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cients and moderns, have, in the sciences, drank a | the scaffolding and ladders when the building is crude liquor like water, either flowing of itself finished. Nor can we indeed believe the case to
from the understanding, or drawn up by logic as the wheel draws up the bucket. But we drink and pledge others with a liquor made of many well ripened grapes, collected and plucked from particular branches, squeezed in the press, and at last clarified and fermented in a vessel. It is not, therefore, wonderful that we should not agree with others.
have been otherwise. But to any one, not entirely forgetful of our previous observations, it will be easy to answer this objection, or rather scruple. For, we allow that the ancients had a particular form of investigation and discovery, and their writings show it. But it was of such a nature, that they immediately flew from a few instances and particulars, (after adding some common notions, and a few generally received opinions most in vogue,) to the most general con
then by their intermediate propositions deduced their inferior conclusions, and tried them by the test of the immovable and settled truth of the first, and so constructed their art. Lastly, if some new particulars and instances were brought forward, which contradicted their dogmas, they either with great subtilty reduced them to one system, by distinctions or explanations of their own rules, or got rid of them clumsily as exceptions, labouring most pertinaciously in the mean time to accommodate the causes of such as were not contradictory to their own principles. Their natural history and their experience were both far from being what they ought to have been, and their flying off to generalities ruined every thing.
124. Another objection will, without doubt, be made, namely, that we have not ourselves established a correct, or the best goal or aim of theclusions, or the principles of the sciences, and sciences, (the very defect we blame in others.) For, they will say, that the contemplation of truth is more dignified and exalted than any utility or extent of effects: but that our dwelling so long and anxiously on experience and matter, and the fluctuating state of particulars, fastens the mind to earth, or rather casts it down into an abyss of confusion and disturbance, and separates and removes it from a much more divine state, the quiet and tranquillity of abstract wisdom. We willingly assent to their reasoning, and are most anxious to effect the very point they hint at and require. For we are founding a real model of the world in the understanding, such as it is found to be, not such as man's reason has distorted. Now, this cannot be done without dissecting and anatomizing the world most diligently; but we declare it necessary to destroy completely the vain, little, and as it were apish imitations of the world, which have been formed in various systems of philosophy by men's fancies. Let men learn (as we have said above) the difference that exists between the idols of the human mind, and the ideas of the Divine mind. The former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by true and exquisite touches. Truth, therefore, and utility are here perfectly identical, and the effects are of more value as pledges of truth than from the benefit they confer on men.
125. Others may object that we are only doing that which has already been done, and that the ancients followed the same course as ourselves. They may imagine, therefore, that, after all this stir and exertion, we shall at last arrive at some of those systems that prevailed among the ancients for that they, too, when commencing their meditations, laid up a great store of instances and particulars, and digested them under topics and titles in their commonplace books, and so worked out their systems and arts, and then decided upon what they discovered, and related now and then some examples to confirm and throw light upon their doctrine; but thought it superfluous and troublesome to publish their notes, minutes, and commonplaces, and, therefore, followed the example of builders, who remove VOL. III.-47
126. Another objection will be made against us, that we prohibit decisions, and the laying down of certain principles, till we arrive regularly at generalities by the intermediate steps, and thus keep the judgment in suspense and lead to uncertainty. But our object is not uncertainty, but fitting certainty, for we derogate not from the senses, but assist them, and despise not the understanding, but direct it. It is better to know what is necessary, and not to imagine we are fully in possession of it, than to imagine that we are fully in possession of it, and yet in reality to know nothing which we ought.
