A Seminary of Folly

Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy:

“‘Tis an inbred malady in every one of us, there is seminarium stultitiae, a seminary of folly, which if it be stirred up, or get ahead, will run in infinitum, and infinitely varies, as we ourselves are severally addicted, saith Balthazar Castilio: and cannot so easily be rooted out, it takes such fast hold, as Tully holds, altae radices stultitiae, so we are bred, and so we continue. Some say there be two main defects of wit, error and ignorance, to which all others are reduced; by ignorance we know not things necessary, by error we know them falsely. Ignorance is a privation, error a positive act. From ignorance comes vice, from error heresy, &c. But make how many kinds you will, divide and subdivide, few men are free, or that do not impinge on some one kind or other. Sic plerumque agitat stultos inscitia, [thus in most cases, ignorance drives fools forward] as he that examines his own and other men’s actions shall find.”

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