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VALERIUS TERMINUS.

PREFACE

VALERIUS

TO

TERMINUS.

BY ROBERT LESLIE ELLIS.

THE following fragments of a great work on the Interpretation of Nature were first published in Stephens's Letters and Remains [1734]. They consist partly of detached passages, and partly of an epitome of twelve chapters of the first book of the proposed work. The detached passages contain the first, sixth, and eighth chapters, and portions of the fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and sixteenth. The epitome contains an account of the contents of all the chapters from the twelfth to the twenty-sixth inclusive, omitting the twentieth, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth. Thus the sixteenth chapter is mentioned both in the epitome and among the detached passages, and we are thus enabled to see that the two portions of the following tract belong to the same work, as it appears from both that the sixteenth chapter was to treat of the doctrine of idola.

It is impossible to ascertain the motive which determined Bacon to give to the supposed author the name of Valerius Terminus, or to his commentator, of whose annotations we have no remains, that of Hermes Stella. It may be conjectured that by the name Terminus he intended to intimate that the new philosophy would put an end to the wandering of mankind in search of truth, that it would be the terminus ad quem in which when it was once attained the mind would finally acquiesce.

Again, the obscurity of the text was to be in some measure removed by the annotations of Stella; not however wholly, for Bacon in the epitome of the eighteenth chapter commends

the manner of publishing knowledge "whereby it shall not be to the capacity nor taste of all, but shall as it were single and adopt his reader." Stella was therefore to throw a kind of starlight on the subject, enough to prevent the student's losing his way, but not much more.

However this may be, the tract is undoubtedly obscure, partly from the style in which it is written, and partly from its being only a fragment. It is at the same time full of interest, inasmuch as it is the earliest type of the Instauratio. The first book of the work ascribed to Valerius Terminus would have corresponded to the De Augmentis and to the first book of the Novum Organum, the plan being that it should contain whatever was necessary to be known before the new method could be stated. In the second book, as in the second book of the Novum Organum, we should have found the method itself.

The Advancement of Learning, which was developed into the De Augmentis, corresponds to the first ten chapters of Valerius Terminus, and especially to the first and tenth. To the remainder of the book (a few chapters are clearly wanted after the last mentioned in the epitome) corresponds the first book of the Novum Organum. The tenth chapter, of which we have only a small fragment, is entitled "The Inventory, or an Enumeration and View of Inventions already discovered and in use; together with a note of the wants, and the nature of the supplies." It therefore corresponds to the second book of the Advancement, and to the last eight books of the De Augmentis, but would doubtless have been a mere summary. 1 When Bacon subsequently determined to give more development to this part of the subject, he was naturally led to make a break after the inventory, and thus we get the origin of the separation between the De Augmentis and the Novum Organum.

The most important portion of Valerius Terminus is the eleventh chapter, which contains a general statement of the problem to be solved. It corresponds to the opening axioms of the second book of the Novum Organum, but differs from them in containing very little on the subject of forms. What Bacon afterwards called the investigation of the form he here calls the freeing of a direction. The object to be sought for is, he says, "the revealing and discovering of new inventions

1 See my note at the end of this Preface.-J. S.

and operations."-" This to be done without the errors and conjectures of art, or the length or difficulties of experience." In order to guide men's travels, a full direction must be given to them, and the fulness of a direction consists in two conditions, certainty and liberty. Certainty is when the direction is infallible; liberty when it comprehends all possible ways and means. Both conditions are fulfilled by the knowledge of the form, to which the doctrine of direction entirely corresponds. This correspondency Bacon recognises towards the end of the chapter, but in illustrating the two conditions of which we have been speaking he does not use the word form. The notion of the form or formal cause comes into his system only on historical grounds. In truth, in Valerius Terminus he is disposed to illustrate the doctrine of direction not so much by that of the formal cause as by two rules which are of great importance in the logical system of Ramus. "The two commended rules by him set down," that is by Aristotle, "whereby the axioms of sciences are precepted to be made convertible, and which the latter men have not without elegancy surnamed, the one the rule of truth because it preventeth deceipt; the other the rule of prudence because it freeth election; are the same thing in speculation and affirmation, which we now affirm." And then follows an example, of which Bacon says that it "will make my meaning attained, and yet percase make it thought that they attained it not." In this example the effect to be produced is whiteness, and the first direction given is to intermingle air and water; of this direction it is said that it is certain, but very particular and restrained, and he then goes on to free it by leaving out the unessential conditions. Of this however it is not now necessary to speak at length; but the "two commended rules" may require some illustration.

In many passages of his works Peter Ramus condemns Aristotle for having violated three rules which he had himself propounded. To these rules Ramus gives somewhat fanciful names. The first is the rule of truth, the second the rule of justice, and the third the rule of wisdom. These three rules are all to be fulfilled by the principles of every science (axiomata artium). The first requires the proposition to be in all cases true, the second requires its subject and predicate to be essentially connected together, and the third requires the converse of the proposition to be true as well as

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