This is a transcribed open access edition of Margaret Cavendish's Philosophical and Physical Opinions, 1663. The text was transcribed in the Fall of 2019. I am now in the process of proof-reading and editing this text. I will be adding it as I complete portions of the text. There will also be a dedicated website to the project very soon!

Front Matter now available!


Philosophical and Physical Opinions

by Margaret Cavendish

[Title Page]







By the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and

Excellent Princess, the Lady


LONDON Printed by William Wilson, Anno Dom. M.DC.LXIII.



[page I]

[Dedications and Epistles]


To the Lady Marchioness



On Her Book of


What Numbers of Philosophers did Write,

Puzling the World, to Know still what was Right,

The More were Read, the More Confounded still,

With Strange Opinions they Mankind did Fill,

Sailing in Nature’s Ship, they still were Toss’d

On Unknown, Foaming Billows, they were Lost,

Their Sails of Folly Torn, their Rudder Broke,

And all their Cables Slacken’d, Lost their Hope;


[page II]

Their Judgments, Understandings, Drowned so,

Because they Writ of what they did not Know,

Were all but Guessers, then this LADY may

Write her Opinions, Better than all they,

And Set up for her Self, for all may find,

Reading her Book, ‘twill make them of her Mind,

So Rational, such Solid Judgments hight,

As all Wise Men will Swear, that it is Right.

William Newcastle



[page III]



The Lord Marquis of


My Noble Lord,

Since your Return from a long Banishment into your Native Country, retiring to a Shepheard’s Life, I your Shepheardess was resolved, to imploy all my Thoughts and Industry in good Huswifry, knowing your Lordship had great Debts after your great Losses; and though I am as Industrious and Carefull to serve Your Lordship in such imployments, which belong to a Wife, as Houshold affairs, as ever I can, and not to be Sordidly base, which is a Vice, Your Lordship hates, yet I cannot for my Life be so good a Huswife, as to quit Writing, to follow my Sheep so Carefully, but that they will go Astray some times; the truth is, I have somewhat Err’d from good Huswifry, to write Nature’s Philosophy, where had I been prudent, I should have Translated Natural Philosophy into good Huswifry; for Your Lordship, who has as Deep Conceptions and Subtil Observation in Natural Philosophy, and a Curious Fancies and Clear Distinguishing in Poetry, and as much ingenuity to Arts as Speculation into


[page IV]

Sciences, yet you are in a manner forced, to lay them by, since your Return into your Native Country, imploying your Thoughts and Actions in helping to Repair your ruined Estate, that was caused by Cross and Malicious Fortune, which, I have heard Your Lordship say, was never your Friend. ‘Tis true, My Lord, I have observed, She hath been Cruel to you, but the Great God of Heav’n hath Favour’d you much, as to Keep you Safe in the days of Battel, to Provide for you in the times of Banishment, and to Return you into your Native Country and Company of your Dear Children, So that God hath rewarded your Honesty, Fidelity, Virtue and Merits, although Fortune did oppose your Power, and hath almost ruined your Estate, which your Wisdome will repair, as well as it can, and what cannot be, Your Lordship hath Patience to Suffer, which Patience is no Novelty to you, who hath had more Use of it, than most Men have had; But though Your Lordship hath many Troubles, great Cares, and much Business in your particular Affairs, yet you are pleased to Peruse my Works, and Approve of them so well, as to give me Leave to Publish them, which is a Favour, few Husbands would grant their Wives; But Your Lordship is an Extraordinary Husband, which is the Happiness of Your Lordships

Honest Wife and Humble Servant

Margareta Newcastle.

[page V]

Noble Readers,

ALthough I have Indeavour’d in the Preface to hinder Objections which might be made, by Explaning some Terms which I use in this Work, yet I am Confident there will be more Senseless Objections made against it, than there are Real Faults in it, and this cannot be Avoided, for more Learned Works than mine have not escaped Censures. As for Terms, it cannot be expected but I must sometimes Err in the Proper Expression of them, since I have not Scholastical Learning; but although I may Err in Words, yet I am Confident, I do not Err in Sense and Reason, and dare Avouch to the World, that these my Philosophical Opinions have as much Sense and Reason as any that have been Written, as being Built upon the Ground of Sense and Reason. I have Cleared some Words in the Precedent Preface, according to that Sense I use them in, but there may be many more, which seem Hard to my Readers, although I hope every one, who hath a Sound Judgement, may easily Understand them. Thus when I speak of the Degrees of Matter, I desire my Noble Readers to know, that I mean Degrees in Quality and Quantity, not in the Substance and Nature of Matter it Self, as which is Simple, and always the Same, and cannot be


[page VI]

said to have More or Less. Likewise when I discourse of Creation, I do not Understand a Production out of Nothing, but a Production in Nature, as Nature Creates one thing out of an other, some may call it Generation; and many the like Words, which if I should indeavour to Explane them all, it would be a great Work, and not fit for the Preface, which Preface I must desire you, Noble Readers, to Peruse before begin the Work it Self. I know very well, that my opinions cannot be generally Received and Applauded, for as the Old Proverb says, So many Men so many Minds, and it is not likely, that all Men may Agree in one Mind or Judgement, and since, especially in Natural Philosophy, Opinions have Freedome, I hope these my Opinions may also Injoy the same Liberty and Privilege that others have, which without great Injustice no Body can Deny me.


