In the latter half of The Blazing World, the Empress makes a number of inquisitions into the animal-men scientists’ practices, experiments, and motives. In one such instance, she asks for details regarding the strength of their perceptions compared to the strength of their microscopes and other tools. The scene is narrated as follows:
“Then the Empress asked them, Whether by their Sensitive perceptions they could observe the interior corporeal, figurative Motions both of Vegetables and Minerals? They answer’d, That their Senses could perceive them after they were produced, but not before; Nevertheless, said they, although the interior, figurative motions of Natural Creatures are not subject to the exterior, animal, sensitive perceptions, yet by their Rational perception they may judg of them, and of their productions if they be regular: Whereupon the Empress commanded the Bear-men to lend them some of their best Microscopes. At which the Bearmen smilingly answered her Majesty, that their Glasses would do them but little service in the bowels of the Earth, because there was no light; for, said they, our Glasses do onely represent exterior objects, according to the various reflections and positions of light; and wheresoever light is wanting, the glasses wil do no good.” (41)
Here, the Empress appears to call out her company’s self-assigned intellectual superiority by confronting the efficacy of their practices head-on. Their reply that “their Senses could perceive them after they were produced, but not before” seems to be a confession of normalcy buried under an academically-structured sentence. Furthermore, the Empress’ questioning of their “Sensitive perceptions” facilitates a call for distinctions between perception and assumption. Institutional patriarchy is being challenged, but what specific element of institutional patriarchy is Cavendish zeroing in on? I believe it could be male egotism, or a lack of secularism in science, or something else entirely.