« AnteriorContinuar »
nevertheless an essential step in advance, and altogether in accordance with what Bacon has here said, though in an obscure and somewhat abrupt manner. "We do well," remarks Leibnitz, "to think highly of Verulam, for his hard sayings have a deep meaning in them :" a judgment which may not improbably have had a particular reference to the views now spoken of. For Leibnitz's own monadism is in effect only an abstract atomic theory: more abstract doubtless than any thing which Bacon had conceived of, but yet a system which might have been derived from that of Democritus by insisting on and developing Bacon's principle of heterogeneity. And again, in a different point of view, it seems not unlikely that Leibnitz perceived an analogy between his own doctrine and that of Bacon. In the earlier part of his philosophical life, Leibnitz was disposed to agree with the opinion common among the reformers of philosophy, that what Aristotle had said of matter, of form, and of mutation, was to be explained by means of magnitude, figure, and motion. This opinion he ascribes to all the reformers of the seventeenth century, mentioning by name Bacon and several others.2 Thirty years afterwards, in giving some account of the history of his opinions, he says that he came to perceive, "que la seule considération d'une masse étendue ne suffisoit pas, et qu'il falloit employer encore la notion de la force, qui est très-intelligible, quoiqu'elle soit du ressort de la Métaphysique." In introducing this notion of force, he conceived that he was rehabilitating the Aristotelian or scholastic philosophy, seeing "que les formes des Anciens ou Entelechies ne sont autre chose que les forces." 4 These primitive forces being the constituent forms of substances, he supposed them, with one exception (founded on dogmatic grounds), to have been created at the beginning of the world. The "lex a Deo lata" at the creation "reliquit aliquod sui expressum in rebus vestigium," namely an efficacy, or form, or force, by virtue of which and in accordance with the divine precept all phenomena had been engendered."
If we compare these expressions, which contain the fundamental idea of Leibnitz's philosophy, with those which have
1 The monad, Leibnitz himself remarks, is a metaphysical point, or formal atom.
2 Epist. ad Thomas. p. 48. of Erdmann's edition of Leibnitz's Phil. Works. Système nouveau, p. 124., Erdmann.
4 Lettre à Bouvet, p. 146., Erdmann.
See his De ipsâ Naturâ, p. 156.
Forces primitives, v. Syst. Nouv.
already been quoted from the following tract, we shall I think perceive more than an accidental analogy between them. Leibnitz speaks of the primitive forces impressed by the divine word on created things, "ex quâ series phenomenorum ad primi jussûs præscriptum consequeretur," and Bacon of the "lex summa essentiæ et naturæ, vis scilicet primis particulis a Deo indita, ex cujus multiplicatione omnis rerum varietas emergat et confletur." It does not seem improbable that Leibnitz, who in the letter to Thomasius classes Bacon, so far as relates to the present subject, with Gassendi and Descartes, came afterwards to find in Bacon's language hints of the deeper view which he had himself been led to adopt, and which constitutes the point of separation between his system and the Cartesian. This supposition would at least be in accordance with the emphatic manner in which he has contrasted the physical theories of Descartes and Bacon, taking the former as a type of acuteness and the latter of profundity, and asserting that compared with Bacon, Descartes seems to creep along the ground.'
It may not be out of place here to remark that there are other traces of Bacon's influence on Leibnitz. In Erdmann's edition of his philosophical works, we find several fragmentary papers which Leibnitz wrote under the name of Gulielmus Pacidius. The title of one of these is "Gulielmi Pacidii Plus Ultra, sive initia et specimina scientiæ generalis de instauratione et augmentis scientiarum ac de perficiendâ mente rerumque inventione ad publicam fœlicitatem." Plus Ultra was the motto to Bacon's device of a ship sailing through the Pillars of Hercules, and the remainder of the title is both in tone and language clearly Baconian. The work itself was to have concluded with an exhortation "ad viros dignitate doctrinâque egregios de humanâ fœlicitate exiguo tempore, si velimus modo, in immensum augendâ." 2
Another of these fragments contains some account of himself, or rather of Wilhelmus Pacidius, in which he mentions it as one of the happy incidents of his youth, that when he had perceived the defects of the scholastic philosophy the writings of several of the reformers came into his hands-among which
Leibnitiana, vol. vi. p. 303., ed. Genev. 1768.-J. S. 2 Leibnitz, ab Erd. p. 89.
he gives the first place to the "consilia magni viri Francisci Baconi Angliæ Cancellarii de augmentis Scientiarum.” 1
To return to the fable of Cupid. After interpreting the statement that all things come from Eros to mean that all phenomena must be referred to the fundamental and originally inherent properties of matter as the first ground of their production, Bacon goes on to say that next to the error of those who make formless matter an original principle, is the error of ascribing secondary qualities to primitive matter. This he expresses by saying that though Eros is endued with personality, he is nevertheless naked, "ita personatus' ut sit tamen nudus." Those who have committed the error of clothing him have either merely covered him with a veil, or have dressed him up in a tunic, or lastly have wrapped him round with a cloak.
These three errors are respectively the errors of those who have sought to explain everything by the transformations of one element as air or fire,-of those who assume a plurality of elements,—and of those who assume an infinity of first principles (the homœomeria of Anaxagoras), each possessed of specific properties.
