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- The Advancement of Learning - 20/42 -

chimeras. So whosoever shall entertain high and vaporous imaginations, instead of a laborious and sober inquiry of truth, shall beget hopes and beliefs of strange and impossible shapes. And, therefore, we may note in these sciences which hold so much of imagination and belief, as this degenerate natural magic, alchemy, astrology, and the like, that in their propositions the description of the means is ever more monstrous than the pretence or end. For it is a thing more probable that he that knoweth well the natures of weight, of colour, of pliant and fragile in respect of the hammer, of volatile and fixed in respect of the fire, and the rest, may superinduce upon some metal the nature and form of gold by such mechanic as longeth to the production of the natures afore rehearsed, than that some grains of the medicine projected should in a few moments of time turn a sea of quicksilver or other material into gold. So it is more probable that he that knoweth the nature of arefaction, the nature of assimilation of nourishment to the thing nourished, the manner of increase and clearing of spirits, the manner of the depredations which spirits make upon the humours and solid parts, shall by ambages of diets, bathings, anointings, medicines, motions, and the like, prolong life, or restore some degree of youth or vivacity, than that it can be done with the use of a few drops or scruples of a liquor or receipt. To conclude, therefore, the true natural magic, which is that great liberty and latitude of operation which dependeth upon the knowledge of forms, I may report deficient, as the relative thereof is. To which part, if we be serious and incline not to vanities and plausible discourse, besides the deriving and deducing the operations themselves from metaphysic, there are pertinent two points of much purpose, the one by way of preparation, the other by way of caution. The first is, that there be made a calendar, resembling an inventory of the estate of man, containing all the inventions (being the works or fruits of Nature or art) which are now extant, and whereof man is already possessed; out of which doth naturally result a note what things are yet held impossible, or not invented, which calendar will be the more artificial and serviceable if to every reputed impossibility you add what thing is extant which cometh the nearest in degree to that impossibility; to the end that by these optatives and potentials man's inquiry may be the more awake in deducing direction of works from the speculation of causes. And secondly, that these experiments be not only esteemed which have an immediate and present use, but those principally which are of most universal consequence for invention of other experiments, and those which give most light to the invention of causes; for the invention of the mariner's needle, which giveth the direction, is of no less benefit for navigation than the invention of the sails which give the motion.

(4) Thus have I passed through natural philosophy and the deficiences thereof; wherein if I have differed from the ancient and received doctrines, and thereby shall move contradiction, for my part, as I affect not to dissent, so I purpose not to contend. If it be truth,

"Non canimus surdis, respondent omnia sylvae,"

the voice of Nature will consent, whether the voice of man do or no. And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that entry of truth which cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up those minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention.

