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So that it is no marvel (the manner of antiquity being to consecrate inventors of useful things) that the ancient Egyptians (to whom very many of the arts owe their origin) had so few human idols in their temples, but almost all brute;
Omnigenumque Deum monstra, et latrator Anubis,
Contra Neptunum, et Venerem, contraque Minervam, &c.1
And if you like better, according to the tradition of the Greeks, to ascribe the first inventions to men; yet you would not say that Prometheus was led by speculation to the discovery of fire, or that when he first struck the flint he expected the spark; but rather that he lighted on it by accident, and (as they say) stole it from Jupiter. So that in the invention of arts it would seem that hitherto men are rather beholden to a wild goat for surgery, to a nightingale for music, to the ibis for clysters, to the pot lid that flew open for artillery, and in a word to chance, or anything else, rather than to Logic. Neither is that form of invention much other which is well described by Virgil,
Ut varias usus meditando extunderet artes
For here no other method of invention is proposed than that which the brute beasts are capable of and frequently use; which is an extreme solicitude about some one thing, and perpetual practising of it, such as the necessity of self-preservation imposes on such animals. For so Cicero says very truly, "that practice constantly applied to one thing often does more than either nature or art." 3 And therefore if it be said of men, - Labor omnia vincit Improbus, et duris urgens in rebus egestas ;*
it is likewise said of brutes,
Quis expedivit psittaco suum Xaîpe ? 5
Who taught the raven in a drought to throw pebbles into a hollow tree where she espied water, that the water might rise
1 Virg. Æn. viii. 698.:
All kinds and shapes of gods, a monstrous host,
2 Virg. Georg. i. 133.:
So might long use, with studious thought combined,
Cicero, Pro Balbo, c. 20.
Stern labour masters all,
till she could reach it with her beak? Who showed the way to the bees, that sail through such a vast sea of air to fields in flower far removed from their hive, and back again? Who taught the ant to bite the grains of corn that she lays up in her hill, lest they should sprout and so disappoint her hope? And in that line of Virgil, if the word "extundere," which imports the difficulty, and the word "paulatim," which imports the slowness of the thing, be observed, we shall find ourselves where we were, amongst those gods of the Egyptians; for men have hitherto used the faculty of reason but little, and the office of art not at all, for the discovery of inventions.
Secondly, this very thing which I assert is demonstrated (if you observe it carefully) by the form of induction which Logic proposes, as that whereby the principles of sciences may be invented and proved; which form is utterly vicious and incompetent, and so far from perfecting nature, that contrariwise it perverts and distorts her. For he that shall attentively observe how the mind gathers this excellent dew of knowledge, like to that the poet speaks of,
aërei mellis cœlestia dona,'
(for the sciences themselves are extracted out of particular instances, partly natural partly artificial, as the flowers of the field and the garden) shall find that the mind does of herself by nature manage and act an induction much better than logicians describe it; for to conclude upon a bare enumeration of particulars (as the logicians do) without instance contradictory, is a vicious conclusion; nor does this kind of induction produce more than a probable conjecture. For who can assure himself, when the particulars which he knows or remembers only appear on one side, that there are not others on the contrary side which appear not? As if Samuel should have rested upon those sons of Jesse who were brought before him in the house, and not sought for David, who was in the field. And this form of induction (to say truth) is so gross and stupid, that it had not been possible for wits so acute and subtle as those that have studied these things to offer it to the world, but that they were hurrying on to their theories and dogmaticals, and were too dainty and lofty to pay due attention to particulars,
1 Virg. Georg. iv. 1.:- The heavenly gift of aërial honey.
and especially to dwell any time upon them. For they used examples or particular instances but as serjeants or whifflers to drive back the crowd and make way for their opinions, and never called them into council from the first, for the purpose of legitimate and mature deliberation concerning the truth of things. Certainly it is a thing that may touch a man with a religious wonder to see how the footsteps of seducement are the very same in divine and human truth. For as in the perception of divine truth man cannot induce himself to become as a child; so in the study of human truth, for grown-up men to be still reading and conning over the first elements of inductions like boys, is accounted poor and contemptible.
