Not infrequently in recent years, attention has been given to Dee's scientific importance (3), and recognition of this has led to the demand for a re-examination of his work that will once more accord him "his rightful place as the central figure in the beginning of modern science in England." (4) Dee's historical significance in this sphere is chiefly due to the fact that he became one of the principal propagandists in England for an approach to nature which proved of immense value in the hands of later experimentalists, and laid the foundations of the methods of modern physical science. Yet Dee supported these views not from any intuitive precognisance of the profitable results - their pragmatic justification - which would follow from their extensive application in succeeding centuries, but rather because they formed an intrinsic part of a general scheme of thought, which was largely evolved and defended by as pure an a priori theorising as the most involved logistic subtleties of that earlier scholasticism which Dee's intellectual legatees of the seventeenth century, in conscious superiority, so frequently and vociferously derided. There were other philosophies of the day, seemingly as cogent, offering much greater favourable empirical evidence, than this stubborn assertion of discoverable, all-permeating numerical harmonies which flew frequently in the face of "common sense" in its interpretations of observed fact, and of which the few demonstrable advantages were almost ridiculous compared with the vastness of its pretensions, and though, finally, these rival systems fell into entire discredit it was only because they were found not to be so congruent with the mechanical world, which the later unification of scientific theory, accompanying material progress, seemed increasingly to insist on.

Moreover it is to be observed that many of the apparent eccentricities of Dee's thought, the intricate and unprofitable mazes of cabala and occultism in which he inextricably involved himself, were, in some respects, no more than rigorously derived consequences of the general philosophy he had so heartily embraced; and though this, in other hands, provided the framework for the ordered world of Newton, the watch-universe of Huygens (5), there was not to be found implicit in its premisses, as Dee accepted them, any just cause for an invidious division between mathematical activities concerned with quantitative measurement of natural phenomena, and esoteric numerological fantasy. Those of his contemporaries who achieved a greater measure of practical success, or who did not involve themselves so deeply as Dee in these fields, were men who were more fortunate or less consistent in their employment of the "new" methods. The charge has been too often reiterated that Dee "allowed his imagination to dominate his scientific knowledge, and he adopted the baseless superstitions of the day." (6) Only by an unjustifiable application of the standards of modern knowledge, (7) is it possible to separate as intrinsically different those elements in Dee's work which survived the test of "usefulness" in future generations from those sterile speculations which to him, and to his age, seemed to be fully as necessary in completing a coherent picture of the world.(8)

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