Part 11

The human knowledge which concerns the mind Icon

September 1, 2022

(1) The human knowledge which concerns the mind has 2 parts:

  1. The one that inquires of the substance or nature of the soul or mind

This includes:

  • the considerations of the original of the soul, whether it be native or adventive
  • how far it is exempted from laws of matter
  • the immortality thereof
  • etc

This is more variously reported, but not more laboriously inquired into.

This knowledge may be more really and soundly inquired, even in nature, than it has been. But it must be hounded by religion, or else it will be subject to deceit and delusion.

For as the substance of the soul in the creation was not extracted out of the mass of heaven and earth by the benediction of a producat, but was immediately inspired from God, so it is not possible that it should be (otherwise than by accident) subject to the laws of heaven and earth, which are the subject of philosophy; and therefore the true knowledge of the nature and state of the soul must come by the same inspiration that gave the substance. Unto this part of knowledge touching the soul there be two appendices; which, as they have been handled, have rather vapoured forth fables than kindled truth: divination and fascination.

  1. the other that inquires of its faculties or functions

(2) Divination hath been anciently and fitly divided into:

  • natural

This is when the mind has a presention by an internal power, without the inducement of a sign.

  • artificial

This is when the mind makes a prediction by argument, concluding upon signs and tokens. This has 2 sorts:

  1. Rational

This is when the argument is coupled with a derivation of causes.

  1. Experimental

This is when the argument is only grounded upon a coincidence of the effect. This is mostly superstitious. Examples are the heathen observations for:

  • sacrifices
  • the flights of birds
  • the swarming of bees
  • the Chaldean astrology
  • etc

For artificial divination, the several kinds thereof are distributed amongst particular knowledges.

The astronomer hath his predictions, as of conjunctions, aspects, eclipses, and the like. The physician hath his predictions, of death, of recovery, of the accidents and issues of diseases.

The politician has his predictions.

O urbem venalem, et cito perituram, si emptorem invenerit! which stayed not long to be performed, in Sylla first, and after in Cæsar: so as these predictions are now impertinent, and to be referred over.

? divination springs from the internal nature of the soul.

This has 2 sorts:

  1. primitive

This is grounded on the supposition that the mind, when it is withdrawn and collected into itself, and not diffused into the organs of the body, has some extent and latitude of prenotion. This appears most:

  • in sleep
  • in ecstasies
  • near death

It appears more rarely in waking apprehensions. It is induced and furthered by those abstinences and observances which make the mind most to consist in itself.

  1. by influxion

This is grounded upon the conceit that the mind, as a mirror or glass, should take illumination from the foreknowledge of God and spirits: unto which the same regiment doth likewise conduce.

For the retiring of the mind within itself is the state which is most susceptible of divine influxions; save that it is accompanied in this case with a fervency and elevation (which the ancients noted by fury), and not with a repose and quiet, as it is in the other.


Fascination is the power and act of imagination intensive upon other bodies than the body of the imaginant, for of that we spake in the proper place.

Wherein the school of Paracelsus, and the disciples of pretended natural magic, have been so intemperate, as they have exalted the power of the imagination to be much one with the power of miracle-working faith. Others, that draw nearer to probability, calling to their view the secret passages of things, and specially of the contagion that passeth from body to body, do conceive it should likewise be agreeable to nature that there should be some transmissions and operations from spirit to spirit without the mediation of the senses; whence the conceits have grown (now almost made civil) of the mastering spirit, and the force of confidence, and the like.

Incident unto this is the inquiry how to raise and fortify the imagination; for if the imagination fortified have power, then it is material to know how to fortify and exalt it. And herein comes in crookedly and dangerously a palliation of a great part of ceremonial magic.

For it may be pretended that ceremonies, characters, and charms do work, not by any tacit or sacramental contract with evil spirits, but serve only to strengthen the imagination of him that useth it; as images are said by the Roman Church to fix the cogitations and raise the devotions of them that pray before them.

But for mine own judgment, if it be admitted that imagination hath power, and that ceremonies fortify imagination, and that they be used sincerely and intentionally for that purpose; yet I should hold them unlawful, as opposing to that first edict which God gave unto man, In sudore vultus comedes panem tuum.

For they propound those noble effects, which God hath set forth unto man to be bought at the price of labour, to be attained by a few easy and slothful observances.

There are no deficiences in these knowledges, other than the general deficience, that it is not known how much of them is verity, and how much vanity.