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TRUE HINTS

ON

THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE.*

Outline and Argument of the Second Part of the facts and particular experiments to generic veri

Instauration.

KEEPING then in view our plan, we shall exhibit the whole subject perspicuously, and with orderly distribution of the parts. Wherefore, let us now unfold the design and arrangement of this second part. We devote this part to the doctrine of a better and more perfect use of reason than hath heretofore been known or promulgated to men, with purpose (as far as the terms of this mortal state permit) to aggrandize and enlarge the human intellect with power to conquer and interpret the mystery of nature. To the interpretation itself we have dedicated three books, the third, the fourth, and the fifth; for the sixth, which consists of anticipations drawn from the ordinary use of reason, it is to be taken only as temporary and provisional, and when in time it shall have begun to acquire solidity, and to be verified by the methods of legitimate reason, it is shifted, and, as it were, migrates of itself into the sixth.

But to this second book is apportioned the intellect itself, its treatment and regulation, and the entire system of preparation and training leading to the right conduct of the understanding. And although the term logic or dialectics, by reason of the depravations of the art, sounds repulsive in our ears, yet to lead men as it were so far by the hand in their wonted tracts, we acknowledge the art which we profess to be of the nature of logic, so far as logic (the common logic, I mean) supplies aids and constructs defences for the intellect. Yet ours differs from the received logic, besides other points of opposition, principally in three; namely, its mode of entering on inquiry, its order of demonstration, and its end and office. It goes deeper to find a foundation and basis for inquiry, by subjecting to investigation what the received logic admits as it were on the credit of others, and in a blind submission to authority, principles, primary notions, and the informations of the senses; and it reverses downright its order of demonstration, by making propositions and axioms, in an unbroken line, ascend and mount on a ladder of elevation, from recorded *The first part of this tract forms the preface to the Novum Organum, translated by Mr. Wood, vol. iii. p. 000, 000.

ties, not by darting without a pause to principles and the higher generalizations, and from them deducing and inferring intermediate truths. Again, the end of this our scheme of science is, that things and works, not reasonings and speculative probabilities, may be invented and brought to the test.

Such then is the scope of the second book. Let us now, in like manner, set forth its arrangement. As in the generation of light it is requisite that the body which is to receive the rays be made smooth and clean, and then planted in a position or conversion duly adapted to the illumination, before the light itself is introduced, even so we must proceed now. For, first the area of the mind must be levelled out and cleared of those things which have hitherto encumbered it; next, there must be a turning of the mind well and fittingly to the objects which are presented; lastly, information must be exhibited to the mind thus prepared for its reception.

Now, the extirpating part is threefold, according to the three several classes of idols which beset the mind. For such idols are either adoptive, and that in two ways, having invaded and established themselves in the mind from the systems and sects of philosophy, or from an abuse of the laws and methods of demonstration; or, secondly, they are such as are inseparable from and indigenous in the essence of the mind. For as an uneven and ill-cut mirror distorts the true rays of things according to its own incurvation of surface; so, too, the mind, subjected to the impression of objects through the senses, in performing its operations, interchanges and mixes up its own nature with that of its objects, so as it may not be implicitly trusted.

Wherefore the first task imposed upon us is to disperse utterly, and to expatriate all that army of theories which has figured in so many wellfought combats. To this we add a second, the emancipation of the mind from the slavery imposed on it by perverted laws of demonstration; which is followed by a third, namely, to master the seductive bias of the mind itself, and either to extirpate its native idols, or, if they cannot be rooted up, so to point them out and thoroughly comprehend them, that deviations may be recti

fied. For it would be futile, and perhaps pernicious, merely to overturn and explode errors in philosophy, if from the incorrigible grain of the mind a new off-shoot of errors, perhaps even degenerated from their predecessors, should sprout; and not till all hope is precluded, of perfecting philosophy, or enlarging its empire by the exercise of ordinary reason, and by the helps and aids of the received logic, ought we to abandon and discard them; lest haply we do not thereby banish, but only change our errors. Wherefore that part of the book which we term the destroying, consists of a threefold argument of redargution or exposure; redargution of the philosophies; redargution of the demonstrations; and redargution of human reason in its natural course.

