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liness of youth; it gave the soul a bright and a full view into all things, and was not only a window, but itself the prospect."
Such was Adam in Paradise. Speaking of fallen man, he says: "Take the picture of a man in the greenness and vivacity of his youth, and in the latter date and declensions of his drooping years, and you will scarce know it to belong to the same person: there would be more art to discern, than at first to draw it. The same and greater is the difference between man innocent and fallen, He is, as it were, a new kind or species; the plague of sin has even altered his nature, and eaten into his very essentials. The image of God is wiped out, the creatures have shook off his yoke, renounced his sovereignty and revolted from his dominion. Distempers and diseases have shattered the excellent frame of his body; and by a new dispensation, immortality is swallowed up of mortality. The same disaster and decay also has invaded his spirituals: the passions rebel, every faculty would usurp and rule; and there are so many governors, that there can be no government. The light within us is become darkness; and the understanding, that should be eyes to the blind faculty of the will, is blind itself, and so brings all the inconveniences, that attend a blind follower under the conduct of a blind guide. He that would have a clear, ocular demonstration of this, let him reflect upon that numerous litter of strange, senseless, absurd opinions, that crawl about the world, to the disgrace of reason, and the unanswerable reproach of a broken intellect."
To the operation of these idols, Bacon ascribes this mental degradation: by which our judgments are diverted from the truth by the strength of immediate impression: by which we do not decide with unbiassed impartiality: we suffer passions to interfere with the love of truth: we form hasty opinions: we are tenacious in retaining opinions when formed: and wander into endless inquiry.
We will subjoin in detached sentences, as a specimen both of the manner and substance of the Novum Organum, an illustration of some of these idols.
"The Mind is warped by the Strength of immediate Impression.
"1. As things escape the senses from preposition by another object; so a flood of light let in at once upon the mind is apt to dazzle and disorder it. It is warped by a strong heat.
"2. The human intellect is most moved by those things that strike and enter it all at once; so that whoever studies the nature of things should suspect whatever powerfully strikes and determines the mind, and use so much the greater caution to preserve his mind pure and equable in such kind of tenets.
"If Man is under the Influence of any Passion more powerful than the Love of Truth, he swerves from the Truth.
1. Man would contend that two and two did not make four, if his interests were affected by this position.
"2. The light of the understanding is not a dry and pure light but drenched in the will and affections, and the intellect forms the sciences accordingly.__What men desire should be true they are most inclined to believe. The understanding, therefore, rejects things difficult as being impatient of enquiry: things just and solid, because they limit hope; and the deeper mysteries of nature through superstition: it rejects the light of experience through pride and haughtiness, as disdaining the mind should be meanly and waverly employed: it excludes paradoxes for fear of the vulgar: and thus the affections tinge and infect the understanding numberless ways, and sometimes imperceptibly.
3. Agnus was the only combination which the wolf, learning to spell, could make of the twenty-four letters of the alphabet.
4. In the memoirs of Baron Grimm, he says, "Madame Geoffrin avait fait à M. de Rhulière des offres assez considérable pour l'engager à jeter au feu son Manuscrit sur la Russie. Il lui prouva très éloquemment que ce serait de sa part l'action la plus indigne et la plus lâche. A tout ce grand étalage d'honneur, de vertu, de sensibilité qu'elle avait paru écouter avec beaucoup de patience, elle ne lui répondit que ces deux mots: En voulezvous davantage?"
5. A certain English ambassador, who had a long time resided at the court of Rome, was on his return introduced at the levee of Queen Caroline. This lady asked him why in his absence he did not try to make a convert of the Pope to the Protestant religion? He answered, "Madam, the reason was, that I had nothing better to offer his Holiness than what he already has in his possession."
Man is tenacious in retaining his opinions.
1. Some men of genius are wrapped up in the admiration of antiquity; others spend themselves in a fondness for novelty; and few are so tempered as to hold a mean; but either quarrel with what was justly laid down by the ancients, or despise what is justly advanced by the moderns. And this is highly prejudicial to philosophy: for truth is not to be derived from any felicity of times, which is an uncertain thing, but from the light of nature, which is eternal.
2. One man is muffled up in the zeal and infallibility of his own sect, and will not touch a book or enter into debate by which the opinions that to him are sacred may be questioned.
VOL. III. PART I.
3. One man loaths all science but what is subject to the immediate observation of the senses, of the eye, of the touch. To him there is nothing worth pursuit but that which he can handle: which he can measure with a two-foot rule; which he can tell upon ten fingers.
4. He says, if the wit and mind of man work upon matter which is the contemplation of the creatures of God, it worketh according to the stuff and is limited thereby: but if it work upon itself as the spider worketh his web, then it is endless, bringing forth, indeed, cobwebs of learning, admirable for the fineness of their texture, but of no substance or profit.
5. Another man has such a reverence and adoration of the mind and understanding of man, that he withdraws himself from the contemplations of nature and the observations of experience, and tumbles up and down in his own speculations and conceits. 6. In the preface to the work of an enlightened philosopher, to whom the community is indebted for a valuable treatise on "Heat," he says, "I have found myself compelled to relinquish some preconceived notions: but I have not abandoned them hastily, nor, till after a warm and obstinate defence, I was driven from every post."
