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 Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

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Understanding:

"For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this I believe - that unless I believe, I should not understand.
   (St. Anselm, Proslogion)

"The human understanding is no dry light, but receives infusion from the will and affections; whence proceed sciences which may be called "sciences as one would". For what a man had rather were true he more readily believes. Therefore he rejects difficult things from impatience of research; sober things, because they narrow hope; the deeper things of nature, from superstition; the light of experience, from arrogance and pride; things not commonly believed, out of deference to the opinion of the vulgar. Numberless in short are the ways, and sometimes imperceptible, in which the affections color and infect the understanding."
   (Francis Bacon, Novum Organum)

"One of the great secrets of the day is to know how to take possession of popular prejudices and passions, in such a way as to introduce a confusion of principles which make impossible all understanding between those who speak the same language and have the same interests."
   (Niccolò Machiavelli possibly dreaming about TV)

Universe:

"So far as the physicists can tell, by far the greatest part of all matter in the Universe consists of free particles (protons, neurons, deuterons, electrons) displaying no semblance of order. Only an infinitesimal fraction of one per cent appears to be organized in the form of atoms and molecules."
   (Houwink)

"Representing the Earth by one of the full stops (diameter 0.5 mm = 0.02 inch) on this page, our planet would be separated

  • from the Moon: by the thickness of a finger (16 mm);
  • from the Sun: by the length of a limousine (6 m);
  • from the nearest star: by the length of the Rhine or the Ohio River (1500 km);
  • from the Milky Way: by 200 times the circumference of the Earth (200 * 40000 km);
  • from the Andromeda Nebula: by 4000 times the circumference of the Earth (the Andromeda Nebula is one of the Milky Way's 'nearest' beighbours; others are millions of times more distant!)."
       (Houwink)

"To gain a rough idea of the relative size and extent of certain physical features of the Earth and its spatial environment, it is convenient to represent the globe by a tennis-ball. On this scale one finds that:

  • the Earth's crust would be two and a half times the thickness of the wall of the ball;
  • Mount Everest would appear as a barely visible bubble on the ball's surface;
  • the great rivers Nile and Mississippi-Missouri would extend no further than half the length of one's little finger;
  • the troposphere (where the weather phenomena occur) would be no thicker than a layer of water on the slightly moistened surface of the ball;
  • the Moon might be represented by an eye, if the tennisball were placed at one's feet 2 meters (2.2 yards) away, though one's own body would shrink to the size of a virus;
  • the Sun would be about the size of a large automobile 7 metres (8 yards) long, and it would be separated from the tennis-ball by about 700 metres (800 yards)."
       (Houwink)

 Original: Mar 26, 2005                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top