Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/23

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
20
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

His depreciation of the quantitative method however prevents him from attaining the true method of natural science as we find it in his contemporaries, Kepler and Galileo.

According to Bacon, the method of induction gives us an insight into the “Forms” of things. The Baconian “Forms,” from one point of view, bear a close resemblance to the Platonic ideas, and from another they are analogous to the laws of natural science. The latter conception he frequently emphasizes very strongly. He says, e.g. “If the Forms are not regarded as principles of activity, they are nothing more than fictions of the human mind.” Generally speaking, Bacon occupies a unique position in the transition from the ancient and scholastic world view to that of the modern period. This is clearly manifest in his effort to acquire a mechanical theory of nature. We never understand an object until we are in position to explain its origin, and the genetic processes of nature are brought about by means of minute variations (per minima) which elude our senses. But science uncovers the secret process (latens processus) and thus reveals the inherent relation and continuity of events. We do not discover, e.g. that the “Form” of heat is motion through! sense perception; nor do the senses reveal the fact that the sum total of matter remains constant throughout all the changes of nature.

Bacon makes a sharp distinction between science and religion. The former rests upon sense perception, the latter upon supernatural inspiration. In philosophy the first principles must be submitted to the test of induction; in religion, on the other hand, the first principles are established by authority. Reverence towards God increases in direct proportion to the absurdity and in-