And it does not escape us, that without so immense a revolution, no small accretion to science might result from our labours, and celebrity be attainable by a smoother path. Nevertheless, being uncertain when the same views may enter the mind of any other man, we have determined to make a full and free profession of our creed. After having levelled the area of the mind, it follows in order, that we must place the mind in an advantageous position, and, as it were, in a kindly exposure to the rays of what we propound. For since, in a matter of novelty, not merely the violent preoccupation of old opinion, but also a false preconception or conjectural picture of that which is offered, disposes to prejudice, we must also apply a remedy to this disorder, and the mind must not only be disencumbered but prepared. That preparation is nothing more than to have true opinions of that which we allege imparted provisionally only, as it were, and by way of loan, previous to a thorough knowledge of the thing itself. Now, this mainly depends on shutting out, and holding in abeyance those foul and malign suspicions, which, we may easily augur, will, from the prejudices now in vogue, as from the contagion of an epidemic fanatical gloom, seize upon men's minds; wherefore it behoves us to see, as Lucretius hath it,

"Ne qua

Occurrat facies inimica atque omnia turbet."

First, then, if any one think that the secrets of nature remain shut up, as it were, with the seal of God, and by some divine mandate interdicted to human wisdom, we shall address ourselves to remove this weak and jealous notion, and, relying on simple truth, shall bring the inquiry to this issue, not only to silence the howl of superstition, but to draw religion herself to our side. Again, if the idea should occur to any one, that great and scrupulous delay in experiments, and the tossing about, so to speak, on a sea of matter and particular facts, which we impose on men, must needs plunge the mind into a very Tartarus of confusion, and cast it down from the serenity and coolness

of contemplative wisdom, as from a far diviner state-we shall show and establish, as we trust, forever, (not without putting to the blush the whole of that school which hesitates not to concede divine honours to fantastic reveries, utterly bereft of solidity,) the difference that prevails between the ideas of the divine and the idols of the human mind. Those also to whom, absorbed in the love of meditation, our frequent mention of works sounds harsh, uncouth, and mechanical, shall be instructed how much they war against the attainment of their own object of desire, since exact clearness of contemplation, and the invention of works, its under platform, depend upon and are brought to perfection by the same means. If any one should still hold out, conceiving of this absolute regeneration of science from its elements, as a thing interminable, vast, and infinite, we shall demonstrate that, on the contrary, it ought to be regarded as a true boundary and a circumscribing line, marking off the region of error and waste land; and we shall make it manifest, that a just and full inquisition of particulars, without attempting to embrace individuals, gradations, and vermiculate differences, (which is enough for the purposes of science ;) and then notions and truths, raised from and upon the former, in just method, form something infinitely more defined, tangible, and intelligible, sure of itself, and clear both in what hath been done, and what remains to be accomplished, than floating systems and abstract subtleties, of which there is indeed no end, but a ceaseless gyration, whirl, and chaos. And though some sober censor, (as he may think himself,) applying to this subject that diffidence of consequences which becomes civil prudence, should consider what we now say to be like men's vain aspirations-an indulgence only of wild hopeand that in truth nothing else will follow from this remodelled state of philosophy, than that new doctrines, perhaps, are substituted, but the resources of mankind not at all augmented-such a one we shall, as we conceive, induce to admit, that we are doing any thing but founding a system or a sect, that our institution differs wholly and generically from all that have hitherto been attempted in philosophy and the sciences-and that there is the surest promise of a harvest of works, if men will only not forestal the same by hastening to cut the first worthless vegetation of muscus and weeds, and grasping with a childish passion and vain precipitation at the first pledges of works. And in handling the points we have enumerated, enough, we think, shall have been done to guard against that species of prejudice which is inspired by false and illiberal notions of the thing propounded; and therewithal we judge that our second part, which we call the preparatory, is complete ;-after every adverse gust from religion, from theoretical speculation, and from ivil wisdom, with its handmaids, distrust, phleg

matic coldness, and the ike, shall have sunk and so disposed. For no man by mere energy of will died away.

Yet to form a preparation in all respects perfect, it seems still to be wanting, that we remove the stagnation of mind, which is generated by the utter novelty of our plan. This unfriendly torpor is only dispelled by the explanation of its causes; for it is the knowledge of its causes alone that solves the prodigy, and puts an end to the stupor of astonishment. Wherefore we shall here note all those perverse and troublesome obstacles by which true science hath been checked and retarded, so that it is not at all astonishing that men should have been so long involved, and toiled on, in the meshes of error.

