"And truly he might as well phansie such implanted Ideas, such seeds of light in his external eye, as such seminal principles in the eye of the minde."

— Culverwell, Nathanael (bap. 1619, d. 1651)

Place of Publication
Printed by T.R. and E.M. for John Rothwell
"And truly he might as well phansie such implanted Ideas, such seeds of light in his external eye, as such seminal principles in the eye of the minde."
Metaphor in Context
This makes the Platonists look upon the spirit of man as the Candle of the Lord for illuminating and irradiating of objects, and darting more light upon them then it receives from them. But Plato as he failed in corporeal vision whilest he thought that it was per extramiss•onem radiorum; So he did not ab errore suo recedere in his intellectual optio••but in the very same manner tells us that spiritual vision also is per emissionem radiorum. And truly he might as well phansie such implanted Ideas, such seeds of light in his external eye, as such seminal principles in the eye of the minde. Therefore Aristotle (who did better clarifie both these kindes of visions) pluckt these motes out of the sensitive eye, and those beames out of the intellectual. He did not antedate his own knowledge, nor remember the several postures of his soul, and the famous exploits of his minde before he was born; but plainly profest that his understanding came naked into the world. He shews you an [GREEK], an abrasa tabula, a virgin-soul espousing it self to the body, in a most entire, affectionate, and conjugal union, and by the blessing of heaven upon this loving paire, he did not doubt of a Notional off-spring & posterity; this makes him set open the windows of sense to welcome and entertain the first dawnings, the early glimmerings of morninglight. Clarum mane fenestras intrat & Angustas extendit lumine rimas. Many sparks and appearances fly from variety of objects to the understanding; The minde, that catches them all, and cherishes them, and blows them; and thus the Candle of knowledge is lighted. As he could perceive no connate colours, no pictures or portraictures in his external eye: so neither could he finde any signatures in his minde till some outward objects had made some impression upon his [GREEK] his soft and plyable understanding impartially prepared for every seal. That this is the true method of knowledge he doth appeal to their own eyes, to their own understandings; do but analyse your own thoughts, do but consult with your own breasts, tell us whence it was that the light first sprang in upon you. Had you such notions as these when you first peept into being? at the first opening of the souls eye? in the first exordium of infancy? had you these connate Species in the cradle? and were they rockt asleep with you? or did you then meditate upon these principles? Totum est majus parte, & Nihil potest esse & non esse simul. Ne're tell us that you wanted origanical dispositiōs, for you plainly have recourse to the sensitive powers, and must needs subscribe to this, that al knowledg comes flourishing in at these lattices. Why else should not your Candle enlighten you before? who was it that chained up; and fettered your common notions▪ Who was it that restrained and imprisoned your connate Idea's? Me thinks the working of a Platonists soul should not at all depend on [GREEK]; and why had you no connate demonstrations, as well as connate principles? Let's but see a catalogue of all these truths you brought with you into the world. If you speak of the principles of the Laws of Nature, you shall hear the Schoolmen determining. Infans pro illo statu non obligatur lege naturali, quia non habet usum Rationis & libertatis. And a more sacred Author saies as much, Lex Naturae est lex intelligentiae quam tamen ignorat pueritia, nescit infantia. There's some time to be allowed for the promulgation of Natures Law by the voice of Reason. They must have some time to spell the [GREEK] that was of Reasons writing. The minde having such gradual and climbing accomplishments, doth strongly evince that the true rise of knowledge is from the observing and comparing of objects, and from thence exstracting the quintessence of some such principles as are worthy of all acceptation; that have so much of certainty in them, that they are neer to a Tautology and Identity, for this first principles are.
(pp. 90-2)
Reading M.H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (London: Oxford UP, 1953), 59.
Nathanael Culverwel, An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, with Several Other Treatises (London: Printed by T.R. and E.M. for John Rothwell, 1652). <Link to EEBO-TCP>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.