Thirdly, even if it be granted that the principles of sciences may, by the induction which is in use, or by sense and experience, be rightly established; yet it is very certain that the lower axioms cannot (in things natural, which participate of matter) be rightly and safely deduced from them by syllogism. For in the syllogism propositions are reduced to principles through intermediate propositions. Now this form of invention or of probation may be used in popular sciences, such as ethics, politics, laws, and the like; yea, and in divinity also, because it has pleased God of his goodness to accommodate himself to the capacity of man; but in Physics, where the point is not to master an adversary in argument, but to command nature in operation, truth slips wholly out of our hands, because the subtlety of nature is so much greater than the subtlety of words; so that, syllogism failing, the aid of induction (I mean the true and reformed induction) is wanted everywhere, as well for the more general principles as for intermediate propositions. For syllogisms consist of propositions, and propositions of words; and words are but the current tokens or marks of popular notions of things; wherefore if these notions (which are the souls of words) be grossly and variably collected out of particulars, the whole structure falls to pieces. And it is not the laborious examination either of consequences of arguments or of the truth of propositions that can ever correct that error; being (as the physicians say) in the first digestion; which is not to be rectified by the subsequent functions. And therefore it was not without great and evident reason that so many philosophers (some of them most eminent) became Sceptics
and Academics, and denied any certainty of knowledge or comprehension; affirming that the knowledge of man extended only to appearances and probabilities. It is true that Socrates, when he disclaimed certainty of knowledge for himself, is thought by some to have done it only in irony, and to have enhanced his knowledge by dissembling it; pretending not to know that which it was plain he knew, in order that he might be thought to know also that which he knew not. And in the later academy too (which Cicero embraced) that opinion of the incapacity of the mind to comprehend truth was not held very sincerely. For those who excelled in eloquence commonly chose that sect, for the glory of speaking copiously on either side of the question; whereby they were led astray from the straight road, which they ought to have followed in pursuit of truth, into certain pleasant walks laid out for amusement and recreation. It is certain however that there were some here and there in both academies (both old and new) and much more among the Sceptics, who held this opinion in simplicity and integrity. But their great error was, that they laid the blame upon the perceptions of the sense, and thereby pulled up the sciences by the very roots. Now the senses, though they often deceive us or fail us, may nevertheless, with diligent assistance, suffice for knowledge; and that by the help not so much of instruments (though these too are of some use) as of those experiments which produce and urge things which are too subtle for the sense to some effect comprehensible by the sense. But they ought rather to have charged the defect upon the mind as well its contumacy (whereby it refuses to submit itself to the nature of things) as its errors, and upon false forms of demonstration, and ill-ordered methods of reasoning and concluding upon the perception of the senses. But this I say not to disable the intellect, or to urge the abandonment of the enterprise; but to stir men to provide the intellect with proper helps for overcoming the difficulties and obscurities of nature. For no steadiness of hand or amount of practice will enable a man to draw a straight line or perfect circle by hand alone, which is easily done by help of a ruler or compass. And this is the very thing which I am preparing and labouring at with all my might, to make the mind of man by help of art a match for the nature of things; to discover an art of Indication and Direction, whereby all other arts with their
axioms and works may be detected and brought to light. For this I have with good reason set down as wanting.
This Art of Indication (for so I call it) has two parts. For the indication either proceeds from one experiment to another; or else from experiments to axioms; which axioms themselves suggest new experiments. The one of these I will term Learned Experience, the other Interpretation of Nature, or the New Organon. But the former (as I have hinted elsewhere) must hardly be esteemed an art or a part of philosophy, but rather a kind of sagacity; whence likewise (borrowing the name from the fable) I sometimes call it the Hunt of Pan. Nevertheless as a man may proceed on his path in three ways: he may grope his way for himself in the dark; he may be led by the hand of another, without himself seeing anything; or lastly, he may get a light, and so direct his steps; in like manner when a man tries all kinds of experiments without order or method, this is but groping in the dark; but when he uses some direction and order in experimenting, it is as if he were led by the hand; and this is what I mean by Learned Experience. For the light itself, which was the third way, is to be sought from the Interpretation of Nature, or the New Organon.
Learned Experience, or the Hunt of Pan, treats of the methods of experimenting; and (since I have set it down as wanting, and the thing itself is not altogether obvious) I will here, according to my plan and custom, give some shadow of it. The method of experimenting proceeds principally either by the Variation, or the Production, or the Translation, or the Inversion, or the Compulsion, or the Application, or the Conjunction, or finally the Chances, of experiment. None of these however extend so far as to the invention of any axiom. For all transition from experiments to axioms, or from axioms to experiments, belongs to that other part, relating to the New Organon.
Variation of experiment takes place first in the Matter; that is, when in things already known an experiment has scarcely been tried except in a certain kind of matter, but now is tried in other things of a like kind; as the manufacture of paper has been only tried in linen, not in silks (except perhaps among the Chinese); nor yet in hair stuffs, from which what are called chamblets are made; nor in wools, cotton, and skins; though these three last seem to be more heterogeneous, so that they