By William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)
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Extra resources for An Institution of General History (1685) William Howell - Volume Three
Augustine's quadrivium y that is on mathematics all demiurge had been replaced by the Christian God, and the forms given to the material world were reflections of the eternal ideas existing in the mind of God. According to Plato's Timaus the four elements out of which all things in the universe were made, earth, water, air and fire, were composed of small invisible particles, those of each element having a characteristic geometrical shape by which the demiurge had reduced to order the originally disorderly motions of chaos.
St. Clement of Alexandria in the 3rd century poked fun at this fear of pagan philosophy which he compared to a child's fear of goblins, and both he and his pupil Origen showed that all knowledge was good since it was a perfection of mind and that the study of philosophy and of natural science was in no way incompatible with a Christian life. St. Augustine himself in his search- ing and comprehensive philosophical inquiries had invited men to examine the rational basis of their faith. But in spite ofthese writers natural knowledge continued to be considered of very secondary importance during the Dark Ages.
The movement of the heavenly bodies was explained by supposing that the universe, being spherical, had a proper motion of uniform eternal rotation in a circle about a fixed centre, as could be seen in the daily rotation of the fixed into stars. The different spheres in which the seven 'planets', moon, sun, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were set, revolved with different uniform velocities such as would represent the observed movements of those bodies. Each of the spheres had its own Intelligence or 'soul' which was the source of its motion.