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had slowly attained by the labours into the calm and clear-sighted criof successive generations. If this tic. On the whole, the work will conwere true, it would be, as we have firm and render distinct the vague intimated, nothing short of miracul- impressions which most of us have ous. It would be as if Eclipse not received of the science of Aristotle ; only distanced all competitors in the that it was all that could be expected race, but was gifted with a faculty from mortal man living at the period by which he could reach the goal of Aristotle, but that, regarded from without passing over the interme- our present position, it can have no diate ground. For science is know- value except to those who are curiledge built on knowledge; it is not ous to trace the progress of the an affair of intuition. Neither is a human mind. happy guess, figuring perhaps amidst And indeed it is from this point a crowd of vagrant fancies, to be of view that Mr Lewes invites us dignified with the name of a scien- to the study of the scientific works tific truth. There is no such thing of Aristotle. A mere history of as the anticipation of a discovery, past blunders is the dreariest thing unless the intermediate steps also imaginable. We are too anxious to have been anticipated, by which learn something of real science, and alone it becomes a discovery, or is there is too much on every side to distinguished from a random guess. be learnt, to allow us time for study. Amidst such opposite estimates as ing, merely for their own sake, the these, such unqualified detraction inevitable mistakes and errors of on the one hand, such inordinate the past. And remember that in and impossible praise on the other, science the past error is utterly exMr Lewes offers himself as our tinct-dead beyond all possibility guide. He has given us an analy- of revival. It is otherwise in phi. sis of Aristotle's scientific writings losophy. The old quarrels here are quite ample enough for the pur- always capable of being rekindled. pose at which he aims. Had it Often they are the same disputes been more complete, the patience which agitate the living generation; of the reader would have broken nay, it has happened that a specudown; had it been briefer than it lation in philosophy, after having is, we should have complained that been given over to mere ridicule as materials enough had not been given a flagrant folly of the past, has been for an independent judgment. He revived, and taught, with some mohimself holds the balance with im- difications, as a profound truth. partiality, or, at least, with the evi. We should not wonder if the very dent effort to be impartial. Between age we live in took to the belief in the careless detractor who echoes a the transmigration of souls. When contempt which had become con- souls inhabit the legs of tables, or ventional, and the lover of paradox, creep under chairs and paw us or the pedantic devotee of whatever about the knees, this old fancy of is ancient and whatever is Greek, the East must surely seem a most Mr Lewes steers his middle course. respectable article of faith. There He is, perhaps, more successful, is no folly of this kind that may more completely convincing, when not be revived. But a scientific he combats the exaggerated praise hypothesis, once fairly supplanted, of certain admirers of Aristotle, is extinct for ever; its place can than when he himself becomes eu- know it no more; there, where it logistic. Desirous of assuming the stood, and where alone it could more agreeable attitude of bestowing stand, another growth has occupied praise, he, on two occasions, opens the soil. The transmigration of the chapter with a rather startling souls might be revived to-morrow; note of admiration, but the extracts phlogiston is dead for ever. Philowhich follow hardly support his own sophical speculations are like the eulogium. He gradually relapses clouds of heaven, which may rise to
day and disperse to-morrow, just as them. And Mr Lewes has shown they rose and dispersed a thousand in the present volume that he well yesterdays ago. Science is like the understands the art of mingling totree which grows from the seed, and gether the modern truth of science from a seedling extends its branches and the ancient guess-work, so that into the air, but goes never back by their contrast they may throw into the seed again. To write a light upon each other. Of course, narrative, therefore, of the errors of when we speak of the truth of mothe past, that had no other object dern science, we do not forget that than simply to record such errors, many of our truths may be destined would be the most wearisome and to figure as pardonable errors in the useless of tasks. But, in fact, it is pages of some future historian of not in this barren spirit of narra- science. tive that Mr Lewes, or any philoso- A brief account of the life of phical writer, would invite us to Aristotle naturally precedes the survey the mistakes and tentatives criticism upon his philosophy, or of the past. It is as part of the rather, we should here say, upon history of that living human mind his science. This relates, in a short which is still with us, and is still compass, all, we believe, that is ours, that this narrative of its past known of Aristotle's personal biswanderings becomes valuable. Phlo- tory. As the few facts that bear giston and the like are dead, and the stamp of credibility are familiar let them be buried so far as they to most readers, or at least lie open are individually concerned; but to every one in the pages of biograthat human spirit from which phical dictionaries, we need not science grew is with us still, and repeat them here. But in this our we would study this its faculty of critical age the following list of the growth, and trace the method of its authorities on which all these acprogress. From this point of view counts are founded will be accepta history of scientific errors becomes able. It will be seen how remote a history of the development of we are from anything like contemthe human mind. We highly ap- porary evidence. prove of Mr Lewes's undertaking