And in this part of the subject one thing will felicitously come in, as a solid reason for hope, namely, that although the true interpretation of nature, wherein we toil, be justly held most difficult, yet by far the greatest part of that difficulty depends upon what lies within our own power and admits of correction, not on things placed beyond our sphere of capacity; I mean in the mind, not in things, or in the senses.

commands his intellect, the spirits of the philosophers (as it is written of the prophets) are not subject to the philosophers. Wherefore it is not the honesty, candour, or openness to conviction of other men, which we are to confide in for support, but our own care, address, and conciliation.

Now, if any one deem that scrupulous care with which we strive to prepare men's minds is uncalled for-that it is of the nature of parade, and got up for purposes of display, and should therefore desire to see denuded of all circumlocution and the scaffolding of preliminaries, a simple statement; assuredly such an insinuation, were it founded in truth, would come well recommended to us. Would that it were as easy for us to conquer difficulties and obstructions, as to cast away idle pomp and false elaboration. But this we would have men believe, that it is not within due exploration of the route, that we pursue our path in such a desert, especially having in hand such a theme, as it were monstrous to lose by incompetent handling, and to leave exposed, as by an unnatural mother. Wherefore, duly meditating and contemplating the state both of nature and of mind, we find the avenues to men's understandings harder of access than to things themselves, and the labour of communicating not much lighter than of excogitating; and, therefore, which is almost a new feature in the intellectual world, we obey the humour of the time, and play the nurse, both with our own thoughts and those of others. For every hollow idol is dethroned by skill, insinuation, and regular approaches; whereas by violence, by opposition, and by irregular and abrupt attacks, it is exasperated into energy. Nor does this take place only because men, enslaved by admiration of certain authors, or bloated with self-sufficiency, or reluctant from some habit, will not exert their candour. Even were any one willing in the utmost degree to exact of himself impartiality as a duty, and to forswear, as it were, every prejudice, it does not follow that we are to repose unlimited confidence in the award of a mind VOL. II.-70

In which respect no small difficulty is further created to us from our own character, having laid it down as an inviolable law evermore to hold fast our integrity and ingenuousness, and not to seek an entrance for truth through hollow ways, but so to regulate our compliance as by no subtle deception, by no imposture or aught that resembles imposture, but only by the light of order and the skilful grafting of new shoots upon the healthier part of the old, to hope for the attainment of our desires. Wherefore we return to this assertion, that the labour consumed by us in paving the way, so far from being superfluous, is truly too little for difficulties so considerable.

Leaving, therefore, the preparatory part, we now come to the informing, and shall exhibit a simple and bare outline of that art which we intend.

The things which make for the perfecting of the intellect in the interpretation of nature, may be divided into three ministrations to the same, ministration to sense, ministration to memory, and ministration to reason. In ministration to the senses we shall make exposition of three things, first, how a good notion is collected and elicited, and how the testimony of -sense, which is ever according to the analogy of man, may be reduced and rectified to the analogy of the universe. For we do not attach much weight to the immediate perceptions of sense, except only in so far as it manifests motion or change in its objects. Secondly, we shall show how those things which baffle the sense, either by intangibility of the entire substance, or by minuteness of parts, or by remoteness of place, or by slowness or celerity of motion, or by habitual familiarity of the object, or otherwise, may be brought under the jurisdiction of sense, and placed at its bar; and, furthermore, in cases where they cannot be produced, what is then to be done; and how such deficiency may be filled up by skilful noting of gradations, or by informations as to inanimate bodies derived from the analogy of corresponding sentient ones, or by other modes and substitutions. In the last place, we shall speak of a Natural History, and the method of performing experiments; what that Natural History is, which will serve as a foundation for philosophy; and again what method of experimenting, in the want of such natural history, must be resorted to; wherein we shall also interweave some observations as to calling forth and arresting the attention. For there are many things both in natural history and in experiments, present to knowledge, absent to use, ЗА

because the apprehensive faculty hath been feebly often the inquisition is to be repeated. For we drawn forth to note them.

