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explanation of the true causes of the rainbow; but, so modern is the true scientific spirit, that no one, so far as is known, had, previously to Bacon's great contemporary Galileo, ever correctly observed the simple phenomena of a falling body; and it is interesting to remark, that it was Galileo's discovery,' viz., that the velocity and the space traversed are proportioned, the one to the time and the other to its square, that paved the way for the grander discovery of gravitation by Sir Isaac Newton.
But Bacon shad thought a good deal about philosophy, such as it then was, for, he observes : We must speak out plainly and declare that our philosophy, which we have derived principally from the Greeks, seems to be but a childhood of knowledge, apt for idle talk, but immature for generating anything: of controversies, rank and fertile, but of works barren and fruitless.'? This opinion, by the way, of the practical worthlessness of the Greek Philosophy was not new, and perhaps even now it is not old. There may be some still ready to concur with Cicero' in thinking that a single page of a Roman Jurist contains more solid and exact matter than whole libraries of the works of
1 Whewell's list. of the Inductive Sciences, vol. ii. p. 32, 2nd ed., “Inductivo epoch of Galileo.'
Instauratio Magna. Præfatio. 3. • Dicam quod sentio : bibliothecas omnium philosophorum unus mihi videtur xii, tabularum libellus, si quis legum fontes et capita viderit, et auctoritatis pondere et utilitatis ubertate, superare.'-Cic. De Oratore, i. 44.
4 Sparks from all the sciences are raked together in the ashes of the law.'-Law, or a Discourse thereof, by Sir Henry Finch, Knight, His Majesty's Sorjeant-at-Law, book i. chap. iii., IIenry Lintot, 1759.
Greek philosophers, who are elsewhere alluded to by Bacon as “idle old men talking to ignorant young ones.'?
The leading idea of the inductive philosophy is based upon the scientific discovery of the uniformity of the law or operations of nature-that is to say-whatever has once happened will, under absolutely similar circumstances, always happen again. . · The inductive idea itself,3 in its elementary form of expression, is simply this: when a limited number of
Dr. Whewell •On the Influence of Science upon Intellectual Education,' a lecture, Modern Culture, Macmillan, 1867.
2 Nov. Org., lib. i. aph. 71. Of the Greeks generally, Bacon cites approvingly the judgment of the Egyptian Priest,'quod semper pueri essent; neque haberent antiquitatem scientiæ, aut scientiam antiquitatis.' Of the two philosophical chiefs of classical antiquity, Plato and Aristotle, Bacon's opinions were discriminative and decided. Both had, he declared, been instrumental in the corruption of science: 'Naturalis philosophia adhuc sincera non invenitur, sed infecta et corrupta : in Aristotelis schola per logicam; in Platonis schola per theologiam naturalem. (Nov. Org., i. 96.) Bacon seems to have considered Plato the greater genius of the two; but, between the method of the great idealist of antiquity, and the great realist of modern times, there was a marked diversity. Bacon, from investigation of natural phenomena, seeking to derive a law; Plato, by the abstraction of mental phenomena, to derive an idea. The Baconian method leads to a world of facts, verified as a transcript of the natural world; the Platonic method to a world of ideas, believed to be the original world itself. Bacon opposes the wisdom of words with the knowledge of things; reproaching Aristotle with resolving reality into categories by means of dialectics, Plato with the conversion of reality into forms through the imagination. See the subject ably treated in Dr. Fischer's Francis Bacon of Verulam, &c., Longmans, 1857.
3 Baden Powell's Unity of Worlds, chap. i., The Inductive Principle;' and Hallam's Literaturc of Europe, vol. ii. p. 399, 4th ed., 1854.
