Obrazy na stronie

quam fin

III. Noftre But where shall we fix among all these UnPbyfica certainties; or by what Direction shall we steer tu nofti, que conti in so difficult a Way ? Plutarch, in the second nentur ex Volume of his Opuscula, reports at large the effe&tione different Opinions of the ancient Naturalists, & ex ma as Tully had done before him in his Books of teriâ

Acadeinick Questions; and both the one and the git & for. other acquiesce in that of Aristotle, as, upon a mat effe-. nice Examination, preferable to all the rest. &io.

In which Judgment they are follow'd by Galen, Cic. lolo and by all the greatest Genius's of succeeding Qu. Ac.

Times. We have here a noble Appearance in Laudemus

Aristotle's behalf; and what can be alledg’d Deum qui more for the Honour and Advantage of this Separavit great Philosopher,than the concurrent Testimony Aristote.. of so many famous Men, admir'd for the Solibem ab ali- dity of their Judgment, and Exa&tness of their

Censure. The fame Opinion of Aristotle's &tione, appropria- Worth was afterwards entertain'd by all that apvitque plied themselves to contemplate the vast Capaultimam city of his mighty Genius. S. Ferom confesses, ei dignita. that the Soul of this Philosopher was a kind of nam, quam Prodigy in Nature, and that he knew as much nulius po- as 'tis poffible for Man, by his own unaslisted rest attin- Strength to attain. Medina

a Spanish Divine, do's not stick to assert, that the Force of huEx Aver. J. 1. de

man Understanding could not go so far into the Gener. Knowledge of natural Things, as Aristotle apHieron. pears to have done, without the pecuļiar Aid Epift. either of a good or evil Spirit. And it must be Th. l. 2. granted, that as he gives us a Rehearsal of all

that had been propos'd in Physicks before his Time, in order to refute it; so there has scarce been any Thing rationally advanc'd in this Science, which did not pass thro' his Invention, and derive it's Principles from his Store. But because Men either seldom study him in the Ori


In Dir.

Eu. 109. A. l.

ginal, or seldom understand him, they are too apt to take what he approves for what he rejeats

, and what he rejects for what he approves. And 'twas this produc'd that frequent Contradi&tion among his Followers, who to gain the Support and Honour of his Authority, brought him to their Side whether he would or no. And then 'tis not strange they fhould fo miserably lose themselves, when they had first compellid their Guide to go astray.

i IV. 63 6.3,0) Yet let us not be dazled with this Splendor of Aristotle's Name and Glory; let us set aside the Voice of so many Ages, and the Suffrage of all the Learned concurring in his Favour. Let us view Aristotle as he appears in himself; let us obferve how he has managed the Subject of natural Philosophy, that great Rock upon which so many of his Profession have fplit, and that we may pass the more equitable Judgment on his Doctrine, let us first consider it in its Principles. We may expect that fo great a Genius, and so much above the ordinary Standard, could not proceed, but by uncommon Ways. He begins therefore with a Kind of History of the Opinions of all the Philofophers before him; he desires to know all that others have said, that his Mind may be stor'd and replenish'd with his Matter, and he may deliver nothing but upon the fullest Information. And whereas Plato af fected a personal View of all his learned Contemporaries of all Nations, and travell’d into Egypt, Persia, and Italy, to enjoy their Converse, and be satisfied of their Opinions ; Aristotle shut himself up in his Study, to inspect and examine all that had been written upon the Subiect of Nature, and upon this Examination to build his own Hypothesis, rejecting every Thing that made against it, and taking in every Thing that afforded it Countenance and Support. This is the first Draught of his Method; he offers nothing but what he is assurd of by his perfe&t Comprehension of the several Doctrines advanced by his Predecessors. His Phylicks are an Abridgment of those of Pythagoras, Ocellus Lucanus, Timaus, Leucippus, Parmenides, Hippocrates, Melissus, Democritus, and the rest of the elder Sages. And it may be affirm’d that he shews a greater Concern to destroy their Systems, than to establish his own. At least, Joseph Scaliger, who studied him very closely, appears to have been of this Judgment. The greatest Part of the ancient Naturalists asserted Things precariously, and utter'd their Fancies and imaginary Schemes. Aristotle alone search'd his Matter to the Bot. tom, prepared and disposed it, by ridding all contrary Tenets out of the Way, and pronounced upon nothing till he had defeated the opposite Allertion, which was his peculiar Talent. By this gradual Method his own Principles of Nature are introduc'd.