[page VII]



I would not have troubled you with another Epistle, but since there is something Left out, which I thought necessary to have been Inserted in this Work, I must desire your Leave to Inform you of it, and ‘tis this: There may be in Nature More Sensitive Passages or Organs, than the Sensitive Organs in Animals, and not only More Sensitive Passages or Organs, but more Various; for though Animals cannot see Outward Objects without an Eye, yet certainly Nature can, and hath made Different Organs in Different Creatures, to present all the Several Objects or Creatures with their Several Effects to the Several Senses of Several Creatures; for it is not probable, that the several Works in Nature can be in Obscurity to most, and only be Divulged to some particular Sorts or Kinds of those Infinite Creatures in Nature, which are the Infinite Parts of Nature, which is in the Infinite Matter of Nature, which cannot be so Obscure, but is some ways or other subject to the Infinite Knowledge in Nature. But some may Object, that I say, that although Infinite matter is but as One Body, as being of One Nature, yet Motion divides that Body into Several Parts, and as Parts are Particular, so Knowledge is Particular, for what is one Part is not another Part, no more than one Man is another Man, and the like may be said for Knowledge. I answer, that all this is true but several


[page VIII]

men may be Considered as One Man, and yet those Several men are not that One Man; also there may be Cut or Ingraven in Several Sorts of Substances, and in One and the same, many Several Figures of one Man, yet those Several Figures are not the Man, but so many Pictures of one Man, for Like and the Same is not all one thing; for though Nature may, and can make Infinite Repetitions of One and the same Creature, and make Infinite Creatures to be Like each other, as also to be of one Sort or Kind, yet Nature cannot make one Creature another, for every Part is of it Self, although every Part is of the Whole, and though Parts cannot be Single Parts of themselves, being Individable from the Whole, yet what is one Part is not another Part: So for Sensitive Passages and Organs, as also their Intelligence and Knowledge, for Several Passages or Organs may inform or give Sensitive knowledge Several ways or Manner of ways, and yet it may be the Same Sort or Kind of Knowledge, and represent Several Prints or Pictures of One thing. Also I must inform my Readers, that I have heard some say, Geometry to be the Ground of Natural Philosophy, and not Natural Philosophy the Ground of Geometry; we may as well say, Art produceth Nature, and not Nature Art. But although it is probable, that some of the Opinions of Antient Philosophers in Antient times are Erroneous, yet not all, neither are all Modern Opinions Truths, but truly I believe, there are more Errors in the One, than Truth in the Other.


[page IX]






Noble Readers,

To Treat of Every particular Motion in Every particular Part of Every particular Creature, is beyond my Capacity, and to Treat of Some particular Motions in Some particular Parts of Some Particular Creatures, is very Difficult for Me to do, having a Weak Body, and a Weak Mind, so that I Fear my Readers would think my Mind a Busie Fool, and my Body an Idle Animal, if I should Offer or Indeavour to do it; But howsoever, I am resolved to Venture on their Censure, rather than Bury my Opinions in Oblivion. Wherefore, in this Work of mine you will find, not only my Former Philosophical Opinions Enlarged, but much Reformed and Corrected; for though I


[page X]

keep to the first Ground or Principle, that is, to Sense and Reason, which is Life and Knowledge, yet I have indeavoured here to Build upon that Ground, not only a Larger, but a more Exact and Perfect Fabrick, wherein every Several Chapter, like Several Rooms, have as Much and as Clear Lights as I can give them, and if any Part should seem Obscure to my Readers, I should be Sorry for’t, for I can assure you, that all these Opinions seem Clear to my Conceptions, as also to my Sense and Reason, though I do not know how they will seem to your Understanding, for they being New Opinions, never Broached before but by Me, are like New Extracts, Essences or Spirits, whose Substance is not easily Discerned or Found out, and therefore not Generally known of what Matter they were made, and I being a Woman Cannot, or if I could, it were not Fir for me Publickly to Preach, Teach, Declare or Explane them by Words of Mouth, as most of the most Famous Philosophers have done, who thereby have made their Philosophical Opinions more Famous, than I fear Mine will ever be; for though Writing and Printing Explanes the Text, yet it doth not so Clearly Expound it as Speech would do. But I am in hope, this my Work will meet with Understanding Readers, to whom I Leave it.

