Page images

groping in the dark (vago experientia mera palpatio est), who | occasionally hit upon good works or inventions, which, like Atalanta's apples, distracted them from further steady and gradual progress towards universal truth. In place of these straggling efforts of the unassisted human mind, a graduated system of helps was to be supplied, by the use of which the mind, when placed on the right road, would proceed with unerring and mechanical certainty to the invention of new arts and sciences.

Such were to be the peculiar functions of the new method, though it has not definitely appeared what that method was, or to what objects it could be applied. But, before proceeding to unfold his method, Bacon found it necessary to enter in considerable detail upon the general subject of the obstacles to progress, and devoted nearly the whole of the first book of the Organum to the examination of them. This discussion, though strictly speaking extraneous to the scheme, has always been looked upon as a most important part of his philosophy, and his name is perhaps as much associated with the doctrine of Idols (Idola) as with the theory of induction or the classification of the sciences.

The doctrine of the kinds of fallacies or general classes of errors into which the human mind is prone to fall, appears in many of the works written before the Novum Organum, and the treatment of them varies in some respects. The classification in the Organum, however, not only has the author's sanction, but has received the stamp of historical acceptation; and comparison of the earlier notices, though a point of literary interest, has no important philosophic bearing. The Idola (Nov. Org. i. 39) false notions of things, or erroneous ways of looking at nature, areof four kinds: the first two innate, pertaining to the very nature of the mind and not to be eradicated; the third creeping insensibly into men's minds, and hence in a sense innate and inseparable; the fourth imposed from without. The first kind are the Idola Tribus, idols of the tribe, fallacies incident to humanity or the race in general. Of these, the most prominent are the proneness to suppose in nature greater order and regularity than there actually is; the tendency to support a preconceived opinion by affirmative instances, neglecting all negative or opposed cases; and the tendency to generalize from few observations, or to give reality to mere abstractions, figments of the mind. Manifold errors also result from the weakness of the senses, which affords scope for mere conjecture; from the influence exercised over the, understanding by the will and passions; from the restless desire of the mind to penetrate to the ultimate principles of things; and from the belief that "man is the measure of the universe," whereas, in truth, the world is received by us in a distorted and erroneous manner. The second kind are the Idola Specus, idols of the cave, or errors incident to the peculiar mental or bodily constitution of each individual, for according to the state of the individual's mind is his view of things. Errors of this class are innumerable, because there are numberless varieties of disposition; but some very prominent specimens can be indicated. Such are the tendency to make all things subservient to, or take the colour of some favourite subject, the extreme fondness and reverence either for what is ancient or for what is modern, and excess in noting either differences or resemblances amongst things. A practical rule for avoiding these is also given: "In general let every student of nature take this as a rule, that whatever his mind seizes and dwells upon with particular satisfaction is to be held in suspicion." "12 The third class are the Idola Fori, idols of the market-place, errors arising from the influence exercised over the mind by mere words. This, according to 'The word Idola is manifestly borrowed from Plato. It is used twice in connexion with the Platonic Ideas (N. O. i. 23. 124) and is contrasted with them as the false appearance. The door with Plato is the fleeting, transient image of the real thing, and the passage evidently referred to by Bacon is that in the Rep. vii. 516 A, xai πρῶτον μὲν τὰς σκιὰς ἂν ῥᾷστα καθορῴη, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο ἐν τοῖς ὕδασι τά τα τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ τὰ τῶν ἄλλων εἴδωλα, ὕστερον δὲ αὐτά. It is explained well in the Advancement, bk. i. (Works, iii. 287). (For valuable notes on the Idola, see T. Fowler's Nov. Org. i. 38 notes; especially for a comparison of the Idola with Roger Bacon's Offendicula.) N. O. i. 58.

Bacon, is the most troublesome kind of error, and has been especially fatal in philosophy. For words introduce a fallacious mode of looking at things in two ways: first, there are some words that are really merely names for non-existent things, which are yet supposed to exist simply because they have received a name; secondly, there are names hastily and unskilfully abstracted from a few objects and applied recklessly to all that has the faintest analogy with these objects, thus causing the grossest confusion. The fourth and last class are the Idola Theatri, idols of the theatre, i.e. fallacious modes of thinking resulting from received systems of philosophy and from erroneous methods of demonstration. The criticism of the demonstrations is introduced later in close connexion with Bacon's new method; they are the rival modes of procedure, to which his own is definitely opposed. The philosophies which are "redargued " are divided into three classes, the sophistical, of which the best example is Aristotle, who, according to Bacon, forces nature into his abstract schemata and thinks to explain by definitions; the empirical, which from few and limited experiments leaps at once to general conclusions; and the superstitious, which corrupts philosophy by the introduction of poetical and theological notions.

