The Improvement of Human Reason
Category: Islam
4:18 h
Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān (Arabic: حي بن يقظان‎, lit. 'Alive, son of Awake') is an Arabic philosophical novel and an allegorical tale written by Ibn Tufail in the early 12th century. The name by which the book is also known include the Latin: Philosophus Autodidactus ('The Self-Taught Philosopher'); and English: The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan. The novel greatly inspired Islamic philosophy as well as major Enlightenment thinkers.

The Improvement of Human Reason

Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan

Ibn Tufail

Translated by Simon Ockley

The Improvement of Human Reason

To the Reverend

Mr. Edward Pococke,

Rector of

MINAL, in Wiltshire.

Reverend SIR,

Hai Ebn Yokdhan returns to you again, in a Dress different from that which you sent him out in. Wherever he comes, he acknowledges you for his first and best Master; and confesses, that his being put in a Capacity to travel thro’ Europe, is owing to your Hand. I could not in Equity send him to any other Person, you being the sole Proprietor. And as your Learning enables you to do him Justice, so your Candor will incline you to pardon what is by me done amiss. Both which Qualifications you enjoy, as a Paternal Inheritance, descending from the Reverend and Learned Dr. Pococke, the Glory and Ornament of our Age and Nation. Whose Memory I much reverence, and how much I acknowledge my self indebted to him for his Learned Works, I thought I could no way express better, than by taking some Opportunity to pay my Respects to you, Sir, the worthy Son of so great a Father. And no fitter Bearer than Hai Ebn Yokdhan, with whose Character and Language you are so well acquainted, and to whom you have long ago shown so great a Respect, that I have no reason to fear but he will be welcome.

I am,


Your most humble Servant,

Simon Ockley,

The Preface.

When Mr. Pococke first publish’d this Arabick Author with his accurate Latin Version, Anno 1671. Dr. Pococke his Father, that late eminent Professor of the Oriental Languages in the University of Oxford, prefix’d a Preface to it; in which he tells us, that he has good Reason to think, that this Author was contemporary with Averroes, who died very ancient in the Year of the Hegira 595, which is co-incident with the 1198th Year of our Lord; according to which Account, the Author liv’d something above five hundred Years ago.

He liv’d in Spain, as appears from one or two Passages in this Book. He wrote some other Pieces, which are not come to our Hands. This has been very well receiv’d in the East; one Argument of which is, that it has been translated by R. Moses Narbonensis into Hebrew, and illustrated with a large Commentary. The Design of the Author is to shew, how Human Capacity, unassisted by any External Help, may, by due Application, attain to the Knowledge of Natural Things, and so by Degrees find out its Dependance upon a Superior Being, the Immortality of the Soul, and all things necessary to Salvation.

How well he has succeeded in this Attempt, I leave to the Reader to judge. ‘Tis certain, that he was a Man of Parts and very good Learning, considering the Age he liv’d in, and the way of studying in those Times. There are a great many lively Stroaks in it; and I doubt not but a judicious Reader will find his Account in the Perusal of it.

I was not willing (‘though importun’d) to undertake the translating it into English, because I was inform’d that it had been done twice already; once by Dr. Ashwell, another time by the Quakers, who imagin’d that there was something in, it that favoured their Enthusiastick Notions. However, taking it for granted, that both these Translations we’re not made out of the Original Arabick, but out of the Latin; I did not question but they had mistaken the Sense of the Author in many places. Besides, observing that a great many of my friends whom I had a desire to oblige, and other Persons whom I would willingly incline to a more favourable Opinion of Arabick Learning, had not seen this Book; and withal, hoping that I might add something by way of Annotation or Appendix, which would not be altogether useless; I at last ventur’d to translate it a-new.

I have here and there added a Note, in which there is an account given of some, great Man, some Custom of the Mahometans explain’d, or something of that Nature, which I hope will not be unacceptable. And lest any Person should, through mistake, make any ill use of it, I have subjoin’d an Appendix, the Design of which the Reader may see in its proper place.


The Bookseller to the Reader.

