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On The Heavens   

this by saying that the sound is in our ears from the very moment of

birth and is thus indistinguishable from its contrary silence, since

sound and silence are discriminated by mutual contrast. What happens

to men, then, is just what happens to coppersmiths, who are so

accustomed to the noise of the smithy that it makes no difference to

them. But, as we said before, melodious and poetical as the theory is,

it cannot be a true account of the facts. There is not only the

absurdity of our hearing nothing, the ground of which they try to

remove, but also the fact that no effect other than sensitive is

produced upon us. Excessive noises, we know, shatter the solid

bodies even of inanimate things: the noise of thunder, for instance,

splits rocks and the strongest of bodies. But if the moving bodies are

so great, and the sound which penetrates to us is proportionate to

their size, that sound must needs reach us in an intensity many

times that of thunder, and the force of its action must be immense.

Indeed the reason why we do not hear, and show in our bodies none of

the effects of violent force, is easily given: it is that there is

no noise. But not only is the explanation evident; it is also a

corroboration of the truth of the views we have advanced. For the very

difficulty which made the Pythagoreans say that the motion of the

stars produces a concord corroborates our view. Bodies which are

themselves in motion, produce noise and friction: but those which

are attached or fixed to a moving body, as the parts to a ship, can no

more create noise, than a ship on a river moving with the stream.

Yet by the same argument one might say it was absurd that on a large

vessel the motion of mast and poop should not make a great noise,

and the like might be said of the movement of the vessel itself. But

sound is caused when a moving body is enclosed in an unmoved body, and

cannot be caused by one enclosed in, and continuous with, a moving

body which creates no friction. We may say, then, in this matter

that if the heavenly bodies moved in a generally diffused mass of

air or fire, as every one supposes, their motion would necessarily

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