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INQUISITIO LEGITIMA DE MOTU.
By the last paragraph of the Cogitata et Visa we learn that that work was intended for a preface to certain “ Tables of Discovery, or Formulæ of Legitimate Investigation," which were to be set forth in a few subjects as a specimen of the work in hand. Ante omnia visum est ei Tabulas Inveniendi sive legitimæ inquisitionis formulus, hoc est materiem particularium ad opus intellectus ordinatam, in aliquibus subjectis proponi, tanquam ad exemplum et operis descriptionem fere visibilem.
In the Commentarius Solutus (July 26. 1608), among other memoranda relating to the progress of the work, I find the following: “ The finishing the 3 Tables, De Motu, De Calore et Frigore, De Sono.”
Now in Gruter's volume, among the Impetus Philosophici, I find a Latin fragment entitled Filum Labyrinthi, sive Inquisitio legitima de Motu ; in Stephens's
; second collection, I find an English piece entitled Sequela chartarum, sive Inquisitio legitima de Calore et Frigore ; in Rawley's Opuscula I find a Latin fragment entitled Historia et Inquisitio prima, de Sono et auditu, et de forma Soni, et latente processu Soni; sive Sylva Soni et auditus.
Of these, the first is merely a skeleton of an enquiry, the titles of the several charta being given in order, but the titles only; the second is a rough collection of materials for that enquiry de forma Calidi, which was afterwards selected as the example to illustrate the method by, in the second book of the Novum Oryanum ; both have evidently been intended as specimens of the materies particularium ad opus intellectus ordinata, and there can be little doubt that they belong properly to this period and place. The third is a collection of the materies particularium, set out without any indication of a tabular arrangement, and may perhaps have been drawn up in its present shape about the same time with those portions of the natural history which belong to the third part of the Instauration, and to which in form it bears a greater resemblance. But in the absence of all evidence from which the date of composition can be inferred, the reference in the Commentarius Solutus induces me to place it here.
The preface, entitled Franciscus Bacon Lectori, stands in Gruter's volume immediately before the Filum Labyrinthi, and probably belongs to it.
The selection of Motion as the first subject to which the new method was to be applied and the example by which it was to be illustrated, strikes me as very
characteristic both of the aspiring genius of Bacon's philosophy and of the error of judgment which lay at the bottom of it. He saw that all the active operations of nature were modes of motion, and concluded that if we could thoroughly understand the nature of motion, we should at once have the key to her secret processes, and therewithal the command over her powers; which was the true end and aim of knowledge. The subtlety and
intricacy of the phenomena did not daunt him ; for the true method was as the clue of the Labyrinth, which patiently and faithfully followed out must inevitably lead at last to the central principle which explains and reconciles them all. How far he proceeded in the enterprise, we may partly learn from the Commentarius Solutus, which contains the commencement of an elaborate and methodical investigation into the nature of motion ; with what success, we may partly infer from the second book of the Novum Organum, in which the description of the different kinds of motion is introduced merely as a part of the doctrine of the prerogatives of instances: the fact probably being that he had despaired of arriva ing by the Filum Labyrinthi at any tangible result within any assignable time.
The investigation, as set down in the Commentarius on the 26th and 27th of July, 1608, is carried out a little further than in this fragment; and as it belongs naturally to this place, and will throw some additional
the nature of the process as Bacon at this time conceived it, as well as upon the names by which some of its stages are distinguished, I cannot better conclude this preface than by quoting it in extenso.
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