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to Protagoras, Hippias, and others, who were ashamed of appearing not to doubt upon any subject. But the new academy dogmatized in their skepticism, and held it as their tenet. Although this method be more honest than arbitrary decision, (for its followers allege that they by no means confound all inquiry, like Pyrrho and his disciples, but hold doctrines which they can follow as probable, though they cannot maintain them to be true,) yet, when the human mind has once despaired of discovering truth, every thing begins to languish. Hence men turn aside into pleasant controversies and discussions, and into a sort of wandering over subjects, rather than sustain any rigorous investigation. But, as we observed at first, we are not to deny the authority of the human senses and understanding, although weak; but rather to furnish them with assistance. 68. We have now treated of each kind of idols, and their qualities; all of which must be abjured and renounced with firm and solemn resolution, and the understanding must be completely freed and cleared of them; so that the access to the kingdom of man, which is founded on the sciences, may resemble that to the kingdom of heaven, where no admission is conceded except to children.
69. Vicious demonstrations are the muniments and support of idols, and those which we possess in logic, merely subject and enslave the world to human thoughts, and thoughts to words. But demonstrations are, in some manner, themselves systems of philosophy and science. For such as they are, and accordingly as they are regularly or improperly established, such will be the resulting systems of philosophy and contemplation. But those which we employ in the whole process leading from the senses and things to axioms and conclusions, are fallacious and incompetent. This process is fourfold, and the errors are in equal number. In the first place the impressions of the senses are erroneous, for they fail and deceive us. We must supply defects by substitutions, and fallacies by their correction. 2dly. Notions are improperly abstracted from the senses, and indeterminate and confused when they ought to be the reverse. 3dly. The induction that is employed is improper, for it determines the principles of sciences by simple enumeration, without adopting the exclusions, and resolutions, or just separations of nature. Lastly, the usual method of discovery and proof, by first establishing the most general propositions, then applying and proving the intermediate axioms according to them, is the parent of error and the calamity of every science. But we will treat more fully of that which we now slightly touch upon, when we come to lay down the true way of interpreting nature, after having gone through the above expiatory process and purification of the mind.
70. But experience is by far the best demonVOL. III.-45
stration, provided it adhere to the experiment actually made; for if that experiment be transferred to other subjects apparently similar, unless with proper and methodical caution, it becomes fallacious. The present method of experiment
is blind and stupid. Hence men wandering and roaming without any determined course, and consulting mere chance, are hurried about to various points, and advance but little; at one time they are happy, at another their attention is distracted, and they always find that they want something further. Men generally make their experiments carelessly, and as it were in sport, making some little variation in a known experiment, and then, if they fail, they become disgusted and give up the attempt: nay, if they set to work more seriously, steadily, and assiduously, yet they waste all their time on probing some solitary matter; as Gilbert on the magnet, and the alchymists on gold. But such conduct shows their method to be no less unskilful than mean. For nobody can successfully investigate the nature of any object by considering that object alone; the inquiry must be more generally extended.
Even when men build any science and theory upon experiment, yet they almost always turn with premature and hasty zeal to practice, not merely on account of the advantage and benefit to be derived from it, but in order to seize upon some security in a new undertaking of their not employing the remainder of their labour unprofitably; and by making themselves conspicuous, to acquire a greater name for their pursuit. Hence, like Atalanta, they leave the course to pick up the golden apple, interrupting their speed, and giving up the victory. But, in the true course of experiment, and in extending it to new effects, we should imitate the Divine foresight and order. For God, on the first day, only created light, and assigned a whole day to that work, without creating any material substance thereon. In like manner, we must first, by every kind of experiment, elicit the discovery of causes and true axioms, and seek for experiments which may afford light rather than profit. Axioms, when rightly investigated and established, prepare us not for a limited but abundant practice, and bring in their train whole troops of effects. But we will treat hereafter of the ways of experience, which are not less beset and interrupted than those of judgment; having spoken at present of common experience only as a bad species of demonstration, the order of our subject now requires some mention of those external signs of the weakness in practice of the received systems of philosophy and contemplation, which we referred to above, and of the causes of a circumstance at first sight so wonderful and incredible. For the knowledge of these external signs prepares the See Ax. 61, towards the end. This subject extends to
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way for assent, and the explanation of the causes | from the origin and birthplace of our present removes the wonder; and these two circum- philosophy are not favourable.
stances are of material use in extirpating more easily and gently the idols from the understanding.
