Scepsis Scientifica,
Or, The Vanity of Dogmatizing
Joseph Glanvill.


Bibliographic Note

The Dedicatory Epistle

The Preface.

Three Poetical Testimonials

John Owen.


Chap. I.
A general description of the state of primitive ignorance; by way of introduction.

Chap. II.
Our decay and ruins by the fall; particularly those of our intellectual powers.

Chap. III.
A general account of our ignorance of our own natures.

Chap. IV.
Some great instances of our ignorance discoursed of, (i) of things within ourselves. The nature of the soul and its origin, glanced at and passed by: (1) its union with the body is unconceivable: so (2) is its moving the body, considered either in the way of Sir K. Digby, Descartes, or Dr. H. More, and the Platonists. (3) the manner of direction of the spirits, as unexplicable.

Chap. V.
(4) we can give no account of the manner of Sensation.

Chap. VI.
The nature of the memory unaccountable. 'Tis considered particularly according to the Aristotelian, Cartesian, Digbean and Hobbian hypothesis.

Chap. VII.
How our bodies are formed unexplicable. The plastic signifies nothing: the formation of plants, and animals unknown, in their principle. Mechanism solves it not. A new way profounded, which also fails of satisfaction. (2.) No account is yet given how the parts of matter are united. Some consideration on Descartes his hy pothesis, it fails of solution. (3.) The question is unanswerable, whether matter be compounded of divisibles, or indivisibles.

Chap. VII.
Difficulties about the motion of a wheel, which admit of no solution.

Chap. IX.
Men's backwardness to acknowledge their own ignorance and error, though ready to find them in others. The (i) cause of the shortness of our knowledge, viz. The depth of verity discoursed of, as of its admixtion in mens opinions with falsehood, and the connexion of truths, and their mutual dependence: a second reason of the shortness of our knowledge, viz. Because we can perceive nothing but by proportion to our senses.

Chap. X.
A third reason of our ignorance and error, viz. The impostures and deceits of our senses. The way to rectify these misinformations propounded. Descartes his method the only way to science. The difficulty of exact performance.

Chap. XI.
Two instances of sensitive decefition. (1) of the quiescence of the Earth. Sense is the great inducement to its belief; its testimony deserves no credit in this case, though it do move, sense would present it as immoveable. The sun to sense is as much devoid of motion as the Earth. The cases wherein motion is insensible, applied to the Earth's motion. The unwieldiness of its bulk is no argument of its immobility.

Chap. XII.
Another instance of the deceptions of our senses: which is of translating the idea of our passions to things without us. Properly and formally heat is not in the fire, but is an expression of our sentiment. Yet in propriety of speech the senses themselves are never deceived, but only administer an occasion of deceit to the understanding: proved by reason, and the authority of St. Austin.

Chap. XIII.
A fourth reason of our ignorance and error, viz. The fallacy of our imaginations; an account of the nature of that faculty; instances of its deceptions; spirits are not in a place; intellection, volition, decrees, &c. cannot properly be ascribed to God. It is not reason that opposeth faith, but fancy: the interest which imagination hath in many of our opinions, in that it impresses a persuasion without evidence.

Chap. XIV.
A fifth reason, the precipitancy of our understandings; the reason of it. The most close engagement of our minds requisite to the finding of truth; the difficulties of the performance of it. Two instances of our precipitating; as the concluding things impossible, which to nature are not so; and the joining causes with irrelative effects.

Chap. XV.
The sixth reason discoursed of, viz. the interest which our affections have in our dijudications. The cause why our affections mislead us: several branches of this mentioned; and the first, viz. constitutional inclination largely insisted on.

Chap. XVI.
A second thing whereby our affections in-gage us in error; is the prejudice of custom and education. A third, interest. The fourth, love to our own productions.

Chap. XVII.
5. Our affections are enaged by our reverence to antiquity and authority. This hath been a great hinderer of theorical improvements, and it hath been an advantage to the mathematics, and mechanic's arts, that it hath no place in them. Our mistake of antiquity. The unreasonableness of that kind of pedantic adoration. Hence the vanity of affecting impertinent quotations. The pedantry on't is derided; the little improvement of science through its successive derivations, end whence that hath happened.

Chap. XVIII.
The generality of its reception, no argument of its deserts; the first charge against that philosophy; that it is merely verbal. Materia prima in that philisophy signifies nothing. A parallel drawn between it and imaginary space: this latter pleads more for its reality. Their form also is a mere word, and potentia Materiae insignificant. Privation no principle. An essay to detect Peripatetic verbosity, by translating some definitions.

Chap. XIX.
2. Peripatetic philosophy is litigious; it hath no setled constant signification of words; the inconveniences hereof. Aristotle intended the cherishing controversies; proved by his own double testimony. Some of his impertinent arguings instanced in. Disputes retard, and are injurious to knowledge. Peripatetics are most exercised in the controversal parts of philosophy, and know little of the practical and experimental. A touch at school-divinity.

Chap. XX.
3. It gives no account of the phenomena; those that are remoter, it attempts not. It speaks nothing pertinent in the most ordinary: its circular, and general way of solution. It resolves all things into occult qualities. The absurdity of the Aristotelian hypothesis of the heavens. The galaxy is no meteor: the heavens are corruptible. Comets are above the moon. The sphere of fire derided. Aristotle convicted of several other false assertions.

Chap. XXII.
(5.) The Aristotelian philosophy inconsistent with divinity; and (6.) With itself. The conclusion of the reflections.

Chap. XXIII.
It's queried whether there be any science in the sense of the dogmatists: (1.) We cannot know anything to be the cause of another, but from its attending it; and this way is not infallible; declared by instances, especially from the philosophy of Descartes. All things are mixed; and 'tis difficult to assign each cause its distinct effects. (2.) There's no demonstration but where the contrary is impossible. And we can scarce conclude so of any thing.

Chap. XXIV.
Three instances of reputed impossibilities, which likely are not so, as (1.) Of the power of imagination. (2.) Secret conveyance. (3.) Sympathetic cures.

Chap. XXV.
(3.) We cannot know anything in nature without knowing the first springs of natural motions; and these we are ignorant of. (4.) Causes are so connected that we cannot know any without knowing all; declared by instances.

Chap. XXVI.
All our science comes in at our senses. Their infallibility inquired into. The authors design in this last particular.

Chap. XXVII.
Considerations against dogmatizing. (1.) 'Tis the effect of ignorance. (2.) It inhabits with untamed passions, and an ungoverned spirit. (3.) It is the great disturber of the world. (4.) It is ill manners, and immodesty. (5.) It holds men captive in error. (6.) It betrays a narrowness of spirit.

An Apology For Philosophy.

Previous Next