The Limits of Mechanism and the Experimental Philosophy of the Royal Society

  • Robert Crocker
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 185)


In a well-known passage in the Divine Dialogues, one of the most reflective of More’s characters, Bathynous, describes a dream.1 Whilst asleep in a forest, he dreams that in the same forest he is presented with the ‘two keys of Providence’ by a ‘divine Sage’ or messenger from God. The first, silver key contained a scroll representing the Copernican and Cartesian ‘true Systeme of the World’, which was revealed only after the dreamer had placed the jumbled letters on the outside of the key into their correct order, which spelt out the Platonic motto, ‘Claude Fenestras, ut luceat domus’ ‘Close the windows in order to light the house’).2 This asserted the idea that true knowledge of even the physical world depended upon a prior withdrawal from the senses — that the windows of the soul must be closed before true knowledge can be discoverd by the intellect. In a similar manner, placing the jumbled letters inscribed upon the second, golden key into their correct order revealed the complementary devotional motto, ‘Amor Dei lux Animae’ (‘The love of God is the light of the soul’).3 This in turn revealed a list of More’s favourite doctrines written on the key’s scroll, the first six of twelve aphorisms. These are worth quoting in full:4
  1. 1.

    The Measure of Providence is the Divine Goodness, which has no bounds but it self, which is infinite.

  2. 2.

    The Thread of Time and the Expansion of the Universe, the same Hand drew out the one and spread out the other.

  3. 3.

    Darkness and the Abyss were before the light, and the Suns or Stars before any Opakeness or Shadow.

  4. 4.

    All Intellectual Spirits that ever were, are or ever shall be, sprung up with the Light, and rejoiced together before God in the Morning of the Creation.

  5. 5.

    In the infinite Myriads of free Agents which were the Framers of their own Fortunes, it had been a wonder if they had all of them taken the same Path; and therefore Sin at the long run shook hands with Opacity.

  6. 5.

    As much as the light exceeds the Shadows, so much do the regions of Happiness those of Sin and Misery.



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Crocker
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AustraliaAustralia

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