Such are the general causes of the errors that infest the human mind; by their exposure the way is cleared for the introduction of the new method. The nature of this method cannot be understood until it is exactly seen to what it is to be applied. What idea had Bacon of science, and how is his method connected with it? Now, the science which was specially and invariably contemplated by him was natural philosophy, the great mother of all the sciences; it was to him the type of scientific knowledge, and its method was the method of all true science. To discover exactly the characteristics and the object of natural philosophy it is necessary to examine the place it holds in the general scheme furnished in the Advancement or De Augmentis. All human knowledge, it is there laid down, may be referred to man's memory or imagination or reason. In the first, the bare facts presented to sense are collected and stored up; the exposition of them is history, which is either natural or civil. In the second, the materials of sense are separated or divided in ways not corresponding to nature but after the mind's own pleasure, and the result is poesy or feigned history. In the third, the materials are worked up after the model or pattern of nature, though we are prone to err in the progress from sense to reason; the result is philosophy, which is concerned either with God, with nature or with man, the second being the most important. Natural philosophy is again divided into speculative or theoretical and operative or practical, according as the end is contemplation or works. Speculative or theoretical natural philosophy has to deal with natural substances and qualities and is subdivided into physics and metaphysics. Physics inquires into the efficient and material causes of things; metaphysics, into the formal and final causes. The principal objects of physics are concrete substances, or abstract though physical qualities. The research into abstract qualities, the fundamental problem of physics, comes near to the metaphysical study of forms, which indeed differs from the first only in being more general, and in having as its results a form strictly so called, i.e. a nature or quality which is a limitation or specific manifestation of some higher and better-known genus. Natural philosophy is, therefore, in ultimate resort the study of forms, and, consequently, the fundamental problem of philosophy in general is the discovery of these forms.

"On a given body to generate or superinduce a new nature or natures, is the work and aim of human power. Of a given nature to discover the form or true specific difference, or natureengendering nature (natura naturans) or source of emanation (for these are the terms which are nearest to a description of the thing). is the work and aim of human knowledge."

The questions, then, whose answers give the key to the whole Baconian philosophy, may be put briefly thus-What are

N. O. i. 79, 80, 98, 108.

On the meaning of the word form in Bacon's theory see also Fowler's N. O. introd. § 8. N. O. ii. 1.

forms? and how is it that knowledge of them solves both | and the same thing which Cicero's discourse and the note and the theoretical and the practical problem of science? Bacon himself, as may be seen from the passage quoted above, finds great difficulty in giving an adequate and exact definition of what he means by a form. As a general description, the following passage from the Novum Organum, ii. 4, may be cited:

"The form of a nature is such that given the form the nature infallibly follows.. Again, the form is such that if it be taken away the nature infallibly vanishes. ... Lastly, the true form is such that it deduces the given nature from some source of being which is inherent in more natures, and which is better known in the natural order of things than the form itself."

From this it would appear that, since by a nature is meant some sensible quality, superinduced upon, or possessed by, a body, so by a form we are to understand the cause of that nature, which cause is itself a determinate case or manifestation of some general or abstract quality inherent in a greater number of objects. But all these are mostly marks by which a form may be recognized, and do not explain what the form really is. A further definition is accordingly attempted in Aph. 13:

"The form of a thing is the very thing itself, and the thing differs from the form no otherwise than as the apparent differs from the real, or the external from the internal, or the thing in reference to the man from the thing in reference to the universe."

This throws a new light on the question, and from it the inference at once follows, that the forms are the permanent causes or substances underlying all visible phenomena, which are merely manifestations of their activity. Are the forms, then, forces? At times it seems as if Bacon had approximated to this view of the nature of things, for in several passages he identifies forms with laws of activity. Thus, he says

"When I speak of forms I mean nothing more than those laws and determinations of absolute actuality which govern and constitute any simple nature, as heat, light, weight, in every kind of matter and subject that is susceptible of them. Thus the form of beat or the form of light is the same thing as the law of heat or the law of light." "Matter rather than forms should be the object of our attention, its configurations and changes of configuration, and simple action, and law of action or motion; for forms are figments of the human mind, unless you will call those laws of action "Forms or true differences of things, which are in fact pure act.' "For though in nature nothing really exists besides individual bodies, performing pure individual acts according to a fixed law, yet in philosophy this very law, and the investi: gation, discovery and explanation of it, is the foundation as well of knowledge as of operation. And it is this law, with its clauses, that I mean when I speak of forms."

