Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.
Page  17

6. Whether there be any Prime or Principal Figures in Nature, and of the true Principles of Na∣ture.

SOme are of opinion, that the Prime or Principal figures of Nature are Globes or Globular figures, as being the most perfect; but I cannot conceive why a globular or spherical figure should be thought more perfect then any other, for another figure may be as perfect in its kind, as a round figure is in its kind: for example, we cannot say a Bird is a more perfect figure then a Beast, or a Beast a more perfect figure then a Fish, or Worm; neither can we say Man is a more perfect figure then any of the rest of the Animals: the like of Vegetables, Minerals and Elements; for every several sort has as perfect a figure as another, according to the nature and propriety of its own kind or sort: But put the case man's figure were more perfect then any other, yet we could not say, that it is the Principle out of which all other figures are made, as some do con∣ceive that all other figures are produced from the Glo∣bular or Spherical; for there is no such thing as most or least perfect, because there is no most nor least in Nature. Others are of opinion, that the Principle of all natural Creatures is salt, and that when the World dissolves, it must dissolve into salt as into its first Prin∣ciple; but I never heard it determined yet, whether it be Page  18 fixt or volatile salt: Others again are of opinion, that the first principle of all Creatures is Water; which if so, then, seeing that all things must return into their first principle, it will be a great hinderance to the confla∣gration of the world, for there will be so much water produced as may chance to quench out the fire. But if Infinite Nature has Infinite parts, and those Infinite parts are of Infinite figures, then surely they cannot be confined to one figure: Sense and Reason proves that Nature is full of variety, to wit, of corporeal figurative motions, which as they do not ascribe their original to one particular, so neither do they end in one particular figure or creature. But some will wonder that I deny any Part or Creature of Nature should have a supre∣macy above the rest, or be called Prime or Principal, when as yet I do say that Reason is the Prime Part of Nature. To which, I answer: That, when I say, no Creature in Nature can be called Prime or Principal, I understand Natural effects, that is, Natural compo∣sed Parts or Creatures: as for example, all those finite and particular Creatures that are composed of Life, Soul and Body, that is, of the Animate both Rational and Sensitive, and the Inanimate parts of Matter, and none of those composed Creatures, I mean, has any superiority or supremacy above the rest, so as to be the Principle of all other composed Creatures, as some do conceive Water, other Fire, others all the four Ele∣ments to be simple bodies, and the principles of all other Page  19 Natural Creatures, and some do make Globous bo∣dies the perfectest figures of all others; for all these be∣ing but effects, and finite particulars, can be no princi∣ples of their fellow-creatures, or of Infinite Nature. But when I say that Reason, or the Rational part of Mat∣ter is the Prime Part of Nature, I speak of the Princi∣ples of Nature, out of which all other Creatures are made or produced, which Principle is but one, viz. Matter, which makes all effects or Creatures of Na∣ture to be material, for all the effects must be accord∣ing to their principle; but this matter being of two de∣grees, viz. animate and inanimate, the animate is no∣thing but self-motion; (I call it animate matter, by reason I cannot believe, as some do, that Motion is Im∣material, there being nothing belonging to Nature which is not material, and therefore corporeal self∣motion, or animate matter is to me one and the same) and this animate matter is again subdivided into two degrees, to wit, the rational and sensitive; the rational is the soul, the sensitive the life, and the inanimate the body of Infinite Nature; all which, being so inter∣mixed and composed, as no separation can be made of one from the other, but do all constitute one Infinite and self-moving body of Nature, and are found even in the smallest particles thereof (if smallest might be said) they are justly named the Principles of Nature, whereof the rational animate matter, or corporeal self∣motion is the chief designer and surveigher, as being Page  20 the most active, subtil and penetrating part, and the sensitive the workman: but the inanimate part of Matter being thorowly intermixed with this animate self-moving Matter, or rather with this corporeal self∣motion, although it have no motion in it self, that is, in its own nature, yet by vertue of the commixture with the animate, is moving as well as moved; for it is well to be observed, that although I make a distincti∣on