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sophy. From this defect it is that astronomy, optics, music, many mechanical arts, and (what seems stranger) even moral and civil philosophy and logic, rise but little above the foundations, and only skim over the varieties and surfaces of things.” It was because he found and enunciated to the world this grand conception of the value, importance, and lofty destiny of natural science, that Bacon may justly be honoured by the title so often given to him on erroneous grounds—the Father of Inductive or Experimental Philosophy.
The two books of Francis Bacon, of the “ Proficiencie and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human,” were first published in 1616. In 1623, they were translated into Latin, and expounded, under the title of “ De Augmentis Scientiarum,” libri ix. ; in this shape they form a portion of his magnum opus, the “Instauratio Magna, or Great Reconstruction of Science." Bacon wrote in Latin from the mistaken belief that it was more permanent than those “modern languages, which would one day play the bankrupt with books ;” but his writings have frequently been translated. The “Advancement ” should, of course, be read in Bacon's own English, which, if less stately than Hooker's, is rich, strenuous, and musical. In the first book he dilates on the excellence of knowledge, pointing out that its supposed defects originate in human errors, in the mistaken choice of subjects of study, or in imperfect methods of dealing with them. Knowledge was not to be sought, he said, as if it was a couch whereon a searching and restless spirit might repose; or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect before it; or a tower of state for a proud mind to elevate itself upon; or
a fort or com
manding ground for strife and contention ; or a shop for profit or sale; but as a rich storehouse for the Creator's glory and the relief of man's estate. Having vindicated the dignity of knowledge, Bacon, in his second book, proceeds to survey the whole field of human learning, and to inquire what parts thereof lie fresh and waste, and not improved and converted by human industry; to the end that such a plot, made and recorded to memory, may both minister light to any public designation and also serve to stimulate voluntary effort. He divides knowledge into the three branches, of history, poetry, and philosophy, which he refers to the three parts of man's understanding—memory, imagination, and reason ; and having examined what has been done in each, he comments upon revealed religion, and proceeds to show the inquirer the course or path he should follow in his endeavour to compass a cultivated mind; the right path being that by which we can most easily contribute to the stock of human learning something worth labouring for, something that will prove to the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate.
In the “Instauratio,” as the title implies, Bacon's object is to effect a "renewal” or “repair” of human knowledge. We have seen the ground-plan he laid down in the “Advancement; ” that he proved the existence of deficiencies, and arranged and systematised the work to be done. In the “Novum Organum” (1620), of which the first part only was completed after the labour of thirty years, he develops the "new method” by which defects were to be remedied and the bounds of knowledge extended. This is done in a series of aphorisms, spread over two books, arranged in logical
sequence, and leading naturally the one to the other, like a succession of terraces.
The first of these is the key-note, the clue or the foundation of the whole Baconian philosophy; and, though a truism now, was, when first enunciated, a revelation,
Man, the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand no farther than he has, either in art or in contemplation, observed the order and method of Nature. Human power and human science are incident. The dominion of man over things depends upon the arts and sciences; because, to govern Nature, you must first obey her. The cause and root of all the evils in the sciences was this, that while men ignorantly wondered at and vaunted the powers of the human mind, they forbore to rule its true aids. How little assistance had the useful arts obtained from science ! how little had science benefited by the labours of practical men!
the vagueness and sterility of the physical systems which had been put before the world ? Not certainly in anything in Nature itself, for the steadfastness and regularity of its laws mark them out clearly as objects of certain and precise knowledge. Not in any want of ability in the inventors of these systems, many of whom were men of the highest genius of the ages in which they flourished. No, this vagueness, this sterility, originated solely in the perverseness and inadequacy of the methods which had been pursued. Men had sought to create a world from their own conceptions, to draw from their own minds all the materials they employed; but if, on the contrary, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have had facts and not opinions for the ground-work of their reasoning, and might ultimately have attained to a knowledge of the laws that govern the material world. What was necessary Bacon defined to be, that men should be slow to generalise, going from particular things to those which are but a single step more general, rising from those to others of a broader scope, and so on until they come to universals. This is the true and untried way (“ Aph.” xix. et seq.).
He proceeds to dwell upon the distinction between the “idola” or “ idols" of the human mind, and the ideas of the Divine. Of the latter it is said :-“Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." And, adopting the Apostolic language, he exclaimed : "Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” These “idols,” or delusions of the understanding, he divided into—(1) Idols of the Tribe (Idola tribus), those belonging to mankind as a whole, to man as a race or tribe. It is falsely asserted that human sense is the measure or standard of things, whereas, on the contrary, all perceptions, whether of the sense or of the mind, are according to the analogy of man, and not according to the analogy of the universe; and the human intellect is to the rays of things as an unequal union, which blends its own nature with the nature of things, and so distorts and injures it. (2) Idols of the Cave (Idola specus) are the special weaknesses of the individual, and only too effectual in prejudicing his search after truth. (3) Idols of the Market-place (Idola fori), the creations of prejudice; things not as they are, but as they are represented by the common talk of the market-place, the gossip of the world; and (4) Idols of the Theatre (Idola theatri), ideas accepted from the dogmatic teachings of philosophers,
because as many philosophies as have been received or discovered, so many plays have in truth been acted, creating scenes and unreal worlds.
Having placed the inquirer on his guard against these idola, Bacon, in his second book, explains that “inductive method” by which alone truth can be obtained. Everything must be put to the test of experience; no fact must be accepted as such until it has been proved by experiment. In Nature, whatever is, is so under certain conditions, some of which are only accidental, while others are essential.
The difference must be carefully ascertained. When this process has been applied to a number of facts, we are in a position by a comparison of the results to determine one of the laws by which Nature is governed. And when we know the laws (forme) and perceive the real unity of Nature in materials apparently dissimilar, we can go on to further experiment. The search after these eternal and immutable laws or forms he describes as constituting “metaphysics ;” but the search after the intermediate, and not fundamental laws, he designates “physics.”
The study of Nature, therefore, is to be conducted in such wise that it may yield—(a) Axioms or laws deduced from experiment; and (6) New experiments deduced from these axioms. As the foundation of all knowledge we need a competent “natural and experimental history,” which can be obtained only by a “true and legitimate induction.” In pursuing our investigations into the laws or formce, we must examine each “nature" or thing in a variety of ways, taking every case as an “instance (instantia), or indication of its possession of certain qualities, and examining them in groups. example, heat; the "instances agreeing” are not as rays