When I first undertook the Publication of this English Translation, I thought it would not be amiss to present the World with a Specimen of it first. But since the Introduction is such, that the Reader can no more by it give a Guess at what is contain’d in the Book itself, than a Man can judge of his Entertainment by seeing the Cloath laid; I have thought it necessary to give him a Bill of Fare.

The Design of the Author (who was a Mahometan Philosopher) is to shew how Humane Reason may, by Observation and Experience, arrive at the Knowledge of Natural Things, and from thence to Supernatural; particularly the Knowledge of God and a Future State. And in order to this, he supposes a Person brought up by himself where he was altogether destitute of any Instruction, but what he could get from his own Observation.

He lays the Scene in some Fortunate Island situate under the Equinoctial; where he supposes this Philosopher, either to have been bred (according to Avicen’s Hypothesis, who conceiv’d a possibility of a Man’s being formed by the Influence of the Planets upon Matter rightly disposed) without either Father or Mother; or self-expos’d in his Infancy, and providentially suckled by a Roe. Not that our Author believ’d any such matter, but only having design’d to contrive a convenient place for his Philosopher, so as to leave him to Reason by himself, and make his Observations without any Guide. In which Relation, he proposes both these ways, without speaking one Word in favour of either.

Then he shews by what Steps and Degrees he advanc’d in the Knowledge of Natural Things, till at last he perceiv’d the Necessity of acknowledging an Infinite, Eternal, Wise Creator, and also the Immateriality and Immortality of his own Soul, and that its Happiness consisted only in a continued Conjunction with this supream Being.

The Matter of this Book is curious, and full of useful Theorems; he makes most use of the Peripatetick Philosophy, which he seems to have well understood; it must be confess’d indeed, that when he comes to talk of the Union with God, &c. (as in the Introduction) there are some Enthusiastick Notions, which are particularly consider’d and refuted by the Editor in his Appendix.

Whose Design in publishing this Translation, was to give those who are as yet unacquainted with it, a Taste of the Acumen and Genius of the Arabian Philosophers, and to excite young Scholars to the reading of those Authors, which, through a groundless Conceit of their Impertinence and Ignorance, have been too long neglected.

And tho’ we do not pretend to any Discoveries in this Book, especially at this time of Day, when all parts of Learning are cultivated with so much Exactness; yet we hope that it will not be altogether unacceptable to the curious Reader to know what the state of Learning was among the Arabs, five hundred Years since. And if what we shall here communicate, shall seem little in respect of the Discoveries of this discerning Age; yet we are confident, that any European, who shall compare the Learning in this Book, with what was publish’d by any of his own Country-men at that time, will find himself obliged in Conscience to give our Author fair Quarter.

Abu Jaaphar Ebn Tophail’s


To the Life of

Hai Ebn Yokdhan.

In the Name of the most Merciful God.

Blessed be the Almighty and Eternal, the Infinitely Wise and Merciful God, who hath taught us the Use of the PEN who out of his great Goodness to Mankind, has made him understand Things which he did not know. I praise him for his excellent Gifts, and give him thanks for his continued Benefits, and I testify that there is but One God, and that he has no Partner and that MAHOMET is his Servant and Apostle endu’d with an excellent Spirit, and Master of convincing Demonstration, and a victorious Sword: the Blessing of God be upon him, and his Companions, (Men of great Thoughts, and vast Understandings,) and upon all his Followers, to the End of the World.

You ask’d me, Dear Friend, (God preserve you for ever, and make you Partaker of everlasting Happiness) to communicate to you what I knew concerning the Mysteries of the Eastern Philosophy, mention’d by the Learned Avicenna Now you must understand, that whoever designs to attain to a clear and distinct Knowledge, must be diligent in the search of it. Indeed your request gave me a noble turn of Thought, and brought me to the understanding of what I never knew before; nay, it advanc’d me to such an elevation, as no Tongue, how eloquent soever, is able to express; and the reason is, because ‘tis of a quite different nature and kind from the Things of this World; only this there is in it, that whoever has attain’d to any degree of it, is so mightily affected with joy Pleasure, and Exultation, that ‘tis impossible for him to conceal his sense of it, but he is forc’d to utter some general Expressions, since he cannot be particular. Now if a Man, who has not been polish’d by good Education, happens to attain to that state, he tuns out into strange Expressions, and speaks he knows not what; so that one of this sort of Men, when in that state, cry’d out, Praise to be me! How wonderful am I! Another said, I am Truth! Another, That he was God.

