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human understanding is perverted by observing ferent species of it; they merely suggest here for, the power of mechanical arts, in which bodies and not how or whence. For they exhibit neither are very materially changed by composition or the affections of bodies, nor the process of their separation, and is induced to suppose that some parts, but merely establish a division of that mothing similar takes place in the universal nature tion, which coarsely exhibits to the senses matter of things. Hence the fiction of elements, and in its varied form. Even when they wish to their co-operation in forming natural bodies. point out something relative to the causes of moAgain, when man reflects upon the entire liberty tion, and to establish a division of them, they of nature, he meets with particular species of most absurdly introduce natural and violent mothings, as animals, plants, minerals, and is thence tion, which is also a popular notion, since every easily led to imagine that there exist in nature violent motion is also in fact natural, that is to certain primary forms which she strives to pro- say, the external efficient puts nature in action in duce, and that all variation from them arises from a different manner to that which she had presome impediment or error which she is exposed viously employed. to in completing her work, or from the collision But if, neglecting these, any one were for inor metamorphosis of different species. The first stance to observe, that there is in bodies a tendency hypothesis has produced the doctrine of element of adhesion, so as not to suffer the unity of nature ary properties, the second that of occult properties to be completely separated or broken, and a vaand specific powers : and both lead to trifling courses cuum to be formed; or that they have a tendency of reflection, in which the mind acquiesces, and to return to their natural dimensions or tension, is thus diverted from more important subjects. so that, if compressed or extended within or be But physicians exercise a much more useful yond it, they immediately strive to recover them. labour in the consideration of the secondary quali- selves, and resume their former volume and extent; ties of things, and the operations of attraction, or that they have a tendency to congregate into repulsion, attenuation, inspissation, dilatation, masses with similar bodies, the dense, for instance, astringency, separation, maturation, and the like; towards the circumference of the earth, the thin and would do still more if they would not cor- and rare towards that of the heavens, these and rupt these proper observations by the two systems the like are true physical genera of motions, but I have alluded to, of elementary qualities and the others are clearly logical and scholastie, as secondary to first qualities, and their subtile and "Another
considerable evil is, that men in their immeasurable composition, or at any rate nego systems and contemplations bestow their labour lect to advance by greater and more diligent upon the investigation and discussion of the prinobservation to the third and fourth qualities, ciples of things and the extreme limits of nature, thus terminating their contemplation prematurely. although all utility and means of action consist in Nor are these powers (or the like) to be in the intermediate objects. Hence men cease not vestigated only among the medicines of the to abstract nature till they arrive at potential and human body, but also in all changes of other shapeless matter, and still persist in their dissecnatural bodies.
tion, till they arrive at atoms; and yet, were all this A greater evil arises from the contemplation true, it would be of little use to advance man’s and investigation rather of the stationary princi-estate. ples of things, from which, than of the active, by 67. The understanding must also be cautioned which things themselves are created. For the against the intemperance of systemis, so far as former only serve for discussion, the latter for regards its giving or withholding its assent; for practice. Nor is any value to be set on those such intemperance appears to fix and perpetuatë common differences of motion which are observed idols, so as to leave no means of removing them. in the received system of natural philosophy, as These excesses are of two kinds. The first is generation, corruption, augmentation, diminution, seen in those who decide hastily, and render the alteration, and translation. For this is their sciences positive and dictatorial. The other in meaning: if a body, unchanged in other respects, those who have introduced skepticism, and vague, is moved from its place, this is translation ; if the unbounded inquiry. The former subdues
, the place and species be given, but the quantity latter enervates the understanding. The Aristochanged, it is alteration ; but if, from such a telian philosophy, after destroying other systems change, the mass and quantity of the body do not (as the Ottomans do their brethren) by its dispu. continue the same, this is the motion of augmentations, confutations, decided upon every thing, tation and diminution ; if the change be continued and Aristotle himself then raises up questions at 80 as to vary the species and substance, and trans- will, in order to settle them ; so that every thing fuse them to others, this is generation and corrup- should be certain and decided, a method now in tion. All this is merely popular, and by no use among his successors. ineans penetrates into nature; and these are but
