Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/458

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Hence, he knows all of natural science whether pertaining to medicine and alchemy, or to matters celestial or terrestrial. He has worked diligently in the smelting of ores as also in the working of minerals; he is thoroughly acquainted with all sorts of arms and implements used in military service and in hunting, besides which he is skilled in agriculture and in the measurement of lands. It is impossible to write a useful or correct treatise in experimental philosophy without mentioning this man's name. Moreover, he pursues knowledge for its own sake; for if he wished to obtain royal favor, he could easily find sovereigns who would honor and enrich him.

Similar expressions might readily be quoted from Thomas Aquinas, but his works are so easy to secure and his whole attitude of mind so well known, that it scarcely seems worth while taking space to do so. Aquinas is still studied very faithfully in many universities and within the last few years one of his great text-books of philosophy has been replaced in the curriculum of Oxford University, in which it occupied a prominent position in the long ago, as a work that may be offered| for examination in the department of philosophy. It is with regard to him particularly that there has been the greatest revulsion of feeling in recent years and a recognition of the fact that here was a great thinker familiar with all that was known in the physical sciences, and who had this knowledge constantly in his mind when he drew his conclusions with regard to philosophical and theological questions.

As for the supposed swearing by Aristotle which is so constantly asserted to have been the habit of these scholastic philosophers, it is extremely difficult in the light of expressions which they themselves use to understand how this false impression arose, Aristotle they thoroughly respected. They constantly referred to his works, but so has every thinking generation ever since, Whenever he had made a declaration they would not accept the contradiction of it without a good reason, but whenever they had good reasons, Aristotle's opinion was at once rejected without compunction, Albertus Magnus, for instance, said: "Whoever believes that Aristotle was a God must also believe that he never erred, but if we believe that Aristotle was a man, then doubtless he was liable to err just as we are." A number of direct contradictions of Aristotle we have from Albert. A well-known one is that with regard to Aristotle's assertion that lunar rainbows appeared only twice in fifty years, Albert declared that he himself had seen two in a single year.

Indeed, it seems very clear that the whole trend of thought among the great teachers of the time was away from acceptance of scientific conclusions on authority unless there was good evidence for them available. They were quite as impatient as the scientists of our time with a constant putting forward of Aristotle as if that settled the scientific question. Roger Bacon wanted the Pope to forbid the study of Aristotle because his works were leading men astray from the study of