72. Nor are those much better which can be deduced from the character of the time and age, than the former from that of the country and nation. For in that age the knowledge both of time and of the world was confined and meagre, which is one of the worst evils for those who rely entirely on experience. They had not a thousand years of history, worthy of that name, but mere fables and ancient traditions. They were acquainted with but a small portion of the regions and countries of the world-for they indiscriminately called all nations situated far towards the north Scythians, all those to the west Celts; they knew nothing of Africa, but the nearest part of Ethiopia, or of Asia beyond the Ganges, and had not even heard any sure and clear tradition of the region of the new world. Besides, a vast number of climates and zones, in which innumerable nations live and breathe, were pronounced by them to be uninhabitable, nay, the travels of Democritus, Plato, and Pythagoras, which were not extensive, but rather mere excursions from home, were considered as something vast. But in our times many parts of the new world, and every extremity of the old are well known, and the mass of experiments has been infinitely increased. Wherefore, if external signs were to be taken from the time of the nativity or procreation, (as in astrology,) nothing extraordinary could be predicted of these early systems of philosophy.
71. The sciences we possess have been principally derived from the Greeks: for the addition of the Roman, Arabic, or more modern writers are but few, and of small importance; and, such as they are, are founded on the basis of Greek invention. But the wisdom of the Greeks was professional and disputatious, and thus most adverse to the investigation of truth. The name, therefore, of sophists, which the contemptuous spirit of those who deemed themselves philosophers, rejected and transferred to the rhetoricians, Gorgias, Protagoras, Hippias, Polus, might well suit the whole tribe, such as Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Epicurus, Theophrastus, and their successors, Chrysippus, Carneades, and the rest. There was only this difference between them, the former were mercenary vagabonds, travelling about to different states, making a show of their wisdom and requiring pay; the latter, more dignified and noble, in possession of fixed habitations, opening schools, and teaching philosophy gratuitously. Both, however, (though differing in other respects,) were professorial, and reduced every subject to controversy, establishing and defending certain sects and dogmas of philosophy: so that their doctrines were nearly (what Dionysius not unaptly objected to Plato) "the talk of idle old men to ignorant youths." But the more ancient Greeks, 73. Of all signs there is none more certain or as Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democri-worthy than that of the fruits produced: for the tus, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Philo- fruits and effects are the sureties and vouchers, as laus, and the rest, (for I omit Pythagoras, as being it were, for the truth of philosophy. Now, from superstitious,) did not (that we are aware) open the systems of the Greeks and their subordinate schools; but betook themselves to the investigation divisions in particular branches of the sciences of truth with greater silence, and with more severity during so long a period, scarcely one single expeand simplicity that is, with less affectation and riment can be culled that has a tendency to elevate ostentation. Hence, in our opinion, they acted more or assist mankind, and can be fairly set down to advisedly, however their works may have been the speculations and doctrines of their philosophy. eclipsed in course of time by those lighter produc- Celsus candidly and wisely confesses as much, tions which better correspond with and please the when he observes that experiments were first apprehensions and passions of the vulgar: for time, discovered in medicine, and that men afterwards like a river, bears down to us that which is light and built their philosophical systems upon them, and inflated, and sinks that which is heavy and solid. searched for and assigned causes, instead of the Nor were even these more ancient philosophers inverse method of discovering and deriving expefree from the natural defect, but inclined too much riments from philosophy and the knowledge of to the ambition and vanity of forming a sect, and causes. It is not, therefore, wonderful that the captivating public opinion; and we must despair Egyptians (who bestowed divinity and sacred of any inquiry after truth, when it condescends to honours on the authors of new inventions) should such trifles. Nor must we omit the opinion or have consecrated more images of brutes than of rather prophecy of an Egyptian priest with regard men; for the brutes, by their natural instinct, to the Greeks, "that they would for ever remain made many discoveries, whilst men discovered children, without any antiquity of knowledge or but few from discussion and the conclusions of knowledge of antiquity." For they certainly reason. have this in common with children, that they are prone to talking and incapable of generation, their wisdom being loquacious, and unproductive of effects. Hence the external signs derived
The industry of the alchymists has produced some effect, by chance, however, and casualty, or from varying their experiments, (as mechanics also do,) and not from any regular art or theory; the
