« AnteriorContinuar »
ments that shall afford light rather than profit, to those of the Greeks, (since the sciences in all imitating the divine creation, which, as we have probability flourished more in their natural state, often observed, only produced light on the first though silently, than when they were paraded day, and assigned that whole day to its creation, with the fifes and trumpets of the Greeks;) or without adding any material work.
even (in parts at least) to some of the Greeks If any one then imagine such matters to be of themselves, and to derive authority and honour no use, he might equally suppose light to be of no from thence; as men of no family labour to raise use, because it is neither solid nor material. For and form nobility for themselves in some ancient in fact the knowledge of simple natures, when line, by the help of genealogies. Trusting, howe sufficiently investigated and defined, resembles ever, to the evidence of facts, we reject every light, which though of no great use in itself, kind of fiction and imposture: and think it of affords access to the general mysteries of effects, no more consequence to our subject, whether future and with a peculiar power comprehends and discoveries were known to the ancients, and set draws with it whole bands and troops of effects, or rose according to the vicissitudes of events and and the sources of the most valuable axioms. So, lapse of ages, than it would be of importance to also, the elements of letters have of themselves mankind to know whether the new world be the separately no meaning, and are of no use, yet are island of Atlantis, * and known to the ancients, or they as it were the original matter in the com- be now discovered for the first time. position and preparation of speech. The seeds With regard to the universal censure we have of substances whose effect is powerful, are of no bestowed, it is quite clear to any one who prouse except in their growth, and the scattered rays perly considers the matter, that it is both more pro. of light itsell avail not unless collected.
bable and more modest than any partial one could But if speculative subtilties give offence, what have been. For if the errors had not been rooted must we say of the scholastic philosophers who in the primary notions, some well conducted indulged in them to such excess? And those discoveries must have corrected others that were subtiities were wasted on words, or at least com deficient. But since the errors were fundamental, mon notions, (which is the same thing,) not on and of such a nature that men may be said rather things or nature, and alike unproductive of benefit to have neglected or passed over things than to in their origin and their consequences: in no way have formed a wrong or false judgment of them, resembling ours, which are at present useless, but it is little to be wondered at, that they did not in their consequences of infinite benefit. Let obtain what they never aimed at, nor arrive at a men be assured that all subtile disputes and dis- goal which they had not determined, nor perform cursive efforts of the mind are late and preposte a course which they had neither entered upon nor rous, when they are introduced subsequently to adhered to. the discovery of axioms, and that their true or at With regard to our presumption, we allow that any rate chief opportunity is when experiment is if we were to assume a power of drawing a more to be weighed and axioms to be derived from it. perfect straight line or circle than any one else, They otherwise catch and grasp at nature, but by superior steadiness of hand or acuteness of never seize or detain her: and we may well apply eye, it would lead to a comparison of talent; but to nature that which has been said of opportunity if one merely assert that he can draw a more peror fortune, “that she wears a lock in front, but is fect line or circle with a ruler or compasses, than bald behind."
another can by his unassisted hand or eye, he In short, we may reply decisively to those who surely cannot be said to boast of much. Now this despise any part of natural history as being vul- applies not only to our first original attempt, but gar, mean, or subtle and useless in its origin, in also to those who shall hereafter apply themthe words of a poor woman to a haughty prince selves to the pursuit. For our method of diswlio had rejected her petition, as unworthy and covering the sciences, merely levels men's wits, beneath the dignity of his majesty : “then cease and leaves but litile to their superiority, since it to reign;" for it is quite certain that the empire achieves every thing by the most certain rules of nature can neither be obtained nor administered and demonstrations. Whence, (as we have often by one who refuses to pay attention to such mat- observed,) our attempt is to be attributed to forters as being poor and too minute.
tune rather than talent, and is the offspring of 122. Again, it may be objected to us as being time rather than of wit. For a certain sort of singular and harsh, that we should with one chance has no less effect upon our thoughts than strokic and assault, as it were, banish all authori- on our acts and deeds. ies and sciences, and that too by our own efforts, 123. We may, therefore, apply to ourselves without requiring the assistance and support of the joke of him who said, “ that water and wine any of the ancients.