forms." : laws of

Several important conclusions may be drawn from these passages. In the first place, it is evident that Bacon, like the Atomical school, of whom he highly approved, had a clear perception and a firm grasp of the physical character of natural principles; his forms are no ideas or abstractions, but highly general physical properties. Further, it is hinted that these general qualities may be looked upon as the modes of action of simple bodies. This fruitful conception, however, Bacon does not work out; and though he uses the word cause, and identifies form with formal cause, yet it is perfectly apparent that the modern notions of cause as dynamical, and of nature as in a process of flow or development, are foreign to him, and that in his view of the ultimate problem of science, cause meant causa immanens, or underlying substance, effects were not consequents but manifestations, and nature was regarded in a purely statical aspect. That this is so appears even more clearly when we examine his general conception of the unity, gradation and function of the sciences. That the sciences are organically connected is a thought common to him and to his distinguished predecessor Roger Bacon. "I that hold it for a great impediment towards the advancement and further invention of knowledge, that particular arts and sciences have been disincorporated from general knowledge, do not understand one

This better known in the order of nature is nowhere satisfactorily explained by Bacon. Like his classification of causes, and in some degree his notion of form itself, it comes from Aristotle. See An. Pest. 71 b 33: Topic, 141 b 5; Eth. Nic. 1095 a 30. It should be observed that many writers maintain that the phrase should be natiera natura; others, notiora naturae. See Fowler's N. O. p. 199 Ibid. ii. 2.


• Ibid. i. 75.

N. O. ii. 17. * Ibid. i. 51.

conceit of the Grecians in their word circle learning do intend. For I mean not that use which one science hath of another for ornament or help in practice; but I mean it directly of that use by way of supply of light and information, which the particulars and instances of one science do yield and present for the framing or correcting of the axioms of another science in their very truth and notion." In accordance with this, Bacon placed at the basis of the particular sciences which treat of God, nature and man, one fundamental doctrine, the Prima Philosophia, or first philosophy, the function of which was to display the unity of nature by connecting into one body of truth such of the highest axions of the subordinate sciences as were not special to one science, but common to several.' This first philosophy had also to investigate what are called the adventitious or transcendental conditions of essences, such as Much, Little, Like, Unlike, Possible, Impossible, Being, Nothing, the logical discussion of which certainly belonged rather to the laws of reasoning than to the existence of things, but the physical or real treatment of which might be expected to yield answers to such questions as, why certain substances are numerous, others scarce; or why, if like attracts like, iron does not attract iron. Following this summary philosophy come the sciences proper, rising like a pyramid in successive stages, the lowest floor being occupied by natural history or experience, the second by physics, the third, which is next the peak of unity, by metaphysics. The knowledge of the peak, or of the one law which binds nature together, is perhaps denied to man. Of the sciences, physics, as has been already seen, deals with the efficient and material, i.e. with the variable and transient, causes of things. But its inquiries may be directed either towards concrete bodies or towards abstract qualities. The first kind of investigation rises little above mere natural history; but the other is more important and paves the way for metaphysics. It handles the configurations and the appetites or motions of matter. The configurations, or inner structure of bodies, include dense, rare, heavy, light, hot, cold, &c.,-in fact, what are elsewhere called Motions are either simple or compound, the simple natures. latter being the sum of a number of the former. In physics, however, these matters are treated only as regards their material or efficient causes, and the result of inquiry into any one case gives no general rule, but only facilitates invention in some similar instance. Metaphysics, on the other hand, treats of the formal or final cause 10 of these same substances and qualities, and results in a general rule. With regard to forms, the investiga

tion may be directed either towards concrete bodies or towards

qualities. But the forms of substances "are so perplexed and complicated, that it is either vain to inquire into them at all, or such inquiry as is possible should be put off for a time, and not entered upon till forms of a more simple nature have been rightly "To inquire into the form of a investigated and discussed."" lion, of an oak, or gold, nay, even of water or air, is a vain pursuit; but to inquire the form of dense, rare, hot, cold, &c., as well configurations as motions, which in treating of physic I have in

• Valerius Terminus, iii. 228-229.

'Cf. N. O. ii. 27. Bacon nowhere enters upon the questions of how such a science is to be constructed, and how it can be expected to possess an independent method while it remains the mere receptacle for the generalizations of the several sciences, and consequently has a content which varies with their progress. His whole conception of Prima Philosophia should be compared with such a modern work as the First Principles of Herbert Spencer.

