Preface, no date (1580), Thomas Erastus to the Reader (BP.Erastus.1580-01)

From Theatrum Paracelsicum
Author: Thomas Erastus
Recipient: Reader
Type: Preface
Date: no date [1580]
Place: Heidelberg
Pages: 2
Language: Latin
Quote as:
Editor: Edited by Julian Paulus
De cometis dissertationes novae, ed. Thomas Erastus, Basel: Leonhard Ostein for Pietro Perna 1580, sig. α1r-α1v [BP.Erastus.1580-01]
Translation: Raw translation see below
Abstract: During the recent appearance of a comet, people everywhere were engrossed in discussions about its significance. While everyone believed that comets don't appear without reason, there were varying opinions about their nature and implications. Erastus, when asked, voiced his view based on sound reasoning rather than popular hearsay. He penned this opinion and, unexpectedly, it got printed alongside another of his works. Regretfully, typographical errors in the print distorted some of its meanings. Seizing the chance, Erastus revisits his commentary, aiming to refine and expand it. A critique he addresses is the perceived over-reliance on reason and scant mention of experience. Citing Galen, Erastus likens those who solely depend on either reason or experience to a lame person. True understanding, he asserts, necessitates the harmonious application of both. While he feels he hasn't erred in his initial discussion, he is open to expanding on areas deemed lacking for clarity and depth. (generated by Chat-GPT)
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[sig. *2r] De cometarvm significationibvs ivdicivm Thomae Erasti Medicinæ in Scola Heidelbergensi Professoris:

Ad Candidum Lectorem Epistola.

Cvm in postremi Cometæ apparitione omnium oculi atque animi, vt fit, in noui miraculi consideratione defixi essent, omni loco & tempore de his rebus collocutiones fierent, nec quisquam ferè reperiretur, qui non vel causas & naturam Cometarum cognoscere cuperet, vel significationem saltem (omnibus enim omninò persuasum est, eos temerè non comparere) animo præuidere desideraret, dixi ipse quoque ab amicis interrogatus, quam de eorum prænunciatione opinionem haberem. Dixi autem non illud, (vt facere multi solent) quod ex alijs audieram, satisq́ue compertum non habebam, sed quod vera & recta ratio perspicuè demonstrabat. Eam deinde sententiam rogatu amici paginis aliquot compræhensam descripsi, eiq́ue expendendam tradidi. Nescio quî factum deinde sit, vt, cum libellus de Auro poculento excuderetur, vnà cum eo passus sim etiam hunc de Cometarum præsagitione commentariolum imprimi. Nec pœnituisset facti (cur enim pœniteret honesti & veri?) si non tot (cateret mendis typographicis, quæ non obscurum tantum reddiderunt, sed sensum eius verum turpiter alicubi deprauuarunt. Quia ergo occasio mihi exstitit præcedentis disceptationis, palcuit cum sub incudem reuocare, emaculare, auctioremq́ue reddere, & nonnulla etiam corrigere, & cum præcedentibus coniungere. Quia enim pars est totius de Cometis disputationis, optimo iure coniungitur, vt simul doctrina tota de Cometis habeatur. Facio eò libentius, quod nuper ad me scripsit vir doctus & grauis, cui videutr non rectè [sig. *2v] factum, quod de sola ratione egimus, de experientia vix quicquam diximus. Non enim conuenire putat, si ex duobus κριτηρίοις ratione scilicet et experientia, alterum solum adhibeatur ad iudicandum eas res, quas ambobus dignosci & examinari oportet. Rectè prudenterq́ue ista dicuntur. Ideo enim Galenus Medicum pronunciauit claudun esse, qui vel soli confideret rationi, vel hac neglecta sola contentus esset experientia. Vt enim aptè consistere probeq́ue incedere non valet, qui altero crure caret, vel vti eo non vult, aut non potest, sed claudicare cogitur: ita quoque labi & errare eum oportet, qui, quæ ratione simul cum experientia perfectè cognosci duntaxat possunt, altera sola plenè cognoscere tentat. Etsi verò omni hac in parte culpa careo, & ea de experientia tum dixi, quæ præsens eam postulare videbatur. (Non enim propositum erat, rem omnem ad viuum vsque resecare) non grauabor tamen, quæ omissa videntur, addere, & rem paulò plenius exponere. Vale.

English Raw Translation

Generated by ChatGPT-4 on 16 August 2023. Attention: This translation is a machine translation by artificial intelligence. The translation has not been checked and should not be cited without additional human verification.

To the Candid Reader, a Letter.

When, during the recent appearance of a comet, everyone's eyes and minds were, as usual, fixed on the contemplation of this new marvel, discussions about these phenomena were happening everywhere and at all times. Hardly anyone could be found who didn't either desire to understand the causes and nature of comets or, at the very least, their significance. For it is entirely believed by everyone that they don't appear without reason. When asked by friends, I too voiced my opinion on their portent. Yet, I did not say, as many do, what I had heard from others and not thoroughly verified for myself, but what true and sound reason clearly demonstrated. Later, at the request of a friend, I put this opinion into a few pages, wrote it down, and handed it over for evaluation. I am unaware how it subsequently happened that when the booklet on the Potable Gold was being printed, this little commentary of mine on the prediction of comets was printed alongside it. I would not have regretted this act (for why should one regret something honest and true?) if it weren't riddled with so many typographical errors, which not only obscured it but in some places disgracefully distorted its true meaning. Hence, given the opportunity to discuss the preceding topic, I decided to recall it, refine it, expand upon it, make certain corrections, and merge it with the preceding content. As it forms part of the whole discourse on comets, it is rightly combined so that the entire doctrine on comets can be accessed together. I do this all the more willingly because a learned and serious man recently wrote to me, expressing his disapproval that I dealt only with reason and scarcely mentioned experience. He believes it's inappropriate if, out of the two criteria — reason and experience — only one is employed to judge matters that should be recognized and examined by both. This is rightly and wisely said. Hence, Galen declared that a doctor is akin to a lame man who either relies solely on reason or, neglecting it, is satisfied only with experience. For just as one who lacks one leg, or refuses or is unable to use it, cannot stand properly or walk smoothly but is forced to limp; so too, one errs if they try to fully understand matters, which can be perfectly known only with both reason and experience, using just one of them. Even though I am free from fault in this regard and have said about experience what seemed to be required at the time (for it wasn't my aim to dissect the matter to its very core), I will not hesitate to add what seems missing and explain the matter a bit more thoroughly. Farewell.