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Showing: 21-30 results of 38

In the two preceding lectures I have endeavoured to indicate to you the extent of the subject-matter of the inquiry upon which we are engaged; and now, having thus acquired some conception of the Past and Present phenomena of Organic Nature, I must now turn to that which constitutes the great problem which we have set before ourselves;—I mean, the question of what knowledge we have of the causes of these phenomena of organic nature, and how... more...

When it was my duty to consider what subject I would select for the six lectures* ([Footnote] *To Working Men, at the Museum of Practical Geology, 1863.) which I shall now have the pleasure of delivering to you, it occurred to me that I could not do better than endeavour to put before you in a true light, or in what I might perhaps with more modesty call, that which I conceive myself to be the true light, the position of a book which has been... more...

I THE THREE HYPOTHESES RESPECTING THE HISTORY OF NATURE We live in and form part of a system of things of immense diversity and perplexity, which we call Nature; and it is a matter of the deepest interest to all of us that we should form just conceptions of the constitution of that system and of its past history. With relation to this universe, man is, in extent, little more than a mathematical point; in duration but a fleeting shadow; he is a... more...

ON THE ADVISABLENESS OF IMPROVING NATURAL KNOWLEDGE. This time two hundred years ago—in the beginning of January, 1666—those of our forefathers who inhabited this great and ancient city, took breath between the shocks of two fearful calamities, one not quite past, although its fury had abated; the other to come. Within a few yards of the very spot on which we are assembled, so the tradition runs, that painful and deadly malady, the... more...

CHAPTER I. EARLY LIFE: LITERARY AND POLITICAL WRITINGS. David Hume was born, in Edinburgh on the 26th of April (O.S.), 1711. His parents were then residing in the parish of the Tron church, apparently on a visit to the Scottish capital, as the small estate which his father Joseph Hume, or Home, inherited, lay in Berwickshire, on the banks of the Whitadder or Whitewater, a few miles from the border, and within sight of English ground. The... more...


Some thousands of years ago there was a city in Mesopotamia called Surippak. One night a strange dream came to a dweller therein, whose name, if rightly reported, was Hasisadra. The dream foretold the speedy coming of a great flood; and it warned Hasisadra to lose no time in building a ship, in which, when notice was given, he, his family and friends, with their domestic animals and a collection of wild creatures and seed of plants of the land,... more...

MERCHANTS occasionally go through a wholesome, though troublesome and not always satisfactory, process which they term "taking stock." After all the excitement of speculation, the pleasure of gain, and the pain of loss, the trader makes up his mind to face facts and to learn the exact quantity and quality of his solid and reliable possessions. The man of science does well sometimes to imitate this procedure; and, forgetting for the time the... more...

I conceive that the origin, the growth, the decline, and the fall of those speculations respecting the existence, the powers, and the dispositions of beings analogous to men, but more or less devoid of corporeal qualities, which may be broadly included under the head of theology, are phenomena the study of which legitimately falls within the province of the anthropologist. And it is purely as a question of anthropology (a department of biology to... more...

ON THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE MAN-LIKE APES Ancient traditions, when tested by the severe processes of modern investigation, commonly enough fade away into mere dreams: but it is singular how often the dream turns out to have been a half-waking one, presaging a reality. Ovid foreshadowed the discoveries of the geologist: the Atlantis was an imagination, but Columbus found a western world: and though the quaint forms of Centaurs and Satyrs have... more...

I ON A PIECE OF CHALK [1868] If a well were sunk at our feet in the midst of the city of Norwich, the diggers would very soon find themselves at work in that white substance almost too soft to be called rock, with which we are all familiar as "chalk." Not only here, but over the whole county of Norfolk, the well-sinker might carry his shaft down many hundred feet without coming to the end of the chalk; and, on the sea-coast, where the waves... more...