(5) But there remaineth a division of natural philosophy according to the report of the inquiry, and nothing concerning the matter or subject: and that is positive and considerative, when the inquiry reporteth either an assertion or a doubt. These doubts or non liquets are of two sorts, particular and total. For the first, we see a good example thereof in Aristotle's Problems which deserved to have had a better continuance; but so nevertheless as there is one point whereof warning is to be given and taken. The registering of doubts hath two excellent uses: the one, that it saveth philosophy from errors and falsehoods; when that which is not fully appearing is not collected into assertion, whereby error might draw error, but reserved in doubt; the other, that the entry of doubts are as so many suckers or sponges to draw use of knowledge; insomuch as that which if doubts had not preceded, a man should never have advised, but passed it over without note, by the suggestion and solicitation of doubts is made to be attended and applied. But both these commodities do scarcely countervail and inconvenience, which will intrude itself if it be not debarred; which is, that when a doubt is once received, men labour rather how to keep it a doubt still, than how to solve it, and accordingly bend their wits. Of this we see the familiar example in lawyers and scholars, both which, if they have once admitted a doubt, it goeth ever after authorised for a doubt. But that use of wit and knowledge is to be allowed, which laboureth to make doubtful things certain, and not those which labour to make certain things doubtful. Therefore these calendars of doubts I commend as excellent things; so that there he this caution used, that when they be thoroughly sifted and brought to resolution, they be from thenceforth omitted, discarded, and not continued to cherish and encourage men in doubting. To which calendar of doubts or problems I advise be annexed another calendar, as much or more material which is a calendar of popular errors: I mean chiefly in natural history, such as pass in speech and conceit, and are nevertheless apparently detected and convicted of untruth, that man's knowledge be not weakened nor embased by such dross and vanity. As for the doubts or non liquets general or in total, I understand those differences of opinions touching the principles of nature, and the fundamental points of the same, which have caused the diversity of sects, schools, and philosophies, as that of Empedocles, Pythagoras, Democritus, Parmenides, and the rest. For although Aristotle, as though he had been of the race of the Ottomans, thought he could not reign except the first thing he did he killed all his brethren; yet to those that seek truth and not magistrality, it cannot but seem a matter of great profit, to see before them the several opinions touching the foundations of nature. Not for any exact truth that can be expected in those theories; for as the same phenomena in astronomy are satisfied by this received astronomy of the diurnal motion, and the proper motions of the planets, with their eccentrics and epicycles, and likewise by the theory of Copernicus, who supposed the earth to move, and the calculations are indifferently agreeable to both, so the ordinary face and view of experience is many times satisfied by several theories and philosophies; whereas to find the real truth requireth another manner of severity and attention. For as Aristotle saith, that children at the first will call every woman mother, but afterward they come to distinguish according to truth, so experience, if it be in childhood, will call every philosophy mother, but when it cometh to ripeness it will discern the true mother. So as in the meantime it is good to see the several glosses and opinions upon Nature, whereof it may be everyone in some one point hath seen clearer than his fellows, therefore I wish some collection to be made painfully and understandingly de antiquis philosophiis, out of all the possible light which remaineth to us of them: which kind of work I find deficient. But here I must give warning, that it be done distinctly and severedly; the philosophies of everyone throughout by themselves, and not by titles packed and faggoted up together, as hath been done by Plutarch. For it is the harmony of a philosophy in itself, which giveth it light and credence; whereas if it be singled and broken, it will seem more foreign and dissonant. For as when I read in Tacitus the actions of Nero or Claudius, with circumstances of times, inducements, and occasions, I find them not so strange; but when I read them in Suetonius Tranquillus, gathered into titles and bundles and not in order of time, they seem more monstrous and incredible: so is it of any philosophy reported entire, and dismembered by articles. Neither do I exclude opinions of latter times to be likewise represented in this calendar of sects of philosophy, as that of Theophrastus Paracelsus, eloquently reduced into an harmony by the pen of Severinus the Dane; and that of Tilesius, and his scholar Donius, being as a pastoral philosophy, full of sense, but of no great depth; and that of Fracastorius, who, though he pretended not to make any new philosophy, yet did use the absoluteness of his own sense upon the old; and that of Gilbertus our countryman, who revived, with some alterations and demonstrations, the opinions of Xenophanes; and any other worthy to be admitted.

(6) Thus have we now dealt with two of the three beams of man's knowledge; that is radius directus, which is referred to nature, radius refractus, which is referred to God, and cannot report truly because of the inequality of the medium. There resteth radius reflexus, whereby man beholdeth and contemplateth himself.

IX. (1) We come therefore now to that knowledge whereunto the ancient oracle directeth us, which is the knowledge of ourselves; which deserveth the more accurate handling, by how much it toucheth us more nearly. This knowledge, as it is the end and term of natural philosophy in the intention of man, so notwithstanding it is but a portion of natural philosophy in the continent of Nature. And generally let this be a rule, that all partitions of knowledges be accepted rather for lines and veins than for sections and separations; and that the continuance and entireness of knowledge be preserved. For the contrary hereof hath made particular sciences to become barren, shallow, and erroneous, while they have not been nourished and maintained from the common fountain. So we see Cicero, the orator, complained of Socrates and his school, that he was the first that separated philosophy and rhetoric; whereupon rhetoric became an empty and verbal art. So we may see that the opinion of Copernicus, touching the rotation of the earth, which astronomy itself cannot correct, because it is not repugnant to any of the phenomena, yet natural philosophy may correct. So we see also that the science of medicine if it be destituted and forsaken by natural philosophy, it is not much better than an empirical practice. With this reservation, therefore, we proceed to human philosophy or humanity, which hath two parts: the one considereth man segregate or distributively, the other congregate or in society; so as human philosophy is either simple and particular, or conjugate and civil. Humanity particular consisteth of the same parts whereof man consisteth: that is, of knowledges which respect the body, and of knowledges that respect the mind. But before we distribute so far, it is good to constitute. For I do take the consideration in general, and at large, of human nature to be fit to be emancipate and made a knowledge by itself, not so much in regard of those delightful and elegant discourses which have been made of the dignity of man, of his miseries, of his state and life, and the like adjuncts of his common and undivided nature; but chiefly in regard of the knowledge concerning the sympathies and concordances between the mind and body, which being mixed cannot be properly assigned to the sciences of either.

(2) This knowledge hath two branches: for as all leagues and amities consist of mutual intelligence and mutual offices, so this league of mind and body hath these two parts: how the one discloseth the other, and how the one worketh upon the other; discovery and impression. The former of these hath begotten two arts, both of prediction or prenotion; whereof the one is honoured with the inquiry of Aristotle, and the other of Hippocrates. And although they have of later time been used to be coupled with

The Advancement of Learning - 20/42

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