Abu Hamed Algazâli when he had attain’d to it, express’d himself thus,

‘Twas what it was, ‘tis not to be express’d;
Enquire no further, but conceive the best.

But he was a Man that had good Learning, and was well vers’d in the Sciences. What Avenpace says at the end of his Discourse concerning the UNION, is worth your Observing; There he, says That ‘twill appear plainly to any one that understands the design of his Book, that that degree is not attainable by the means of those Sciences which were then in use; but that he attain’d to what he knew, by being altogether abstracted from any thing which he had been acquainted with before; and that he was furnish’d with other Notions altogether independent upon matter, and of too noble a nature to be any way attributed to the Natural Life, but were peculiar to the Blessed, and which upon that account we may call Divine Proprieties, which God (whose Name be prais’d) bestows upon such of his Servants as he pleases.

Now this degree which this Author mentions, is attainable by Speculative Knowledge, (nor is it to be doubted but that he had reach’d it himself;) but not that which we have just now mention’d, which notwithstanding is not so much different from it in kind as in degree: for in that which I mention’d there are no Discoveries made which contradict those which this Author means; but the difference consists in this, viz. that in our way there is a greater degree of Clearness and Perspicuity than there is in the other; for in this we apprehend things by the help of something, which we cannot properly call a Power; nor indeed will any of those words, which are either us’d in common discourse, or occur in the Writings of the Learned, serve to express That, by which this sort of Perception do’s apprehend.

This degree, which I have already mention’d, (and which perhaps I should never have had any taste of, if your request had not put me upon a farther search) is the very same thing which Avicenna means, where he says; Then when a Man’s desires are raised to a good pitch, and he is competently well exercised in that way, there will appear to him some small glimmerings of the Truth, as it were flashes of Lightning, very delightful, which just shine upon him, and then go out; Then the more he exercises himself, the oftner he’ll perceive ‘em, till at last he’ll become so well acquainted with them, that they will occur to him spontaneously, without any exercise at all; and then, as soon as he perceives any thing, he applies himself to the Divine Essence, so as to retain some impression of it; then something occurs, to him on a sudden, whereby he begins to discern the Truth in every thing; till, through frequent exercise, he at last attains to a perfect Tranquility; and that which us’d to appear to him only by fits and starts, becomes habitual; and that which was only a glimmering before, a constant Light; and he obtains a constant and steady Knowledge. Thus far Avicenna. Besides, he has given an account of those several steps and degrees by which a Man is brought to this perfection; till his Soul is like a polish’d Looking-glass, in which he beholds the Truth: and then he swims in pleasure, and rejoyces exceedingly in his Mind, because of the impressions of Truth which he perceives in it, When he is once attain’d thus far, the next thing which employs him is, that he sometimes looks towards Truth, and sometimes towards himself; and thus he fluctuates between both, till he retires from himself wholly, and looks only to-ward the Divine Essence; and if he do’s at any time look towards his own Soul, the only reason is, because that looks to-wards God; and from thence arises a perfect Conjunction [with God.]

