, vel miscibilia diversa
generationis opere unienda præexistere, observare unquam potui. And after explaining the way which he conceived most rational and consonant to experience in the generation of things, he concludes his discourse with these words. Idemque in omni generatione fieri crediderim ; adeo ut corpora similaria mista, elementa sua tempore priora non habeant, sed illa potius elementis suis prius existant (nempe Empedoclis atque Aristotelis igne, aqua, aere, terra, vel chymicorum sale, sulphure, et mercurio, aut Democriti atomis) utpote natura quoque ipsis perfectiora. Sunt, inquam, mista, et composita, etiam tempore priora elementis quibuslibet sic dictis, in quæ illa corrumpuntur et desinunt ; dissolvuntur scilicet, in ista ratione potius quam re ipsa et actu. Elementa itaque quæ dicuntur, non sunt priora istis rebus quæ generantur aut oriuntur ; sed posteriora potius, et reliquiæ magis quam principia. Neque Aristoteles ipsemet aut alius quispiam unquam demonstravit, elementa in rerum natura separatim existere, aut principia esse corporum similarium. 'If then none of these things which bodies are
1. ii. c. 74
resolved into, and are supposed to be compounded of, CHAP. either have been or can be proved to exist separate from and antecedent to those bodies which they compound, what then becomes of all our company of atoms, which are supposed, by their concourse in an infinite space, to be the origin of the world ? I know not where to find them, unless dancing with the schoolmen's chimeras in a vacuum, or in a space as empty as the infinite one, viz. some Epicurean's brains. Neither therein will they be much unlike their great master Epicurus, if we believe the character which the Stoic in Tully gives of him; who saith, he was homo sine arte, sine literis, insultans in Cicero de omnes, sine acumine ullo, sine auctoritate, siné lepore. But Nat. Deor. allowing the Stoic some of that passion (which he disclaimed so much) in these words, yet we may rather believe what Tully himself elsewhere speaks of Epicurus's sentiments, that they were none of them handsome, or becoming a man. At ille quid sentit ? saith he of Epi- Idem de curus; and soon replies, sentit autem nihil unquam ele- Divinat. gans, nihil decorum. And in another place, speaking of his morals, he saith, nihil generosum sapit atque magnifi- nibus, l. i. cum, there was nothing noble and generous in him; which censure of Epicurus, all the pains that P. Gassendus hath taken in the vindication of the life and opinions of Epicurus, hath not been able to wipe off. For although we should yield what that learned man so much contends for, that all the calumnies which were cast on Epicurus arise from the antipathy between Zeno and the following Stoics, and the school of Epicurus; yet all this will not make Epicurus to have been comparable with some other philosophers for parts and judgment, whose principles have somewhat more generous and venerable in them than the morals of Epicurus had, taking them in their more refined sense.
But it is not the morality of Epicurus which we now XIV. enquire after ; our business is to see how well he acquits himself in rendering an account of the origin of the universe without a Deity. And so we come to consider the hypothesis itself, whether it be rational or no, or consistent with the catholic laws of nature which appear in the world. Two things I shall here enquire into, which are the main principles of Epicurus, viz. the motion of these atoms in the infinite space, and the manner of the concretion of bodies by the concourse of these atoms.
1. I begin with their inotion; which Epicurus attri-. butes to his atoms without any hesitation, and yet never
BOOK undertakes to give an account of the origin of that mo-
precarious. The thing then (which he must assume as
such contexture of bodies out of them. But for one to say that atoms move, because it is their nature to move, and give no other account of it, is so precarious, that it will never give the least satisfaction to an inquisitive mind : and it will be the least of all pardonable in the exploders of substantial forms and occult qualities, when the origin of the whole world is resolved into an occult quality which gives motion to atoms. And herein the Atomists outdo the most credulous Peripatetics, seeing they lay the prime foundation of the world and of their own philosophy together in a thing they can give no rational account of at all; which is, the motion of atoms in an infinite vacuity. If it be replied, which is all Epicurus hath to say, that the motion of atoms depends upon their gravity, the question returns upon him with the same violence; how comes this gravity to belong to these atoms in such an empty space, where there can be no impulsion from other bodies, no attraction from any
magnetic particles, which are supposed to be the causes Gassendus of the descent of heavy bodies ? Nay, Epicurus himself Phys. sect. takes away any centre of that motion of atoms, and yet iod. ini,c' attributes a necessary descent to his atoms by virtue of rent. Mag. their gravity; and if a philosopher may beg such things nitud. Solis as these are, so repugnant to the phenomena of nature, sublimis,
without assigning any other reason for them, but that it Ep. iv. sect. is their nature, let us never venture philosophizing more,
but sit down in that contented piece of ignorance, which Phys, sect.
attributes the causes of every thing unto specific forms i. 1. v. c. 2. and occult qualities; for this is so shameful a piece of V. Ep. de beggary, that .P. Gassendus doth more than once disMotu im- claim it; and in his discourse of motion doth prove an
impossibility of motion in an infinite empty space. Might translato, not Epicurus then have saved his credit better by sitting tom. iii.Op. down with the opinions of his forefathers, than thus to
go a begging for such hypotheses, which none, who are not resolved to be ignorant, will be ready to grant him?
But yet this is not all: but according to this fundamental principle of Epicurus, viz. that there is a principle of motion in every insensible particle of matter, he plainly
presso a Motore
overthrows another principle of his, which is, the solidity CHAP. and different magnitude of these atoms. These particles are supposed so solid, that Dionysius in Eusebius tells us, Euseb. the account given why they are called drop was, doce trv Præp. ĀSutov se bóryta, because of their indissoluble firmness; xiv. 6. iz.
. . and the different sizes of these atoms is' so necessary, a principle, that from thence they undertake to resolve many phenomena of the universe. Let us now see how consistent these things are with the inseparable property of motion belonging to atoms : for if there be particles of such different sizes, then it is plain that there are some particles which may not only be conceived to be bigger than others, but are really so; and so there must be more parts of matter imagined in this bigger particle than in another less; and if there be more parts, these parts may be conceived separate from each other, that this particle may be equal to the other. Now then I demand, if motion doth inseparably belong to the least particle of matter, how comes one to be bigger than the other? For herein we see that every particle is not in distinct motion: for there cannot but be more imaginable particles in an atom- of a bigger size than in a less; and if so, there must be some union of those imaginable particles in that bigger atom; and how could such an union be without rest, and what rest could there be, if motion doth inseparably belong to every particle of matter? And so it must be in all those atoms which are supposed to have angles and hooks, in order to their better catching hold of each other for the composition of bodies; how come these hooks and angles to be annexed to this atom? For an atoni may be without them; whence comes this union, if such a principle of motion be in each particle? If it be answered, that motion did belong to all these particles, but by degrees the lesser particles hitting together made up these angled and hooked particles; I soon reply, that the difficulty returns more strongly : for if these angled and hooked particles be supposed necessary to the contexture and union of bodies, how came those least imaginable particles ever to unite without such hooks and angles ? And so the question will return in infinitum. If then the solidity and indivisibility of these angled atoms doth depend on the union and rest of those lesser imaginable particles joined together, then it is evident that motion is no inseparable property of all these particles, but some are capable of union, in order to the making of such hooks and angles, which are necessary for the contexture