drinkers could not think alike," especially as it Now, we are aware, that had we been ready to hits the matter so well. For others, both anact otherwise than sincerely, it was not difficult to refer our present method to remote ages, prior
See Plato's Timæus.
cients and moderns, have, in the sciences, drank a the scaffolding and ladders when the building is (rude liquor like water, either flowing of itself finished. Nor can we indeed believe the case to from the understanding, or drawn up by logic as have been otherwise. But to any one, not erthe wheel draws up the bucket. But we drink tirely forgetful of our previous observations, it and pledge others with a liquor made of many will be easy to answer this objection, or rather well ripened grapes, collected and plucked from scruple. For, we allow that the ancients had a particular branches, squeezed in the press, and at particular form of investigation and discovery, last clarified and fermented in a vessel. It is not, and their writings show it. But it was of such therefore, wonderful that we should not agree a nature, that they immediately flew from a few with others.
instances and particulars, (after adding some 121. Another objection will, without doubt, be common notions, and a few generally received made, namely, that we have not ourselves esta- opinions most in vogue,) to the most general conblished a correct, or the best goal or aim of the clusions, or the principles of the sciences, and sciences, (the very defect we blame in others.) then by their intermediate propositions deduced For, they will say, that the contemplation of their inferior conclusions, and tried them by the truth is more dignified and exalted than any test of the immovable and settled truth of the utility or extent of effects: but that our dwelling first, and so constructed their art. Lastly, it so long and anxiously on experience and matter, some new particulars and instances were brought and the fluctuating state of particulars, fastens the forward, which contradicted their dogmas, they inind to earth, or rather casts it down into an either with great subtilty reduced them to one abyss of confusion and disturbance, and separates system, by distinctions or explanations of their and removes it from a much more divine state, own rules, or got rid of them clumsily as excepthe quiet and tranquillity of abstract wisdom. tions, labouring most pertinaciously in the mean We willingly assent to their reasoning, and are time to accommodate the causes of such as were inost anxious to effect the very point they hint not contradictory to their own principles. Their at and require. For we are founding a real natural history and their experience were both model of the world in the nnderstanding, such as far from being what they ought to have been, it is found to be, not such as man's reason has and their flying off to generalities ruined every distorted. Now, this cannot be done without dis- thing. secting and anatomizing the world most diligent- 126. Another objection will be made against ly; but we declare it necessary to destroy com- us, that we prohibit decisions, and the laying pletely the vain, little, and as it were apish imita- down of certain principles, till we arrive regulartions of the world, which have been formed in ly at generalities by the intermediate steps, and various systems of philosophy by men's fancies. thus keep the judgment in suspense and lead to Let men learn (as we have said above) the differ- uncertainty. But our object is not uncertainty, ence that exists between the idols of the human but fitting certainty, for we derogate not from mind, and the ideas th ivine mind. The the senses, but assist them, and despise not the former are mere arbitrary abstractions; the latter understanding, but direct it. It is better to know the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as what is necessary, and not to imagine we are they are imprinted on, and defined in matter, by fully in possession of it, than to imagine that we true and exquisite touches. Truthi, therefore, are fully in possession of it, and yet in reality to and utility are here perfectly identical, and the know nothing which we ought. effects are of more value as pledges of truth than 127. Again, some may raise this question rather from the benefit they conser on men.
than objection, whether we talk of perfecting na125. Others may object that we are only doing tural philosophy alone according to our method, that which has already been done, and that the or the other sciences also, such as logic, ethics, ancients followed the same course as ourselves. politics. We certainly intend to comprehend They may imagine, therefore, that, after all this them all. And as common logic, which regulates stir and exertion, we shall at last arrive at some matters by syllogisms, is applied not only to naof those systems that prevailed among the an- tural, but also to every other science, so ou incients: for that they, too, when commencing their ductive method likewise comprehends them all. meditations, laid up a great store of instances For we form a history and tables of invention for and particulars, and digested them under topics anger, fear, shame, and the like, and also for exand titles in their commonplace books, and so amples in civil life, and the mental operations of worked out their systems and arts, and then de- memory, composition, division, judgment, and the cided upon what they discovered, and related rest, as well as for heat and cold, light, vegetanow and then some examples to confirm and tion, and the like. But since our method of inthrow light upon their doctrine; but thought it terpretation, after preparing and arranging a hissuperfluous and troublesome to publish their tory, does not content itself with examining the notes, minutes, and commonplaces, and, therefore, operations and disquisitions of the mind, like followed the example of builders, who remove common logic; but also inspects the nature of
things, we so regulate the mind that it may be the former forever Civil reformation seldom is enabled to apply itself in every respect correctly carried on without violence and confusion, whilst 19 that nature. On that account we deliver nu- inventions are a blessing and a benefit, without merous and various precepts in our doctrine of injuring or afflicting any. interpretation, so that they may apply in some Inventions are, also, as it were, new creations measure to the method of discovering the quality and imitations of divine works; as was expressed and condition of the subject-matter of investi- by the poet :* gation.