For having refuted the Notion of Parmenides and Melisus, who held bat one Principle, infinite and immoveable; and having evinced the Absurdity of Democritus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, &c. He substitutes his own three Principles, Matter, Form and Privation, as those by, which we might best comprehend the Change that is made in all natural Productions; in which we always suppose somewhat that receives, and somewhat that is receiv'd ; or some common Subject of the Form excluded, and the Form admitted in its Place: And this is so true and certain that we can form no Idea of a natural Generation without it. Plato who allow'd two of Aristotle's Principles, Matter and Forme did not distin


[ocr errors]

guilh Privation from Matter; and therefore Aristotle, the Author of the Distinction, boasts of it as his own peculiar Work. And hence he Ex Caraffirms in the last Chapters of the first Book of pent. his Physicks, that most of the Errors of anci- præf. in ent Philosophy, were owing to the Neglect of Alcino. Philosophers, in not framing a clear and accurate Difcernment between Matter and Privation. What he calls Form, is no more than the Cause and Original of the several Dispositions, Qualities and Operations, in every compound

Being; or that which constitutes a Thing in its E essential Perfections.' Thus if we take these

three Principles of Aristotle, as a proper Method to give us an Idea of what passes in the common Generation of Things, and to facilitate our Knowledge of Nature, they seem preferable to all that have been invented by other Authors. Let us now take a cursory View of the Series of his general Physicks.

V. In the first Book he fets down the Method and Order of his following Design, and since the Face of Nature is so dark and obscure, he maintains that we ought to raise our Speculation by so many Steps and Degrees, from confus'd and inévident Notions to those that are clear and Evident, and

to descend in this Science, from Generals to Pari ticulars : He adds that there is no other way of 1

İNustrating the latter, but by bringing them to i

the notice of Sense, and by cloathing them in their proper Circumstances. Having settled this Method, in the remaining Part of the Book, he refutes the Principles of the other Philosophers, and establishes his own in their Room. In the fecond Book he discourses of Näture, and states the true Meaning and import of that Term. In the fame Book, as also in their Third, Fourth



and Fifth, he treats of the Division of Causes, of Motion and Place, the Affection of natural Bodies. In the Sixth he explains the Nature of Quantity, and makes a just Treatise on that one Subject. He begins in his seventh Book to settle the Doctrine of a first Mover ;; and in the eighth he fpeaks of Time, the natural Rule and Mea. fure of Motion. He describes the heavenly Bodies, their Matters or Substance, their Qualities, Morion, Situation and Figure, and all that relates to the System of the World, in bis first and second Book de Calo: In the third and fourth, he treats of the Gravity and Levity of the heavenly Bodies, and of the different Opinions entertain'd by the Ancients on that Subject. In his first Book of Meteors, he represents those that are produc'd in the Air; as in the third and fourth, those that are generated in the Earth and Sea: It is here that he accounts for Winds, and Thunder, and Lightning, and Exhalations; for the Rainbow, and the Parhelia. In the fourth he discourses of Heat and Cold, of Driness and Moisture, of Putrefaction and of Salts, of the various Qualities of mixt Bodies, their Composition and Temperament. In his three Books of the Soul, he explains all that belongs to its Nature and Operations, whether ia respect of the outward Senses, or of the inward Faculties. In his Book of Parva Naturalia, he enlarges more particularly on the Subject of Sensation, Memory, aud Reminiscence, of Sleeping and Waking, of Dreams, and the Prognosticks of Dreams, of the Motions of Animals, and their various Gate and Pace, of the Length and Shortness of Life, of Youth and Old Age; of Reputation, of Health and Sickness. The History of Animals is his Master-piece, and the most finish'd of all his Treatises of Nature :


« PoprzedniaDalej »