And, according to this manner which he has describ’d, he do’s by no means allow that this Taste is attain’d by way of Speculation or Deduction of Consequences. And that you may the more clearly apprehend the difference between the perception of these sort of Men, and those other; I shall propose you a familiar instance. Suppose a Man born Blind, but of quick Parts, and a good Capacity, a tenacious Memory, and solid Judgment, who had liv’d in the place of his Nativity, till he had by the help of the rest of his Senses, contracted an acquaintance with a great many in the Neighbourhood, and learn’d the several kinds of Animals, and Things inanimate, and the Streets and Houses of the Town, so as to go any where about it without a Guide, and to know such people as he met, and call them, by their names; and knew the names of Colours and the difference of them by their descriptions and definitions; and after he had learn’d all this, should have his Eyes open’d: Why, this Man, when he walk’d about the Town, would find every thing to be exactly agreeable to those notions which he had before; and that Colours were such as he had before conceiv’d them to be, by those descriptions he had receiv’d: so that the difference between his apprehensions when blind, and those which he would have now his Eyes were opened, would consist only in these two great Things, one of which is a consequent of the other, viz., a greater Clearness, and extream Delight. From whence ‘tis plain, that the condition of those Contemplators, who have not yet attain’d to the UNION [with GOD] is exactly like that of the Blind Man; and the Notion which a Blind Man has of Colours, by their description, answers to those things which Avenpace said were of too noble a nature to be any ways attributed, to the Natural Life, and, which God bestows upon such his Servants as he pleases. But the condition of those who have attain’d to the UNION, to whom God has given that which I told you could not be properly express’d by the word POWER, is that second State of the Blind-man cur’d. Take notice by the way, that our Similitude is not exactly applicable in every case; for there is very seldom any one found that is born with his Eyes open, that can attain to these things without any help of Contemplation.

Now (my Dear Friend) I do not here, when I speak of the Ideas of the Contemplative, mean what they learn from the Study of Physicks; nor by the notions of those who have attain’d to the UNION, what they learn from the Study of Metaphysicks (for these two ways of learning are vastly different, and must by no means be confounded.) But what I mean by the Ideas of the Contemplative is, what is attain’d by the Study of Metaphysicks, of which kind is that which Avenpace understood; and in the apprehension of these things, this condition is necessarily requir’d, viz. that it be manifestly and clearly true; and then there is a middle sort of Speculation, between that, and those who have attain’d to the UNION, who employ themselves in these things with greater perspicuity and delight.

Now Avenpace blames all those that make any mention of this pleasure which is enjoy’d in the UNION, before the Vulgar; besides he said, that it belonged to the imaginative Faculty; and promis’d to write a Book about it, in which he design’d to give an account of the whole matter, and describe the condition of those who were so happy as to attain it clearly and perspicuously; but we may answer him with the Old Proverb, viz. Don’t say a thing is sweet before you taste on’t; for he never was so good as his word, nor performed any thing like it. But ‘tis probable that the reason why he did not, was either because he was streightn’d for Time, being taken up with his Journey to Wahran; or else, because he was sensible, that if he should undertake to give a description of that State, the Nature of such a kind of Discourse, would unavoidably have put him upon a necessity of speaking some things, which would manifestly have reproach’d his own manner of living, and contradicted those Principles which he himself had elsewhere laid down; in which he encourages Men to heap up Riches, and proposes several ways and means in order to the acquiring them.

We have in this Discourse (as necessity required) disgress’d something from the main Design of what you desir’d; it appears from what has been already said, that you must either mean, 1. That I should describe to you, what they see and taste, who are so happy as to enjoy the UNION, (which is impossible to be described as it really is; and when any one goes about to express it, either by Speech or Writing, he quite alters the thing, and sinks into the speculative way. For when you once come to cloath it with Letters and Words, it comes nearer to the corporeal World, and does by no means remain in the same State that it was in before; and the Significations of these Words, which are used in the explaining it, are quite alter’d; so that it occasions a great many real Mistakes to some, and makes others believe, that they are mistaken, when indeed they are not; and the reason of this is, because it is a thing of infinite Extent, comprehending all things in it self, but not comprehended by any.) 2. Or else the meaning of your Request must be this, that I should shew you after what manner they proceed, who give themselves to Contemplation. And this (my good Friend) is a thing which is capable of being express’d both by Speech, and Writing; but ‘tis as scarce as old Gold, especially in this part of the World where we live; for ‘tis so rare, that there’s hardly one of a thousand gets so much as a smattering of it; and of those few, scarce any, have communicated any thing of what they knew in that kind, but only by obscure Hints, and Innuendo’s. Indeed the Hanifitick Sect and the Mahometan Religion, doe forbid Men to dive too far into this matter. Nor would I have you think that the Philosophy which we find in the Books of Aristotle, and Alpharabius and in Avicenna’s Book, which he calls Alshepha, does answer the end which you aim at, nor have any of the Spanish Philosophers writ fully and satisfactorily about it. Because those Scholars which were bred in Spain, before the Knowledge of Logick and Philosophy was broach’d amongst them, spent their whole Lives in Mathematicks, in which it must be allow’d, they made a great Progress, but went no farther. After them came a Generation of Men, who apply’d themselves more to the Art of Reasoning, in which they excell’d their Predecessors, yet not so as to attain to true Perfection. So that one of them said,

T’is hard the kinds of Knowledge are but two,
The One erroneous, the Other true.
The former profits nothing when ‘tis gain’d,
The other’s difficult to be attain’d.

