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Chance vs. design.

Cicero, in On the Nature of the Gods 2.37, considers the sun and stars. He then states, in a precursor to the infinite monkey theorem, that the works of Ennius are not at all likely to form from the fall of letters thrown in the air, and from this premise he continues:

Isti autem quemadmodum adseverant ex corpusculis non colore, non qualitate aliqua (quam ποιότητα Græci vocant), non sensu præditis, sed concurrentibus temere atque casu mundum esse perfectum?

How, then, do these people insist that it is from particles which, neither endowed with color, nor with any quality—which the Greeks call ποιότης [pœotēs]—nor with sense, but which come together randomly and by chance, that the world is composed?

After this, he launches into a rant against those who, ignorant of the order in things astronomical, would deny intelligent design (ratio) in its composition.

That appears to be the last appearance of qualitas in Cicero. He does not in any instance appear to be comfortable using the word, despite (or possibly due to) having coined it; in most cases he makes reference to it being an invention, or points to the underlying Greek (as here). In short it’s more ‘mention’ than ‘use’, so there is little information useful for the dictionary. It does appear to become much more common after him.

[More at qualitas.]

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