The school of Plato introduced skepticism, first, the measures and bounds of motion, and not dif- as it were, in joke and irony, from their dislike
to Protagoras, Hippias, and others, who were stration, provided it adhere to the experiment ashamed of appearing not to doubt upon any sub- actually made; for if that experiment be transject. But the new academy dogmatized in their ferred to other subjects apparently similar, unless skepticism, and held it as their tenet. Although with proper and methodical caution, it becomes this method be more honest than arbitrary deci- fallacious. The present method of experiment sion, (for its followers allege that they by no is blind and stupid. Hence men wandering and means confound all inquiry, like Pyrrho and his roaming without any determined course, and condisciples, but hold doctrines which they can fol- sulting mere chance, are hurried about to various low as probable, though they cannot maintain points, and advance but little; at one time they them to be true,) yet, when the human mind has are happy, at another their attention is distracted, once despaired of discovering truth, every thing and they always find that they want something begins to languish. Hence men turn aside into further. Men generally make their experiments pleasant controversies and discussions, and into a carelessly, and as it were in sport, making some sort of wandering over subjects, rather than sus- little variation in a known experiment, and then, tain any rigorous investigation. But, as we ob- if they fail, they become disgusted and give up served at first, we are not to deny the authority the attempt: nay, if they set to work more se of the human senses and understanding, although riously, steadily, and assiduously, yet they waste weak; but rather to furnish them with assistance. all their time on probing some solitary matter; as
68. We have now treated of each kind of idols, Gilbert on the magnet, and the alchymists on and their qualities; all of which must be abjured gold. But such conduct shows their method to and renounced with firm and solemn resolution, be no less unskilful than mean,
For nobody can and the understanding must be completely freed successfully investigate the nature of any object and cleared of them; so that the access to the by considering that object alone; the inquiry must kingdom of man, which is founded on the sci- be more generally extended. ences, may resemble that to the kingdom of Even when men build any science and theory heaven, where no admission is conceded except upon experiment, yet they almost always turn to children.
with premature and hasty zeal to practice, not 69. Vicious demonstrations are the muniments merely on account of the advantage and benefit
support of idols, and those which we possess to be derived from it, but in order to seize upon in logic, merely subject and enslave the world to some security in a new undertaking of their not human thoughts, and thoughts to words. But employing the remainder of their labour unprofitdemonstrations are, in some manner, themselves ably; and by making themselves conspicuous, to systems of philosophy and science. For such as acquire a greater name for their pursuit. Hence, they are, and accordingly as they are regularly or like Atalanta, they leave the course to pick up improperly established, such will be the resulting the golden apple, interrupting their speed, and systems of philosophy and contemplation. But giving up the victory. But, in the true course of those which we employ in the whole process experiment, and in extending it to new effects, leading from the senses and things to axioms and we should imitate the Divine foresight and order. conclusions, are fallacious and incompetent. This For God, on the first day, only created light, and process is fourfold, and the errors are in equal assigned a whole day to that work, without number. In the first place the impressions of creating any material substance thereon. In like the senses are erroneous, for they fail and deceive manner, we must first, by every kind of experius. We must supply defects by substitutions, ment, elicit the discovery of causes and true and fallacies by their correction. 2dly. Notions axioms, and seek for experiments which may are improperly abstracted from the senses, and afford light rather than profit. Axioms, when indeterminate and confused when they ought to rightly investigated and established, prepare us be the reverse. 3dly. The induction that is em- not for a limited bat abundant practice, and bring ployed is improper, for it determines the princi- in their train whole troops of effects. But we ples of sciences by simple enumeration, without will treat hereafter of the ways of experience, adopting the exclusions, and resolutions, or just which are not less beset and interrupted than separations of nature. Lastly, the usual method those of judgment; having spoken at present of of discovery and proof, by first establishing the common experience only as a bad species of demost general propositions, then applying and monstration, the order of our subject now requires proving the intermediate axioms according to some mention of those external signs of the them, is the parent of error and the calamity of weakness in practice of the received systems of every science. But we will treat more fully of philosophy and contemplation,* which we referthat which we now slightly touch upon, when red to above, and of the causes of a circumstance we come to lay down the true way of interpreting at first sight so wonderful and incredible. For the nature, after having gone through the above ex- knowledge of these external signs prepares thu piatory process and purification of the mind.
