I stumbled upon this quotation from Thomas Huxley:
You have all heard it repeated, I dare say, that men of science work by means of induction and deduction, and that by the help of these operations, they, in a sort of sense, wring from Nature certain other things, which are called natural laws, ... To hear all these large words, you would think that the mind of a man of science must be constituted differently from that of his fellow men; but if you will not be frightened by terms, you will discover that you are quite wrong, and that all these terrible apparatus are being used by yourselves every day and every hour of your lives.
Apparently, "to hear these large words" here means roughly the same as "upon hearing these large words". However, my intuitive is that when an infinitive is used adverbially it takes the meaning of either "in order to" or "so as to". In both cases the motion indicated by the infinitive happens after the main clause. However, in this case the relationship seems to be reversed.
I can scarcely recall similar usages of the infinitive elsewhere. I have also noted that this is pretty old text. My questions are:
- Is there an alternative, more apparent explanation of the usage of infinitive here?
- Is this usage common in modern English, or out-dated?
I would also love to see other examples of this particular usage of infinitive, from both modern and relatively old sources.