127. Again, some may raise this question rather than objection, whether we talk of perfecting natural philosophy alone according to our method, or the other sciences also, such as logic, ethics, politics. We certainly intend to comprehend them all. And as common logic, which regulates matters by syllogisms, is applied not only to natural, but also to every other science, so our inductive method likewise comprehends them all. For we form a history and tables of invention for anger, fear, shame, and the like, and also for examples in civil life, and the mental operations of memory, composition, division, judgment, and the rest, as well as for heat and cold, light, vegetation, and the like. But since our method of interpretation, after preparing and arranging a history, does not content itself with examining the operations and disquisitions of the mind, like common logic; but also inspects the nature of
things, we so regulate the mind that it may be | the former forever. Civil reformation seldom is enabled to apply itself in every respect correctly carried on without violence and confusion, whilst to that nature. On that account we deliver nu- inventions are a blessing and a benefit, without merous and various precepts in our doctrine of injuring or afflicting any. interpretation, so that they may apply in some measure to the method of discovering the quality and condition of the subject-matter of investigation.
Inventions are, also, as it were, new creations and imitations of divine works; as was expressed by the poet :*
"Primum frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris
Dididerant quondam præstanti nomine Athenæ
it is worthy of remark in Solomon, that whilst he flourished in the possession of his empire, in wealth, in the magnificence of his works, in his court, his household, his fleet, the splendour of his name, and the most unbounded admiration of mankind, he still placed his glory in none of these, but declared, "That it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of a king to search it out."
128. Let none even doubt whether we are anxious to destroy and demolish the philosophy, arts, and sciences, which are now in use. On the contrary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation, and honour. For we by no means interfere to prevent the prevalent system from encouraging discussion, adorning discourses, or being employed serviceably in the chair of the professor or the practice of common life, and being taken, in short, by general consent, as current coin. Nay, we plainly declare, that the system we offer will not be very suitable for such purposes, not being Again, let any one but consider the immense easily adapted to vulgar apprehensions, except by difference between men's lives in the most polisheffects and works. To show our sincerity in pro-ed countries of Europe, and in any wild and barfessing our regard and friendly disposition to-barous region of the New Indies, he will think it wards the received sciences, we can refer to the so great, that man may be said to be a god unto evidence of our published writings, (especially our books on the advancement of learning.) We will not, therefore, endeavour to evince it any further by words; but content ourselves with steadily and professedly premising, that no great progress can be made by the present methods, in the theory or contemplation of science, and that they cannot be made to produce any very abundant effects.
129. It remains for us to say a few words on the excellence of our proposed end. If we had done so before, we might have appeared merely to express our wishes, but now that we have excited hope and removed prejudices, it will perhaps have greater weight. Had we performed and completely accomplished the whole, without frequently calling in others to assist in our labours, we should then have refrained from saying any more, lest we should be thought to extol our own deserts. Since, however, the industry of others must be quickened, and their courage roused and inflamed, it is right to recall some points to their memory.
First, then, the introduction of great inventions appears one of the most distinguished of human actions; and the ancients so considered it. For they assigned divine honours to the authors of inventions, but only heroic honours to those who displayed civil merit, (such as the founders of cities and empires, legislators, the deliverers of their country from everlasting misfortunes, the quellers of tyrants, and the like.) And if any one rightly compare them, he will find the judgment of antiquity to be correct. For the benefits derived from inventions may extend to mankind in general, but civil benefits to particular spots alone; the latter, moreover, last but for a time,
man, not only on account of mutual aid and benefits, but from their comparative states: the result of the arts, and not of the soil or climate.
Again, we should notice the force, effect, and consequences of inventions, which are nowhere more conspicuous than in those three which were unknown to the ancients; namely, printing, gunpowder, and the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of the whole world; first in literature, then in warfare, and lastly in navigation: and innumerable changes have been thence derived, so that no empire, sect, or star, appears to have exercised a greater power and influence on human affairs than these mechanical discoveries.
It will, perhaps, be as well to distinguish three species and degrees of ambition. First, that of men who are anxious to enlarge their own power in their country, which is a vulgar and degenerate kind; next, that of men who strive to enlarge the power and empire of their country over mankind, which is more dignified, but not less covetous; but if one were to endeavour to renew and enlarge the power and empire of mankind in general over the universe, such ambition (if it may so be termed) is both more sound and more noble than the other two. Now, the empire of man over things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her.