“Primium frogiferos fætus mortalibus egris 128. Let none even doubt whether we are anx- Dididerant quondam præstanti nomine Athena
Et recreaverunt vitam legesque rogarunt." ious to destroy and demolish the philosophy, arts, and sciences, which are now in use. On the con- And it is worthy of remark in Solomon, that trary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation, whilst he flourished in the possession of his emand honour. For we by no means interfere to pire, in wealth, in the magnificence of his works, prevent the prevalent system from encouraging in his court, his household, his fieet, the splendour discussion, adorning discourses, or being employ- of his name, and the most unbounded admiration ed serviceably in the chair of the professor or the of mankind, he still placed his glory in none of practice of common life, and being taken, in these, but declared, † " That it is the glory of short, by general consent, as current coin. Nay, God to conceal a thing, but the glory of a king to we plainly declare, that the system we offer will search it out." not be very suitable for such purposes, not being Again, let any one but consider the immense easily adapted to vulgar apprehensions, except by difference between men's lives in the most polisheffects and works. To show our sincerity in pro-ed countries of Europe, and in any wild and barfessing our regard and friendly disposition to- barous region of the New Indies, he will think it wards the received sciences, we can refer to the so great, that man may be said to be a god unto evidence of our published writings, (especially man, not only on account of mutual aid and beneour books on the advancement of learning.) We fits, but from their comparative states: the resalt will not, therefore, endeavour to evince it any of the arts, and not of the soil or climate. further by words; but content ourselves with Again, we should notice the force, effect, and steadily and professedly premising, that no great consequences of inventions, which are nowhere progress can be made by the present methods, in more conspicuous than in those three which were the theory or contemplation of science, and that unknown to the ancients; namely, printing, gunthey cannot be made to produce any very abun- powder, and the compass. For these three have dant effects.
changed the appearance and state of the whole 129. It remains for us to say a few words on world; first in literature, then in warfare, and the excellence of our proposed end. If we had lastly in navigation: and innumerable changes done so before, we might have appeared merely have been thence derived, so that no empire, sect, to express our wishes, but now that we have ex- or star, appears to have exercised a greater powe: cited hope and removed prejudices, it will perhaps and influence on human affairs than these mechahave greater weight. Had we performed and nical discoveries. completely accomplished the whole, without fre- It will, perhaps, be as well to distinguish three quently calling in others to assist in our labours, species and degrees of arubition. First, that of we should then have refrained from saying any men who are anxious to enlarge their own power inore, lest we should be thought to extol our own in their country, which is a vulgar and degenerate deserts. Since, however, the industry of others kind ; next, that of men who strive to enlarge the must be quickened, and their courage roused and power and empire of their country over mankind, inflamed, it is right to recall some points to their which is more dignified, but not less covetous; inemory
but if one were to endeavour to renew and enlarge First, then, the introduction of great inventions the power and empire of mankind in general over appears one of the most distinguished of human the universe, such ambition (if it may so be actions ; and the ancients so considered it. For termed) is both more sound and more noble than they assigned divine honours to the authors of the other two. Now, the empire of man over inventions, but only heroic honours to those who things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, displayed civil merit, (such as the founders of for nature is only to be commanded by obeying her. cities and empires, legislators, the deliverers of their country from everlasting misfortunes, the
* This is the opening of the sixth book of Lucretius. Ba
con probably quoted from memory; the lines are, quellers of tyrants, and the like.) And if any
Primæ frugiferos fætus mortalibus ægris one rightly compare them, he will find the judg
Dididerunt quonda in preclaro nomine Athena ment of antiquity to be correct. For the benefits Et recreaverunt, &c. derived from inventions may extend to mankind The teeming corn, that feeble mortals crave, in general, but civil benefits to particular spots
First, and long since, renowned Athens gave,
And cheered their life--then taught to frame their laws alone ; the latter, moreover, last but for a time, + Prov. xxv. 2.