Contrasted with these errors is the doctrine that there is one first material principle, "idque fixum et invariabile," and that all phenomena are to be explained, "per hujusmodi principii .. magnitudines figuras et positiones,”—a statement which includes along with the old atomic theory every such hypothesis as the Cartesian. By those only who hold this opinion is Eros rightly displayed; they show him as he really is, "nativus et exutus."
In the interval between writing this tract and the Novum Organum Bacon's opinions seem to have undergone some change, as he has there condemned the atomists for asserting the existence of "materia non fluxa;" an obscure phrase, but which appears irreconcilable with the expression which I have just quoted-" fixum et invariabile."
However this may be, Bacon next proceeds to enumerate the different forms of doctrine into which the doctrine of a
1 Leibnitz, ab Erd. p. 91.
2 The meaning of personatus appears from the phrase Bacon previously uses: pidinis est persona quædam."
single element has been subdivided. The first principle or primitive matter has been asserted to be water, or air, or fire. Something is then said of the opinions of Thales, of Anaximenes, and of Heraclitus, and they are collectively commended for having given Eros but a single garment, that is, for having ascribed to primitive matter only a single form substantially homogeneous with any of the forms of secondary existences.
The Anaxagorean doctrine of an infinity of elements is then set aside as belonging to the interpretation of the fable of Cœlum, and thus Bacon comes to the doctrine of two opposing principles, with which the remainder of the tract is taken up. Parmenides, he observes, among the ancients, and Telesius in modern times, had made fire and earth, or heaven and earth, the two first principles.
In connecting together Telesius and Parmenides Bacon overlooked an essential point of difference. For the system of Telesius is merely physical, it deals only with phenomena, and seeks for no higher grounds of truth than the evidence of the senses. Parmenides, on the other hand, recognised the antithesis of τὸ ὄν and τὸ φαινόμενον, of that which exists and that which is apparent. His doctrine is ontological rather than physical, and he does not admit that phenomena have any connexion with real or essential truth. He seeks for a deeper insight into things than any which a mere "Welt-anschauung," a mere contemplation of the universe, could be made to furnish. The hypothesis which he framed to explain the phenomena by which we are surrounded, is with him a hypothesis merely, and though, like Telesius's, this hypothesis refers every phenomenon to the antagonism of heat and cold, yet it has a character of its own, inasmuch as in a way not distinctly conceivable it also serves to represent the metaphysical antithesis of τὸ ὄν and τὸ μὴ ὄν.
It is however to be remembered that with the ontological aspect of the philosophy of Parmenides Bacon has here no
The fundamental notion of Telesius's system was doubtless suggested both to him and to Parmenides', by certain obvious
The same notion is ascribed also to Hippo of Rhegium, and to others of the Greek philosophers. See Pseudo-orig. Philos (16.), for the fullest statement as to Hippo.
phenomena, and especially by the growth, decay, and reproduction of plants and animals. But it is essentially derived from the delight which the mind takes in every form of antithetic dualism, and especially in the idea of the reciprocal action of opposing forces. It comes from the same source as the love and strife of Empedocles, and as the good and evil principles of the Persian theology.
By the help of this notion, namely that heat and cold are the constituent principles of the universe, Telesius attempts to give general explanations of all phenomena, leaving it to others to study them in detail. The largeness of his plan and the grave eloquence with which it is set forth won for him some celebrity, notwithstanding the extreme obscurity of his style and the vagueness of his whole doctrine.
The academy of Cosenza (it was at Cosenza that Telesius was born) adopted his views, and both there and elsewhere. men were for some time to be found who called themselves Telesiani. Spiriti, in his Scrittori Cosentini, gives a list of the disciples of Telesius; it contains however no name of much note, except that of Campanella, and the fame of Campanella rests much more on his moral and political speculations than on his defence of Telesius. Giordano Bruno and Patricius cannot be called disciples of Telesius, though the writings of both bear traces of his influence.1 Among real students of nature it was not to be expected that so indefinite a system as that of Telesius could find much acceptance, and accordingly it is but seldom mentioned by scientific writers. Grassi, in the Libra Astronomica 2, seems to reproach Galileo with having taken some notion about comets from Cardan and Telesius; remarking that their philosophy was sterile and unfruitful, and that they had left to posterity "libros non liberos." To this Galileo answers that as for what Cardan and Telesius might have said on the matter in hand he had never read it, and it would seem as if he means to disclaim all knowledge
The influence of Telesius on Bruno is not, I think, mentioned by historians of philosophy, yet there is no doubt of its existence. In the following passage the fundamental principle of Telesius is plainly assumed, mingled with ideas derived from Copernicus. "Così vien distinto l' universo in fuoco et acqua, che sono soggetti di doi primi principii formali et attivi, freddo et caldo. Que' corpi che spirano il caldo, son le sole, che per se stesso son lucenti et caldi; que' corpi che spirano il freddo son le terre.". Cena di Cenere, p. 174. of Wagner's edition.
2 Published in 1618, with the pseudonym of Lotario Sarsi. It is incorporated in the new edition of Galileo's works, iv. p. 61.