After these came others, who still advanc’d further, and made nearer approaches to the Truth; among whom there was one that had a sharper Wit, or truer notions of things than Avenpace, but he was too much taken up with Worldly Business, and Died before he had time to open the Treasury of his Knowledge, so that most of those pieces of his which are extant, are imperfect; particularly his Book about the Soul) and his Tedbíro ‘lmotawahhid, i.e. How a Man ought to manage himself that leads a Solitary Life So are his Logicks and Physicks. Those Pieces of his which are compleat, are only short Tracts and some occasional Letters. Nay, in his Epistle concerning the UNION, he himself confesses that he had wrote nothing compleat, where he says, That it would require a great deal of trouble and pains to express that clearly which he had undertaken to prove; and, that the method which he had made use of in explaining himself, was not in many places so exact as it might have been; and, that he design’d, if he had time, to alter it. So much for Avenpace, I for my part never saw him, and as for his Contemporaries, they were far inferiour to him, nor did I ever see any of their Works. Those who are now alive, are, either such as are still advancing forwards, or else such as have left off, without attaining to perfection; if there are any other, I know nothing of them.

As to those Works of Alpharabius which are extant, they are most of them Logick. There are a great many things very dubious in his Philosophical Works; for in his Méllatolphadélah, i.e. The most excellent Sect, he asserts expressly, that the Souls of Wicked Men shall suffer everlasting Punishment; and yet says as positively in his Politicks that they shall be dissolv’d and annihilated, and that the Souls of the Perfect shall remain for ever. And then in his Ethicks, speaking concerning the Happiness of Man, he says, that it is only in this Life, and then adds, that whatsoever People talk of besides, is meer Whimsy and old Wives Fables. A principle, which if believ’d would make all Men despair of the Mercy of God, and puts the Good and Evil both upon the same Level, in that it makes annihilation the common end to them both. This is an Error not to be pardon’d by any means, or made amends for. Besides all this, he had a mean Opinion of the Gift of Prophecy, and said that in his Judgment it did belong to the faculty of Imagination, and that he prefer’d Philosophy before it; with a great many other things of the like nature, not necessary to be mention’d here.

As for the Books of Aristotle, Avicenna’s Exposition of them in his Alshepha [i.e. Health] supplies their Room, for he trod in the same steps and was of the same Sect. In the beginning of that Book, says, that the Truth was in his opinion different from what he had there deliver’d, that he had written that Book according to the Philosophy of the Peripateticks; but those that would know the Truth clearly, and without Obscurity, he refers to his Book, Of the Eastern Philosophy. Now he that takes the pains to compare his Alshepha with what Aristotle has written, will find they agree in most things, tho’ in the Alshepha there are a great many things which are not extant in any of those pieces which we have of Aristotle. But if the Reader, take the literal Sense only, either of the Alshepha or Aristotle, with, out penetrating into the hidden Sense, he will never attain to perfection, as Avicenna himself observes in the Alshepha.