Theology for the most Part is drawn out of Natural Philosophy, witness the Arguers and Writers in Theology, for some Plead for the


[page XI]

Prae-existence of Men’s Souls, some for their Transmigration, others for their Creation, whereof some are Pythagoreans, and others Aristoteleans, and so they Talk and Write of God’s Actions, according to Pythagoras’s, Plato’s, or Aristotle’s Opinions, which is Ridiculous, since God’s Decrees or Actions are not to be Known, and therefore not to be Disputed; neither can they Tell whether Divine Souls be Corporeal, or Incorporeal, or how God will Dispose of such Divine Souls as are above Natural Matter, Causes, and Effects. But, Noble Readers, I desire you will take Notice, that I meddle not with the Particular Divine Souls of Men, but only the General Soul of Nature, which I name the rational matter, neither do I insist only upon the Particular Life of Mankind, but the General Life of Nature, which I call or name the Sensitive matter, both which is Animate matter; neither do I Treat only of the Bodies of Men, but of the Body of Nature, which I name the inanimate matter, all which is the Infinite matter of Nature, that is, the Soul, Life, and Body of Nature, the Sensitive and Rational being the Quintessence, Spirit, or Purity of Nature, but the other Part a more Gross and Senseless matter. And as I do not meddle with the Divine Souls of Men, so I do not as many Men do, which Study, Argue, and Write much, to Prove there is a God, as also to Prove his Power, Will, or Decrees, all which is a Presumption for Men to do, for Men cannot Prove,

[page XII]

what they cannot possibly Know, for God hath not given any One Creature, nor All Creatures, were they Joyned into One, a Sufficiency to Know him, and since God is so much Above Nature or Natural Matter, as I a Single Creature cannot Guess at Him, I will not Dispute on Him, but Pray to that Incomprehensible and Inexpressible Deity, to Favour me with that which is Best for me.

Thus, Noble Readers, you will find, that this present Work contains Pure Natural Philosophy, without any Mixture of Theology, for I have not Imitated the Philosophers or Theologers of this Age, who do Mix one Sort with the other, for in my Opinion this Mixture doth Disturb and Obstruct their Works, wherein is neither Philosophy nor Theology Clearly Argued or Declared by the Writers, nor Clearly Understood by the Readers: Neither can Theology and Natural Philosophy Agree, for Philosophy is Built all upon Human Sense, Reason, and Observation, whereas Theology is only Built upon an Implicit Faith, which is an Undoubted Belief of that, which the Nature of the Creature cannot possibly Comprehend or Conceive, whilst it is in this World, and in the State of Ignorance; Wherefore Poor Ignorant Man must rest upon Faith, which is Beyond Human Sense and Reason, until such time as he hath a Glorifi’d Body and a Purifi’d Soul, in which Condition he may have a Perfect Knowledge, but in the meantime, whilst he is in this


[page XIII]

World, it is a Folly to Dispute, since neither Study nor Disputation can Inform him, for Disputations and Arguments do rather Deform Religion, than Inform the Creature; wherefore it is better to Pray than to Preach, to Believe than to Dispute, the one will Reform Men from Vices and Combine them in Unity, the other will Bring Men into Atheism, or cause a Confusion and Division amongst Mankind. But, Noble Readers, this Work, as aforesaid, is only Natural Philosophy, which will neither Obstruct nor do Harm either to the Church or State, or to the Conscience or Life of Man, but it may rather Inform Men, or shew them a Ground to Find out those things which maybe Convenient, Useful, and Profitable to the Life of Man; The Truth is, that without Natural Philosophy Men could not tell how to Live; for Natural Philosophy doth not only Instruct Men to Know the Course of the Planets and the Seasons of the Year, but it Instructs Men in Husbandry, Architecture, and Navigation, as also Combination and Association, but above all it Instructs Men in the Rules and Arts of Physick; indeed all Arts and Sciences are produced in on kind or other from Natural Philosophy, insomuch as it may be said, Man Lives meerly by Natural Philosophy, so that Natural Philosophy is the Light that God is pleased to give Man, to Direct him in the Course of his Life; and if my Work addeth to the Splendor of that Philosophical Light, I give the Omnipotent


[page XIV]


God thanks, who is onely God, and the Disposer of Infinite Matter.

But, Noble Readers, I must intreat one Fa vour from you, which is, to Observe the Variety Of and In this Work, for I do not onely Treat of the Infinite Soul, Life, and Body, but I Treat also of the Several Actions of that Infinite Body, Life, and Soul; I shall not need to tell you, I had neither Learning nor Art to set forth these Conceptions, for that you will find yourself, by reason it is not so Compendious and Scholastical as it might have been, but I can assure you, Noble Readers, I was very Studious in my own Thoughts and Contemplations, when I writ it, for all that time my Brain was like an University, Senate, or Council-Chamber, wherein all my Conceptions, Imaginations, Observations, Wit, and Judgment did meet, to Dispute, Argue, Contrive, and Judge, for Sense, Reason, and Truth, and if you Please to give your Plausible Votes, they will have their Reward.