It is to be noticed that this scale of nature corresponds with the scale of ascending axioms.

also for motions, N.

10 The knowledge of final causes does not lead to works, and the consideration of them must be rigidly excluded from physics. Yet there is no opposition between the physical and final causes; in ultimate resort the mind is compelled to think the universe as the work of reason, to refer facts to God and Providence. The idea of final cause is also fruitful in sciences which have to do with human action. (Cf. De Aug. iii. cc. 4, 5; Nov. Org. i. 48, ii. 2.)

"De Aug. iii. 4. In the Advancement (Works, iii. 355) it is distinctly said that they are not to be inquired into. One can hardly see how the Baconian method could have applied to concrete


great part enumerated (I call them forms of the first class), and | which (like the letters of the alphabet) are not many, and yet make up and sustain the essences and forms of all substancesthis, I say, it is which I am attempting, and which constitutes and defines that part of metaphysic of which we are now inquiring." Physics inquires into the same qualities, but does not push its investigations into ultimate reality or reach the more general causes. We thus at last attain a definite conclusion with regard to forms, and it appears clear that in Bacon's belief the true function of science was the search for a few fundamental physical qualities, highly abstract and general, the combinations of which give rise to the simple natures and complex phenomena around us. His general conception of the universe may therefore be called mechanical or statical; the cause of each phenomenon is supposed to be actually contained in the phenomenon itself, and by a sufficiently accurate process could be sifted out and brought to light. As soon as the causes are known man regains his power over nature, for "whosoever knows any form, knows also the utmost possibility of superinducing that nature upon every variety of matter, and so is less restrained and tied in operation either to the basis of the matter or to the condition of the efficients."1

Nature thus presented itself to Bacon's mind as a huge congeries of phenomena, the manifestations of some simple and primitive qualities, which were hid from us by the complexity of the things themselves. The world was a vast labyrinth, amid the windings of which we require some clue or thread whereby we may track our way to knowledge and thence to power. This thread, the filum labyrinthi, is the new method of induction. But, as has been frequently pointed out, the new method could not be applied until facts had been observed and collected. This is an indispensable preliminary. "Man, the servant and interpreter of nature, can do and understand so much, and so much only, as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature; beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything." The proposition that our knowledge of nature necessarily begins with observation and experience, is common to Bacon and many contemporary reformers of science, but he laid peculiar stress upon it, and gave it a new meaning. What he really meant by observation was a competent natural history or collection of facts. "The firm foundations of a purer natural | philosophy are laid in natural history." "First of all we must prepare a natural and experimental history, sufficient and good; and this is the foundation of all." The senses and the memory, which collect and store up facts, must be assisted; there must be a ministration of the senses and another of the memory. For not only are instances required, but these must be arranged in such a manner as not to distract or confuse the mind, i.e. tables and arrangements of instances must be constructed. In the preliminary collection the greatest care must be taken that the mind be absolutely free from preconceived ideas; nature is only to be conquered by obedience; man must be merely receptive. "All depends on keeping the eye steadily fixed upon the facts of nature, and so receiving their images simply as they are; for God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world; rather may He graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on his creatures." Concealed among the facts presented to sense are the causes or forms, and the problem therefore is so to analyse experience, so to break it up into pieces, that we shall with certainty and mechanical ease arrive at a true conclusion. This process, which forms the essence of the new method, may in its entirety, as a ministration to the reason, be called a logic; but it differs widely from the ordinary or school logic in end, method and form. Its aim is to acquire command over nature by knowledge, and to invent new arts, whereas the old logic strove only after dialectic victories and the 1 Thus the last step in the theoretical analysis gives the first means for the practical operation. Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. iii. 3. 12, Tò ἔσχατον ἐν τῇ ἀναλύσει πρῶτον εἶναι ἐν τῇ γενέσει. Cf. also Nov. Org. i. 103. Cogitationes (Works, iii. 187). N. O. ii. 10. "Pref. to Instaur. Cf. Valerius Term. (Works, iii, 224), and N. O. i. 68. 124. 'Pref. to Inst.