As for Algazâli he often contradicts himself, denying in one place what he affirm’d in another. He taxes the Philosophers with Heresy in his Book which he calls Altehaphol, i.e. Destruction, because they deny the Resurrection of the Body, and hold that Rewards and Punishments in a Future State belong to the Soul only. Then in the beginning of his Almizân, i.e. The Balance, he affirms positively, that this is the Doctrine of the Suphians and that he was convinc’d of the truth of it, after a great deal of Study and Search. There are a great many such Contradictions as these interspers’d in his Works; which he himself begs Pardon for in the end of his Mizân Alamal [The Ballance of Mens Actions]; where he says, that there are Three sorts of Opinions; 1. Such as are common to the Vulgar, and agreeable to their Notions of things. 2. Such as we commonly make use of in answering Questions propos’d to us. 3. Such private as a Man has to himself, which none understand but those who think just as he does. And then he adds, that tho’ there were no more in what he had written than only this, viz. That it made a Man doubt of those things which he had imbib’d at first, and help’d him to remove the prejudices of Education, that even that were sufficient; because, he that never doubts will never weigh things aright, and he that does not do that will never see, hut remain in Blindness and Confusion.

Believe your Eyes, but still suspect your Ears,
You’ll need no Star-light when the day appears.

This is the account of his way of Philosophizing, the greatest part of which is enigmatical and full of obscurity, and for that reason of no use to any but such as thoroughly perceive and understand the matter before, and then afterwards hear it from him again, or at least such as are of an excellent Capacity, and can apprehend a thing from the least intimation. The same Author says in his Aljawâhir [i.e. The Jewels] that he had Books not fit to be communicated, but to such only as were qualified to read them, and that in them he had laid down the Naked Truth; but none of them ever came into Spain that we know of: we have indeed had Books which some have imagin’d to be those incommunicable ones he speaks of, but ‘tis a mistake, for those are Almaâreph Alakliyah [Intellectual notices] and the Alnaphchi waltéswiyal [Inflation and Æquation] and besides these, a Collection of several Questions. But as for these, tho’ there are some hints in them, yet they contain nothing of particular use to the clearing of things, but what you may meet with in his other Books. There are, ‘tis true, in his Almeksad Alasna, some things which are more profound than what we meet with in the rest of his Books, but he expressly says, that that Book is not incommunicable; from whence it follows, those Books which are come to our hands are not those incommunicable ones which he means. Some have fancy’d that there were some great matters contain’d in that Discourse of his, which is at the end of his Meschâl [i.e. Casement] (which Belief of theirs, has plung’d them into inextricable Difficulties) where speaking of the several sorts of those who are kept from nearer Approaches, by the Brightness of the radiation of the Divine light, and then of those who had attain’d to the UNION, he says of these later, That they apprehended such Attributes to belong to the Divine Essence as were destructive of its Unity; from, whence it appear’d to them that he believ’d a sort of Multiplicity in the Godhead, which is horrid Blasphemy. Now I make no Question but that the worthy Doctor Algazâli was one of those which attain’d to the utmost degree of Happiness, and to those heights which are proper to those who enjoy the UNION; but as for his secret or incommunicable Books, which contain the manner of Revelation, they never came to my hands: and that pitch of knowledge which I have attain’d to, is owing to his other works and to Avicenna, which I read and compar’d with the Opinions of the present Philosophers, till at length I came to the Knowledge of the Truth. At first indeed, by way of Enquiry and Contemplation;but afterwards I came to have a perfect sense, and then I found that I could say something which I could call my own. Now I was resolv’d that you should be the first, to whom I would Communicate what I knew about these matters, both upon the account of the Intimacy of our Friendship, and your Candor and Integrity. Only observe, that my discovering to you the Ends which I attain’d in this way, without proving the Principles to you first, by which those Ends are attain’d, will do you no more Service, than any other Story which you receive by tradition, or any thing told you in general, of which you don’t know how to make a particular application. Presuming that you will accept it kindly, not for any merit of the Author, but upon the account of our Friendship and Acquaintance; and I heartily desire that you mayn’t stop here, but aspire to a loftier degree: for this is so far from being able to bring you to those heights, that is not sufficient to save you. Now I would lead you by the same paths which I have walk’d in before you, and make you steer by the same Compass, till you arrive at the same Point, and see with your own Eyes what I have seen before you, so as not to take it on trust any longer from me, but to experience it yourself. But this is a matter which will not only require considerable Time, but also that you are free and disingag’d from all manner of Business, and follow it close with great Application. And if you are really in earned, and set about it heartily, you will rejoyce as one that has Travelled all Night do’s when the Sun rises upon him, and will receive a Blessing for your Labour, and take delight in your Lord, and he will delight in you. And for my own part, you will find me, according to your own Hearts desire, just such an one as you could wish; and I hope that I shall lead you in the right way, free from Evils and Dangers: and really I perceive some Glimmerings now, by the help of which I shall inflame your Desire, and put you upon entring this way, by telling you the Story of Hai Ebn Yokdhan and Asâl, and Salâman (as Avicenna calls them); in which, those that understand themselves right will find matter of Improvement, and worthy their Imitation.

