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insect sociality, divinity, nature


When Thoomas Moffett wrote in the Theater of Insects that "there is nothing more divine than these, except Man," he asked his readers some pointed questions about insects, and made some blunt statements:

where is Nature more to be seen than in the smallest matters, where she is entirely all? for in great bodies the workmanship is easie, the matter being ductile; but in these that are so small and despicable, and almost nothing, what care? how great is the effect of it? how unspeakable is the perfection? ... Do you require Prudence? regard the Ant; Do you desire Justice? regard the Bee; Do you commend Temperance? take advice of them both. Do you praise Valour? See the whole generation of Grasshoppers.

and so on. As for God, “truly, if the fabrick of Insects were worthy of so great and divine [an] Artificer, how can the contemplation of them be unworthy of the understandings of poor contemptible men?” Thomas Moffett believed that insects were insufficiently appreciated both as moral and social examples, and as illustrations of God’s active presence in the world, and both of his famous works on insects were attempts to address this problem.