Page:The Works of Francis Bacon (1884) Volume 1.djvu/326

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198

ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.

Book II.

The ways of sapience are not much liable either to particularity or chance.

The second part of metaphysic is the inquiry of final causes, which I am moved to report not as omitted, but as misplaced; and yet if it were but a fault in order, I would not speak of it: for order is matter of illustration, but pertaineth not to the substance of sciences. But this misplacing hath caused a deficience, or at least a great improficience in the sciences themselves. For the handling of final causes, mixed with the rest in physical inquiries, hath intercepted the severe and diligent inquiry of all real and physical causes, and given men the occasion to stay upon these satisfactory and specious causes, to the great arrest and prejudice of further discovery. For this I find done not only by Plato, who ever anchoreth upon that shore, but by Aristotle, Galen, and others which do usually likewise fall upon these flats of discoursing causes. For to say that the hairs of the eyelids are for a quickset and fence about the sight; or that the firmness of the skins and hides of living creatures is to defend them from the extremities of heat or cold; or that the bones are for the columns or beams, whereupon the frames of the bodies of living creatures are built; or that the leaves of trees are for protecting of the fruit; or that the clouds are for the watering of the earth; or that the solidness of the earth is for the station and mansion of living creatures, and the like, is well inquired and collected in metaphysic; but in physic they are impertinent. Nay, they are indeed but remoras and hinderances to stay and slug the ship from further sailing; and have brought this to pass, that the search of the physical causes hath been neglected, and passed in silence. And therefore the natural philosophy of Democritus and some others, (who did not suppose a mind or reason in the frame of things, but attributed the form thereof, able to maintain itself, to infinite essays or proofs of nature, which they term fortune,) seemeth to me, as far as I can judge by the recital and fragments which remain unto us, in particularities of physical causes, more real and better inquired than that of Aristotle and Plato; whereof both intermingled final cruises, the one as a part of theology, and the other as a part of logic, which were the favourite studies respectively of both those persons. Not because those final causes are not true, and worthy to be inquired, being kept within their own province; but because their excursions into the limits of physical causes hath bred a vastness and solitude in that track. For otherwise, keeping their precincts and borders, men are extremely deceived if they think there is an enmity or repugnancy at all between them. For the cause rendered, that the hairs about the eyelids are for the safeguard of the sight, doth not impugn the cause rendered, that pilosity is incident to orifices of moisture; "Muscosi fontes," &c. Nor the cause rendered, that the firmness of hides is for the armour of the body against extremities of heat and cold, doth not impugn the cause rendered, that contraction of pores is incident to the outwardest parts, in regard of their adjacence to foreign or unlike bodies; and so of the rest: both causes being true and compatible, the one declaring an intention the other a consequence only.

Neither doth this call in question, or derogate from divine providence, but highly confirm and exalt it. For as in civil actions he is the greate; and deeper politician, that can make other men the instruments of his will and ends, and yet never acquaint them with his purpose, so as they shall do it, and yet not know what they do, than he that imparteth his meaning to those he employeth; so is the wisdom of God more admirable, when nature intendeth one thing, and providence draweth forth another, than if he had communicated to particular creatures and motions the characters and impressions of his providence. And thus much for metaphysic; the latter part whereof I allow as extant, but wish it confined to its proper place.

Nevertheless there remaineth yet another part of natural philosophy, which is commonly made a principal part, and holdeth rank with physic special and mctaphysic, which is Mathematic; but I think it more agreeable to the nature of things, and to the light of order, to place it as a branch of metaphysic: for the subject of it being quantity, (not quantity indefinite, which is but a relative, and belongeth to "philosophia prima," as hath been said, but quantity determined or proportionable,) it appeareth to be one of the essential forms of things; as that that is causative in nature of a number of effects; insomuch as we see, in the schools both of Democritus and of Pythagoras, that the one did ascribe figure to the first seeds of things, and the other did suppose numbers to be the principles and originals of things: and it is true also, that of all other forms, as we understand forms, it is the most abstracted and separable from matter, and therefore most proper to metaphysic: which hath likewise been the cause why it hath been better laboured and inquired than any of the other forms, which are more immersed in matter.

For it being the nature of the mind of man, to the extreme prejudice of knowledge, to delight in the spacious liberty of generalities, as in a champaign region, and not in the enclosures of particularity; the mathematics of all other knowledge were the goodliest fields to satisfy that appetite.

But for the placing of this science, it is not much material: only we have endeavoured, in these our partitions, to observe a kind of perspective, that one part may cast light upon another.

The Mathematics are either pure or mixed. To the pure mathematics are those sciences