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πρεσβύτατόν τε καὶ αὐτοτελῆ πολύμητιν Ερωτα,
Nothing is said here, or elsewhere I believe, of his having mingled with Uranos in the engendering of the universe; and I am inclined to think that when Bacon says, "Ipse cum Coelo mistus, et deos et res universos progenuit," we ought to substitute Chao for Colo.2 For the passage in Aristophanes goes on to say that in wide Tartarus Eros and Chaos mingled in love and produced first the race of birds and then gods and
Of Phanes nothing of this kind is mentioned, except his intercourse with Night; so that Bacon's statement does not seem to be in any way justified.
It would be endless to cite passages in which the attributes of Eros are described, nor is it necessary to do so.
The form in which Bacon connects the myth of the primeval Eros with philosophy is far less artificial and unreal than most of the interpretations which he has given in the Wisdom of the Ancients. Chaos represents uninformed matter; Eros matter actually existing, and possessed of the law or principle by which it is energised; the first principle, in short, which is the cause of all phenomena. The parents of Eros are unknown; that is to say, it is in vain to seek to carry our
1 Argonaut. 423. In the third line πvouévaç is admitted to be corrupt. I would venture to suggest rohus, making daháσons the genitive case after γένεσιν.
2 This conjecture is confirmed by the corresponding passage in the De Sap. Vet., where for cum cœlo mistus we have ex chao.-J. S.
8 Lobeck, i. 501. It is to this intercourse that the line quoted by Proclus refers:
Αὐτὸς ἑῆς γὰρ παιδὸς ἀφείλετο κούριον ἄνθος.
inquiries beyond the fact of the existence of matter possessed of such and such primitive qualities. On what do those primary qualities ultimately depend? On the “lex summa essentiæ atque naturæ vis scilicet primis
particulis a Deo indita, ex cujus multiplicatione omnis rerum varietas emergat et confletur." Whether this highest law can ever be discovered is by Bacon left here as elsewhere doubtful; but he does not forbid men to seek for it. But what he utterly condemns is the attempt to make philosophy rise above the theory of matter. We must ever remember that Eros has no progenitors, "ne forte intellectus ad inania deflectat". that we turn not aside to transcendental fancies; for in these the mind can make no real progress, and “dum ad ulteriora tendit ad proximiora recidit." We must of necessity take as the starting point of our philosophy, matter possessed of its primitive qualities; and this principle is in accordance with the wisdom of those by whom the myth of Eros was constructed. And certainly, Bacon goes on to say, "that despoiled and merely passive matter is a figment of the human mind;" a statement which refers to the Aristotelian doctrine in which the primitive λn is not conceived of as a thing actually existing, but as that which first receives existence through the eidos, wherewith it is united. Of this doctrine Bacon asserts that it is altogether trifling: "For that which primarily exists must no less exist than that which thence derives its existence;" that is to say, matter must in itself exist actually and not potentially. And the same conclusion follows from the Scriptures, "wherein it is not said that God created hyle, but that he created heaven and earth."
This application of Scripture certainly does not deserve the indignation which Le Maistre, perhaps in honest ignorance, has poured out upon it.1 "He asserts the eternity of matter," is Le Maistre's commentary on the passage in which it occurs. Beyond doubt he denies that hyle was created, but he also denies that it exists; treating it as the mere figment of the Aristotelian philosophy.,
But although Le Maistre's remark is only a fair specimen of his whole work, in which ignorance and passion are so mixed together that it is hard to say how much is to be ascribed to the one and how much to the other, yet it cannot be denied that Bacon does not appear to have understood Aristotle. So far from putting at the origin of things that which is potential, and educing the actual from it, Aristotle asserts that any system which does this is untenable; and it is curious that he refers particularly to the theogonists, οἱ ἐκ νυκτὸς yevvortes, who engender realities out of night.2 For night and chaos may not unfitly be taken to represent uninformed matter. The doctrine of Aristotle being in this as in other matters followed by the schoolmen, it was a question with them how the words "and the earth was without form," which come immediately after the declaration that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, ought to be understood. For to create the earth is to give it actual existence; how then can it be without form? To this the most satisfactory answer was that the words without form do not imply the absence of substantial
1 Examen de la Philosophie de Bacon, ii. p. 143.
2 Arist. Metaph. xii. 6.
8 See Brandis's Schol. in Aristot. p. 803., and for the remarks of Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Lobeck, Aglaoph. i. 488.
form, failing which the earth could have no actual existence, but simply mean that as yet the earth was unadorned and in disorder; a solution in which we see how far they were from supposing that according to Aristotle the first created thing ought to be uninformed matter. They insist on the contrary that the Scripture camot mean that any created thing can be mere matter: "non enim datur ens actu sine actu."
Aristotle, as I have said, condemns the theogonists in whose system Night is a producing principle, — a remark in which he may refer either to Hesiod or to the Orphic writers, but which probably relates to the former only. In the reason of this condemnation Bacon agrees with him, and yet takes into the myth which he proposes to explain, Aristophanes's fancy that the egg from which Eros came forth was laid by Night. His reason for doing so is that this part of the fable appears to him to relate not to essence but to cognition, that is to the method whereby we may arrive at a knowledge of Eros, or of the fundamental properties of matter. For conclusions obtained by means of affirmatives are, so to speak, brought forth by Light: whereas those which are obtained by negatives and exclusions are the offspring of Night and Darkness. Therefore the egg is laid by Night, seeing that the knowledge of Eros, though it is assuredly attainable, can yet only be attained by exclusions and negatives; that is, to express the same opinion in the language of the Novum Organum, the knowledge of Forms necessarily depends on the Exclusiva. That this method of exclusions must of necessity be ultimately successful is intimated by the myth itself; for the incubation of the primeval egg is not eternal. In
due time the egg is hatched and Eros is made manifest. If it be asked what analogy there is between darkness and the method of exclusions, Bacon's answer is satisfactory, that darkness is as ignorance, and that in employing the method of exclusions we are all along ignorant of that which at any stage of the "process still remains unexcluded. It may again be asked why the method of exclusions is the only one whereby Eros may be disclosed, a question to which Bacon suggests an answer by saying that Democritus did excellently well in teaching that atoms are devoid of all sensible qualities. Bacon's opinion seems therefore to be, that any method but a negative one would necessarily fail, because that which is sought bears no analogy to any of the sensible objects by which we are surrounded. The parable, he says, maintains throughout the principles of heterogeneity and exclusion meaning by heterogeneity a strongly marked antithesis between the fundamental qualities. of matter and the sensible qualities of which we are directly cognisant. In accordance with this he censures Democritus for departing from this principle in giving his atoms the downward motion of gravity and the impulsive motion (motus plaga) which belong to ordinary bodies. Not only are atoms and bodies different as touching their qualities, but also in their motions.
In these views, which however do not show either that the method of exclusions is the only one which can succeed or that it will always do so, there is much which deserves attention. They show that Bacon had obtained a deep insight into the principles of the atomic theory. The earlier developments