theory they have imagined rather tending to disturb | branches; that the heat of the sun and of fire are than to assist experiment. Those, too, who have totally different, so as to prevent men from supoccupied themselves with natural magic, (as they posing that they can elicit or form, by means of term it,) have made but few discoveries, and those fire, any thing similar to the operations of nature; of small import, and bordering on imposture. For and, again, that composition only is the work of which reason, in the same manner as we are cau- man and mixture of nature, so as to prevent men tioned by religion to show our faith by our works, from expecting the generation or transformation we may very properly apply the principle to phi- of natural bodies by art. Men will, therefore, losophy, and judge of it by its works; accounting easily allow themselves to be persuaded by this that to be futile which is unproductive, and still sign, not to engage their fortunes and labour in more so, if instead of grapes and olives it yield speculations, which are not only desperate, but but the thistle and thorns of dispute and contention. actually devoted to desperation. 74. Other signs may be selected from the in, crease and progress of particular systems of philosophy and the sciences. For those which are founded on nature grow and increase, whilst those which are founded on opinion change, and increase not. If, therefore, the theories we have mentioned were not like plants torn up by the roots, but grew in the womb of nature and were nourished by her; that which for the last two thousand years has taken place would never have happened: namely, that the sciences still continue in their beaten track, and nearly stationary, without having received any important increase; nay, having, on the contrary, rather bloomed under the hands of their first author, and then faded away. But we see that the case is reversed in the mechanical arts, which are founded on nature and the light of experience, for they (as long as they are popular) seem full of life, and uninterruptedly thrive and grow, being at first rude, then convenient, lastly polished, and perpetually improved.
75. There is yet another sign, (if such it may be termed, being rather an evidence, and one of the strongest nature,) namely, the actual confession of those very authorities whom men now follow. For even they who decide on things so daringly, yet, at times, when they reflect, betake themselves to complaints about the subtilty of nature, the obscurity of things, and the weakness of man's wit. If they would merely do this, they might perhaps deter those who are of a timid disposition from further inquiry, but would excite and stimulate those of a more active and confident turn to further advances. They are not, however, satisfied with confessing so much of themselves, but consider every thing which has been either unknown or unattempted by themselves or their teachers, as beyond the limits of possibility; and thus, with most consummate pride and envy, convert the defects of their own discoveries into a calumny on nature, and a source of despair to every one else. Hence arose the new academy, which openly professed skepticism and consigned mankind to eternal darkness. Hence the notion that forms, or the true differences of things, (which are in fact the laws of simple action,) are beyond man's reach, and cannot possibly be discovered. Hence those notions in the active and operative
76. Nor should we omit the sign afforded by the great dissension formerly prevalent among philosophers, and the variety of schools, which sufficiently show that the way was not well prepared, that leads from the senses to the understanding, since the same groundwork of philosophy (namely, the nature of things) was torn and divided into such widely differing and multifarious errors. And although, in these days, the dissensions and differences of opinions with regard to first principles and entire systems are nearly extinct, yet there remain innumerable questions and controversies with regard to particular branches of philosophy. So that it is manifest that there is nothing sure or sound either in the systems themselves or in the methods of demonstration.
77. With regard to the supposition that there is a general unanimity as to the philosophy of Aristotle, because the other systems of the ancients ceased and became obsolete on its promulgation, and nothing better has been since discovered; whence it appears that it is so well determined and founded as to have united the suffrages of both ages; we will observe-1st. That the notion of other ancient systems having ceased after the publication of the works of Aristotle is false, for the works of the ancient philosophers subsisted long after that event, even to the time of Cicero and the subsequent ages. But at a later period, when human learning had, as it were, been wrecked in the inundation of barbarians into the Roman empire, then the systems of Aristotle and Plato were preserved in the waves of ages, like blanks of a lighter and less sold nature. 2d. The notion of unanimity on a clea⚫ inspection is found to be fallacious. For true unanimity is that which proceeds from a free judgment arriving at the same conclusion after an investigation of the fact. Now, by far the greater number of those who have assented to the philosophy of Aristotle, have bound themselves down to it, from prejudice and the authority of others, so that it is rather obsequiousness and concurrence than unanimity. But even if it were real and extensive unanimity, so far from being esteemed a true and solid confirmation, it should lead to a violent presumption to the contrary. Fo there is no worse augury in intellectual matte.s than that derived from unanimity, with the es
growth. It is well known that after the Christian religion had been acknowledged and arrived at maturity, by far the best wits were busied upon theology, where the highest rewards offered themselves, and every species of assistance was
ception of divinity and politics, where suffrages are allowed to decide. For nothing pleases the multitude, unless it strike the imagination or bind down the understanding, as we have observed above, with the shackles of vulgar notions. Hence we may well transfer Phocion's remark abundantly supplied, and the study of which from morals to the intellect: "That men should was the principal occupation of the western immediately examine what error or fault they European nations during the third epoch; the have committed, when the multitude concurs with rather because literature flourished about the very and applauds them." This, then, is one of the time when controversies concerning religion first most unfavourable signs. All the signs, there-began to bud forth. 2. In the preceding ages, fore, of the truth and soundness of the received during the second epoch, (that of the Romans,) systems of philosophy and the sciences are un-philosophical meditation and labour was chiefly propitious, whether taken from their origin, their fruits, their progress, the confessions of their authors, or from unanimity.