Besides this, if the benefit of any particular 130. But it is time for us to lay down the art invention has had such an effect as to induce men of interpreting nature; to which we attribute no lo consider him greater than a man, who has thus absolute necessity (as if nothing could be done obliged the whole race; how much more exalted without it) nor perfection, although we think that will that discovery be, which leads to the easy our precepts are most useful and correct. discovery of every thing else! Yet, (to speak the are of opinion, that if men had at their command trith,) in the same manner as we are very thankful a proper history of nature and experience, and for light which enables us to enter on our way, to would apply themselves steadily to it, and could practise arts, to read, to distinguish each other, bind themselves to two things; 1. To lay aside and yet sight is more excellent and beautiful than received opinions and notions; 2. To restrain themthe various uses of light; so is the contemplation selves, till the proper season, from generalization, of things as they are, free from superstition or they might, by the proper and genuine exertion imposture, error or confusion, much more digni- of their minds, fall into our way of interpretation fied in itself than all the advantage to be derived without the aid of any art. For interpretation is from discoveries.
the true and natural act of the mind, when all obLastly, let none be alarmed at the objection of stacles are removed : certainly, however, every the arts and sciences becoming depraved to ma- thing will be more ready and better fixed by our levolent or luxurious purposes and the like, for the precepts. same can be said of every worldly good; talent, Yet do we not affirm that no addition can be courage, strength, beauty, riches, light itself, and made to them; on the contrary, considering the the rest. Only let mankind regain their rights mind in its connexion with things, and not merely over nature, assigned to them by the gift of God, relatively to its own powers, we ought to be perand obtain that power, whose exercise will be suaded that the art of invention can be made to governed by right reason and true religion. grow with the inventions themselves.
THE SECOND BOOK OF
A PHO R I SMS,
INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN.
1. To generate and superinduce a new nature, tions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down, that or new natures, upon a given body, is the labour true knowledge is that which is deduced from and aim of human power : whilst to discover the causes.” The division of four causes, also, is form or true difference of a given nature, or the not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end, or nature* to which such nature is owing, or source final cause.* Of these, however, the latter is so from whence it emanates, (for these terms ap- far from being beneficial, that it even corrupts the proach nearest to an explanation of our meaning,) sciences, except in the intercourse of man with is the labour and discovery of human knowledge. man. The discovery of form is considered despeAnd, subordinate to these primary labours, are As for the efficient cause, and matter, (actwo others of a secondary nature and inferior cording to the present system of inquiry and the stamp. Under the first must be ranked the received opinions concerning them, by which transformation of concrete bodies from one to they are placed remote from, and without any another, which is possible within certain limits; latent process towards form,) they are but desulunder the second, the discovery, in every species tory and superficial, and of scarcely any avail to of generation and motion, of the latent and unin- real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindterrupted process, from the manifest efficient and ful of our having pointed out and corrected above manifest subject-matter up to the given form: and the error of the human mind, in assigning the a like discovery of the latent conformation of first qualities of essence to forms.f For, although bodies which are at rest, instead of being in nothing exists in nature except individual bodies, motion.
