“The unprofitableness of modern scientific research is evinced in the fact that while we have a name for the most trivial particle of mineral, plant, animal, and man, the wisest of our teachers are unable to tell us anything definite about the vital force which produces the changes in these several kingdoms. It is necessary to seek further for corroboration of this statement than the works of our highest scientific authorities themselves.
It requires no little moral courage in a man of eminent professional position to do justice to the acquirements of the ancients, in the face of a public sentiment which is content with nothing else than their abasement.
When we meet with a case of the kind we gladly lay a laurel at the feet of the bold and honest scholar. Such is Professor Jowett, Master of Balliol College, and Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Oxford, who, in his translation of Plato’s work, speaking of “the physical philosophy of the ancients as a whole”, gives them the following credit:
1. “That the nebular theory was the received belief of the early physicists.” Therefore it could not have rested, as Draper asserts, upon the telescopic discovery made by Herschel I.
2. “That the development of animals out of frogs who came to land, and of man out of the animals, was held by Anaximenes in the sixth century before Christ.” The professor might have added that this theory antedated Anaximenes by some thousands of years, perhaps; that it was an accepted doctrine among Chaldeans, and that Darwin’s evolution of species and monkey theory are of an antediluvian origin.
3. “…that, even by Philolaus and the early Pythagoreans, the earth was held to be a body like the other stars revolving in space.” Thus Galileo, studying some Pythagorean fragments, which are shown by Reuchlin to have yet existed in the days of the Florentine mathematician; being, moreover, familiar with the doctrines of the old philosophers, but reasserted an astronomical doctrine which prevailed in India at the remotest antiquity.
4. The ancients “…thought that there was a sex in plants as well as in animals.” Thus our modern naturalists had but to follow in the steps of their predecessors.
5. “That musical notes depended on the relative length or tension of the strings from which they were emitted, and were measured by ratios of number.”
6. “That mathematical laws pervaded the world and even qualitative differences were supposed to have their origin in number”; and
7. “The annihilation of matter was denied by them, and held to be a transformation only.”
“Although one of these discoveries might have been supposed to be a happy guess”, adds Mr. Jowett, “we can hardly attribute them all to mere coincidences.””
H. P. Blavatsky