78. We now come to the causes of errors, and of such perseverance in them for ages. These are sufficiently numerous and powerful to remove all wonder that what we now offer should have so long been concealed from and have escaped the notice of mankind, and to render it more worthy of astonishment, that it should even now have entered any one's mind or become the subject of his thoughts; and that it should have done so, we consider rather the gift of fortune than of any extraordinary talent, and as the offspring of time rather than wit. But, in the first place, the number of ages is reduced to very narrow limits on a proper consideration of the matter. For, out of twenty-five centuries, with which the memory and learning of man are conversant, scarcely six can be set apart and selected as fertile in science and favourable in its progress. For there are deserts and wastes in times as in countries, and we can only reckon up three revolutions and epochs of philosophy. 1. The Greek. 2. The Roman. 3. Our own, that is, the philosophy of the western nations of Europe: and scarcely two centuries can with justice be assigned to each. The intermediate ages of the world were unfortunate, both in the quantity and richness of the sciences produced. Nor need we mention the Arabs or the scholastic philosophy which, in those ages, ground down the sciences by their numerous treatises more than they increased their weight. The first cause, then, of such insignificant progress in the sciences is rightly referred to the sinall proportion of time which has been favourable thereto.
79. A second cause offers itself, which is certainly of the greatest importance; namely, that in those very ages in which men's wit, and literature flourished considerably, or even moderately, but a small part of their industry was bestowed on natural philosophy, the great mother of the sciences. For every art and science torn from this root may, perhaps, be polished and put Ento a serviceable shape, but can admit of little
occupied and wasted in moral philosophy, (the theology of the heathens :) besides, the greatest minds in these times applied themselves to civil affairs, on account of the magnitude of the Roman empire, which required the labour of many. 3. The age during which natural philosophy appeared principally to flourish among the Greeks was but a short period, since in the more ancient times the seven sages (with the exception of Thales) applied themselves to moral philosophy and politics, and at a later period after Socrates had brought down philosophy from heaven to earth, moral philosophy became more prevalent, and diverted men's attention from natural. Nay, the very period during which physical inquiries flourished, was corrupted and rendered useless by contradictions and the ambition of new opinions. Since, therefore, during these three epochs, natural philosophy has been materially neglected or impeded, it is not at all surprising that men should have made but little progress in it, seeing they were attending to an entirely different matter.
80. Add to this that natural philosophy, especially of late, has seldom gained exclusive possession of an individual free from all other pursuits, even amongst those who have applied themselves to it, unless there may be an example or two of some monk studying in his cell, or some nobleman in his villa. She has rather been made a passage and bridge to other pursuits.
Thus has this great mother of the sciences been degraded most unworthily to the situation of an handmaid, and made to wait upon medicine or mathematical operations, and to wash the immature minds of youth, and imbue them with a first dye, that they may afterwards be more ready to receive and retain another. In the mean time let no one expect any great progress in the sciences. (especially their operative part,) unless natural philosophy be applied to particular sciences, and particular sciences again referred back to natural philosophy. For want of this, astronomy, optics, music, many mechanical arts, medicine - itself, and (what perhaps is more wonderful) moral and political philosophy, and the logical sciences have no depth, but only glide over the surface and variety of things; because these sciences, when
* See end of Axiom 61. This subject extends to Axiom 93. they have been once partitioned out and esta
olished, are no longer nourished by natural philosophy, which would have imparted fresh vigour and growth to them from the sources and genuine contemplation of motion, rays, sounds, texture, and confirmation of bodies, and the affections and capacity of the understanding. But we can little wonder that the sciences grow not when separated from their roots.
own reflections, and stirs up and, as it were, invokes his own spirit, after much mental labour, to disclose its oracles. All which is a method without foundation and merely turns on opinion.
