Zi gong travelled south to Chu. On his way back to Jin, as he passed along the south bank of the Han River, he saw that an old man was about to plant his fields. Digging a tunnel, he entered the well, and holding a jar came out to pour it. Straining himself, he used a great deal of force but produced little result. “there is a machine for this sort of thing,” said Zigong, “In one day it can water a hundred fields. You will use little force but produce many results. Wouldn’t you, my sir, like one?” The gardener raised his head and looked at Zigong. “What is it like?” “You chisel wood to make a machine. The back end is heavy and the front end light. It lifts up water as if it were pulling up, so fast as if the water were boiling right over. It’s called a well sweep.” The gardener flushed with anger and then said with a laugh, “I’ve heard from my teacher, ‘When there are mechanical devices, there are bound to be mechanical affairs. When there are mechanical affairs, there are bound to be mechanical minds. With a mechanical mind in your breast, you’ve spoiled the pure whiteness; and without the pure whiteness, spirit and life will be unsettled. That in which spirit and life are not settled is where the Way does not place itself.’ It’s not that I am ignorant, but that I would be ashamed to do it.”
- Zhuangzi, “Heaven and Earth”
Since the science of nature is conversant with magnitudes, motion, and time, each of which must necessarily be either infinite or finite...we should speculate the infinite, and consider whether it is or not; and if it is what it is. ...All those who appear to have touched on a philosophy of this kind... consider it as a certain principle of beings.
- Aristotle, Physics