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Read the excerpt below from A Tale of a Tub, a work of fiction by Jonathan Swift; then answer the question that follows. For great turns are not always given by strong hands, but by lucky adaption, and at proper seasons; and it is of no import where the fire was kindled, if the vapor has once got up into the brain. For the upper region of man is furnished like the middle region of the air; the materials are formed from causes of the widest difference, yet produce at last the same substance and effect. Mists arise from the earth, steams from dunghills, exhalations from the sea, and smoke from fire; yet all clouds are the same in composition as well as consequences, and the fumes issuing from a jakes1 will furnish as comely and useful a vapor as incense from an altar. Thus far, I suppose, will easily be granted me; and then it will follow, that as the face of nature never produces rain but when it is overcast and disturbed, so human understanding, seated in the brain, must be troubled and overspread by vapors, ascending from the lower faculties to water the invention and render it fruitful. In this excerpt, Swift primarily satirizes which of the following aspects of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century rationalism?



A. A belief in the power of human reasoning to reveal truth
B. The spread and growing acceptance of the scientific method
C. The erosion of unquestioning acceptance of religious doctrine
D. A faith that humanity necessarily progresses toward perfection

This question is part of

CSET subtest 1 Practice Test
Asked by Lynden, Last updated: Jun 10, 2020

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2 Answers

John Adney

John Adney

Answered Dec 11, 2017

Power of human reason to come to perfected explanations of the meaning of the universe

 

John Smith

John Smith

Answered Sep 08, 2016

A belief in the power of human reasoning to reveal truth-the rationalism of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries held that all truths, especially religious ones, were accessible and comprehensible through pure human reason; reason was in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions. in this excerpt, swift mocks the rationalist view by equating the knowledge that reason supposedly brings with rising vapor or smoke and asserting that the sources of the vapor or smoke are immaterial (it is of no import where the fire was kindled). so, with pure reason onlyi.e., without the power of discernmentthe exhalations from the sea become equivalent to the steams from dunghills, which is a ridiculous notion.
 

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