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the four firft Books are taken up with reprefent Perfecutus
This is what may be offer'd on the favourable Side, as to the natural Philofophy of Aristotle: Let us now confider what may be alledg'd against it, or what there is in it that may seem chiefly liable to Cenfure. The eight Books of Phyficks appear confus'd, nor are they carried on with a natural Order and Dependance. The Materia prima, and the bringing of Forms out of this Matter, are both extreamly difficult to our Apprehenfion. The whole Treatife of Motion is dark and abstracted: The Arguments alledged to prove the Eternity of Motion, through the Course of the eighth Book, are unintelligiH.h
ble; and that whole Book is of too metaphyfical a Character. Nor are this Philofopher's Difcourfes of Time and Place, peculiar to the Subject of Phyficks, fince they agree likewife to spiritual Subftances. His Doctrine of Time is borrow'd from Archytas, as that of Motion, is from Ocellus, and that concerning a Vacuum, from Timaus, as Patricius has informd us. What he advances in his first two Books de Cœlo, as alfo in his Explication of Comets, of the Rainbow, and other Meteors, is by no means found true in all its Circumstances: But we ought to except his fourth Book of Meteors, which feems to be compiled with greater Accuracy than the reft. The Situation, that in his third Book de Calo, he gives the Element of Fire, under the Concave of the Moon, agreeably to the Opinion of Leucippus and Democritus, has no Manner of Foundation: Pythagoras was of quite another Judgment in this Matter. In his fecond Book of Meteors, he pretends, that the Earth is unhabitable under the Equinox, which is contradicted by Experience. But, what he delivers, as to the Eternity of the World,how false foever, may seem the most pardonable Mistake. He conceiv'd all Things to proceed from God in the Way of neceflary Emanation, as the Light which we fee darted from the Sun is coæval with the Solar Body. This feems to afford us an Advantage against the Herefy of the Arians, who would not acknowledge the Divine Word, to be Principium a Principio, or coeternal with the Father. Thus Ariftotle's Error may be of Service against these Corruptions, who perhaps had not fallen into fuch an Extravagance, if they had hearken'd to the Reasonings of this Philofopher, though by himself mifapplied. Pawisius a Philofopher of Venice, in his Difcuffion
of the Ariftotelian Doctrine, Ramus in his School of Phyficks, and Gaffendus in his Obfervations against the Peripateticks, report a great Number of Inftances, in which Ariftotle appears to have mistaken the Subject of Nature; efpecially about the Order and Conftruction of the heavenly Bodies, the Hiftory of Animals, the Anatomy of human Body, &c. I freely grant that the modern Philofophy, having been fo far improv❜d by Experiments of all Kinds, and fo much affifted by the Benefit of newly invented Inftruments, may have out-done Ariftotle's Performance in many Particulars which Time alone could clear; and that the Opinions of the ancient Philofophers concerning the Heaven,and heavenly Bodies, recited by Plutarch in the fe cond Tome of his Works, have been found, for the most part, to be falfe, by the Inftruments and Obfervations of later Discoveries. To be brief, I acknowledge that Ariftotle is lefs demonftrative in his Phyficks, than in the other Parts of his Philofophy; that his Method is lefs accurate, and his whole Character and Conduct lefs accomplish'd. But we ought to impute this Default, rather to the Incapacity of the Matter, than to the Unskilfulness of the Workman: His Genius is always the fame, and maintains an equal Force in all its Reasonings and Reflections. But Reafon, how foever extenfive and univerfal it may feem, has its Bounds in certain Subjects, and if it tranfgrefs thofe Bounds, it ventures too far, and is in Danger of lofing it felf.
