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6 Insects in John Ray’s Natural History and Natural Theology

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on how John Ray related his investigations and physico-theological exegesis. As the author have noted, Ray's concern in natural history during the period in which he was revising editions of The Wisdom of God was the history of insects; for that reason, the author's analysis focuses on additions involving insects. After an overview of Ray's research on insects, the chapter focuses on how Ray integrated material into editions of The Wisdom of God. In good Protestant fashion, Ray insisted on literal truth as the basis for his interpretation of the Book of Nature. Ray was familiar with Robert Boyle's work, which he cited at three reprises: Boyle's refutation of Descartes's 'confident assertion' that we can know nothing of God's ends in nature; his remarks about the beaver, which constructs 'houses for shelter and security in winter-time'; and his observations on the exquisite design of the teeth.

Keywords: Book of Nature; insects; John Ray; physico-theological exegesis; The Wisdom of God



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