Sunday, November 6, 2016

"Honest mistakes must be clearly distinguished from a failure to take pains."

". . . when vain Writers, to get themselves a name, have presum'd to obtrude upon the credulous World such things, under the Notion of Experimental Truths, or even great Mysteries, as neither themselves ever took the pains to make tryal of, nor receiv'd from any credible Persons that profess'd themselves to have try'd them; in such cases, I see not how we are oblig'd to treat Writers that took no pains to keep themselves from mistaking or deceiving, nay, that car'd not how they abuse us to win themselves a name, with the same respect that we owe to those, who though they have miss'd of the Truth, believ'd they had found it, and both intended to deliver It, and took some (though not prosperous) pains that they might convey nothing else to us."

     Robert Boyle, Certain physiological essays and other tracts written at distant times, and on several occasions . . . (1669), 29, as reproduced by the EEBO Text Creation Partnership, underscoring mine.  I was put onto this by David Wootton, The invention of science:  a new history of the scientific revolution (New York:  HarperCollins Publishing, 2015), 280, to whom I owe the headline.

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