betwixt animate and inanimate, rational and sen∣sitive Matter, yet I do not say that they are three di∣stinct and several matters; for as they do make but one body of Nature, so they are also but one Matter; but as I mentioned before, when I speak of self-mo∣tion, I name it animate matter, to avoid the mistake, lest self-motion might be taken for immaterial; for my opinion is, that they are all but one matter, and one material body of Nature. And this is the dif∣ference between the cause or principle, and the effects of Nature, from the neglect of which comes the mi∣stake of so many Authors, to wit, that they ascribe to the effects what properly belongs to the cause, ma∣king those figures which are composed of the foresaid animate and inanimate parts of matter, and are no more but effects, the principles of all other Creatures, which mistake causes many confusions in several mens brains, and their writings. But it may be, they will account it paradoxical or absurd, that I say Infinite Matter con∣sists of two parts, viz. animate and inanimate, and Page  21 that the animate again is of two degrees, rational and sensitive, by reason the number of two is finite, and a finite number cannot make one infinite whole, which whole being infinite in bulk, must of necessity also consist of infinite parts. To which I answer, My meaning is not, that Infinite Nature is made up of two finite parts, but that she consists out of a co-mixture of animate and inanimate Matter, which although they be of two degrees or parts (call them what you will) yet they are not separated parts, but make one infinite body, like as life, soul and body, make but one man; for animate matter is (as I said before) nothing else but self-motion, which self-motion joyned with inani∣mate matter makes but one self-moving body, which body by the same self-motion is divided into infinite fi∣gures or parts, not separated from each other, or from the body of Nature, but all cohering in one piece, as several members of one body, and onely distinguished by their several figures; every part whereof has animate and inanimate matter as well as the whole body: Nay, that every part has not onely sensitive, but also ratio∣nal matter, is evident, not onely by the bare motion in every part of Nature, which cannot be without sense, for wheresoever is motion, there's sense; but also by the regular, harmonious and well-ordered actions of Nature, which clearly demonstrate, that there must needs be reason as well as sense in every part and par∣ticle of Nature; for there can be no order, method Page  22 or harmony, especially such as appears in the actions of Nature, without there be reason to cause that order and harmony. And thus motion argues sense, and the well-ordered motion argues Reason in Nature, and in every part and particle thereof, without which Na∣ture could not subsist, but would be as a dull indigested and unformed heap and Chaos. Besides, it argues that there is also knowledg in Nature, and all her parts; for wheresoever is sense and reason, there is also sensitive and rational knowledg, it being most improbable, that such an exactly-ordered and harmonious consort of all the infinitely-various actions of Nature should be with∣out any knowledg, moving and acting, producing, transforming, composing, dissolving, &c. and not knowing how, whether, or why to move; and Na∣ture being infinite in her own substance as well as in her parts, there in bulk, here in number, her knowledg in general must of necessity be infinite too, but in her par∣ticulars it cannot but be finite and particular; and this knowledg differs according to the nature of each figure or creature; for I do not mean, that this sense and know∣ledg I speak of, is onely an animal sense and knowledg, as some have mis-interpreted; for animal sense and knowledg is but particular, and belongs onely to that sort of Creatures which are Animals; but I mean such sense and knowledg as is proper to the nature of each figure; so that Animal Creatures have animal sense and knowledg, Vegetables a vegetative sense and know∣ledg, Page  23 Minerals a mineral sense and knowledg; and so of the rest of all kinds and sorts of Creatures. And this is my opinion of the Principles of Nature, which I submit to the examination of the ingenious and im∣partial Reader to consider, whether it contains not as much probability, as the opinion of those whose Princi∣ples are either Whirl-pools, insensible Minima's, Gas, Blas and Archeus, dusty Atomes, thrusting backwards and forwards, which they call reaction, and the like; or of those that make the ground and foundation of the knowledg of Nature artificial Experiments, and prefer Art before Reason: for my Principles and Grounds are sense and reason; and if they cannot hold, I know not what will; for where sense and reason has no admittance, there nothing can be in order, but confusion must needs take place.