*This is the opening of the sixth book of Lucretius. Bacon probably quoted from memory; the lines are,
Prima frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris
The teeming corn, that feeble mortals crave,
Besides this, if the benefit of any particular invention has had such an effect as to induce men to consider him greater than a man, who has thus obliged the whole race; how much more exalted will that discovery be, which leads to the easy discovery of every thing else! Yet, (to speak the truth,) in the same manner as we are very thankful for light which enables us to enter on our way, to practise arts, to read, to distinguish each other, and yet sight is more excellent and beautiful than the various uses of light; so is the contemplation of things as they are, free from superstition or imposture, error or confusion, much more dignified in itself than all the advantage to be derived from discoveries.
Lastly, let none be alarmed at the objection of the arts and sciences becoming depraved to malevolent or luxurious purposes and the like, for the same can be said of every worldly good; talent, courage, strength, beauty, riches, light itself, and the rest. Only let mankind regain their rights over nature, assigned to them by the gift of God, and obtain that power, whose exercise will be governed by right reason and true religion.
130. But it is time for us to lay down the art of interpreting nature; to which we attribute no absolute necessity (as if nothing could be done without it) nor perfection, although we think that our precepts are most useful and correct. For we are of opinion, that if men had at their command a proper history of nature and experience, and would apply themselves steadily to it, and could bind themselves to two things; 1. To lay aside received opinions and notions; 2. To restrain themselves, till the proper season, from generalization, they might, by the proper and genuine exertion of their minds, fall into our way of interpretation without the aid of any art. For interpretation is the true and natural act of the mind, when all obstacles are removed: certainly, however, every thing will be more ready and better fixed by our precepts.
Yet do we not affirm that no addition can be made to them; on the contrary, considering the mind in its connexion with things, and not merely relatively to its own powers, we ought to be persuaded that the art of invention can be made to grow with the inventions themselves.
THE SECOND BOOK OF
INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN.
1. To generate and superinduce a new nature, or new natures, upon a given body, is the labour and aim of human power: whilst to discover the orm or true difference of a given nature, or the nature to which such nature is owing, or source from whence it emanates, (for these terms approach nearest to an explanation of our meaning,) is the labour and discovery of human knowledge. And, subordinate to these primary labours, are two others of a secondary nature and inferior stamp. Under the first must be ranked the transformation of concrete bodies from one to another, which is possible within certain limits; under the second, the discovery, in every species of generation and motion, of the latent and uninterrupted process, from the manifest efficient and manifest subject-matter up to the given form: and a like discovery of the latent conformation of bodies which are at rest, instead of being in motion.
2. The unhappy state of man's actual knowledge is manifested even by the common asserTò rí v εivat, or ĥ ovcía of Aristotle. See lib. 3. Metap.
tions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down, that "true knowledge is that which is deduced from causes." The division of four causes, also, is not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end, or final cause.' * Of these, however, the latter is so far from being beneficial, that it even corrupts the sciences, except in the intercourse of man with man.
The discovery of form is considered despe
As for the efficient cause, and matter, (according to the present system of inquiry and the received opinions concerning them, by which they are placed remote from, and without any latent process towards form,) they are but desultory and superficial, and of scarcely any avail to real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindful of our having pointed out and corrected above the error of the human mind, in assigning the first qualities of essence to forms.† For, although nothing exists in nature except individual bodies,
These divisions are from Aristotle's Metaphysics, where they are termed, 1, vλn ʼn rò vпokcíμevov. 2, Torí hy eivai 3, ὅθεν ἢ ἄρχη τῆς κινέσεως. 4, τὸ οὐ ἐνίκεν—καὶ τὸ ἄγωνον. + See Aphorism 51, and 2d paragraph of Aphorism 65, in the first book.
power; yet, by the confined limits of the precept he will be deprived of reaping any advantage from them. Thirdly, he will be anxious to be shown something not so difficult as the required effect itself, but approaching more nearly to practice.
