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"Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"

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Author Topic: "Abraham, Planter of Mathematics"  (Read 462 times)
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« on: October 14, 2008, 10:32:20 pm »

Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, and no friend to the Harvey family, adapted Pico's criticism later in 1583 in his weighty and learned rebuttal, A defensative against the poyson of supposed prophecies. Unlike Pico, who wanted to support true magic while condemning its corruptions, Howard brooked no art tinged by a hint of the magical. Still, Howard's criticism drew liberally from the criticism Pico had developed almost a century before. Relying heavily on scriptural condemnations of magical arts, Howard followed Pico in defending the possibility of natural philosophical knowledge that did not encroach on the domain of God. Using examples that astrology's defenders used to support the viability of their discipline, he distinguished forms of licit natural knowledge: "We reade not, that our Saviour Christ condemned those, that deemed of the weather that should follow by the rednes of the skie; nor those that gathered upon the fig trees putting forth her leaves, that Summer was at hand: for that the causes and [End Page 98] effects were tyed together, and combine in so streight a lincke of consequence, as either swerved not at all, or very seldome, from the course which kind had limitted. He rather used them as presidents of lawfull gessing & divining, by the proper causes of al things." Mariners too observed the world in an acceptable fashion. But this neither constituted prophecy, nor relied on mathematics.28

Howard maligned astrology's Chaldean origins with the standard tools of genealogical argument:
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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