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

1. Vpon the Principles of Thales.

THales, according to Historical Relation, was the first that made disquisitions upon Nature, and so the first Natural Philosoper. His chief points in Phi∣losophy are these: 1. He says, That Water is the Principle of all natural bodies: 2. That Nature is full of Daemons, and spiritual substances: 3. That the Soul is a self-moving Nature, and that it both moves it self, and the body: 4. That there is but one World, and that finite: 5. That the World is animate, and God is the soul thereof, diffused through every Part: 6. That the World is contained in a place: 7. That Bodies are divisible into infinite.

Concerning the First, viz. That Water is the Principle of all natural things; Helmont doth embrace Page  4 this opinion, as I have declared in my Philosophical Letters, and in the foregoing part of this Book, and have given withal my reasons why water cannot be a principle of natural things, because it is no more but a natural effect; for though humidity may be found in many parts or Creatures of Nature, yet this doth not prove, that water is a principle of all natural bodies, no more then fire, earth, air, or any other Creature of Nature; and though most Philosophers are of opi∣nion, that Elements are simple bodies, and all the rest are composed of them, yet this is no ways probable to reason, because they consist of the same matter as other bodies do, and are all but effects of one cause or prin∣ciple, which is infinite Matter.

Next, That Nature is full of Daemons, or Spiri∣tual substances, is against sense and reason; for what is incorporeal, is no part of Nature, and upon this ac∣count, the soul cannot be immaterial, although he makes her to be a self-moving Nature; for what has a natural motion, has also a natural body; because Matter and Motion are but one thing; neither can a Spiritual substance move a corporeal, they being both of different natures.

As for the World, That there is but one, I do wil∣lingly grant it, if by the World he did mean Nature; but then it cannot be finite. But Thales seems to con∣tradict himself in this Theoreme, when as he grants, that Bodies are divisible in infinite; for if there be Page  5 infinite actions, as infinite divisions in Nature; then surely the body of Nature it self must be infinite.

Next, he says, That God is the Soul of the World; which if so, God being Infinite, he cannot have a Finite body to animate it; for a Finite Body, and an Infinite Soul, do never agree together; but that God should be the Soul of the World, no regular Reason can allow, because the Soul of Nature must be cor∣poreal, as well as the Body; for an incorporeal sub∣stance cannot be mixed with a corporeal. Next, the World as the body of Nature, being dividable, it would follow, that God, which is the Soul, would be dividable also: Thirdly, Every part of the world, would be a part of God, as partaking of the same nature; for every part, if the Soul be diffused through all the Body, would be animate.

Lastly, Concerning Place, as that the World is contained in a place; my opinion is, that place is no∣thing else, but an affection of body, and in no ways different or separable from it; for wheresoever is body; or matter, there is place also; so that place cannot be said to contain the world, or else it would be bigger then the world it self; for that which contains, must needs in compass or extent, exceed that which it con∣tains.