discovery of new arguments. In method the difference is even more fundamental. Hitherto the mode of demonstration had been by the syllogism; but the syllogism is, in many respects, an incompetent weapon. It is compelled to accept its first principles on trust from the science in which it is employed; it cannot cope with the subtlety of nature; and it is radically vitiated by being founded on hastily and inaccurately abstracted notions of things. For a syllogism consists of propositions, propositions of words, and words are the symbols of notions. Now the first step in accurate progress from sense to reason, or true philosophy, is to frame a bona notio or accurate conception of the thing; but the received logic never does this. It flies off at once from experience and particulars to the highest and most general propositions, and from these descends, by the use of middle terms, to axioms of lower generality. Such a mode of procedure may be called anticipatio naturae (for in it reason is allowed to prescribe to things), and is opposed to the true method, the interpretatio naturae, in which reason follows and obeys nature, discovering her secrets by obedience and submission to rule. Lastly, the very form of induction that has been used by logicians in the collection of their instances is a weak and useless thing. It is a mere enumeration of a few known facts, makes no use of exclusions or rejections, concludes precariously, and is always liable to be overthrown by a negative instance. In radical opposition to this method the Baconian induction begins by supplying helps and guides to the senses, whose unassisted information could not be relied on. Notions were formed carefully, and not till after a certain process of induction was completed. The formation of axioms was to be carried on by a gradually ascending scale. "Then and only then may we hope well of the sciences, when in a just scale of ascent-and by successive steps, not interrupted or broken, we rise from particulars to lesser axioms; and then to middle axioms, one above the other; and last of all to the most general." Finally the very form of induction itself must be new. "The induction which is to be available for the discovery and demonstration of sciences and arts must analyse nature by proper rejections and exclusions; and then, after a sufficient number of negatives, come to a conclusion on the affirmative instances, which has not yet been done, or even attempted, save only by Plato.' . . . And this induction must be used not only to discover axioms, but also in the formation of notions."10 This view of the function of exclusion is closely connected with Bacon's doctrine of forms,

Bacon's summary is valuable." In the whole of the process which leads from the senses and objects to axioms and conclusions, the demonstrations which we use are deceptive and incompetent. The process consists of four parts, and has as many faults. In the first place, the impressions of the sense itself are faulty, for the sense both fails us and deceives us. But its shortcomings are to be supplied and its deceptions to be corrected. Secondly, notions are all drawn from the impressions of the sense, and are indefinite and confused, whereas they should be definite and distinctly bounded. Thirdly, the induction is amiss which infers the principles of sciences by simple enumeration, and does not, as it ought, employ exclusions and solutions (or separations) of nature. Lastly, that method of discovery and proof according to which the most general principles are first established, and then intermediate axioms are tried and proved by them, is the parent of error and the curse of all science."N. O. i. 69.

7 N. O. i. 105.


Ibid. i. 104; cf. i. 19-26. This extract gives an answer to the objection sometimes raised that Bacon is not original in his theory of induction. He certainly admits that Plato has used a method somewhat akin to his own; but it has frequently been contended that his induction is nothing more than the raywyn of Aristotle (see Rémusat's Bacon, &c., pp. 310-315, and for a criticism, Waddington, Essais de Logique, p. 261. sqq.) This seems a mistake. Bacon did not understand by induction the argument from particulars to a general proposition; he looked upon the exclusion and rejection, or upon elimination, as the essence of induction. To this process he was led by his doctrine of forms, of which it is the necessary consequence; it is the infallible result of his view of science and its problem, and is as original as that is. Whoever accepts Bacon's doctrine of cause must accept at the same time his theory of the way in which the cause may be sifted out from among the phenomena. It is evident that the Socratic search for the essence by an analysis of instances-an induction ending in a definition-has a strong resemblance to the Baconian inductive method. 10 N. O. i. 105.

and is in fact dependent upon that theory. But induction is | On the other heads we have but a few scattered hints. But neither the whole of the new method, nor is it applicable to forms although the rigorous requirements of science could only be only. There are two other grand objects of inquiry: the one, fulfilled by the employment of all these means, yet in their the transformation of concrete bodies; the other, the investiga- absence it was permissible to draw from the tables and the tion of the latent powers and the latent schematism or configura- exclusion a hypothetical conclusion, the truth of which might tion. With regard to the first, in ultimate result it depends upon be verified by the use of the other processes; such an the theory of forms; for whenever the compound body can be hypothesis is called fantastically the First Vintage (Vindemiatio). regarded as the sum of certain simple natures, then our know- The inductive method, so far as exhibited in the Organum, is ledge of the forms of these natures gives us the power of super-exemplified by an investigation into the nature of heat. inducing a new nature on the concrete body. As regards the latent process (latens processus) which goes on in all cases of generation and continuous development or motion, we examine carefully, and by quantitative measurements, the gradual growth and change from the first elements to the completed thing. The same kind of investigation may be extended to many cases of natural motion, such as voluntary action or nutrition; and though inquiry is here directed towards concrete bodies, and does not therefore penetrate so deeply into reality as in research for forms, yet great results may be looked for with more confidence. It is to be regretted that Bacon did not complete this portion of his work, in which for the first time he approaches modern conceptions of change. The latent configuration (latens schematismus) or inward structure of the parts of a body must be known before we can hope to superinduce a new nature upon it. This can only be discovered by analysis, which will disclose the ultimate constituents (natural particles, not atoms) of bodies, and lead back the discussion to forms or simple natures, whereby alone can true light be thrown on these obscure questions. Thus, in all cases, scientific explanation depends upon knowledge of forms; all phenomena or secondary qualities are accounted for by being referred to the primary qualities of matter.