exhibiting clear individual effects according to | anxious to be shown some method that will neiparticular laws:* yet, in each branch of learning, ther fail in effect, nor deceive him in the trial of that very law, its investigation, discovery, and it. Secondly, he will be anxious that the predevelopment, are the foundation both of theory scribed method should not restrict him and tie and practice. This, law, therefore, and its him down to peculiar means, and certain partiparallel in each science, is what we understand cular methods of acting. For he will, perhaps, by the term form, adopting that word because it be at a loss, and without the power or opportunity has grown into common use, and is of familiar of collecting and procuring such means. Now, if there be other means and methods (besides 3. He who has learned the cause of a particular those prescribed) of creating such a nature, they nature, (such as whiteness or heat,) in particular will perhaps be of such a kind as are in his subjects only, has acquired but an imperfect knowledge: as he who can induce a certain effect upon particular substances only, among those which are susceptible of it, has acquired but an imperfect power. But he who has only learned the efficient and material cause, (which causes We will lay this down, therefore, as the are variable, and mere vehicles conveying form to genuine and perfect rule of practice; "That i particular substances,) may perhaps arrive at should be certain, free, and preparatory, or having some new discoveries in matters of a similar na-relation to practice." And this is the same thing ture, and prepared for the purpose, but does not as the discovery of a true form. For the form of stir the limits of things, which are much more any nature is such, that when it is assigned, the deeply rooted whilst he who is acquainted with particular nature infallibly follows. It is, thereforms, comprehends the unity of nature in sub-fore, always present when that nature is present, stances apparently most distinct from each other. and universally attests such presence, and is He can disclose and bring forward, therefore, inherent in the whole of it. The same form is (though it has never yet been done,) things which of such a character, that if it be removed, the neither the vicissitudes of nature, nor the industry particular nature infallibly vanishes. It is, thereof experiment, nor chance itself, would ever have fore, absent whenever that nature is absent, and brought about, and which would forever have perpetually testifies such absence, and exists in escaped man's thoughts. From the discovery of no other nature. Lastly, the true form is such, forms, therefore, results genuine theory and free that it deduces the particular nature from some practice. source of essence existing in many subjects, and more known (as they term it) to nature, than the form itself.* Such, then, is our determination and rule with regard to a genuine and perfect theoretical axiom; "that a nature be found convertible with a given nature, and yet such as to limit the more known nature, in the manner of a real genus." But these two rules, the practical and theoretical, are in fact the same, and that which is most useful in practice is most correct in theory.
4. Although there is a most intimate connection and almost an identity between the ways of human power and human knowledge; yet, on account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of dwelling upon abstractions, it is by far the safest method to commence and build up the sciences from those foundations which bear a relation to the practical division, and to let them mark out and limit the theoretical. We must consider, therefore, what precepts, or what direction or guide, a person would most desire, in order to generate and superinduce any nature upon a given body and this not in abstruse, but in the plainest language.
For instance, if a person should wish to superinduce the yellow colour of gold upon silver, or an additional weight, (observing always the laws of matter,) or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity in glass, or vegetation on a substance which is not vegetable, we must (I say) consider what species of precept or guide this person would prefer. And, firstly, he will doubtless be
* Plato's ideas or forms, are the abstractions or generalizations of distinct species, which have no real existence, individuals only existing.
† Observe throughout, Bacon's term form means no more than law. See, further, third paragraph of Aphorism 17 of this book.