Badense, Longmang.ed in Dr. *
particular instances have been accurately examined by means of observation and experiment, the mind infers, from the uniformity of natural law, on the ground of analogy, that all instances of the kind in question are similar to those that have been so examined, and thereby a general truth is gathered from particular facts. Bacon's sagacity had led him to perceive that no existing philosophical system or school had grasped this idea as a fundamental verity that must in reality underlie all true philosophical method, and that
nature,' as he observes, is not to be conquered, except by obeying her. That human life, to be happy and virtuous, must be regulated in harmony with, and not in opposition to, Nature's teachings. He points out, in a very striking aphorism, that man's powers are entirely limited to his knowledge of nature—“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 order of nature—more than this, he can neither know nor do.' That such knowledge is only to be acquired by a right use of the reasoning faculties, which must proceed from particulars or observations of nature step by step, ascending from propositions of a limited to those of a larger generality, and only draw inferences strictly deducible from facts,' or those natural phenomena that, through observation and experience, our senses report to us. The first essential step in any inductive enquiry being, to assemble and classify carefully the whole of the facts thus duly derived ; and the second being, rigorously to exclude from such assemblage everything irrelevant or extraneous. He enumerates with singular acumen, under the Latin term idola, a remarkable array of prejudices, misconceptions, fallacios, and illusions, which, arising from certain common weaknesses in human nature, or from the peculiar disposition and circumstances of individuals, or from the current usnge of words, or from false systems of philosophy, or erroneous methods of reasoning, beset and bins the undisciplined mind, clouding the pure light of the understanding, and obstructing its perception of truth ; and he propounds, with the most concise energy and brevity, a variety of rules and axioms for guiding the intellect, assisting the senses, and protecting the practice, so as
| This act of the mind appears simple and obvious in literal statement; but it is exactly that step of the intellectual progress wherein are displayed'invention, sagacity, genius; elements which no art can give? (Whewell's Philos. of the Inductive Sciences, 2nd ed., preface); and all observation which involves mind involves theory. The facts of sense must be idealised.'-Baden Powell, The Inductive Principle.
2 Bacon's Nov. Org., aph. 1 : ‘Homo, naturæ minister et interpres, tantum facit et intelligit, quantum, de naturæ ordine, re vel mente observaverit; nec amplius scit aut potest.' '
T of the doctrines promulgated by Bacon, none has more completely remained with us as a stable and valuable truth than his declaration that true knowledge is to be obtained from fhote by induction.'—Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, pretioc, 2nd ed.
Sir J. IIerschel's Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, chap. ii., 'On the annlysis of phenomona;' chap. vi., 'Of the first stage of Induction.'— Bacon, Nov. Org., lib. i., aph. 19, 22, 24.
3 Nov. Org., lib. i., aph. 39-44. The precise English definition of idola, ciowda, as used by Bacon, is the subject of critical controversy.--IIallam's Lit. of Europe, vol. ii. p. 410, 4th ed., 1854; Bacon, his Writings and his Philosophy, by G. L. Craik, vol. ii. p. 158, C. Knight, 1816.
to exclude or eliminate the various sources of error, in the observation, or interrogation by experiment (that is, experience artificially modified), of natural appearances, or in drawing deductions therefrom. He declares that the chief end of the philosophy he is expounding is utility, or fruit, as he phrases it, and the improvement of man's curthly condition;' under standing by utility no mere narrow, sellish, or material gratification, but everything which, according to the discovered constitution of our nature, we can require for its elevation, development, or dignity; all, in short, that tends to make life more really enjoyable.' So that the inductive philosophy may be regarded practically as a method of inference by which the principles of knowledge are united to the principles of conduct, and the truths of science become transformed into a philosophy whose main object is to supply some connecting link between progressive scientific discovery, and the ordinary course of our daily human existence,
It is observable that Bacon discards from his philosophical system altogether Theology; on the ground, als he states to King James,' that if he tronts of it, he shall have to step out of the bark of human ronson and enter into the ship of the Church, which is only able by the Divine compass to rightly direct its course', and
| De Dig. et Aug., lib. vii., chap. i. ; Nov. Org., lib. i., aph. 81.
Soo the full meaning of 'utility' explained in J. S. Mill's Utilitarianism, Parkor & Son, 1803.
3 Do Dig. et Aug., lib. ix., 'ad regem suum,' cap. i.; and Nov. Ory., lib. i., aph. 68 : 'At corruptio Philosophix ox superstitione et theologia admista. .... plurimum mali infort. . . . l'oasima onim ros ost orrorum apotheosin.'