The several steps in the inductive investigation of the form of any nature flow readily from the definition of the form itself. For that is always and necessarily present when the nature is present, absent when it is absent, decreases and increases according as the nature decreases and increases. It is therefore requisite for the inquiry to have before us instances in which the nature is present. The list of these is called the table of Essence and Presence. Secondly, we must have instances in which the nature is absent; only as such cases might be infinite, attention should be limited to such of them as are most akin to the instances of presence. The list in this case is called table of Absence in Proximity. Thirdly, we must have a number of instances in which the nature is present in different degrees, either increasing or decreasing in the same subject, or variously present in different subjects. This is the table of Degrees, or Comparison. After the formation of these tables, we proceed to apply what is perhaps the most valuable part of the Baconian method, and that in which the author took most pride, the process of exclusion or rejection. This elimination of the non-essential, grounded on the fundamental propositions with regard to forms, is the most important of Bacon's contributions to the logic of induction, and that in which, as he repeatedly says, his method differs from all previous philosophies. It is evident that if the tables were complete, and our notions of the respective phenomena clear, the process of exclusion would be a merely mechanical counting out, and would infallibly lead to the detection of the cause or form. But it is just as evident that these conditions can never be adequately fulfilled. Bacon saw that his method was impracticable (though he seems to have thought the difficulties not insuperable), and therefore set to work to devise new helps, adminicula. These he enumerates in ii., Aph. 21:-Prerogative Instances, Supports of Induction, Rectification of Induction, Varying the Investigation according to the Nature of the Subject, Prerogative Natures, Limits of Investigation, Application to Practice, Preparations for Investigation, the Ascending and Descending Scale of Axioms. The remainder of the Organum is devoted to a consideration of the twenty-seven classes of Prerogative Instances, and though it contains much that is both luminous and helpful, it adds little to our knowledge of what constitutes the Baconian method.

That is to say, differing in nothing save the absence of the nature under investigation.

Such was the method devised by Bacon, and to which he ascribed the qualities of absolute certainty and mechanical simplicity. But even supposing that this method were accurate and completely unfolded, it is evident that it could only be made applicable and produce fruit when the phenomena of the universe have been very completely tabulated and arranged. In this demand for a complete natural history, Bacon also felt that he was original, and he was deeply impressed with the necessity for it; in fact, he seems occasionally to place an even higher value upon it than upon his Organum. Thus, in the preface to his series of works forming the third part of the Instauratio, he says: "It comes, therefore, to this, that my Organum, even if it were completed, would not without the Natural History much advance the Instauration of the Sciences, whereas the Natural History without the Organum would advance it not a little." But a complete natural history is evidently a thing impossible, and in fact a history can only be collected by attending to the requirements of the Organum. This was seen by Bacon, and what may be regarded as his final opinion on the question is given in the important letter to Jean Antoine Baranzano' (" Redemptus": 1590-1622):-" With regard to the multitude of instances by which men may be deterred from the attempt, here is my answer. First, what need to dissemble? Either store of instances must be procured, or the business must be given up. All other ways, however enticing, are impassable. Secondly, the prerogatives of instances, and the mode of experimenting upon experiments of light (which I shall hereafter explain), will diminish the multitude of them very much. Thirdly, what matter, I ask, if the description of the instances should fill six times as many volumes as Pliny's History? . . . For the true natural history is to take nothing except instances, connections, observations and canons." $ The Organum and the History are thus correlative, and form the two equally necessary sides of a true philosophy; by their union the new philosophy is produced.

[ocr errors]

Summary. Two questions may be put to any doctrine which professes to effect a radical change in philosophy or science. Is it original? Is it valuable? With regard to the first, it has been already pointed out that Bacon's induction or inductive method is distinctly his own, though it cannot and need not be maintained that the general spirit of his philosophy was entirely new.

