Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bacon on the Clever Crow

The distinction between human reason and the sagacity of brutes appears to be a perfectly correct one. Yet there are certain instances of actions performed by animals, by which it seems that brutes too have some power of syllogising; as in the old story of the crow which, in a time of great drought being half dead with thirst, saw some water in the hollow trunk of a tree; and finding it too narrow to get in, proceeded to drop in a number of pebbles, till the water rose high enough for it to drink; which thing afterwards passed into a proverb.


Sir Francis Bacon, New Organon

ADDED LATER: The sufficiently well-read reader will be reminded, of course, of Aesop's fable of the Crow and the Pitcher.

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