Man has a tendency to hasty generalization.
1. There is another haste that does often, and will mislead the mind if it be left to itself, and its own conduct. The understanding is naturally forward, not only to learn its knowledge by variety, (which makes it skip over one to get speedily to another part of knowledge), but also eager to enlarge its views by running too fast into general observations and conclusions, without a due examination of particulars enough whereon to found those general axioms. This seems to enlarge their stock, but it is of fancies not realities: such theories, built upon narrow foundations, stand but weakly, and if they fall not themselves, are at least very hard to be supported against the assault of opposition.
2. It is the nature of man, to the great prejudice of knowledge, to delight in the open fields of generals rather than in the woods and inclosures of particulars:-therefore nothing was found more acceptable and delightful than the mathematics; wherein that appetite of expatiating and meditating might be satisfied.
"3. The inferring a general position from a nude enumeration of particulars without an instance contradictory is vicious: nor doth such an induction infer more than a probable conjecture that there is no repugnant instance undiscovered. For who will take upon him, when the particulars which a man knows and which he hath mentioned appear only on one side, there may not lurk some particular which is altogether repugnant. As if Samuel should have rested in those sons
of Jesse which were brought before him in the house, and should not have sought David who was absent in the field.
"4. The abandoning universality is an opposite error to hasty generalization. For after distribution of particular arts and sciences into their several places, many men have presently abandoned the universal notion of things, or philosophia prima, which is a deadly enemy to all progression, for prospects are made from turrets and high places; and it is impossible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the flat and level of the same science, and ascend not as into a watch-tower to a higher science.
The mind has a tendency to run into subtleties and refinements, and endless inquiry.
1. The great error of our nature is not to know where to stop, not to be satisfied with any reasonable acquirement: no to compound with our condition: but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable pursuit after more. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
2. The human understanding shoots itself out, and cannot rest, but still goes on, though to no purpose.
"3. The mind of man is as a mirror or glass, capable of the image of the universal world, and as joyful to receive the impressions thereof as the eye rejoices to receive the light; and not only delighted in the beholding the variety of things and the vicissitudes of times, but raised also to discover the inviolable laws and the infallible decrees of nature:-but if any man shall think by view and enquiry into sensible and material things, to attain that light whereby he may reveal unto himself the nature and will of God, then is he spoiled through vain philosophy: for the sense of man is as the sun which opens and reveals the terrestrial bodies, but conceals and obscures the stars and bodies celestial.
"The Mind is warped by supposing that Nature acts in the same way as
“1. The human mind supposes that man is, as it were, the common measure and mirror, or glass of nature; and it is not credible (if all particulars were scanned and noted) what a troop of fictions and idols, the reduction of the operations of nature, to the similitude of human actions, hath brought into philosophy; I say, this very fancy, that it should be thought that nature doth the same things that man doth. Instead of this arrogance, men should intentively observe all the workmanship and particular workings of nature, and meditate which of these may be translated into arts for the benefit and use of
"2. The understanding is perverted by the sight of things performed in the mechanic arts, which generally alter the bodies by composition or separation : whence men are apt to imagine that something of the like kind happens in all natural bodies: and from this notion
the figment of the elements and their uniting to compose all natural bodies had its rise.
"The Mind has a tendency to hasty assent without due and mature suspension of judgment.
"1. The mind of man doth wonderfully endeavour and extremely covet that it may not be pensile: but that it may light upon something fixed and immoveable, on which, as on a firmament, it may support itself in its swift motions and disquisitions. Aristotle endeavours to prove that in all motions of bodies there is some point quiescent: and very elegantly expounds the fable of Atlas, who stood fixed, and bare up the heavens from falling, to be meant of the poles of the world, whereupon the conversion is accomplished. In like manner, men do earnestly seek to have some atlas or axis of their cogitations within themselves, which may, in some measure, moderate the fluctuations and wheelings of the understanding, fearing it may be the falling of their heaven.
"2. An impatience of doubt and an unadvised haste to assertion without due and mature suspension of the judgment, is an error in the conduct of the understanding. For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action commonly spoken of by the ancients of which the one was a plain and smooth way in the beginning, but in the end impassable: the other, rough and troublesome in the entrance, but, after a while, fair and even: so it is in contemplations: if a man will begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he can be content to begin with doubts and have patience awhile, he shall end in certainties.
"3. This tendency to hasty assent is one of the chief causes of credulity, which is of two sorts: it is either of matters of fact, which are admitted without a careful examination, or of matters of opinion, which are either in certain arts and sciences, or in certain favourite authors, who are regarded not as Consuls to advise, but as Dictators to command.
"The Mind is more disposed to Affirmatives than Negatives.*
"1. The mind has the peculiar and constant error of being more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives, whereas it should duly and equally yield to both. But, on the contrary, in the raising of true axioms, negative instances have the greatest force.
"2. The mind of man, if a thing have once been existent, and held good, receives a deeper impression thereof, than if the same thing far more often failed and fell out otherwise: which is the root, as it were, of all superstition and vain credulity. So that he answered well to him that shewed him the great number of pictures of such as had escaped shipwreck, and had paid their vows: and, being pressed with this interrogatory, whether he did not now confess the divinity of
*This seems to be in the nature of a corollary to the last proposition.