The value of the method is the separate and more difficult question It has been assailed on the most opposite grounds. Macaulay, while admitting the accuracy of the process, denied its efficiency, on the ground that an operation performed naturally was not rendered more easy or efficacious by being subjected to analysis. This objection is curious when confronted with Bacon's reiterated assertion that the natural method pursued by the unassisted human reason is distinctly opposed to his; and it is besides an argument that tells so strongly against many sciences, as to be comparatively worthless when applied to any one. There are, however, more formidable objections against the method. It has been pointed out, and with perfect justice, Distrib. Op. (Works, iv. 28); Parasceve (ibid. 251, 252, 255-256); Descrip. Glob. Intel. ch. 3.

3 Works, ii. 16; cf. N. O. i. 130.

A Barnabite monk, professor of mathematics and philosophy at Annecy.

Letters and Life, vii. 377.

For a full discussion of Bacon's relation to his predecessors and contemporaries, see Fowler's N. O. introd. § 13. 7 Cf. what Bacon says, N. O. i. 130.

Brewster, Life of Newton (1855) (see particularly vol. ii. 403, 405); Lasson, Über Bacon von Verulam's wissenschaftliche Principien

that science in its progress has not followed the Baconian method, | nected system the new mode of thinking, and to the incomparable that no one discovery can be pointed to which can be definitely power and eloquence with which he expounded and enforced it. ascribed to the use of his rules, and that men the most celebrated Like all epoch-making works, the Novum Organum gave exfor their scientific acquirements, while paying homage to the pression to ideas which were already beginning to be in the air. name of Bacon, practically set at naught his most cherished The time was ripe for a great change; scholasticism, long precepts. The reason of this is not far to seek, and has been decaying, had begun to fall; the authority not only of school pointed out by logicians of the most diametrically opposed doctrines but of the church had been discarded; while here and schools. The mechanical character both of the natural history there a few devoted experimenters were turning with fresh zeal and of the logical method applied to it, resulted necessarily from to the unwithered face of nature. The fruitful thoughts which Bacon's radically false conception of the nature of cause and of lay under and gave rise to these scattered efforts of the human the causal relation. The whole logical or scientific problem is mind, were gathered up into unity, and reduced to system in treated as if it were one of co-existence, to which in truth the the new philosophy of Bacon. It is assuredly little matter for method of exclusion is scarcely applicable, and the assumption wonder that this philosophy should contain much that is now is constantly made that each phenomenon has one and only one inapplicable, and that in many respects it should be vitiated cause. The inductive formation of axioms by a gradually by radical errors. The details of the logical method on which ascending scale is a route which no science has ever followed, its author laid the greatest stress have not been found of practical and by which no science could ever make progress. The true service; yet the fundamental ideas on which the theory rested, scientific procedure is by hypothesis followed up and tested the need for rejecting rash generalization, and the necessity for by verification; the most powerful instrument is the deductive a critical analysis of experience, are as true and valuable now as method, which Bacon can hardly be said to have recognized. they were then. Progress in scientific discovery is made mainly, The power of framing hypothesis points to another want in the if not solely, by the employment of hypothesis, and for that no Baconian doctrine. If that power form part of the true method, code of rules can be laid down such as Bacon had devised. Yet then the mind is not wholly passive or recipient; it anticipates the framing of hypothesis is no mere random guesswork; it is nature, and moulds the experience received by it in accordance left not to the imagination alone, but to the scientific imagination. with its own constructive ideas or conceptions; and yet further, There is required in the process not merely a preliminary critical the minds of various investigators can never be reduced to the induction, but a subsequent experimental comparison, verificasame dead mechanical level. There will still be room for the tion or proof, the canons of which can be laid down with scientific use of the imagination and for the creative flashes of precision. To formulate and show grounds for these laws is genius.3 to construct a philosophy of induction, and it must not be forgotten that the first step towards the accomplishment of the task was made by Bacon when he introduced and gave prominence to the powerful logical instrument of exclusion or elimination.

the Sylva Sylvarum, entirely ignoring what Bacon himself has said of the nature of that work (N. O. i. 117; cf. Rawley's Pref. to the S. S.), and thus putting a false interpretation on the experiments there noted. It is not surprising that he should detect many flaws, but he never fails to exaggerate an error, and seems sometimes completely to miss the point of what Bacon says. (See particularly his remarks on S. S. 33, 336.) The method he explains in such a way as to show he has not a glimpse of its true nature. He brings against Bacon, of all men, the accusations of making induction start from the undetermined perceptions of the senses, of using imagination, and of putting a quite arbitrary interpretation on phenomena. He crowns his criticism by expounding what he considers to be the true scientific method, which, as has been pointed out by Fischer, is simply that Baconian doctrine against which his attack ought to have been directed. (See his account of the method, Über Bacon, 47-49: K. Fischer, Bacon, pp. 499-502.)