Also, I desire you to Excuse me, if I have made any Repetitions, for I could not well avoid it, by reason, my Book Treats of the most Subtil and Obscure Interior Motions, Degrees, and Temperaments of Matter, as also of the Several Creations and Dissolutions of Several Creatures, in Animals, Vegetables, Minerals, and Elements; all which Variety will cause some Repetitions, to make my Readers to Remember, as also to Understand the Truth, at


[page XV]

least my Conceptions; for of all Studies, Natural Philosophy, as it is the most Difficult to be Expressed, so it is the most Difficult to be Understood, especially in Treating of Hidden Causes and Effects, but more, when as the Treaty is of the First Cause, from whence all Effects are Produced; Wherefore my Repetitions are to be Pardon’d, although they are not so Many, but those which are, were made upon Necessity, at least did I think them to be so.

Besides, if you find not the Words and Chapters in this Work so Properly Placed, as they might have been, I desire you to Excuse me, for the Variety of Several Discourses in every Several Chapter did so Imploy my Brain, as it had neither Room nor Time for such Inferior Considerations, so that both Words and Chapters take their Places according as I Writ them, without any Mending or Correcting; The Truth is, my Work goes out into the World like an Unpolish’d Stone or Metall, a meer Rough-cast without any Gloss or Splendor; but my hope is, it will meet with such Understanding Readers, as will not Undervalue the Inward Worth, through a Dislike to the Outward Form. It is Plain and Vulgarly Express’d, as having not so much Learning as to Puzle the Reader with Logistical, Metaphysical, Mathematical, or the like Terms; Wherefore you shall onely find therein Plain Sense and Reason, Plainly Declared, without Geometrical Demonstrations, Figures, Lines, and Letters;


[page XVI]

Nevertheless, since it concerns Sense and Reason in all Matter, and so Consequently in all Creatures and Actions, Forms and Figures, or what is or can be, it doth not Hinder or Obstruct Scholastical and Artificial Arguments, Rules, Demonstrations, Names, and Terms, for these my Opinions may be Discoursed of, as well according to this Manner or Way, as to all other Divers Ways, and in any Language whatsoever. Yet if I were asked, What Way I would have them Declared and Argued, I would Answer, After my own Plain Way, that the Truth, or at least the Probability thereof might not be Lost in the Labyrinth of Sophistry, produced from the Corruption of Logick, and the Mixture of several Languages.

Wherefore, Noble Readers, I pray observe, that when I Treat of Natural Creations and Dissolutions, or Natural Transmigrations, Metamorphoses, and the like, I do not Obstruct Artificial Transmigrations, Productions, Alterations, Metamorphoses, Dissolutions, &c. for Art proceeds from Nature, not Nature from Art, and Logick, Metaphysick, Mathematick, Chymistry, and the like Arts, may have as much Imployment upon the Grounds of these my Opinions, as upon any other; for Example, When I Treat of the Natural Metamorphosing of Loose Elements, I do not hinder Artificial Imitations of Nature, for there are Natural Contracting Motions, that Congeal Water into Ice, and there are also such Motions caused


[page XVII]

by Art which do the same: Also there may be Colours made by Arts as well as by Nature, and many other Examples might be given. Thus you see, that my Philosophy doth not Obstruct Art, but gives it more Natural Insight to proceed Artificially; but remember, as I mention’d before, that all Art proceeds from Nature, as also Art can onely Metamorphose Loose and Unsettled Elements, or Loose and Changing Humors, as I shall Declare in the Book, and not those Figures or Creatures that are Composed of Many and Different Motions, Parts, and Mixtures.


[page XVIII]

Another Epistle to the Reader.


Noble Readers,

The Ground of these my Philosophical and Physical Opinions was Printed in the Year 1653. to which in the Year 1655. I made an Addition, but after I Returned with my Noble Lord into England, I have since Reviewed my Former Work, and finding it not so Perfect, as I wish it had been, I have imployed part of my Idle Time to make it more Intelligible for my Readers. As for the Ground of this Philosophical work, as Matter, Motion and Figures, ‘tis as Old as Eternity it Self, but my Opinions of this Ground are as New as from my First Conception, and the Truth of these New Conceptions may be as Old as Eternity, for any thing my Sense and Reason can perceive to the Contrary. But my Desire is, that I may receive this Favour and Justice from my Noble Readers, that, if any hath since the First Impression Written, or shall Hereafter Write such or the like Opinions as these I Divulge in this Work, you would be pleased to Consider, and Remember Mine as the Original, for which Favour and Justice I shall pray God to Prosper and Bless you. Also, Noble Readers, I desire you would be Pleased, if you take Delight in Philosophy, and should chance to Read my Book of Poems,