Ministration to the senses is comprehended in three particulars. The senses are to be furnished with materials, with helps where they fail, and helps where they err. To the materials of the senses are appropriated history and experiments, to their short-comings, fit substitutions, to their declination, rules of correction.

intend the first series of charts or results to form, as it were, moveable axes, and to constitute only the verifying part of the inquisition; for we have no hope of the mind's ever pursuing and securing its rightful dominion over nature, unless by repeated action. The ministration, therefore, to memory consists, as we have said in three doctrines, of the topics of discovery, of the reduction into tables, and of the method of fully establishing the inquiry.

Ministration to reason remains, to which the two former parts are only ancillary. For by them there is no building up of axioms, but only the production of simple notions with an orderly narration of facts, verified, indeed, by the first ministration, and so exhibited by the second, as

Ministration to memory hath this for its function; out of the mass of particular facts, and the accumulation of facts forming natural history general, it extracts a history particular, and arranges it in such order, that the judgment can forthwith act, and do its office. For it befits us prudently to calculate the powers of the mind, and not to hope that they can expatiate at large over the infinity of nature. For it is manifest to be, so to speak, placed at our disposal. Now, that the memory is defective and incompetent that ministration to reason, claims to be most when it attempts to embrace the endless variety highly approved, which shall best enable reason of things, and, no less, that in the choosing out to perform its office and secure its end. The of such as bear on some defined field of inquiry, office of reason is in its nature one, in its end and it is unpractised and unprepared. Now, as use double. For the end of man is either to regards the former malady, the mode of curing it know and contemplate, or to act and execute. is easy. It is performed by one remedial rule, Wherefore the design of human knowledge is to which is, that no investigation or invention be know the causes of a given effect or quality in entertained which is not drawn from a written any object of thought. And again, the design statement of results. For it were the same for of human agency is, upon a given basis of matter, one confident in the strength of memory to try to to build or superinduce any effect or quality grasp the whole interpretation of nature on a given within the limits of possibility. And these desubject, as to endeavour to seize and perform by signs, on a close examination and just estimate, rote the problems of astronomy. Besides, it is are seen to coincide. For that which in consufficiently apparent how small is the province templation stands for a cause, in operation stands we allot to mere memory of discourse of reason, for a mean, or instrument; since we know by seeing we do not authenticate discovery, even causes and operate by means. And, doubtless, when detailed in writing, save by digested tables. if all the means which are required, to what To the latter defect, therefore, we must devote operations soever, were supplied to man's hand more attention. And, doubtless, after the subject at pleasure, there would be no especial use in has been measured off and defined for inquiry, treating of the two disjunctively. But since and stands clear and unencumbered out of the man's operation is tied up within much narrower mass of things, the ministration to memory seems circumscription than his knowledge, because of to consist of three operations or offices. First, the innumerable necessities and limitations of we shall show what those things are which, in the individual, so that for the operative part there regard to the subject given or propounded, seem, is often demanded not so much a wisdom allon glancing over its history of facts, the proper comprehensive and free to range over possibility, points for inquiry, which forms a kind of argu- as a judgment sagacious and expert in selecting ment or topic. Secondly, in what order these from what is immediately before us; it is conought to be marshalled, and digested in regular sistent with this, to consider these things as more tables. Nevertheless, we expect not that the happily treated of apart. Wherefore we shall true vein of the subject, being of the analogy of also make like division of the ministration to the universe, can be discovered at the outset of reason, according as the ministration is to reason the inquiry, so that the division might follow active or contemplative. from it, but only the apparent one, so as to suggest some sort of partition of the subject. For truth shall sooner emerge from falsehood than from disorder, and reason more easily rectify the division, than penetrate the unsubdued mass. Then, in the third place, we shall show in what method and at what time the inquisition is to be recommenced, and the charts or tables preceding to be brought forward to new charts, and how