If, then; Bacon himself made no contributions to science, if no discovery can be shown to be due to the use of his rules, if his method be logically defective, and the problem to which it was applied one from its nature incapable of adequate solution, it may not unreasonably be asked, How has he come to be looked It is curious and significant that in the domain of the moral upon as the great leader in the reformation of modern science? and metaphysical sciences his influence has been perhaps more How is it that he shares with Descartes the honour of inaugurat-powerful, and his authority has been more frequently appealed ing modern philosophy? To this the true answer seems to be to, than in that of the physical. This is due, not so much to his that Bacon owes his position not only to the general spirit of his expressed opinion that the inductive method was applicable to philosophy, but to the manner in which he worked into a con- all the sciences, as to the generally practical, or, one may say, (1860); Licbig, Über Francis Bacon von Verulam, &c. (1863). Vindemiatio has been already pointed out; with regard to axioms, Although Licbig points out how little science proceeds according he says (N. O. i. 106), “In establishing axioms by this kind of into Bacon's rules, yet his other criticisms seem of extremely little duction, we must also examine and try whether the axiom so estab value. In a very offensive and quite unjustifiable tone, which is lished be framed to the measure of these particulars, from which it severely commented on by Sigwart and Fischer, he attacks the is derived, or whether it be larger or wider. And if it be larger and Baconian methods and its results. These results he claims to find in wider, we must observe whether, by indicating to us new particulars, it confirm that wideness and largeness as by a collateral security, that we may not either stick fast in things already known, or loosely grasp at shadows and abstract forms, not at things solid and realized in matter." (Cf. also the passage from Valerius Terminus, quoted in Ellis's note on the above aphorism.) Of the syllogism he says, "I do not propose to give up the syllogism altogether. S. is incompetent for the principal things rather than useless for the generality. In the mathematics there is no reason why it should not be employed. It is the flux of matter and the inconstancy of the physical body which requires induction, that thereby it may be fixed as it were, and allow the formation of notions well defined. In physics you wisely note, and therein I agree with you, that after the notions of the first class and the axioms concerning them have been by induction well made out and defined, syllogism may be applied safely; only it must be restrained from leaping at once to the most general notions, and progress must be made through a fit succession of steps."("Letter to Baranzano," Letters and Life, vii. 377). And with this may be compared what he says of mathematics (Nov. Org. ii. 8; Parasceve, vii.). In his account of Experientia Literata (De Aug. v. 2) he comes very near to the modern mode of experimental research. It is, he says, the procedure from one experiment to another, and it is not a science but an art or learned sagacity (resembling in this Aristotle's ȧyxivota), which may, however, be enlightened by the precepts of the Interpretatio. Eight varieties of such experiments are enumerated, and a comparison is drawn between this and the inductive method; "though the rational method of inquiry by the Organon promises far greater things in the end, yet this sagacity, proceeding by learned experience, will in the meantime present mankind with a number of inventions which lie near at hand." (Cf. N. O. i. 103.)

Mill, Logic, ii. pp. 115, 116, 329, 330. Whewell, Phil. of Ind. Sc. ii. 399, 402-403; Ellis, Int. to Bacon's Works, i. 39, 61; Brewster, Newton, ii. 404; Jevons, Princ. of Science ii. 220. A severe judgment on Bacon's method is given in Dühring's able but one-sided Kritische Gesch. d. Phil., in which the merits of Roger Bacon are brought prominently forward.

Although it must be admitted that the Baconian method is fairly open to the above-mentioned objections, it is curious and significant that Bacon was not thoroughly ignorant of them, but with deliberate consciousness preferred his own method. We do not think, indeed, that the notiones of which he speaks in any way correspond to what Whewell and Ellis would call "conceptions or ideas furnished by the mind of the thinker "; nor do we imagine that Bacon would have admitted these as necessary elements in the inductive process. But he was certainly not ignorant of what may be called a deductive method, and of a kind of hypothesis. This is clear from the use he makes of the Vindemiatio, from certain hints as to the testing of axioms, from his admission of the syllogism into physical reasoning, and from what he calls Experientia Literata. The function of the

See the vigorous passage in Herschel, Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, § 105; cf. § 96 of the same work.

Bacon himself seems to anticipate that the progress of science would of itself render his method antiquated (Nov. Org. i. 130).

Nov. Org. i. 127.

« PreviousContinue »