[page XIX]

or that Part that treats of Atoms, to Consider, that though the Opinion of Atoms is as Old as from the Time of Epicurus, yet my Conceptions of their Figures, Creating and Disposing, are New, and my Own. And as for Atoms, after I had Reasoned with my Self, I conceived that it was not probable, that the Universe and all the Creatures therein could be Created and Disposed by the Dancing and Wandering and Dusty motion of Atoms, the reason, why I think so, is as Follows: It is not probable that the Substance of Infinite matter is only Infinite, Small, Senseless Fibres, Moving and Composing all Creatures by Chance, and that Chance should produce all things in such Order and Method, such Curious Compositions, such Subtil Contrivance, such Distinctions of Several Kinds, Sorts, Times, Seasons, such Exact Rules, Fixt Decrees, Perfect Figures, Constant Sucessions, and the like, unless every Single Atome were Animated Matter, having Animated Motion, which is Sense and Reason, Life and Knowledge, to Move and Create other Figures, by Joyning and Uniting their Small Bodies by Consent, and Dissolving by Consent, and so Ordering by Consent and Agreement, which is not Probable; for if Every and Each Atome were of a Living Substance, and had Equal Power, Life and Knowledge, and Consequently a Free-will and Liberty, and so Each and Every one were as Absolute as an other, they would hardly Agree in one Government, and as unlikely as Several Kings would Agree in


[page XX]

one Kingdom, or rather as Men, if every one should have an Equal Power, would make a Good Government; and if it should Rest upon Consent and Agreement, like Human Governments, there would be as many Alterations and Confusions of Worlds, as in Human States and Governments by Disagreement, for there must necessarily be as much Liberty and Power in every Atome to Disagree as to Agree. But, as I said, if Infinite Matter were Infinite Atoms, then every Atom must be a Living Substance, which is a Self-moving Substance, otherwise they could not Move, but would be an Infinite Immoving Substance; and if every Atome had not an Animate Knowledge, there could be neither Order nor Method; and if every one had an Equal Power, as Consequently every one must have, there would be a Disagreement; all which perswades me to Wave the Opinion of Atoms. But my Opinion of Atoms, in my Book of Poems, is, if the Infinite and Eternal Matter be Atoms, that those Figures of Atoms, which I there mention, as Round, Square, Long, Triangular, Pointed, and all other Figures, are part of those Figures which make Air, Fire, Water and Earth, and how they are Disposed in the Creation of Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals; also that the Weight and Quantity of each Atom must be Alike, for if every Atom be as Small as in Nature it can be, then the Weight and Quantity of each Atom must needs be Alike, all which I treat in my Book of Poems; but by reason it is in Verse, it is not


[page XXI]

so Clearly or Solidly Expressed, as I might have done it in Prose; besides, it was the First of my Works that I Divulged, being Printed in the year 1653. in which year also I caused to be Printed the first Edition of my Philosophical and Physical Opinions, but since that time I have Thought more of it, and could give Better Reasons concerning Atoms that I could then, having since Spent the most part of my Time in Contemplations; but now I Wave the Old Opinion of Atoms, for it is not probable, they should be the Cause of such Effects as are in Nature, and it seemeth not so Clearly to my Reason, as these my Own, and Absolutely New Opinions of Natural Philosophy, which are like Chymistry, that from a Gross Substance can draw an Essence as an Extract, which in my Philosophy is Sense and Reason, that is, Life and Knowledge; but this Essence is no Extract, being Eternal. Also, Noble Readers, give me Leave to Inform you, that I have some few of my own Philosophical Opinions in my Book named Olio, Printed in the Year 1655. and some in my Book of Natural Descriptions or Tales, Printed in the Year 1656.

I confess, there have been many Learned and Studious men, which have been accounted the Sages of Former, Present, and it may be also of Future times; but in my Opinion, they have had very Improbable, and I may say (without Dis-respect to their Wisdome) very Extravagant Opinions and Phantasms in Natural Philosophy; as for Example, some had an


[page XXII]

Opinion, that the Jogging or rather Jolting of the Earth is the Cause of the Ebbing and Flowing of the Sea, I suppose that Motion must be very Uneasie and Violent, as also Equally Constant, for if were not Constant, the Tides would not be so Constant as they are, and if it were not Violent, it could not Work that Effect; but if the Globe of the Earth hath such a Rough, Jogging, Jolting, Unsettled motion, as those Learned and Wise men Imagine, there would be as Constant Earth-quakes in all the Earthly Globe, as there are Tides, insomuch as there would be no Part of or in the Earthly World, a Settled Habitation for those Creatures that Live thereon.

Another Opinion of some Learned and Wise Men is, that Thunder is caused by Frozen Clouds and Roves of Ice falling upon each other, if so, most of the Creatures upon the Earth would be Knockt on the Head in Times and Places of Thunder, for I cannot perceive, but Clouds and Roves of ice should fall down upon the Earth more Forcibly than Hail or Snow, for the Natural Air, or other Ascending Bodies cannot Hinder or Uphold those Solid Clouds of Ice, when they cannot uphold Light Flakes of Snow and Small Hail. Another Opinion of some Wise and Learned Men is, that all Exterior Motions, or Local Actions and Accidents proceed from one Motion Pressing upon another, and so one thing Driving and Shoving Another to get each other’s Place, which, in my Opinion, if so, no Creature, especially Animals,


[page XXIII]