" What, then, are the dates, or there. to write what he terms the embry
ne terms the embry- abouts! Aristotle was born B.C. 384. ology of science; nor need we sug Diogenes Laertius, whose narrative is gest to a writer of his tact and dis
the fullest, the best, and the most genecrimination that it would be useless rally followed, was born, at the earliest, to load his pages with a multitude nearly six centuries later -- i. e., A.D. of errors of the same kind. We have 200 ; and it is even supposed that he read histories of medicine where
was as late as Constantine. The next
on our list is Ammonius (if the work be the philosophical lesson which
really his), who comes eight centuries might be learnt from past errors after his hero, in A. D. 460 ; and that was quite lost sight of in the mul these eight centuries have not been protitude of instances given of absurd fitably employed in sifting tradition and hypotheses and miserable nostrums. bringing it nearer to accuracy, may be The attention was fatigued by the gathered from a single detail noticed by
Buhle, that Aristotle is made a pupil of mere enumeration of fantastic spe
Socrates, who died just fifteen years beculations, which were followed, alas!
fore the Stagirite was born. The nearest by very real sufferings to the pa- biographer in point of time is Dionysius tient in the shape of cruel and dis of Halicarnassus (B.C. 50), and this gives gusting remedies. On the other a gap of three centuries; moreover, one hand, there is no more effective meagre page comprises all he has to say. manner of pypounding the latest Hesychius was born A.D. 500, nearly
nine centuries too late; the date of Suitenets or discoveries of science than by a judicious account of the errors than the eleventh century of our era.
das is uncertain, but probably not earlier and mistakes which preceded them, “ These writers contradict each other and which often led the way to on separate points. What means have we for deciding between them? They of the subject, and may be paired off may have had conteniporary documents with this other saying of his, ' A friend as their authorities ; but what guarantee is one soul in two bodies.' When asked have we for the accuracy of these docu. how we should behave towards friends! ments? It is but just three hundred he said, “As we should wish them to beyears since Shakespeare was born; have towards us.'”. throughout this period he has been prized and written about ; compilers One of the last and most conhave done their worst upon this subject; spicuous incidents of his life apyet what do we authentically know of pears to corroborate this impreshis life? Above all, what value do we sion of his affectionate character. attach to the earliest biography, that of When, upon the death of AlexanRowe?"
der, the Macedonian party in Athens What can a modern Englishman lost their power, and Aristotle, who do but accept such of the facts as belonged to this party, was exposed appear to him probable and cohe- to the malice of his enemies, the rent? That Aristotle was, in the worst charge these could bring language of our times, a gentleman against him was, that he had paid of birth and fortune, who, simply divine honours to his wife and to from an ardent love of knowledge, his friend. He had burned the one devoted himself to philosophy; and raised a statue to the other in that, born at Stagira, a town of a too sacred manner, or too sacred northern Greece, situated in what locality - thus infringing on the is now called the Gulf of Contezza, rights and privileges of the gods. he migrated to Athens, the intellec- In liberal and enlightened Athens, tual capital of Greece and of the if a man was to be destroyed, the world, where Plato was then teach- surest way was to represent him as ing; that, after many years of labo- a profane persona despiser of the rious application, his reputation was gods; to accuse him, in fact, of irresuch that it brought an invitation ligion, or heresy of some kind. An from Philip of Macedon to under- incautious or too ambitious testitake the education of the young mony of affection was the impiety Alexander—are facts, we presume, alleged against our philosopher. that we may accept without dis- He retired, we are told, before trust. There is one trait of charac- the coming storm. Mindful of the ter ascribed to Aristotle which we death of Socrates, he refused to hope also we may believe in : this the Athenians a second opportunity great thinker, one of the most in- of disgracing the republic defatigable and powerful of the Mr Lewes opens his criticism on class that has lived upon the earth, the science of Aristotle with the was a tender and warm-hearted following general account of his man, capable of love and of ardent physics :friendship.