Another perhaps calls in logic to assist him in discovery, which bears only a nominal relation to his purpose. For the discoveries of logic are not discoveries of principles and leading axioms, but only of what appears to accord with them. And when men become curious and importunate and give trouble, interrupting her about her proofs and the discovery of principles or first axioms, she puts them off with her usual answer, referring them to faith, and ordering them to swear allegiance to each art in its own department.
81. There is another powerful and great cause of the little advancement of the sciences, which is this: it is impossible to advance properly in the course when the goal is not properly fixed. But the real and legitimate goal of the sciences is the endowment of human life with new inventions and riches. The great crowd of teachers know nothing of this, but consist of dictatorial There remains but mere experience, which hirelings: unless it so happen that some artisan when it offers itself is called chance; when it is of an acute genius and ambitious of fame gives up sought after, experiment. But this kind of expehis time to a new discovery, which is generally rience is nothing but a loose faggot, and mere attended with a loss of property. The majority, groping in the dark, as men at night try all means so far from proposing to themselves the augmen- of discovering the right road, whilst it would be tation of the mass of arts and sciences, make no better and more prudent either to wait for day or other use of an inquiry into the mass already be- procure a light and then proceed. On the contrary fore them, than is afforded by the conversion of it the real order of experience begins by setting up to some use in their lectures, or to gain, or to the a light, and then shows the road by it, commencacquirement of a name and the like. But if one ing with a regulated and digested, not a misout of the multitude be found, who courts science placed and vague course of experiment, and from real zeal and on its own account, even he thence deducing axioms, and from those axioms will be seen rather to follow contemplation and new experiments: for not even the Divine Word the variety of theories than a severe and strict in-proceeded to operate on the general mass of thing vestigation of truth. Again, if there even be an without due order. unusually strict investigator of truth, yet will he propose to himself as the test of truth the satisfaction of his mind and understanding, as to the causes of things long since known, and not such a test as to lead to some new earnest of effects, and a new light in axioms. If, therefore, no one have laid down the real end of science, we cannot wonder that there should be error in points subordinate to that end.
Let men therefore cease to wonder if the whole course of science be not run, when all have wandered from the path; quitting entirely and deserting experience, or involving themselves in its mazes, and wandering about, whilst a regularly combined system would lead them in a sure track through its wilds to the open day of axioms.
83. The evil, however, has been wonderfully increased by an opinion, or inveterate conceit, which is both vainglorious and prejudicial, namely, that the dignity of the human mind is lowered by long and frequent intercourse with experiments and particulars, which are the objects of sense and confined to matter; especially since such matters
82. But, in like manner as the end and goal of science is ill defined, so, even were the case other wise, men have chosen an erroneous and impassable direction. For it is sufficient to astonish any reflecting mind, that nobody should have cared or wished to open and complete a way for the under-generally require labour in investigation, are mean standing, setting off from the senses, and regular, subjects for meditation, harsh in discourse, unprowell conducted experiment; but that every thing ductive in practice, infinite in number, and delihas been abandoned either to the mists of tradi- cate in their subtilty. Hence we have seen the tion, the whirl and confusion of argument, or the true path not only deserted, but intercepted and waves and mazes of chance, and desultory, ill-blocked up, experience being rejected with dis combined experiment. Now, let any one but con- gust, and not merely neglected or improperly sider soberly and diligently the nature of the path applied. men have been accustomed to pursue in the investigation and discovery of any matter, and he will doubtless first observe the rude and inartificial manner of discovery most familiar to mankind: which is no other than this. When any one prepares himself for discovery, he first inquires and obtains a full account of all that has been said on the subject by others, then adds his
84. Again, the reverence for antiquity and the authority of men who have been esteemed great in philosophy, and general unanimity, have retarded men from advancing in science, and almost enchanted them. As to unanimity, we have spoken of it above.
The opinion which men cherish of antiquity is altogether idle, and scarcely accords with the