Could or Should Rest in one Place, but All Creatures in the World would be in a Perpetual Dance, or rather Sliding, which would produce a very Restless Life, and Wearisom to such Lazy Creatures as I am. Also some have an opinion, that, Matter being One and the Same, and that the Heavens and the Earth, or were there Infinite Worlds, are all of the Same Matter, it is impossible to be more than One World or Universe; which in my Opinion is Nonsense, unless they make the Infinite Matter One World or Universe, for in this Manner we may as well say, that by reason All Creatures are made of One & the Same Matter, there is but One Creature; as for Example, all Mankind is made of One Matter, wherefore there is but One Man. But in my Opinion, though the Matter be of One and the Same Entity, yet the Creatures are Different, not only made by Motion, but by several Degrees of that only matter, and Different motions in those Degrees, so that it is the Several and Different Degrees and Motions in Only and Infinite Matter, that Make or Create Several and Different Creatures Infinitely and Eternally. But this is to be Observed, that the Different Degrees of Matter, and the Different Motions in those Degrees in One and the Same Matter cause such Different Effects, as if those Degrees were Different matter. Other Wise and Learned Men are of an Opinion, that there is no Rational Soul but in Mankind, at least in Animal Kind, and that the Soul of each


[page XXIV]

Liveth and Dwells in a Little Kernel of the Brain, a Small Habitation for so Subtil and Dilating an Infusion, but surely the Soul is Wiser than to Choose so Close a Prison to Dwell in, and is more Active than to be Confined; neither can an Exterior motion on that Kernel, Inform the Soul of all the Actions of the Body, or Outward Objects, no more than when one Man Knocks at another Man’s Door, the Master of the House Knows why the other Knocks. Other Wise and Learned men have an Opinion, that the Soul is not any Thing, but yet hath a Beeing, but how Nothing can have a Beeing, I Leave to Rational men to Judge. Other Opinions are, that all Creatures are produced by the way of Eggs as Birds lay. Other Learned and Wise men have an Opinion, that Fire is only Motion without Substance1, to which Opinion, when My Lord heard it, he answered, that if so, then an House when it is Burnt, cannot be said to be Burnt and Consumed by Fire, but by a Substanceless2 motion. An other Opinion is, that all the Universe is made or caused by Whirlpools and Circular motions, which is a Giddy and Dissie Opinion, insomuch, as it Disorders all Human sense and reason.

These Odd Fantastical Opinions, may get Fame sooner than meet with Truth, for Truth, at least the Probability of Truth, Liveth in Sense and Reason, and not in Irregular Phancies. But there are so many of them, that to mention all, I had need to Write another Book, which I will not take the Pains to do. Only this I observe,


[page XXV]

that to Strengthen their Opinions, they are Forced to Steal from each Other, and all the Latter Writers from the Former, only with some little Alterations or Additions. Also I observe, that our Modern Writers in Philosophy, rather Argue like Scholars than Natural Philosophers, rather according to the Arts of Men, than to the Works of Nature, Leaving the Prime Causes, and Hunting after the Effects, which Effects cannot be throughly Known without the Knowledge of their Cause, and though the Cause cannot be throughly Known, yet it may by much Contemplation and Observation be found out Better than it is, at least some Probability thereof.


[page XXVI]



Concerning the Rules of Art, and Explaining the Nature of Infinite, together with some other Terms, for the better Understanding of this Philosophical Work.

THE Rules of Art cannot be the Rules of Nature, nor the Measures of Art the Measures of Nature, neither can the Numbers of Art be the Numbers of Nature, for though Art proceeds from Nature, yet Nature doth not proceed from Art, for the Cause cannot proceed from the Effect, although the Effect proceeds from the Cause, neither can Art the Effect of Nature comprehend Nature, for Nature is so far beyond or above Art, as Art is Lost and Confounded in the Search of Nature, for Nature being Infinite, and Art Finite, they cannot Equalize each other; and this is the Cause, that School-men, who are the Masters of Art, Confound themselves, and all Profitable Studies with


[page XXVII]

Logistical Arts, their Artificial Arguments being as Clouds which Obscure the Natural Light of Information or Observation, for there is as much Difference between Logistical Arguments, and Natural Observations, as between Light and Darkness, and the best Natural Philosophers are those, that have the Clearest Natural Observation, and the Least Artificial Learning; but Scholars are so in Love with Art, that they Despise or at least Neglect Nature, and in that Opinion Rail, or at least find Faults, as are not truly to be Found, with those, that are Truly, Purely, and Rightly Natural Philosophers; But I fear, saying thus much, will beget my Writings many Enemies, for they will say, that I having not the Names and Terms of Art, Speak and Write Non-sense, although the Ground of my Philosophy is Sense and Reason, Life and Knowledge; But Worthy Scholars, say what you Please, it will not Trouble my Sense or Reason, Body or Soul.