“The physical writings of Aristotle “ His health," says Mr Lewes in that still extant are the eight books of general summary of personal details Physics,' the four books *On the which make up for us the picture of a Heavens,' the two books on “Generaman, “was, like that of most ardent tion and Corruption,' with the 'Meteobrain-workers, delicate. He was short rology' and the Mechanical Problems.' and slender in person; he had small The contents of these works very slighteyes and an affected lisp. Somewhat ly correspond with their titles, accordgiven to sarcasm in conversation, he ing to modern conceptions. The sciences made, of course, many enemies. On which we class under the heads of Phy. hearing that some one had vituperated sics and Astronomy are in no sense rehim in his absence, he humorously presented in them. There is no at. said, “If he pleases, he may beat me tempt to sketch the laws of Statics, too-in my absence. His heart was Dynamics, Optics, Acoustics, Thermokind, as was manifest in certain acts, tics, or Electricity. There is nothing and is expressed in this saying, “He beyond metaphysical disquisitions sugwho has many friends has no friends,' gested by certain physical phenomena; which profoundly touches the very core wearisome disputes about motion, space, infinity, and the like; verbal distinc- Aristotle and his contemporaries tions, loose analogies, unhesitating as brought to the study of nature. sumptions, inexpressibly fatiguing and
Men of acute intellect, eager to give unfruitful. They have furnished matter for centuries of idle speculation, but
an explanation of all things, applied few beams of steady light to aid the at once to the phenomena before groping endeavours of science. We them some abstraction or generalcannot say that in every point he is isation ready made in the language altogether wrong—on some points he of daily use. They should have occuwas assuredly right; but these are few, pied themselves, we are apt to say, isolated, without bearing on the rest of
with the collection of facts; they his speculations, and without influence on research. I shall therefore analyse
should have formed generalisations these works much more rapidly and from this careful observation of facts, briefly than the works on Biology" and then proceeded to reason on these
generalisations, verifying their inWe are thus inducted into some of those earlier doctrines, or me- peals to observation and experi
ferences at each step by fresh apthods of thinking upon physical ment. Such is the true method topics, which belong not exclu- of science. But we perceive very sively, indeed, to Aristotle, but to clearly that the generalisations from the age in which he lived. We are which the man of science permits taught the principle of Contraries, himself to reason deductively (beonce a theme of learned disquisi- eause originally formed from caretion throughout Europe
ful induction) were not then in exist“ There are," says Aristotle, “three ence, and could not have been then principles : Matter, Form, and Priva. in existence. Were these men to be tion. In every phenomenon we can dis- silent? If it is said they should tinguish the substance and its form; but have occupied themselves with obas the form can be only one of two con
servation and experiment, the antraries, and as only one of these two can exist at each moment we are forced to swer is at hand : No men ever did. aulmit the existence of a third principle. or could, pursue to advantage a Privation, to account for the contrary train of observation or experiment, which is absent. Thus a man must be unless under the guidance of some either a musician or a non-musician; hypothesis or conjecture. There is he cannot be both at the same time : some guess of their own they seek and that which prevents his being one
to establish, or guess of others they of these is the privation of the form.”
