« ZurückWeiter »
or quality of persons, which have not some point of contrariety towards true knowledge. That monarchies incline wits to profit and pleasure, and commonwealths to glory and vanity. That universities incline wits to sophistry and affectation; cloisters to fables and unprofitable subtilty; study at large to variety; and that it is hard to say, whether mixture of contemplations with an active life, or retiring wholly to contemplations, do disable and hinder the mind more.
SIVE FORMULA INQUISITIONIS.
1. Francis Bacon thought in this manner.
The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works. The physician pronounceth many diseases incurable, and faileth oft in the rest. The alchemists wax old and die in hopes. The magicians perform nothing that is permanent and profitable. The mechanics take small light from natural philosophy, and do but spin on their own little threads. Chance sometimes discovereth inventions, but that worketh not in
ages. So he saw well, that the inventions known are very unperfect, and that new are not like to be brought to light but in great length of time; and that those which are, came not to light by philosophy.
2. He thought also this state of knowledge was the worse, because men strive against themselves to save the credit of ignorance, and to satisfy themselves in this poverty. For the physician, besides the cautels of practice, hath this general cautel of art,
that he dischargeth the weakness of his art upon supposed impossibilities : neither can his art be condemned, when itself judgeth. That philosophy also, out of which the knowledge of physic which now is in use is hewed, receiveth certain positions and opinions, which, if they be well weighed, induce this persuasion, that no great works are to be expected from art, and the hand of man; as, in particular, that opinion, that “ the heat of the sun and fire “ differ in kind ;” and that other, “that composition “is the work of man, and mixture is the work of “ nature," and the like; all tending to the circumscription of man's power, and to artificial despair ; killing in men not only the comfort of imagination, but the industry of trial ; only upon vain-glory, to have their art thought perfect, and that all is impossible that is not already, found. The alchemist dischargeth his art upon his own errours, either supposing a misunderstanding of the words of his authors which maketh him listen alter auricular traditions ; or else a failing in the true proportions and scruples of practice, which maketh him renew infinitely his trials ; and finding also that he lighteth upon some mean experiments and conclusions by the way,
feedeth upon them, and magnifieth them to the most, and supplieth the rest in hopes. The magician, when he findeth something, as he conceiveth, above nature, effected, thinketh, when a breach is once made in nature, that it is all one to perform great things and small; not seeing, that they are but subjects of a certain kind, wherein magic and
stition hath played in all times. The mechanical person, if he can refine an invention, or put two or three observations or practices together in one, or couple things better with their use, or make the work in less or greater volume, taketh himself for an inventor. So he saw well, that men either persuade themselves of new inventions as of impossibilities ; or else think they are already extant, but in secret and in few hands ; or that they account of those little industries and additions, as of inventions : all which turneth to the averting of their minds from any just and constant labour, to invent further in any quantity.
3. He thought also, when men did set before themselves the variety and perfection of works produced by mechanical arts, they are apt rather to admire the provisions of man, than to apprehend his wants; not considering, that the original inventions and conclusions of nature, which are the life of all that variety, are not many, nor deeply fetched ; and that the rest is but the subtile and ruled motion of the instrument and hand; and that the shop therein is not unlike the library, which in such number of books containeth, for the far greater part, nothing but iterations, varied sometimes in form, but not new in substance. So he saw plainly,
So he saw plainly, that opinion of store was a cause of want; and that both works and doctrines appear many, and are few.
4. He thought also, that knowledge is uttered to men in a form, as if every thing were finished; for it is reduced into arts and methods; which in their divisions do seem to include all that may be. And
how weakly soever the parts are filled, yet they carry
the shew and reason of a total; and thereby the writings of some received authors go for the very art: whereas antiquity used to deliver the knowledge which the mind of man hath gathered, in observations, aphorisms, or short and dispersed sentences, or small tractates of some parts that they had diligently meditated and laboured; which did invite men, both to ponder that which was invented, and to add and supply further. But now sciences are delivered to be believed and accepted, and not to be examined and further discovered ; and the succession is between
l master and disciple, and not between inventor and continuer or advancer : and therefore sciences stand at a stay, and have done for many ages, and that which is positive is fixed, and that which is question is kept question, so as the columns of no further proceeding are pitched. And therefore he saw plainly men had cut themselves off from further invention; and that it is no marvel, that that is not obtained which hath not been attempted, but rather shut out and debarred.
5. He thought also, that knowledge is almost generally sought either for delight and satisfaction, or for gain or profession, or for credit and ornament and that every of these are as Atalanta's balls, which hinder the race of invention. For men are so far in these courses from seeking to increase the mass of knowledge, as of that mass which is they will take no more than will serve their turn: and if any one