The History of Hai Ebn Yokdhan.

§ 1. Our Ancestors, of Happy Memory, tell us, that there is an Island in the Indian Ocean, situate under the Equinoctial, where Men come into the world spontaneously without the help of Father and Mother. This Island it seems, is blest with such a due Influence of the Sun, as to be the most temperate and perfect of all places in the Creation; tho’ it must be confess’d that such an Assertion is contrary to the Opinion of the most celebrated Philosophers and Physicians, who affirm that the fourth Climate is the most Temperate. Now if the reason which they give for this Assertion, viz. That these parts situate under the Equinoctial are not habitable; were drawn, from any Impediment from the Earth, ‘tis allow’d that it would appear more probable; but if the reason be, because of the intense Heat (which is that which most of ‘em assign) ‘tis absolutely false, and the contrary is prov’d by undeniable demonstration. For ‘tis demonstrated in Natural Philosophy, that there is no other cause of Heat than Motion, or else the Contact and Light of Hot Bodies. ‘Tis also prov’d that the Sun, in it self, is not hot, nor partakes of any mix’d Quality: ‘tis prov’d moreover, that the thickest and smoothest Bodies receive Light in the greatest degree of perfection; and next to them, the thicker which are not smooth, and those which are very thin receive no Light at all. (This was first demonstrated by Avicenna, never mention’d before by any of the Ancients.) From these Premises, this Consequence will necessarily follow, viz. That the Sun do’s not Communicate his Heat to the Earth, after the same manner as hot Bodies heat those other Bodies which are near them because the Sun is not hot in it self. Nor can it be said that the Earth is heated by Motion, because it stands still, and remains in the same posture, both when the Sun shines upon it, and when it does not, and yet ‘tis evident to Sense, that there is a vast difference in it, in respect of Heat and Cold, at those several times. Nor does the Sun first heat the Air, and so the Earth; because we may observe in hot weather, that the Air which is nearest the Earth, is hotter by much than that which is higher and more remote. It remains therefore that the Sun has no other way of heating the Earth but by its Light, for Heat always follows Light, so that when its Beams are collected, as in Burning-Glasses for instance, it fires all before it. Now ‘tis Demonstrated in Mathematicks, that the Sun is a Spherical Body, and so is the Earth; and that the Sun is much greater than the Earth; and that part of the Earth which is at all times illuminated by the Sun is above half of it; and that in that half which is illuminated, the Light is most intense in the midst; both because that part is the most remote from Darkness, which is the Circumference of the Circle, as also, because it lies opposite to more parts of the Sun: and that those parts which are nearest the Circumference of the Circle, have less Light; and so gradually, till the Circumference of the Circle, which encompasses the illuminated part of the Earth, ends in Darkness.

§ 2. Now that is the Center of the Circle of Light, where the Sun is Vertical to the Inhabitants, and then in that place, the Heat is most extreamly intense; and so those Countries are the coldest, where the Sun is farthest from being Vertical. And if there were any such place where the Sun was always Vertical, it must needs be extream hot. Now ‘tis demonstrated in Astronomy, that the Sun is Vertical twice a Year only, to those which live under the Equinoctial, viz. when he enters into Aries and Libra; and all the rest of the Year he declines from them, six months Northward, and six months Southward; and for that reason they are neither too hot nor too cold, but of a Moderate Temper between both. There’s much more to be said about this Argument, in order to the explaining it fully, but it is not suitable to our purpose; I have only hinted it to you, because it helps the Story a little, and makes it something more probable that a Man may be form’d without the help of Father and Mother; and there are some which affirm positively that Hai Ebn Yokdhan was so, others deny it, and tell the Story thus:

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