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reflected. This is true; but as long as men are men, and not angels, there will be idola tribus and idola specus, idola fori and idola theatri; and all that we poor mortals can ever expect to bring to bear on Inductive Inquiry is „mens sana in corpore sano“. In analyzing the theory of Induction, Bacon was merely telling men to do what they were actually doing and ever will do; some with more, others with less success. Bacon himself belonged to those who used the instrument (vera inductio) with little or no success; for his instantiae in Book II, of the Novum Organum must be considered abortive attempts to carry into practice his theory of Induction.
Bacon was devoid of the genius of discovery -- his purely scientific works are only read for curiosity's sake and are utterly useless in the history of empirical science. His wondrous explanations of natural phenomena as contained in his Sylva Sylvarum, Historia Vitae et Mortis and the second Book of the Novum Organum are, for the most part, preconceived and arbitrary notions, and not the results of sound induction, of a happy combination of ideas flowing from a quick and lively imagination, without which the closest observation can afford no scientific acquisitions. The fact of the matter is that Bacon, in spite of his reformatory ardour, stuck deep in Scholastic modes of thought. He slights the scientific facts and discoveries which others announced; he refuses to believe in them, and is very much disposed to consider them crotchets and oddities of an overheated brain. Thus with reference to Galilei, he writes to his friend Mathews, at that time in Italy: „I wish you would desire the astronomers of Italy to amuse us less than they do with their fabulous and foolish traditions, and come nearer to the experiment of sense.“ 4) Gilbert, the real founder of Experimental Science in England, to whom posterity owes so much for his discoveries in electricity and magnetism, was not understood by Bacon; his experiments, which bear the stamp of an eminently inductive mind, were treated by Bacon as trivialities, more appropriate to distort and corrupt our knowledge than to contribute anything to its advancement. Thus he remarks: Chemicorum genus, ex paucis experimentis fornacis, philosophiam constituerant phantasticam, et ad pauca speculantem: quin etiam Gilbertus, postquam in contemplationibus magnetis se laboriosissime exercuisset, confinxit statim philosophiam consentaneam rei apud ipsum praepollenti“.5) Copernicus was in Bacon's eyes one of those swindlers and impostors of whom he would have rid the Realm
4) Works, Lett. No. 174. 5) Nov. Org. Lib. I. 54.
of Science, one of those men ,,qui quidvis in naturam fingere, modo calculi bene cedant, nihili putet“. 6)
We do not think that, had Bacon not intervened, the progress of the Inductive Sciences would have been very sensibly retarded. Before his time the process of Induction had heen employed in physical research and crowned with the most signal successes. Galilei, whose works abound in inductive reasoning, had invented instruments indispensable to the study of natural philosophy, had discovered the satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, proved the diurnal motion of the earth, calculated the fall of bodies, and prepared the way to the theory of gravitation. Stevin (1595) had discovered the laws regulating the motion and equilibrium of fluids. With Ubaldi (1574) he developed the principles of the lever and inclined plane, thus bringing to light physical laws, of the existence of which no one since the days of Archimedes had the faintest idea. Harriot (1606) had made important discoveries in optics. He explained the theory of refraction, the colours of the rainbow and was the first to observe the solar spots. Gilbert (1603) discovered that electrical phenomena were common to all bodies, and was the first to draw attention to electrical attraction and repulsion. He distinguishes two magnetic poles, and proves the earth to be a huge magnet. He defends and justifies Copernicus in assuming a heliocentric motion of the earth, and ventures to ascribe this motion to a magnetic influence of the sun upon the earth, thus anticipating the laws of Universal Attraction. ) Above all Descartes, whose labours were contemporary with those of Bacon, though his writings appeared somewhat later, by far supersedes Bacon in point of inductive conception, and in the use of experiment in scientific research. Whereas Bacon in all positive inquiry cannot divest himself of Scholastic reminiscences, attributing to natural substances the most singular and inappropriate qualities, as sympathies, antipathies, desires, abhorrences &c. from which he attemps to deduce the forms of matter, Descartes assumes a few fundamental principles as Matter, Volume and Motion, and from these simple elements of construction, builds up with mathematical exactitude the pile of the material world. Compared with the clear and rigid reasoning of Descartes, Bacon's positive attempts to explain Nature are complete failures. It must indeed be conceded that he was strongly imbued with the spirit of scepticism and innovation,
6) Descrip. Globi intellectualis. Cap. VI.
7) See Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences. Vol. I. Introduction to the Period of Galilei.
that his works, especially in England, were of immense service in overthrowing the last strongholds of Scholastic Learning; but when he attempted to produce anything of his own creation, he most pitifully failed; for he could only rebuild what he had just been demolishing. Entangled as he unconsciously was in the meshes of the Schools, he could not avoid falling into the very errors he was combatting in his opponents.
Besides, his official duties, with which he was often overburdened, could not allow him to devote himself with perseverance to scientific pursuits, and to observe Nature with that patience and purity of intention, by which alone results tending to the development of empirical knowledge are to be obtained. The vast work projected by him, a complete Instauration of the Sciences, precluded, at the very outset, all possibility of attaining any satisfactory positive results. In the empirical domain every phenomenon, every operation of nature is to be considered as a whole, containing in itself the law or laws by which it is determined. Is the nature of such a law established for one case, it is established for all analagous cases, and true Induction according to the definition of Liebig consists, not so much in drawing general conclusious from a knowledge of particular phenomena, i. e., in reasoning from the known to the unknown, as in detecting among a great number of individual cases a principle common to all.) But the observation of particular phenomena requires much time and patience; and in no department, perhaps, is a minute division of labour more requisite than in the study of Natural Science; so that we can easily -understand why Bacon, who (although his time was almost wholly engrossed by political affairs) had made „all knowledge his province“, could make no positive additions to science.
