Michel de Montaigne invented the literary term "essay" derived from the French word essai, meaning to put on trial. In his collection of essays he describes his life's work in testing his responses to different subjects and situations, using his ego and alter ego as council for and against the case. In one such essay he writes, "Why do doctors begin by practising on the credulity of their patients with so many false promises of a cure, if not to call the powers of the imagination to the aid of their fraudulent concoctions?" It is hard to believe that this was written over 400 years ago, yet this book of essays in the style invented by Montaigne, is still addressing the same follies ascribed to 16th Century French citizens. In 1764 Voltaire published his Dictionnaire philosophique in which he took the essay format one step further by adding his sardonic wit, to better illuminate the follies and fallacies of that epoque. One of his aphorisms that resonates 250 years on, went like this: "Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. It is not enough that a thing be possible for it to be believed". Thomas Browne, an English essayist of the same period attempted to understand the follies of mankind and their capacity of making "vulgar errors" in observation and belief. One was entitled "That a man hath one Rib less than a woman". Christian orthodoxy of the day taught a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. It therefore followed that if Eve were fashioned from Adam's rib, then Eve's descendents would always have one more rib than Adam's descendents. Browne doubted that and went to study anatomy in the Low Countries and made his business to count the number of ribs on both sides of the chest in male and female cadavers.
Publisher: Nova Science Publishers Inc ISBN: 9781634630504 Number of pages: 42 Weight: 620 g Dimensions: 230 x 155 mm
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