Saturday, 3 December 2011

More Burnet

This is how Burnet thinks planets come about:
We sometimes see the Face of the Sun overgrown with thick Spots, and perceive him for some Days pale, obscure, and, as it were, in the Pangs of Death; but he that is Sick may Die; and what happens to one, may happen to others of the same King (now all the fixed Stars are homogenous ) therefore the fixed stars are perishable. Now a fixed Star perishes, and is extinguished, when being crusted over with a thick Shell or Scurf which it cannot break through, it degenerates into an obscure and opake Body, such as is a Planet. [Thomas Burnet, Archaeologiae Philosophicae sive Doctrina Antiqua de Rerum Originibus (1692)]
It's rather nice, but, coming in the middle of a critique of the imaginative logic of Genesis, it suffers from the same problem as that book: a lack of the actual scale, in terms of space and time, of the cosmos. There's something ineluctably human-scale about it.

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