Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.

1. Of Humane Sense and Perception.

BEfore I deliver my observations up∣on that part of Philosophy which is call'd Experimental, I thought it necessary to premise some discourse concerning the Perception of Hu∣mane Sense. It is known that man has five Exterior Senses, and every sense is ignorant of each other; for the Nose knows not what the Eyes see, nor the Eyes what the Ears hear, neither do the Ears know what the Tongue tastes; and as for Touch, although it is a general Sense, yet every several part of the body has a several touch, and each part is ignorant of each others touch: And thus there is a general igno∣rance of all the several parts, and yet a perfect know∣ledg in each part; for the Eye is as knowing as the Ear, Page  2 and the Ear as knowing as the Nose, and the Nose as knowing as the Tongue, and one particular Touch knows as much as another, at least is capable thereof: Nay, not onely every several Touch, Taste, Smell, Sound or Sight, is a several knowledg by it self, but each of them has as many particular knowledges or perceptions as there are objects presented to them: Be∣sides, there are several degrees in each particular sense; As for example, some Men (I will not speak of other animals) their perception of sight, taste, smell, touch, or hearing, is quicker to some sorts of objects, then to others, according either to the perfection or imper∣fection, or curiosity or purity of the corporeal figura∣tive motions of each sense, or according to the presen∣tation of each object proper to each sense; for if the presentation of the objects be imperfect, either through variation or obscurity, or any other ways, the sense is deluded. Neither are all objects proper for one sense, but as there are several senses, so there are se∣veral sorts of objects proper for each several sense. Now if there be such variety of several knowledges, not onely in one Creature, but in one sort of sense; to wit, the exterior senses of one humane Creature; what may there be in all the parts of Nature? 'Tis true, there are some objects which are not at all perceptible by any of our exterior senses; as for example, rari∣fied air, and the like: But although they be not sub∣ject to our exterior sensitive perception, yet they are Page  3 subject to our rational perception, which is much pu∣rer and subtiler then the sensitive; nay, so pure and subtil a knowledg, that many believe it to be immate∣rial, as if it were some God, when as it is onely a pure, fine and subtil figurative Motion or Perception; it is so active and subtil, as it is the best informer and reformer of all sensitive Perception; for the rational Matter is the most prudent and wisest part of Nature, as being the designer of all productions, and the most pious and devoutest part, having the perfectest notions of God, I mean, so much as Nature can possibly know of God; so that whatsoever the sensitive Perception is either de∣fective in, or ignorant of, the rational Perception sup∣plies. But mistake me not: by Rational Perception and Knowledg, I mean Regular Reason, not Irregu∣lar; where I do also exclude Art, which is apt to de∣lude sense, and cannot inform so well as Reason doth; for Reason reforms and instructs sense in all its actions: But both the rational and sensitive knowledg and per∣ception being divideable as well as composeable, it causes ignorance as well as knowledg amongst Natures Creatures; for though Nature is but one body, and has no sharer or copartner, but is intire and whole in it self, as not composed of several different parts or sub∣stances, and consequently has but one Infinite natural knowledg and wisdom, yet by reason she is also divide∣able and composeable, according to the nature of a body, we can justly and with all reason say, That, as Page  4 Nature is divided into infinite several parts, so each se∣veral part has a several and particular knowledg and perception, both sensitive and rational, and again that each part is ignorant of the others knowledg and per∣ception; when as otherwise, considered altogether and in general, as they make up but one infinite body of Nature, so they make also but one infinite general knowledg. And thus Nature may be called both In∣dividual, as not having single parts subsisting without her, but all united in one body; and Divideable, by reason she is partable in her own several corporeal fi∣gurative motions, and not otherwise; for there is no Vacuum in Nature, neither can her parts start or re∣move from the Infinite body of Nature, so as to sepa∣rate themselves from it, for there's no place to flee to, but body and place are all one thing, so that the parts of Nature can onely joyn and disjoyn to and from parts, but not to and from the body of Nature. And since Nature is but one body, it is intirely wise and knowing, ordering her self-moving parts with all facility and ease, without any disturbance, living in pleasure and delight, with infinite varieties and curiosities, such as no single Part or Creature of hers can ever attain to.