seek to overthrow. Conjecture and Then we have a definition of na- experiment must at all times proture as “the principle of Motion ceed together. These early sages and Rest ;” and of Movements it is were to blame, not so much for what added, that “those are called na- they did, as what they left undone. tural which are self-moved." Fur- They conjectured much and experither on we are told that there are mented little : but it was sometwo great classes of movements, thing to conjecture; the rest of 1. The natural; and, 2. The violent or the world neither observed nor connnnatural. Fire ascends and a stone jectured. descends by natural movement. The false method of the Greek stone may be made to ascend, but philosopher did not consist in any this is owing to violence. Some theoretical neglect of observation. external motor causes it to ascend; He knew the value of a fact as well by its natural movement the stone as his modern successor; but he would never rise, but always fall. lived at a time when those generalisaFor a similar reason, fire may be tions formed by careful observation made to descend; but, left to its na. had not yet been made. He himtural movement, it will only ascend. self might be helping to make them,
We have in these few passages but as yet they were not. What a fair specimen of that mode of could he do but avail himself of thought, or false method, which such ideas or generalisations as an uncritical experience had produced, series of events perpetually occurand which, perhaps, were incorpo- ring around us, we select those rated into the very language of daily which are unalterably united in use ? Gravity, or the attraction of never-failing sequence, or relation of matter to matter, is a generalisation cause and effect, and classify them of modern science; it is formed apart from those whose connection from induction or observation, and is not invariable. And now let us we permit ourselves, therefore, to ask, what motive or passion it is reason on it with confidence. It that prompts to observation of this enters into our explanation of this subtle kind ? It is not our daily or that still perplexing phenomenon. wants or appetites. These may The principle of contraries was the greedily seize upon knowledge of a result of no careful induction; it scientific kind, which they can make was snatched up in haste. Heat subservient to them; they do not drives out cold, and cold heat. originally lead to it. Science oriWas there not a principle here of ginates in that noble curiosity with universal application? So amongst which men, or at least some men, motions of inanimate bodies were are endowed—the desire to undernot some natural, just as certain stand all, to see all as with the eye of motions in our own organism are intellect; to harmonise what seems felt to be natural ? It was a rude confused ; to represent to themselves analogy-an unauthorised general- the whole in its completeness. And isation.
now one question more, Would you The difference between the false check this curiosity till alllegitimate method and the true is the inevit appliances were ready for its gratiable result of position in the course fication; would you prevent it from of time, or process of development. asking questions and giving anThe modern man of science reasons swers till it had been strictly defrom generalisations which are the monstrated what kind of questions results of a hitherto universal expe- were to be asked, and how precisely rience; but, waiting the formation the answer was to be obtained ? of these, the earlier sage reasoned Manifestly such restrictions, instead on something which was the result of leading to a more rapid progress of a scanty experience or a fanciful in knowledge, would have rendered analogy. He had nothing better to all effort and all development imreason on.
possible; they would have killed What, let us ask ourselves, is the at once the noble curiosity we are kind of observation on which science speaking of. Honour to those who, is founded, or with which science stimulated by this generous passion, commences? It is not the mere use persisted energetically to think, in of our senses, or the mere percep the full confidence that finally the tion of objects. Nor do we call by human intellect would triumph over the name of Science that practical all difficulties. knowledge of the qualities of things Proceeding in our analysis, we so essential to life, as that fire burns, come upon a curious notion relative or food nourishes. Such knowledge to motion in a vacuum :as the senses directly give us lies,
" Aristotle argues that in vacuo mo. we need not say, at the basis of all ti
tion is impossible. In a void there can science, but is not science itself. be no difference of place; and motion There are two kinds of observation implies difference of place. He then on which science depends : 1st, adds, that projectiles continue moving When we detect similarities between after the original motor ceases to be in things or events which at first sight contact with them, 'either, as some say, appeared widely different, and tõus by reaction, or by the motion of the
moved air. . . . establish an essential identity where
adds. 'no one can say why, in tacuo, a only diversity had presented it body once set in motion should ever stop; self; and, 2d, When, amongst the since why rather here than there? Con