As respects the contemplative part, to say it in a word, all evidently turns on one point. And that is no other than this, that a true axiom be established, or the same be made conjunctive with other axioms, for this is gaining a portion of the solid of truth, whereas a simple notion isolated, is so to speak but its surface. Now, such axiom is not elicited or formed, save by the legitimate and appropriate forms of induction, which ana

ultimate efficients, or to matter taken generically, (such as are discussed in the disputations of the schools,) but to proximate efficients and preparations of matter. Lest men should labour in these, however, by a vain repetition and refining of experiments, we shall in this part introduce the doctrine of discovering latent processes. Now, we give the name of latent process to a certain series and gradation of changes, formed by the action of an efficient and the motion of parts in matter subjected to that action. The varying of the inquiry as it respects its subjects is derived froin two states of things, either from their elementary or compound character, (for there is one modification of the inquiry adapted to things

posed, or ambiguous,) or from the copiousness or poverty of the natural history which may have been collected to advance the inquiry. For when the history is rich in facts, the progress of the inquisition is prompt; when limited, it is labour in shackles, and demands manifold assiduity and skill. So, then, by handling the points we have now recounted, we shall have, as it seems to us, sufficiently discussed the varying of the inquiry.

lyses and divides experience, and by proper limitations and rejections comes to necessary conclusions. Now the popular induction (from which the proofs of principles themselves are attempted) is but a puerile toy, concluding at random, and perpetually in risk of being exploded by contradictory instances: insomuch that the dialecticians seem never once to have thought of the subject in earnest, turning from it in a sort of disdain, and hurrying on to other things. Meantime this is manifest, that the conclusions which are attained by any species of induction are at once both discovered and attested, and do not depend on axioms and middle truths, but stand on their own weight of evidence, and require no extrinsic proof. Much more then is it necessary | simple, another to things compound, or decomthat those axioms which are raised according to the true form of induction, should be of self-contained proof, surer and more solid than what are termed principles themselves; and this kind of induction is what we have been wont to term the formula of interpretation. Therefore it is, that we desire to be careful and luminous, in exposition, above all other topics, of the construction of the axiom and the formula of interpretation. There remain, however, subservient to this end, three There remains the contracting of the inquiry, things of paramount importance, without explica- so as not only to demonstrate and make patent a tion of which, the rule of inquisition, though po- way in places pathless before, but a short cut in tent in the effect, may be regarded as operose in that way, and as it were a straight line of prothe application. These are the continuing, vary-gression, which shall go direct through circuitous ing, and contracting of the inquiry, so that nothing may be left in the art either half done, or inconsistent, or too much lengthened out for the shortness of man's life. We shall therefore show in the first place the use of axioms (supposing them discovered by the formula,) for inquiring into and raising others higher and more general, so that by a succession of firm and unbroken steps in the ladder of ascent, we may arrive at the unity of nature. In this part, however, we shall add the mode of examining and attesting these higher axioms by the experimental results first obtained, lest we again fall down to conjectures, probabilities, and idol systems. And this is the method which we term the continuing of the inquiry.

The varying of the inquisition accommodates itself to the different nature, either of the causes to ascertain which the inquiry is set on foot, or of the things or subjects about which the inquiry is occupied. Therefore, discarding final causes, which have hitherto utterly vitiated natural philosophy, we shall commence with an inquiry, on the plan of varying and adaptation, into forms, a branch which has hitherto been abandoned as hopeless, and not unreasonably. For no one can be so privileged either in his powers of mind or in his good fortune, as to detect the form of any thing by means of presumptive conjectures and scholastic logic. Then follow the divers sorts of matter and of efficients. Now, when we use the terms matter and efficients, we do not point to

and perplexed routes.

Now this (like every

other kind of abridging) consists mainly in the selection of things. And we shall find that there are in things two prerogatives, so to speak, of sovereign efficacy in abridging investigation, the prerogative of the instance, and the prerogative of that which is inquired into. Wherefore, we shall point out in the first place what those instances or experiments are, which are privileged above the rest to give forth light, so that a few of them afford as much weight as a multitude of others. For this both saves accumulation of the history and the toil of beating about indefinitely. We shall, then, expound what are the subjects of inquisition, from which the investigation ought to borrow its prelibation of omens, as those which being first disposed of, carry, as it were, a torch before their successors, either by reason of their own consummate certainty, or generic quality, or from their being indispensable to mechanical trials. And here we close the ministration to reason regarded in its character of contemplative.

The

The doctrine of the active part of reason and its ministration, we shall comprehend in three directions, first, premising two admonitions to open an entrance into the minds of men. first of these is, that in the inquiry, proceeding according to the formula laid down, the active part of reason should have a perpetual intercommunion with the contemplative. For the nature of things constrains that the propositions and

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