5. But the rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two kinds. The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances; it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by fire, melts in a peculiar manner, is separated and dissolved by particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold. An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms of simple natures. For he who has acquired the forms and methods of superinducing
immediate connexion. But the higher and radical operations upon nature, depend entirely on the primary axioms. Besides, even where man has not the means of acting, but only of acquiring knowledge, as in astronomy, (for man cannot act upon, change, or transform the heavenly bodies,) the investigation of facts or truth, as well as the knowledge of causes and coincidences, must be referred to those primary and universal axioms that regard simple natures; such as the nature of spontaneous rotation, attraction, or the magnetic force, and many others which are more common than the heavenly bodies themselves. For, let no one hope to determine the question, whether the earth or heaven revolve in the diurnal motion, unless he have first comprehended the nature of spontaneous rotation.
yellowness, weight, ductility, stability, deliques- | observed in nature, to other subjects immediately cence, solution, and the like, and their degrees connected with it, or not very remote from such and modes, will consider and contrive how to unite them in any body, so as to transform it into gold. And this method of operating belongs to primary action. For it is the same thing to produce one or many simple natures, except that man is more confined and restricted in his operations, if many be required, on account of the difficulty of uniting many natures together. It must, however, be observed, that this method of operating (which considers natures as simple, though in a concrete body) sets out from what is constant, eternal, and universal in nature, and opens such broad paths to human power, as the thoughts of man can in the present state of things scarcely comprehend or figure to itself. The second kind of axiom (which depends on the discovery of the latent process) does not proceed by simple natures, but by concrete bodies, as they are found in nature, and in its usual course. For instance; suppose the inquiry to be, from what beginnings, in what manner, and by what process gold or any metal or stone is generated from the original menstruum, or its elements, up to the perfect mineral: or, in like manner, by what process plants are generated, from the first concretion of juices in the earth, or from seeds, up to the perfect plant, with the whole successive motion, and varied and uninterrupted efforts of nature; and the same inquiry be made as to a regularly deduced system of the generation of animals from coition to birth, and so on of other bodies.
Nor is this species of inquiry confined to the mere generation of bodies, but it is applicable to other changes and labours of nature. For instance; where an inquiry is made into the whole series, and continued operation of the nutritive process, from the first reception of the food, to its complete assimilation to the recipient: or into the voluntary motion of animals, from the first impression of the imagination, and the continuous effects of the spirits, up to the bending and motion of the joints; or into the free motion of the tongue and lips, and other accessories which give utterance to articulate sounds. For all these investigations relate to concrete or associated natures, artificially brought together, and take into consideration certain particular and special habits of nature, and not those fundamental and general laws which constitute forms. It must, however, be plainly owned, that this method appears more prompt and easy, and of greater promise than the primary one.
In like manner the operative branch, which answers to this contemplative branch, extends and advances its operation from that which is usually
* By the recent discoveries in electric magnetism, copper wires, or, indeed, wires of any metal may be transformed
into magnets; the magnetic law or form having been to that extent discovered.
6. But the latent process, of which we speak, is far from being obvious to men's minds, beset as they now are. For, we mean not the measures, symptoms, or degrees of any process which can be exhibited in the bodies themselves, but simply a continued process, which, for the most part, escapes the observation of the senses.
For instance; in all generations and transformations of bodies, we must inquire, what is in the act of being lost and escaping, what remains, what is being added, what is being diluted, what is being contracted, what is being united, what is being separated, what is continuous, what is broken off, what is urging forward, what impedes, what predominates, what is subservient, and many other circumstances.
Nor are these inquiries again to be made in the mere generation and transformation of bodies only, but in all other alterations and fluctuations, we must in like manner inquire; what precedes, what succeeds, what is quick, what is slow, what produces and what governs motion, and the like. All which matters are unknown and unattempted by the sciences, in their present heavy and inactive state. For, since every natural act is brought about by the smallest efforts, or at least such as are too small to strike our senses, let no one hope that he will be able to direct or change nature, unless he have properly comprehended and observed these efforts.
7. In like manner, the investigation and discovery of the latent confirmation in bodies is no less new, than the discovery of the latent process and form. For, we as yet are doubtless only admitted to the antechamber of nature, and do not prepare an entrance into her presence-room. But nobody can endue a given body with a new nature, or transform it successfully and appropriately into a new body, without possessing a complete knowledge of the body so to be changed or transformed. For he will run into vain, or, at least, into difficult