Athanasius – Underground: Passage 8

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:00 We've got a really great one for you at this point called Athanasius Underground.

    00:05 This is a scientific treaty, if you will.

    00:08 If we carefully scan the official content guide, you'll note that we don't see the natural sciences as a category.

    00:15 However, it does say that the list of topics is not exhaustive so let's jump in.

    00:20 We first are told that just before Robert Hooke's rightly famous microscopic observations and then we're told about what those observations are, that another scholar named Athanasius Kircher published what is in some ways a more spectacular work.

    00:39 So what the author is trying to do here is he's trying to connect this new author Kircher's work to hook a war well known authors work right.

    00:48 Then he draws a line of distinction as he moves forward where he states that in this book by Kircher, Kircher himself stated, "before the eyes of the curious reader, all that is rare, exotic and portentous contained in the fecund womb of Nature." As discussed, there is an idea of the earthly sphere that exists in the divine mind.

    01:10 So this moves us a little bit beyond what we might call the traditional realm of science.

    01:14 We were told earlier, he was a Jesuit scholar.

    01:17 So he was a religious-oriented scholar.

    01:20 But now we're told that he even thinks he has some insight into the mind of God.

    01:25 So is that true, let's move forward.

    01:28 Or given some examples that might seem like pseudoscience at first, Kircher talks about spontaneous generation or alchemy.

    01:35 But it's important to keep in mind that around this time period both of those would have been accepted for all means and purposes as science.

    01:44 He does critique the methods used by alchemists, but he actually, more or less as it states extends the discussion of spontaneous generation.

    01:55 What comes next is a more clear positive statement about Kircher's merit as a scientist, where he mentioned that Kircher's studied oceanic motions, erosion and the tending of field so we're about 50/50 positive or kind of wishy washy on whether he's a strong scientist.

    02:13 This next paragraph here actually is what we would call a counter arguments passage kind of in the sky.

    02:19 So even though it's a scientific essay, we're now given things that would be clear pseudoscience that Kircher discusses.

    02:27 He talks about the source of the Nile being in the moon.

    02:29 He talks about remains of giants in caves and below the world being dragons.

    02:34 So where is the author taking us in this passage? The author does hedge his argument a little bit, however, here, stating that Kircher covered almost every subject including the sun and the moon, even though this was a book on the wall below.

    02:51 But then it gets in to the exciting stuff.

    02:53 And right, we paid a little bit more attention to the first final paragraphs.

    02:56 He states, in spite of these other subjects that Kircher discussed, what was most important was his discussion on the interior of the earth.

    03:05 He gives the examples of volcanoes vent-holes and earthquakes, and then comes to this wonderful deduction of Kircher.

    03:11 Kircher states, "And these fires argue for deeper treasuries and store houses of fire, in the very heart and inward bowels of the Earth." So this would be a prediction of the hot core of the Earth without of course ever having observed that.

    03:29 So with that, let's go ahead and tackle some questions for this passage.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Athanasius – Underground: Passage 8 by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Passage Walkthroughs.

    Author of lecture Athanasius – Underground: Passage 8

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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