Introduction: Engaging Doubt

  • William M. Hamlin
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


When I was a boy of eight or nine my parents gave me a microscope. For several months I spent a good deal of time preparing and examining slides. Most of what I looked at was unremarkable: flattened mosquitoes, dog saliva, egg yolk, blood. But what amazed me — what I still remember vividly — is that as I adjusted my focus on a given slide, or shifted the level of magnification, I brought utterly different worlds into view. It was like passing through adjacent but unrelated galaxies. With time, of course, the amazement wore off: I took for granted what had begun as a revelation. But when I think about it now, it still strikes me as extraordinary that an apparently perspicuous surface can harbour astonishing depths — that it may hold in suspension wildly disparate phenomena.


Social Anxiety Customary Engagement Sceptical Attitude Philosophical Movement Polyphonic Rumination 
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Copyright information

© William M. Hamlin 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • William M. Hamlin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishWashington State UniversityUSA

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