Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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a deficience, or at least a great imi)roiicience in the
sciences themselves. For the handling of final causes,

H 2



104 advance]me:nt of learning. [Book II.

mixed with the rest in physical inquiries, hath inter-
cepted the severe and diligent inquiry of all real and
physical causes, and given men the occasion to stay
upon these satisfactory and specious causes, to the
great arrest and prejudice of farther discovery.

For this I find done not only by Plato, who ever
anchoreth upon that shore, but by Aristotle, Galen,
and others, which do usually likewise fall upon these
flats of discoursing causes. For to say that the
hairs of the eyelids are for a quickset and fence
about the sight ; or, that the firmness of the skins
and hides of living creatures is to defend them
from the extremities of heat or cold; or, that the bones
are for the columns or beams, whereupon the frame
of the bodies of living creatures are built ; or, that
the leaves of trees are for the protecting of the fruit ;
or, that the clouds are for watering of the earth ;
or, that the solidness of the earth is for the sta-
tion and mansion of living creatures, and the like,
is well inquired and collected in metaphysic ; but in
physic they are impertinent. Nay, they are indeed
but remoras and hinderances to stay and slug the ship
from farther sailing, and have brought this to pass,
that the search of the physical causes hath been neg-
lected, and passed in silence.

And therefore the natural philosophy of Democritus,
and some others, who did not suppose a mind or
reason in the frame of things, but attributed the form
thereof, able to maintain itself, to infinite essays or
proofs of nature, which they term fortune ; seemeth
to me, as far as I can judge by the recital and frag-
ments which remain unto us, in particularities of
physical causes, more real and better inquired than
that of Aristotle and Plato ; whereof both inter-
mingled final causes, the one as a part of theology,
and the other as a part of logic, which were the
favourite studies respectively of both those persons.
Not because those final causes are not true, and wor-
thy to be inquired, being kept within their own pro-
vince ; but because their excursions into the limits of
physical causes hath bred a vastness and solitude in



Book II.] ADVANCEMENT OF EEAlCNINC; . 105

that track. For, otherwise, keeping their precincts
and borders, men are extremely deceived if they
tliink there is an enmity or repugnancy at all be-
tween them. For the cause rendered, that the hairs
about the eye-lids are for the safeguard of the sight,
doth not impugn the cause rendered, that pilosity is
incident to orifices of moisture; Muscosi f antes y etc.
Nor the cause rendered, that the firmness of hides is
for the armour of the body against extremities of heat
or cold, doth not impugn the cause rendered, that con-
traction of pores is incident to the outwardest parts,
in regard of their adjacence to foreign or unlike bo-
dies ; and so of the rest : both causes being true and
compatible, the one declaring an intention, the other
a consequence only.

Neither doth this call in question, or derogate from
divine providence, but highly confirm and exalt it.
For as in civil actions he is the greater and deeper
politician, that can make other men the instruments
of his will and ends, and yet never acquaint them with
his purpose, so as they shall do it, and yet not know what
they do ; than he that imparteth his meaning to those
he employeth : so is the wisdom of God more admira-
ble, when nature intendeth one thing, and providence
draweth forth another ; than if he had communicated
to particular creatures, and motions, the characters
and impressions of his providence. And thus much
for metaphysic ; the latter part whereof I allow as
extant, but wish it confined to its proper place.

Nevertheless there remaineth yet a.JlQther part of
natural philosophy, which is commonly made a princi-
pal part, and holdeth rank with physic special, and j ^ j 1
metaphysic, ^vllich is mathematic ; but I think it more
agreeable to the nature of things, and to the light of
order, to place it as a branch of metaphysic : for the
subject of it being quantity, not quantity indefinite,
which is but a relative, and belongeth to philosophia
pynma, as hath been said, but quantity determined,
or proportionable ; it appeareth to be one of the essen-
tial forms of things ; as that that is causative in nature
of a number of effects ; insomuch as we sec, in the



106 ADVANCEMENT OF LEAllNIXG. [Book IL

schools both of Demoeritus and Pythagoras, that the
one did ascribe Figure to the first seeds of things, and
the other did suppose Numbers to be the principles
and originals of things ; and it is true also, that of
all other forms, as we understand forms, it is the most
abstracted and separable from matter, and therefore
most proper to metapliysic ; which hath likewise been
the cauf^e why it hath been better laboured and
inquired, than any of the other forms, which are more
immersed into matter.

For it being the nature of the mind of man, to
the extreme prejudice of knowledge, to delight in the
spacious liberty of generalities, as in a champain re-
gion, and not in the inclosures of particularity ; the
mathematics of all other knowledge were the goodliest
fields to satisfy the appetite.

But for the placing of these sciences, it is not much
material ; only we have endeavoured, in these our
partitions, to observe a kind of perspective, that one
part may cast light upon another.

The ^lathematics are cither pure or mixed. To
the pure mathematics are those sciences Tjelonging
which handle quantity determinate, merely severed
from any axioms of natural philosophy ; and these are
two. Geometry, and Arithmetic ; the one handling
quantity continued, and the other dissevered.

Mixed hath for subject some axioms or parts of
natural philosophy, and considereth quantity deter-
mined, as it is auxiliary and incident unto them.

For many parts of nature can neither be invented
with sufficient subtilty, nor demonstrated with suffi-
cient perspicuity, nor accommodated unto use with
sufficient dexterity, without the aid and intervening
of the mathematics : of which sort arc perspective,
music, astronomy, cosmograpliy, architecture, engi-
nery, and divers others.

In the mathematics I can report no deficience, ex-
cept it be that men do not sufficiently understand the
excellent use of tlic pure mathematics, in that they do
remedy and cure many defects in the wit and faculties
intellectual. For, if the wit be dull, they sharpen



Book II.] ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING. 107

it ; if too waiidcriiig', they fix it ; if too iiilicrcnt iu
the sense, they abstract it. So that as tennis is a
game of no use in itself, but of great use in respect it
niaketh a quick eye, and a body ready to put itself into
all postures ; so in the mathematics, that use which is
collateral and intervenient, is no less worthy than that
which is principal and intended.

And ns for the mixed mathematics, I may only
make this ))rediction, that there cannot fail to be more
kinds of them, as nature grows further disclosed.

Thus uuidi pf natui'al science, or thej^art of nature
speculative: ' "" -— .— -

For Natural Prudence, or the part operative of ^ ■
natural philosophy, 'we will divide it into three parts, ;^



Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 52)