* See Ax. 61, towards the end. This subject extends to 70. But experience is by far the best demon- Ax. 78. VOL. III.45
way for assent, and the explanation of the causes from the origin and birthplace of our present
than the former from that of the country and na71. The sciences we possess have been princi- tion. For in that age the knowledge both of time pally derived from the Greeks : for the addition and of the world was confined and meagre, which of the Roman, Arabic, or more modern writers are is one of the worst evils for those who rely enbut few, and of small importance; and, such as they tirely on experience. They had not a thousand are, are founded on the basis of Greek invention. years of history, worthy of that name, but mere But the wisdom of the Greeks was professional fables and ancient traditions. They were acquaintand disputatious, and thus most adverse to the ed with but a small portion of the regions and investigation of truth. The name, therefore, of countries of the world for they indiscriminately sophists, which the contemptuous spirit of those called all nations situated far towards the north who deemed themselves philosophers, rejected Scythians, all those to the west Celts; they and transferred to the rhetoricians, Gorgias, Pro- knew nothing of Africa, but the nearest part of tagoras, Hippias, Polus, might well suit the Ethiopia, or of Asia beyond the Ganges, and had whole tribe, such as Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Epi- not even heard any sure and clear tradition of the curus, Theophrastus, and their successors, Chry- region of the new world. Besides, a vast number sippus, Carneades, and the rest. There was only of climates and zones, in which innumerable this difference between them, the former were nations live and breathe, were pronounced by them mercenary vagabonds, travelling about to differ- to be uninhabitable, nay, the travels of Democrient states, making a show of their wisdom and re- tus, Plato, and Pythagoras, which were not quiring pay; the latter, more dignified and noble, extensive, but rather mere excursions from home, in possession of fixed habitations, opening schools, were considered as something vast. But in our and teaching philosophy gratuitously. Both, times many parts of the new world, and every however, (though differing in other respects,) extremity of the old are well known, and the were professorial, and reduced every subject to mass of experiments has been infinitely increased." controversy, establishing and defending certain Wherefore, if external signs were to be taken sects and dogmas of philosophy: so that their from the time of the nativity or procreation, (as in doctrines were nearly (what Dionysius not un- astrology,) nothing extraordinary could be preaptly objected to Plato) « the talk of idle old men to dicted of these early systems of philosophy. 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 espe. and 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 exper free from the natural defect, but inclined too much riments from philosophy and the knowledge of 10 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
The industry of the alchymists has produced prone to talking and incapable of generation, some effect
, by chance, however, and casualty, or their wisdom being loquacious, and unproductive from varying their experiments, (as mechanics also of effects,
Hence the external signs derived 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- 76. Nor should we omit the sign afforded by crease and progress of particular systems of phi-the great dissension formerly prevalent among losophy and the sciences. For those which are philosophers, and the variety of schools, which founded on nature grow and increase, whilst those sufficiently show that the way was not well pre. which are founded on opinion change, and in- pared, that leads from the senses to the undercrease not. If, therefore, the theories we have standing, since the same groundwork of philosomentioned were not like plants torn up by the roots, phy (namely, the nature of things) was torn and but grew in the womb of nature and were nou- divided into such widely differing and multifarious rished by her; that which for the last two thou- errors. And although, in these days, the dissensand years has taken place would never have sions and differences of opinions with regard to happened : namely, that the sciences still con- first principles and entire systems are nearly extinue in their beaten track, and nearly stationary, tinct, yet there remain innumerable questions and without having received any important increase; controversies with regard to particular branches nay, having, on the contrary, rather bloomed under of philosophy. So that it is manifest that there is the hands of their first author, and then faded nothing sure or sound either in the systems themaway. But we see that the case is reversed in selves or in the methods of demonstration. the mechanical arts, which are founded on nature 77. With regard to the supposition that there and the light of experience, for they (as long as is a general unanimity as to the philosophy of they are popular) seem full of life, and uninter- Aristotle, because the other systems of the anruptedly thrive and grow, being at first rude, then cients ceased and became obsolete on its promulconvenient, lastly polished, and perpetually im-gation, and nothing better has been since disproved.