I have for the better Understanding of this my Philosophical Work, thought fit to Explane some Words used therein; and therefore when I speak of Infinite matter, I mean Infinite in Quantity, Bulk, Space, Place, Continuance, as also Parts and Whole, but Individable from each other, also all Positives, Negatives, and Potentials, inherent in the Only Substance. But there may be Objected, as that to School Disputations, there can be no such thing in Nature, as Infinite quantity, by reason all Quantity hath Parts, for Quantity


[page XXVIII]

is that, whereby all things become Measurable, for every thing is Measured by its Parts; I answer, that Infinite is neither to be Number’d nor Measur’d, neither to be Added nor Diminished, so that no perfect Division can be made in Infinite matter, as to Divide one part from the rest, for though Parts may be made as Folds, or into Figures, and these to Remove from place to place, and Parts to or from Parts, yet they cannot be Divided from the Whole, as to become each a Single part of it Self, but they remain still Parts, pertaining to the Only matter, for though there may be Infinite parts of Infinite matter, yet not Infinite Single parts, but Infinite Inherent parts; neither can any Part be Measured as a Single part, but as a Part of the Infinite matter, so that not any Part can be absolute or freely Bounded or Limited, but it must have some Reference to the Infinite matter. Also some Scholars will say, there cannot be Several Infinites, because one Infinite would Possess all Place imaginable, and so one Part would not Leave room for the next; but it may be answered, that Infinite matter carries Place with it; also some Scholars will say, that one Infinite cannot be in another Infinite; it may be answer’d, as well as one Creature Lieth in another; as for Example, how many Several Creatures Live in the World? it will be said, they are Part of the World, and so are all Parts Inherent in the Only matter, being but as One: But to Sense and Reason, there is no such thing as Number and Quantity in the Infinite


[page XXIX]

finite Body or Parts, for Number and Quantity is only Change of Motion and Figures; neither is there such thing as Time in Eternity, but only what change of Motion makes; nor any such thing as Diversity in Infinite, for Diversity is only Change of Motion and Alteration of Figures; neither is there any such thing as several Kinds or Sorts of Creatures of Substances in Infinite matter, for several Kinds, Sorts and Particulars are but Changing or Forming of Matter into several Figures by Change of Motion; Neither is there Sympathy or Antipathy, but by Change of Motion, for Forming of Matter into Figures, and Changing of Motion in Matter, doth neither Disturb not Obstruct, nor Alter the Nature of Infinite matter, for the Nature and Entity of Infinite matter cannot be Altered as being Finite, that is, Simple, Uniform, and Intire in it Self; neither can the Body of Infinite matter be Diminished or Increased, being all it Self, but those Figures which Motion makes of the Only matter are the several Parts, and the Motions are the several Actions of Only matter, and Body and Parts are Inseparable, for whatsoever hath a Body, hath Parts, and whatsoever hath Parts hath a Body, and if that Body be Infinite, the Inherent parts must also be Infinite; but mistake me not, for though I say, Body and Parts are inseparable, yet Self-motion can Form and Figure those Infinite parts of the Infinite body, Infinite several Ways, Fashions and Forms, for the Inseparability hinders not the Inherent motion from Figuring


[page XXX]

and Dissolving of Figures. Also there can be no Being without a Body, nor no Body without a Being; Also Animate matter and motion are Inseparable, for the Motion can no more quit the Matter, than the Matter can quit the Motion; Also one and the same Animate matter may Move in Different Modes or Manners of ways, but not Transfer its Motion; Also one and the same Motion cannot go out of one Substance into another, but the Motion and Substance must Transfer or Incorporate together; Also Animate matter moves in Inanimate matter, but cannot give that matter animate Motion; Also one Moved or Moving substance may Alter the Motions in another Moved or Moving Matter, but not Transfer Motion; Also one Body may Impower another Body, so as to Hinder it from such or such a manner of Moving, or to Cause another Body to Move so or so, either Exteriously or Interiously, and several Bodies may Strive to Overpower each Bodies Strength, or may Indeavour to Alter each Bodies Figure or Form, but yet it cannot Impart each Bodies Motions without Imparting the Substance, wherein the Motion Inheres, that is, that Animate cannot Impart its Inherent Motion without the Matter, but Matter and Motion being inseparable, they must necessarily Continue together, for when as several Parts of Animate matter, and several Motions in that matter Intermix, they do not Impart each others Motions into each others Parts, but those Parts and Inherent motions Mix and Work together


[page XXXI]

those Parts may Help each other, or Oppose each other, or Alter each others Motions, but not Quit their Inherent motions. Another thing is to be observed, that although all Matter is Moving, or Moved, yet all Matter is not Moving or Moved after one and the same Way or Manner, for Motion Alters in the Matter, although it cannot be Annihilated, neither can New motions be made, no more than New matter, for all Sorts of Motions are as Old as the Matter, yet the Matter may move after Different manners of ways; as for Example, some Parts of the Matter may move sometimes Dilatingly, at other times Contractingly, yet is not the Dilation Annihilated, although the Matter doth not use that Motion, for the Dilating motion is in the Power of the Matter, although not in the present Action, for the Matter cannot Loose any of the Motions that are Inherent to it, but yet the Motions may Alter in the Matter, and sometimes may use Less force, but not Lose force. Also Body and Place are inseparable, for whatsoever hath a Body hath a Place, and there cannot be a Place without a Body. Also Infinite and Eternal are Inseparable, for whatsoever is Infinite is Eternal, and whatsoever is Eternal is Infinite. Also there cannot be Subtraction or Addition from or to Infinite, for Infinite doth not admit of Subtraction or Addition, the Body and Parts being Inseparable; Also Division and Composition are Inseparable, for whatsoever is Composed may be Divided; also Motion, Division and Composition are Inseparable, for not


