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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, fallacies, and illusions, which, arising from certain common weaknesses in human nature, or from the peculiar disposition and circumstances of individuals, or from the current usage of words, or from false systems of philosophy, or erroneous methods of reasoning, beset and bias 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
1. 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 facts by induction.'—Whewell's Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, preface, 2nd ed.
2 Sir J. Herschel's Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, chap. ii., 'On the analysis of phenomena;' 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, ciòwla, as used by Bacon, is the subject of critical controversy.—Hallam'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, 1846.
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 earthly condition ;l understanding by utility no mere narrow, selfish, 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, as he states to King James, that if he treats of it, he shall have to step out of the bark of human reason 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.
2 See the full meaning of utility' explained in J. S. Mill's Utilitarianism, Parker & Son, 1863.
3 De Dig. et Aug., lib. ix., 'ad regem suum, cap. i.; and Nov. Org., lib. i., aph. 65 : 'At corruptio Philosophiæ ex superstitione et theologia admista.. : . plurimum mali infert. .. Pessima enim res est erroruin apotheosis.'
it will be as well therefore to keep silence on the subject.' But, in truth, the Baconian or inductive method is entirely opposite to the theological, or deductive, method. Induction, resting on an appeal to nature, subordinates ancient principles to modern experience. Deduction, being an appeal to authority, begins, not with experience, but with principles regarded as inscrutable. The deductive reasoner therein assuming the very preliminaries which the inductive enquirer would investigate ; he suspecting that theological premises are probably the result of the inductions of ancient times, and that such inductions periodically need revising in the light of advancing science.2
Such, within the limits my lecture allows me, is a brief outline of the essential principles of the inductive philosophy, as expounded by Lord Bacon. From Bacon's time its influence has spread with a rapidity commensurate with the progress of scientific discovery, producing, amongst other notable examples of inductive investigation, Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding, Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population, and Sir John Herschel's Discourse * on the Study of
1 • The abjuration of human authority is the first principle of Lord Bacon's Philosophy.'-Hallam’s Lit. of Europe, vol. ii. p. 408.
2 One highly distinctive characteristic of the modern inductive philosophy is the principle of unlimited freedom of enquiry, and the rejection of the trammels of authority.'-Baden Powell's Order of Nature, Essay I., sec. 2. • We
may take leave to suggest that the most valuable part of Locke's Psychology, that which has been a lasting addition to knowledge, really was the result of the employment of the inductive method.'-Dr. Maudsley's Physiology and Pathology of the Mind, chap. i. p 25.
4 Lardner's Cyclopædia, Longmans, 1831. Herschel has con
Natural Philosophy. But the wonderful works in which Bacon so eloquently displayed its principles remained, for unrivalled perfection in their own department of thought, almost a solitary monument, until the appearance of a writer—an eminent Frenchman, but recently deceased-to whose philosophy I now proceed to invite your attention.
It may possibly strike some of you as a notion altogether novel, to couple the name of Comte with that of Bacon. At any rate, before I attempt to point out how Comte, designing to build on the foundations which the sagacity of Bacon had laid, has, of all subsequent philosophers, been the one who has most considerably extended and verified the application of the inductive method, I will, to obviate misconception, beg of you to understand that I refer to Comte only as an inductive philosopher, and that by reciting some, I am not to be considered as endorsing the whole, of his opinions. From much that he has written, especially in his later works, I, indeed, entirely dissent; and I
tributed to Lardner a discourse on Natural Philosophy, the finest work of philosophical genius in our age, or perhaps (as I exclude the sciences) the finest since Bacon, who, though the greatest of philosophers, has properly no science. I firmly believe no other man in Europe could have written Herschel's discourse.'Sir J. Mackintosh. See his Life, Moxon, 1835, vol. ii. p. 480.
| The later works of Comte are distinguished from his principal work by the difference of their method. Comte abandoned the objective method upon which his earlier works are founded, and adopted the subjective method. This change of method is severely, but I think, unjustly criticised by E. Littré. He states correctly that . Dans la méthode subjective le point de départ est une conception de l'esprit, qui pose, a priori, comme on dit, un certain principe métaphysique d'où il déduit.' The objective method is
must be permitted to say, I cannot help thinking that the zeal of his disciples, since their master's death, has led them to impart a prominence to such later and unscientific views, which Comte himself, were he living and of sound mind, (we know that unhappily he was not always sane,) would probably be the first to deplore and repudiate. It is, however, to Comte's masterpiece in the French language that I am about to refer, and to which he gave the title • Philosophie positive ;1 a title which has not hitherto, that I am aware of, been adequately translated into English, an omission much to be lamented, for it can hardly be doubted that if the work itself had been introduced to English thought in a manner intelligible and attractive to average Englishmen, a real knowledge of Comte's Philosophy would be far more widely diffused than it is, and the facility for misrepresenting it proportionately diminished: I believe I am accurate in remarking that, speaking critically, we have no such phrase in the English
quite different; there, ‘le point de départ est un résultat d'expérience.'— Auguste Comte, &c., par E. Littré, p. 532.
1 Cours de Philosophie positive, par Auguste Comte, troisième éd. Paris, 1869, 6 vols.
2 This remark applies to the title only. The work itself has been very ably translated, and judiciously condensed and abridged in the process, by Harriet Martineau, 2 vols., Chapman, 1853. This translation has been highly praised by Comte himself, Lettres à Miss Henriette Martineau. Auguste Comte, &c., par E. Littré, chap. xiii., Paris, 1864; by A. S. Farrar, in his Critical History of Free Thought, Murray, 1862; and is used by Dr. Maudsley in his able work on the Physiology and Pathology of the Mind, Macmillan, 1867. My quotations are, for the convenience of English readers, mostly taken from this translation, referring simply to volume and page.