As for the Judgment that we may make of all the other Naturalifts, ancient or modern, it is as follows. We have no Remains of what the Egyp tians perform'd in this Kind, except their Obfer Hh 2
vations on the Heavens, and heavenly Bodies which they were better acquainted with than other Nations, their Genius carrying them to Com. in Aftrology and Prognofticks. Simplician tells us, Lib, de that Callifthenes, at the Requeft of his Father Cœlo. Ariftotle, fent into Greece the Observations that Ex Jof. had been made by the Chaldeans, for almoft Scalig. Epift. ad two thousand Years before Alexander: And PorRhodom. phyry declares that he himself had seen these Amicos in Obfervations. What the Phoenicians and Athi
ut ea à
quibus eft opians had written of Phyficks, is loft with the ad Graci- Books of Diodorus Siculus, from the Fifth to the am mitto, Eleventh. But the Greeks, who were Masters ad Græcos of all other Sciences, were fo efpecially of this, ire jubeo, in which they have written beyond the reft of fontibus the World; and may be ftyl'd the first Aupotius thors of natural Difcoveries. For Plutarch, in bauriant, his Life of Nicias, informs us, that Anaxagoquam ri- ras, and the other Ionick Philofophers of those fedentur. Days, were purely Naturalifts. The Affyrians, Cic. Acad properly speaking, knew no more than the first Qu. 1. Elements of Aftronomy, by their inaccurate Obfervations, made without the Help of Inftruments for they had no other Way of meafuring the Cæleftial Motions, but by Water-dials. Among the Philofophers of Greece, Pythagoras and Ocellus, Archytas and Timaus, Difciples to the latter, Hippocrates, Leucippus and Democritus, Nobili applied themfelves to the Study of Nature, and mus Pbilo- adorn'd it with more Succefs than others. Demofophorum Democri- critus appears to have been a very eminent Naturalift. Aulus Gellius gives him a wonderful Encopræter a- mium. Empedocles compos'd a Syftem of Phylios vene- ficks in Verfe, according to Pythagoras's Princiautoritate ples, which Lucretius fpeaks of as a Prodigy, and antiquâ which is likewife mention'd by Ariftotle, and præditus. 1. 10. C. 12.
Ex materia in fe omnia recipiente mundum fadum effe cenfet Plato. Cic. Qu. Acad. 4.
Diogenes Laertius. Plato has fcarce ever written any Thing on this Subject, but what he borrow'd from the Pythagoreans. The Opinion of Democritus, which had a great Number of Followers, before and after Ariftotle, and which has been revived by the modern Naturalifts, of the greatest Reputation, feems to offer fomewhat more real and fenfible by the Doctrine of Atoms, than Ariftotle has done in his Matter, Form, and Privation. But befides that he establishes Matter without a Mover, and Art without an Artificer, his Doctrine which is the fame with that of Leucippus, upon a nearer View betrays fo many Abfurdities, that it cannot eafily pass it felf upon .us. Socrates finding this Part of Philofophy to be utterly fpoil'd and corrupted by the falfe Reafonings of the Sophifts, applied himself entirely to Morals. And therefore when introduced by Plato, as fpeaking on the Subject of Nature, he does not always fpeak his own Senfe. Theophraftus's Book of Plants is one of the finest natural Treatifes of all Antiquity, in the Judg- ter loquement of Julius Scaliger, who has commented batur aton it. Zeno the Prince of the Stoicks, has no- que omthing particular in his Phyficks, only that he nes, fenti ufes a different Expreffion, from others, though ebat idem he is the fame in Opinion. He establishes two teri. quod cœPrinciples, God and Matter: He fuppofes a Cic. de Soul of the World, diffus'd through all its Parts, Fin. 4. and informing it, as one great Animal. Lipfius Inter Zehas given us an Abridgement of this Philofopher's PeripatePhyficks, as well as of his Ethicks. Epicurus ticos nihas nothing fix'd and certain in his Doctrine of bil inteNature; but is perpetually upon the Ramble. reffe præCicero obferves of him, that as he embraced De- ter verbo
In phyficis quibus maximè gloriatur Epicurus, totus alienus eft. Cic. de Fin. 4.