covered; whence it appears that it is so well 75. There is yet another sign, (if such it may determined and founded as to have united the be termed, being rather an evidence, and one of suffrages of both ages; we will observe—1st. the strongest nature,) namely, the actual confes- That the notion of other ancient systems having sion of those very authorities whom men now ceased after the publication of the works of Arisfollow. For even they who decide on things so toile is false, for the works of the ancient philosodaringly, yet, at times, when they reflect, betake phers subsisted long after that event, evi'n to the themselves to complaints about the subtilty of time of Cicero and the subsequent ages. But at nature, the obscurity of things, and the weakness a later period, when human learning had, as it of man's wit. If they would merely do this, they were, been wrecked in the inundation of barmight perhaps deter those who are of a timid dis- barians into the Roman empire, then the sysums position from further inquiry, but would excite of Aristotle and Plato were preserved in the waves and stimulate those of a more active and confident of ages, like blanks of a lighter and less solid turn to further advances. They are not, however, nature. ]24. The notion of unanimity on a clea: satisfied with confessing so much of themselves, inspection is found to be fallacious. For true but consider every thing which has been either unanimity is that which proceeds from a free unknown or unattempted by themselves or their judgment arriving at the same conclusion after teachers, as beyond the limits of possibility; and an investigation of the fact. Now, by far the thus, with most consummate pride and envy, con- greater number of those who have assented to the tert the defects of their own discoveries into a philosophy of Aristotle, have bound themselves
on nature, and a source of despair to down to it, from prejudice and the authority of every one else. Hence arose the new academy, others, so that it is rather obsequiousness and which openly professed skepticism and consigned concurrence than unanimity. But even if it were mankind to eternal darkness. Hence the notion real and extensive unanimity, so far from being that forms, or the true differences of things, (which esteemed a true and solid confirmation, it should are in fact the laws of simple action,) are beyond lead to a violent presumption to the contrary. For man's reach, and cannot possibly be discovered. there is no worse angury in intellectual matitis Hence those notions in the active and operative than that derived from unanimity, with the es
ception of divinity and politics, where suffrages growth. It is well known that after the Christian are allowed to decide. For nothing pleases the religion had been acknowledged and arrived at multitude, unless it strike the imagination or bind maturity, by far the best wits were busied upon down the understanding, as we have observed theology, where the highest lewards offered themabove, with the shackles of vulgar notions. selves, and every species of assistance was 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 occupied and wasted in moral philosophy, (the fruits, their progress, the confessions of their theology of the heathens :) besides, the greatest authors, or from unanimity.
minds in these times applied themselves to civil 78. We now come to the causes of errors, * affairs, on account of the magnitude of the Roman and of such perseverance in them for ages. These empire, which required the labour of many. 3. are sufficiently numerous and powerful to remove The age during which natural philosophy apall wonder that what we now offer should have peared principally to flourish among the Greeks so long been concealed from and have escaped was but a short period, since in the more ancient the notice of mankind, and to render it more times the seven sages (with the exception of worthy of astonishment, that it should even now Thales) applied themselves to moral philosophy have entered any one's mind or become the sub- and politics, and at a later period after Socrates ject of his thoughts; and that it should have done had brought down philosophy from heaven to so, we consider rather the gift of fortune than of earth, moral philosophy became more prevalent
, any extraordinary talent, and as the offspring of and diverted men's attention from natural
. Nay, time rather than wit. But, in the first place, the the very period during which physical inquiries number of ages is reduced to very narrow limits flourished, was corrupted and rendered useless by on a proper consideration of the matter. For, out contradictions and the ambition of new opinions. of twenty-five centuries, with which the memory Since, therefore, during these three epochs, natural and learning of man are conversant, scarcely six philosophy has been materially neglected or imcan be set apart and selected as fertile in science and peded, it is not at all surprising that men should favourable in its progress. For there are deserts have made but little progress in it, seeing they and wastes in times as in countries, and we can were attending to an entirely different matter. only reckon up three revolutions and epochs of 80. Add to this that natural philosophy, espephilosophy. 1. The Greek. 2. The Roman. cially of late, has seldom gained exclusive pos3. Our own, that is, the philosophy of the western session of an individual free from all other purnations of Europe: and scarcely two centuries suits, even amongst those who have applied thercan with justice be assigned to each. The inter- selves to it, unless there may be an example or mediate ages of the world were unfortunate, both two of some monk studying in his cell, or some in the quantity and richness of the sciences pro- nobleman in his villa. She has rather been made duced. Nor need we mention the Arabs or the a passage and bridge to other pursuits. scholastic philosophy which, in those ages, Thus has this great mother of the sciences been ground down the sciences by their numerous degraded most unworthily to the situation of an treatises more than they increased their weight. handmaid, and made to wait upon medicine of The first cause, then, of such insignificant pro- mathematical operations, and to wash the immagress in the sciences is rightly referred to the ture minds of youth, and imbue them with a first small proportion of time which has been favour-dye, that they may afterwards be more ready to able thereto.
receive and retain another. In the mean time let 79. A second cause offers itself, which is no one expect any great progress in the sciences, certainly of the greatest importance ; namely, (especially their operative part,) unless natural that in those very ages in which men’s wit, and philosophy be applied to particular sciences, and literature flourished considerably, or even mode- particular sciences again referred back to natural rately, but a small part of their industry was philosophy. For want of this, astronomy, optics, bestowed on natural philosophy, the great mother music, many mechanical arts, medicine itself
, of the sciences. For every art and science torn and (what perhaps is more wonderful) moral and from this root may, perhaps, be polished and put political philosophy, and the logical sciences have ato a serviceable shape, but can admit of little no depth, but only glide over the surface and va
riety of things ; because these sciences, when see end of Axiom 6i. This subject extends to Axiom 93. / they have been once partitioned out and esta !