The Acorns of Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY seems to me to be amongst men now, in the same manner as Corn and Wine are said to have been in the world in ancient time. For from the beginning there were Vines and Ears of Corn growing here and there in the fields; but no care was taken for the planting and sowing of them. Men lived therefore upon Akorns; or if any were so bold as to venture upon the eating of those unknown and doubtfull fruits, they did it with danger of their health. In like manner, every man brought Philosophy, that is, Naturall Reason, into the world with him; for all men can reason to some degree, and concerning some things: but where there is need of a long series of Reasons, there most men wander out of the way, and fall into Error for want of Method, as it were for want of sowing and planting, that is, of improving their Reason.

And from hence it comes to passe, that they who content themselves with daily experience, which may be likened to feeding upon Akorns, and either reject, or not much regard Philosophy, are commonly esteemed, and are indeed, men of sounder judgement, then those, who from opinions, though not vulgar, yet full of uncertainty, and carelesly received, do nothing but dispute and wrangle, like men that are not well in their wits. I confesse indeed, that that part of Philophy by which Magnitudes and Figures are computed, is highly improved. But because I have not observed the like advancement in the other parts of it, my purpose is, as far forth as I am able, to lay open the few and first Elements of Philosophy in generall, as so many Seeds, from which pure and true Philosophy may hereafter spring up by little and little.

I am not ignorant how hard a thing it is to weed out of mens mindes such inveterate opinions as have taken root there, and been confirmed in them by the authority of most eloquent Writers; especially, seeing true (that is accurate) Philosophy, professedly rejects not only the paint and false colours of Language, but even the very ornaments and graces of the same; and the first Grounds of all Science, are not only not beautifull, but poore, aride, and in appearance deformed. Neverthelesse, there being certainly some men, though but few, who are delighted with Truth and strength of Reason in all things, I thought I might do well to take this pains for the sake even of those few. I proceed therefore to the matter, and take my beginning from the very Definition of Philosophy

Thomas Hobbes: De Corpore

See also