concealed. The tract is unusually interesting, for in it he discusses at some length the limits of science, the origin of things and the nature of primitive matter, giving at the same time full notices of Democritus among the ancient philosophers and of Telesio among the modern. Deserving of attention are also the Cogitationes de Natura Rerum, probably written early, perhaps in 1605, and the treatise on the theory of the tides, De Fluxu et Refluxu Maris, written probably about 1616.
(C) The philosophical works which form part of the Instauratio must of course be classed according to the positions which they respectively hold in that scheme of the sciences.
The great work, the reorganization of the sciences, and the restoration of man to that command over nature which he had lost by the fall, consisted in its final form of six divisions.
I. Partitiones Scientiarum, a survey of the sciences, either such as then existed or such as required to be constructed afresh—in fact, an inventory of all the possessions of the human mind. The famous classification on which this survey proceeds is based upon an analysis of the faculties and objects of human knowledge. This division is represented by the De Augmentis Scientiarum.
II. Interpretatio Naturae.—After the survey of all that has yet been done in the way of discovery or invention, comes the new method, by which the mind of man is to be trained and directed in its progress towards the renovation of science. This division is represented, though only imperfectly, by the Novum Organum, particularly book ii.
III. Historia Naturalis et Experimentalis.—The new method is valueless, because inapplicable, unless it be supplied with materials duly collected and presented—in fact, unless there be formed a competent natural history of the Phaenomena Universi. A short introductory sketch of the requisites of such a natural history, which, according to Bacon, is essential, necessary, the basis totius negotii, is given in the tract Parasceve, appended to the Novum Organum. The principal works intended to form portions of the history, and either published by himself or left in manuscript, are Historia Ventorum, Historia Vitae et Mortis, Historia Densi et Rari, and the extensive collection of facts and observations entitled Sylva Sylvarum.
IV. Scala Intellectus.—It might have been supposed that the new philosophy could now be inaugurated. Materials had been supplied, along with a new method by which they were to be treated, and naturally the next step would be the finished result. But for practical purposes Bacon interposed two divisions between the preliminaries and the philosophy itself. The first was intended to consist of types or examples of investigations conducted by the new method, serviceable for keeping the whole process vividly before the mind, or, as the title indicates, such that the mind could run rapidly up and down the several steps or grades in the process. Of this division there seems to be only one small fragment, the Filum Labyrinthi, consisting of but two or three pages.
V. Prodromi, forerunners of the new philosophy. This part, strictly speaking, is quite extraneous to the general design. According to the Distributio Operis, it was to contain certain speculations of Bacon's own, not formed by the new method, but by the unassisted use of his understanding. These, therefore, form temporary or uncertain anticipations of the new philosophy. There is extant a short preface to this division of the work, and according to Spedding some of the miscellaneous treatises, such as De Principiis, De Fluxu et Refluxu, Cogitationes de Natura Rerum, may probably have been intended to be included under this head. This supposition receives some support from the manner in which the fifth part is spoken of in the Novum Organum, i. 116.
VI. The new philosophy, which is the work of future ages, and the result of the new method.
Bacon's grand motive in his attempt to found the sciences anew was the intense conviction that the knowledge man possessed was of little service to him. “The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works.” Man's sovereignty over nature, which is founded on knowledge alone, had been lost, and instead of the free relation between things and the human mind, there was nothing but vain notions and blind experiments. To restore the original commerce between man and nature, and to recover the imperium hominis, is the grand object of all science. The want of success which had hitherto attended efforts in the same direction had been due to many causes, but chiefly to the want of appreciation of the nature of philosophy and its real aim. Philosophy is not the science of things divine and human; it is not the search after truth. “I find that even those that have sought knowledge for itself, and not for benefit or ostentation, or any practical enablement in the course of their life, have nevertheless propounded to themselves a wrong mark, namely, satisfaction (which men call Truth) and not operation.” “Is there any such happiness as for a man's mind to be raised above the confusion of things, where he may have the prospect of the order of nature and error of man? But is this a view of delight only and not of discovery? of contentment and not of benefit? Shall he not as well discern the riches of nature's warehouse as the beauty of her shop? Is truth ever barren? Shall he not be able thereby to produce worthy effects, and to endow the life of man with infinite commodities?” Philosophy is altogether practical; it is of little matter to the fortunes of humanity what abstract notions one may entertain concerning the nature and the principles of things. This truth, however, has never yet been recognized; it has not yet been seen that the true aim of all science is “to endow the condition and life of man with new powers or works,” or “to extend more widely the limits of the power and greatness of man.” Nevertheless, it is not to be imagined that by this being proposed as the great object of search there is thereby excluded all that has hitherto been looked upon as the higher aims of human life, such as the contemplation of truth. Not so, but by following the new aim we shall also arrive at a true knowledge of the universe in which we are, for without knowledge there is no power; truth and utility are in ultimate aspect the same; “works themselves are of greater value as pledges of truth than as contributing to the comforts of life.” Such was the conception of philosophy with which Bacon started, and in which he felt himself to be thoroughly original. As his object was new and hitherto unproposed, so the method he intended to employ was different from all modes of investigation hitherto attempted. “It would be,” as he says, “an unsound fancy and self-contradictory, to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.” There were many obstacles in his way, and he seems always to have felt that the first part of the new scheme must be a pars destruens, a destructive criticism of all other methods. Opposition was to be expected, not only from previous philosophies, but especially from the human mind itself. In the first place, natural antagonism might be looked for from the two opposed sects, the one of whom, in despair of knowledge, maintained that all science was impossible; while the other, resting on authority and on the learning that had been handed down from the Greeks, declared that science was already completely known, and consequently devoted their energies to methodizing and elaborating it. Secondly, within the domain of science itself, properly so called, there were two “kind of rovers” who must be dismissed. The first were the speculative or logical philosophers, who construe the universe ex analogia hominis, and not ex analogia mundi, who fashion nature according to preconceived ideas, and who employ in their investigations syllogism and abstract reasoning. The second class, who were equally offensive, consisted of those who practised blind experience, which is mere
- The division of the sciences adopted in the great French Encyclopédie was founded upon this classification of Bacon's. See Diderot's Prospectus (Œuvres, iii.) and d'Alembert's Discours (Œuvres, i.) The scheme should be compared with later attempts of the same nature by Ampère, Cournot, Comte and Herbert Spencer.
- See also “Letter to Fulgentio,” Letters and Life, vii. 533.
- Fil. Lab.; Cog. et Visa. i.; cf. Pref. to Ins. Mag.
- Val. Ter. 232; cf. N. O. i. 124.
- Letters, i. 123.
- N. O. i. 116.
- Fil. Lab. 5; cf. N. O. i. 81; Val. Ter. (Works, iii. 235); Advancement, bk. i. (Works, iii. 294).
- Fil. Lab. 5; cf. N. O. i. 81; Val. Ter. (Works, iii. 222-233); New Atlantis (Works, iii. 156).
- N. O. i. 116.
- Ibid. i. 124.
- Ibid. i. 6.