But while admitting with Harvey that Bacon wrote philosophy like a Lord Chancellor, or accepting Hallam's reproach of his want of sagacity in studying the world of Nature, or Liebig's comparison with the gay parrot which, with fettered feet and pinioned wings, holds long lectures to his imprisoned brethren on the nasty quality of their food and drink, compared with the goodly fare of wood and field, while he himself, poor fellow, is obliged to shift on the few grains which fall from the cages of his hearers; we think it would be hardly fair to deny that Bacon, fettererd as he was, contributed largely, though indirectly, to the Advancement of Learning. We think that there is no one who takes the trouble of reading his
8) Liebig, Reden und Abhandlungen. Baco v. Verulam.
chapters de Augmentis Scientiarum, or the first book of his Novum Organum, but will attach to his name the idea of greatness. The richness of diction, with which he here pleads the cause of learning and vindicates its dignity, is inimitable, and we are sure that his eloquent passages will, to the remotest ages make a profound impression on the student of Nature, will fill him with admiration and gratitude.
To be sure he did not possess the scientific cultivation of Galilei; nor was he endowed with the Italian's energy and penetration; yet the general tendency of his philosophy took the same direction, and had the same object in view. He wished to establish science on a solid basis, on the basis of pure experience (mera experentia), and spared neither advice, nor rule, nor exhortation, to show the necessity of proceeding inductively in inquiring into the principles which regulate the processes of Nature. Not the Prime Mover or the Universal Spirit is to be cited as the immediate cause of the movement and form of matter; these are to be sought for in the code of Nature's Laws. In recommending his system of inquiry he cautions his hearers to abstain from those metaphysical speculations by which Natural Philosophy had been vitiated; he distinctly and expressly desires men of Science to beware of that hobby-horse of the ancients, the consideration of Final Causes. Those have nothing to do with physical research, they are to be banished from it, and assigned a place in their proper sphere, in what he terms the philosophia prima, or Metaphysics. By this expulsion of the Final Causes from the domain of Physics, a serious element of strife and discord has been removed, and Science is now allowed to pursue its course undisturbed by theological disputes, metaphysical dreams or superstitious traditions.
Bacon may be considered, at least in his own country, the prophet, the herold of Experimental Science. If he could find no place in the laboratory or observatory, he was, by his eloquent appeals, able to stimulate men to the study of Nature and to the discovery of Truth. If he himself could not perform experiments, yet he was able to furnish men with powerful inducements to perform them correctly. He was able to perceive the false ways of Science, and spoke a powerful word in favour of a regeneration. In the age and country in which he lived, it required a certain boldness and energy of purpose to speak disparagingly of the existing state of knowledge and of its future Dignity and Advancement. His age was, humanistically speaking, a very learned age, an age jealous of its Greek and Latin learning, and little disposed to consider its
acquirements capable of reform or improvement. It was, therefore, no easy matter for him, who was so well acquainted with this antique learning, to turn round and preach about its defects, and tell men
there were more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in their philosophy". In our days we should consider this a useless loss of time and trouble, but in Bacon's time it was quite another thing. In many countries of Europe the rack and stake were in readiness to convince men of their philosophical aberrations, and we know what Galilei, Bruno, Ramus and several others suffered for being wiser than their fellow-men. Certainly Bacon was in little danger of being put down by such argumenta ad hominem ; still it required even in England no small amount of courage to lay bare the „Discredits and Disgraces which Learning had suffered from ignorance disguised in various forms: „In the zeal and jealousy of divines, in the severity and arrogancy of politicians, and above all in the errors and imperfections of learned men in general“. These he reproaches with studying words not matter, with following speculations of unprofitable subtlety or curiosity, with a strong inclination to deceive and an aptness to be deceived. He condemns alike all ostentatious affectations for antiquity and unreasonable haste in accepting novelty. He condemns the prevailing diffidence among men as to the possibility of effecting new discoveries and inventions, the strong prepossessions that old opinions are the best, the premature reduction of knowledge to fixed and invariable systems, the too great reverence of the mind for authority, and the greatest error of all, the mistaking and misplacing of the true and final end of all Science. „Omnium autem gravissimus error in deviatione ab ultimo doctrinarum fine consistit. Appetunt enim homines scientiam, alii ex insita curiositate et irrequieta; alii animi causa et delectationis; alii existimationis gratia; alii contentionis ergo, atque ut in disserendo superiores sint; plerique propter lucrum et victum; paucissimi, ut donum rationis divinitus datum in usus humani generis impendant. Plane, quasi in doctrina quaereretur lectulus, in quo tumultuans ingenium et aestuans requiesceret; aut xystus sive porticus, in quo animus deambularet liber et vagus; aut turris alta et edita, de qua mens ambitiosa et superba despectaret; aut arx et propugnaculuni ad contentiones et proelia; aut officina ad quaestum et mercatum: et non potius locuples armarium, et gazophylacium, ad Opificis rerum omnium gloriam, et vitae humanae subsidium“.?)
9) De augmentis Lib. I.