But among all the examples of the ancient Aristotelians’ showing they were guided by every trivial twist of the imagination, none is more remarkable than their ‘sympathies’, ‘antipathies’, and ‘horrors of a vacuum’! There is a very remarkable inclination in human nature to attribute to external objects the same emotions that it observes in itself, and to find everywhere those ideas [here = ‘qualities’] that are most present to it. This inclination is suppressed by a little reflection, and it occurs only in children, poets, and the ancient philosophers. It appears in children when they want to kick the stones that hurt them; in poets by their readiness to personify everything; and in the ancient philosophers by these fictions of ‘sympathy’ and ‘antipathy’. We must pardon •children because of their age, and •poets because they are openly obedient to the promptings of their imagination; but what excuse shall we find to justify our •philosophers—·the ancients and their modern disciples·—in such a striking weakness?
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