[page XXXII]

any Division or Composition can be made without Motion; also the Nature of Infinite matter, and the Body of Infinite matter, are Inseparable; also Motion and Infinite is Inseparable, for whatsoever is Infinite, is either Moving or Moved or both.

In short: My meaning of Infinite is Philosophical, not Rhetorical; my Meaning of Parts is, that they are Several Changes, and not Perfect Divisions; my meaning of Several Infinites is, that they are Several Actions, and not Several Substances; my meaning of Only matter is, the Infinite matter is Nature, as it is Matter, that is Considered in it Self, called Only matter, to Exclude all other Matter whatsoever. My meaning of Animate matter is, the Purest Degree of Infinite matter, called so, because it hath Self-motion within it, which is as it were the Life and Soul, that Enliveneth it. Whereas on the contrary, by Inanimate matter, I understand, that Grosser part of Matter, which is Destitute of all Motion, and as it were Dead, yet apt to receive Life and Motion from the Animate matter that Works upon it. And since the Animate matter is of two Degrees, Sensitive and Rational, I call the Sensitive the Life, and the Rational the Soul, this the Designer, and that the Worker, which Sensitive and Rational matter Is and Works in all Kind of Creatures the Same, yet Different ways, according to their Different Shapes, Figures, and Interior nature, so this Sensitive


[page XXXIII]

and Rational matter Is and Works in Animals, in an Animal way, in Vegetables, in a Vegetable way, in Minerals, in a Mineral way, in Elements, in an Elemental way, that is, in a Way, as aforesaid, Proper to their Figure, Shape, and Interior nature; for such and such a Matter or Substance, Moved by such and such Inherent motions, Produces such and such Creatures, Qualities, and Effects; and as Animate matter is the Worker and Designer of all Figures, so it is their Maintainer and Dissolver. Also, when I mention Cold or Hot motions, or the like, I do not mean Motion without Matter, but such Motions that Work in such Matter, as to make such Effects. Also my meaning of the Sensitive matter, is not the Particular Sensitive Organs of Animals, but the General Sensitive Substance in Nature, which is the General Life in Nature; and when I say the Unanimate matter, I do not mean that Matter, that is not Subject to Animal senses, but that which hath not Animate motion. By Animate motion, I understand the Intern and Essential motion, properly Inherent in the Nature and Substance of the Animate matter. By Change of Motion, I do not understand Change of Matter, but Change of Motion in one and the same Part of Matter, neither can Motion go out of one Part of Matter into another Part of Matter, without Matter, for Motion cannot Quit the Matter, it is Inherent in; but the Matter can Alter and Change the Inherent motion after


[page XXXIV]

several Ways or Modes, and the several Inherent motions in several Parts of Animate matter, may Oppose, Obstruct, or Disturb each part and Party, but not Quit or Leave their Parts, they are inherent in. The word Gross, when I use it, is to be Understood two Ways, first in Quantity, and then in Quality, as a Gross Substance, and a Gross Bulk. My meaning of Composition and Division is, that they are only Changes of Motion and Figures, and therefore Addition or Diminution cannot be. My meaning of Quantity is, that it is Substance and not Measure; my meaning of Outward Finites is, the Outward form or bare Figure, not the Substance, but the Single Figures of Infinite Substance; my meaning of the word World, when I attribute it to Air, Fire, Water and Earth, is, that I understand by it an Aggregate of the same Substance without Mixture of any other. But my meaning is not to Write a Book of Disputations, as of Infinite and no Infinite, of Matter and no Matter, of Soul and no Soul, of Body and no Body, and of One, Two or Three, etc. as Scholars do in Schools, for One Two or Three, or all the Numbers in Euclid, or the Skil of Archimedes, can neither Number nor Measure Infinite, so that their Examples of One, Two or Three will not serve, but One, Two or Three Foolish Heads with their Sophistical Studies make more Noise to the Hearing, than they bring Proof to the Understanding; the truth is, Sophists indeavor to


[page XXXV]

Confound Nature with Art, and to Set Rules and Compasses to Infinite, or otherwise to Scrape and Blot out Infinite with their Ignorance or Nonsense; But I desire my Readers, to keep to my Text, which is Sense and Reason, Life and Knowledge, Matter and Motion, which is Infinite.


  1. Cavendish’s correction. Delete "without substance" ↩︎

  2. Cavendish’s correction: Delete "substanceless" and replace with “Violent”. ↩︎