* These divisions are from Aristotle's Metaphysics, where 2. The unhappy state of man's actual - know they are termed, 1, idn ñ od urokci yevov. 2, ro tí hy ciros
3, όθεν ή άρχη της κινεσεως. 4, το ού ένεκεν-και το άγωνον. ledge is manifested even by the common asser- + See Aphorism 51, and 20 paragraph of Aphorism 65, iu • Tò sí hv civat, or í oboía of Aristotle. See lib. 3. Metap. the first book.
exhibiting clear individual effects according to anxious to be shown some method that will nei. particular laws:* yet, in each branch of learning, ther fail in effect, nor deceive him in the trial of ihat very law, its investigation, discovery, and it. Secondly, he will be anxious that the preduvelopment, are the foundation both of theory scribed method should not restrict him and tie and practice.t This, law, therefore, and its him down to peculiar means, and certain partiparallel in each science, is what we understand cular methods of acting. For he will, perhaps, by the term form, adopting that word because it be at a loss, and without the power or opportunity has grown into common use, and is of familiar of collecting and procuring such means. Now,
if there be other means and methods (besides 3. He who has learned the cause of a particular those prescribed) of creating such a nature, they nature, (such as whiteness or heat,) in particular will perhaps bé of such a kind as are in his subjects only, has acquired but an imperfect power; yet, by the confined limits of the precept knowledge: as he who can induce a certain effect he will be deprived of reaping any advantage from upon particular substances only, among those them. Thirdly, he will be anxious to be shown which are susceptible of it, has acquired, but an something not so difficult as the required effect imperfect power. But he who has only learned itself, but approaching more nearly to practice. the efficient and material cause, (which causes We will lay this down, therefore, as the are variable, and mere vehicles conveying form to genuine and perfect rule of practice; “ That it particular substances,) may perhaps arrive at should be certain, free, and preparatory, or having some new discoveries in matters of a similar na- relation to practice.” And this is the same thing ture, and prepared for the purpose, but does not as the discovery of a true form. For the form of stir the limits of things, which are much more any nature is such, that when it is assigned, the deeply rooted : whilst he who is acquainted with particular nature infallibly follows. It is, thereforms, comprehends the unity of nature in sub-fore, always present when that nature is present, stances apparently most distinct from each other. and universally attests such presence, and is He can disclose and bring forward, therefo inherent in the whole of it. The same form (though it has never yet been done,) things which of such a character, that if it be removed, the neither the vicissitudes of nature, nor the industry particular nature infallibly vanishes. It is, thereof experiment, nor chance itself, would ever have fore, absent whenever that nature is absent, and brought about, and which would forever have perpetually testifies such absence, and exists in escaped man's thoughts. From the discovery of no other nature. Lastly, the true form is such, forms, therefore, results genuine theory and free that it deduces the particular nature from somo practice.
source of essence existing in many subjects, and 4. Although there is a most intimate connec- more known (as they term it) to nature, than the tion and almost an identity between the ways of form itself.* Such, then, is our determination human power and human knowledge; yet, on and rule with regard to a genuine and perfect account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of theoretical axiom; “ that a nature be found condwelling upon abstractions, it is by far the safest vertible with a given nature, and yet such as to method to commence and build up the sciences limit the more known nature, in the manner of a from those foundations which bear a relation to real genus.” But these two rules, the practical the practical division, and to let them mark out and theoretical, are in fact the same, and that and limit the theoretical. We must consider, which is most useful in practice is most correct therefore, what precepts, or what direction or in theory. guide, a person would most desire, in order to 5. But the rule or axiom for the transformation generate and superinduce any mature upon a given of bodies is of two kinds. The first regards the body: and this not in abstruse, but in the plainest body as an aggregate or combination of simple language.
natures. Thus, in gold are united the following For instance, if a person should wish to super- circumstances; it is yellow, heavy, of a certain induce the yellow colour of gold upon silver, or weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; an additional weight, (observing always the laws it is not volatile, losas part of its substance by of matter,) or transparency on an opaque stone, fire, melts in a peculiar manner, is separated and or tenacity in glass, or vegetation on a substance dissolved by particular methods, and so of the which is not vegetable, we must (I say) consider other natures observable in geld. An ariom, what species of precept or guide this person therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from would prefer. And, firstly, he will doubtless be the fornis of simple natures. For he who has
acquired the fornis and methods of superinducing * Plato's ideas or forms, are the abstractions or generalizasions of distinct species, which have no ria! existence, indi- Thus, to adopt Bacon's own illustratior, motion is a proriduals only ensing.
perty common to many sulijects, from which must be deduced + Observe throughout, Bacon's term form means no more the form of heat, by defining a particular genus of motion Than law. See, further, third paragraph of Aphorism 17 of convertible with beat. See the First Vintage in Aphorism