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BY ROBERT LESLIE ELLIS.
The following fragments of a great work on the Interpretation of Nature were first published in Stephens's Letters and Remains . They consist partly of detached passages, and partly of an epitome of twelve chapters of the first book of the proposed work. The detached passages contain the first, sixth, and eighth chapters, and portions of the fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and sixteenth. The epitome contains an account of the contents of all the chapters from the twelfth to the twenty-sixth inclusive, omitting the twentieth, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth. Thus the sixteenth chapter is mentioned both in the epitome and among the detached passages,
and we are thus enabled to see that the two portions of the following tract belong to the same work, as it appears from both that the sixteenth chapter was to treat of the doctrine of idola.
It is impossible to ascertain the motive which determined Bacon to give to the supposed author the name of Valerius Terminus, or to his commentator, of whose annotations we have no remains, that of Hermes Stella. It may be conjectured that by the name Terminus he intended to intimate that the new philosophy would put an end to the wandering of mankind in search of truth, that it would be the terminus ad quem in which when it was once attained the mind would finally acquiesce.
Again, the obscurity of the text was to be in some measure removed by the annotations of Stella ; not however wholly, for Bacon in the epitome of the eighteenth chapter commends the manner of publishing knowledge “ whereby it shall not be to the capacity nor taste of all, but shall as it were single and adopt his reader.” Stella was therefore to throw a kind of starlight on the subject, enough to prevent the student's losing his way,
but not much more. However this may be, the tract is undoubtedly obscure, partly from the style in which it is written, and partly from its being only a fragment. It is at the same time full of interest, inasmuch as it is the earliest type of the Instauratio. The first book of the work ascribed to Valerius Terminus would have corresponded to the De Augmentis and to the first book of the Novum Organum, the plan being that it should contain whatever was necessary to be known before the new method could be stated. In the second book, as in the second book of the Novum Organum, we should have found the method itself.
The Advancement of Learning, which was developed into the De Augmentis, corresponds to the first ten chapters of Valerius Terminus, and especially to the first and tenth. To the remainder of the book (a few chapters are clearly wanted after the last mentioned in the epitome) corresponds the first book of the Novum Organum. The tenth chapter, of which we have only a small fragment, is entitled “ The Inventory, or an Enumeration and View of Inventions already discovered and in use; together with a note of the wants, and the nature of the supplies.” It therefore corresponds to the second book of the Advancement, and to the last eight books of the De Augmentis, but would doubtless have been a mere summary.'
When Bacon subsequently determined to give more development to this part of the subject, he was naturally led to make a break after the inventory, and thus we get the origin of the separation between the De Augmentis and the Novum Organum.
The most important portion of Valerius Terminus is the eleventh chapter, which contains a general statement of the problem to be solved. It corresponds to the opening axioms of the second book of the Novum Organum, but differs from them in containing very little on the subject of forms. What Bacon afterwards called the investigation of the form he here calls the freeing of a direction. The object to be sought for is, he says, “ the revealing and discovering of new inventions
" See my note at the end of this Preface.- J.S.
and operations.”_" This to be done without the errors and conjectures of art, or the length or difficulties of experience.” In order to guide men's travels, a full direction must be given to them, and the fulness of a direction consists in two conditions, certainty and liberty. Certainty is when the direction is infallible ; liberty when it comprehends all possible ways and
Both conditions are fulfilled by the knowledge of the form, to which the doctrine of direction entirely corresponds. This correspondency Bacon recognises towards the end of the chapter, but in illustrating the two conditions of which we have been speaking he does not use the word form. The notion of the form or formal cause comes into his system only on historical grounds. In truth, in Valerius Terminus he is disposed to illustrate the doctrine of direction not so much by that of the formal cause as by two rules which are of great importance in the logical system of Ramus. “The two com
. mended rules by him set down,” that is by Aristotle, “whereby the axioms of sciences are precepted to be made convertible, and which the latter men have not without elegancy surnamed, the one the rule of truth because it preventeth deceipt; the other the rule of prudence because it freeth election ; are the same thing in speculation and affirmation, which we now affirm." And then follows an example, of which Bacon says that it “ will make my meaning attained, and yet percase make it thought that they attained it not.” In this example the effect to be produced is whiteness, and the first direction given is to intermingle air and water; of this direction it is said that it is certain, but very particular and restrained, and he then goes on to free it by leaving out the unessential conditions. Of this however it is not now necessary to speak at length; but the “two commended rules" may require some illustration.
In many passages of his works Peter Ramus condemns Aristotle for having violated three rules which he had himself propounded. To these rules Ramus gives somewhat fanciful names. The first is the rule of truth, the second the rule of justice, and the third the rule of wisdom. These three rules are all to be fulfilled by the principles of every science (axiomata artium). The first requires the proposition to be in all cases true, the second requires its subject and predicate to be essentially connected together, and the third requires the converse of the proposition to be true as well as the proposition itself. The whole of this theory, to which Ramus and the Ramistæ seem to have ascribed much importance, is founded on the fourth chapter of the first book of the Posterior Analytics. Aristotle in speaking of the principles of demonstration explains the meaning of three phrases, Katà mavtós, de omni; ka@' aŭtó, per se; and kalórov, universaliter. When the predicate can be affirmed in all cases and at all times of the subject of a proposition, the predication is said to be de omni or katà martós. Again, whatever is so connected with the essence of a thing as to be involved in its definition is said to belong to it per se, kall' aútó, and the same phrase is applicable when the thing itself is involved in the definition of that which we refer to it. Thus a line belongs per se to the notion of a triangle, because the definition of a triangle involves the conception of a line, and odd and even belong per se to the notion of number, because the definition of odd or even introduces the notion of a number divisible or not divisible into equal parts. Lastly, that which always belongs to any given subject, and belongs to it inasmuch as it is that which it is, is said to belong to it kalónov, universaliter. Thus to have angles equal to two right angles does not belong to any figure taken at random, it is not true of figure katà mavtós, and though it is true of any isosceles triangle yet it is not true of it in the first instance? nor inasmuch as it is isosceles. But it is true of a triangle in all cases and because it is a triangle, and therefore belongs to it kalórov, universaliter. It is manifest that whenever this is the case the proposition is convertible. Thus a figure having angles equal to two right angles is a triangle.
Aristotle is not laying down three general rules, but he was understood to do so by Ramus — whose rules of truth, justice, and wisdom respectively correspond to the three phrases of which we have been speaking.
Bacon adopting two of these rules, (he makes no allusion to that of justice,) compares them with the two conditions which a direction ought to fulfil. If it be certain, the effect will follow from it at all times and in all cases. And this corresponds to the rule of truth. If it be free, then whenever
Aristotle mentions a third sense of natà Tartós, which it is not here necessary to mention.
2 αλλ' ου πρώτον, αλλά το τρίγωνον πρότερον.
the effect is present the direction must have been complied with. The presence of either implies that of the other. And this is the practical application of the rule of wisdom.
I have thought it well to enter into this explanation, because it shows in the first place that the system of Peter Ramus had considerable influence on Bacon's notions of logic, and in the second that he had formed a complete and definite conception of his own method before he had been led to connect it with the doctrine of forms.
At the end of the eleventh chapter Bacon proposes to give three cautions whereby we may ascertain whether what seems to be a direction really is one. The general principle is that the direction must carry you a degree or remove nearer to action, operation, or light; else it is but an abstract or varied notion. The first of the three particular cautions is “ that the nature discovered be more original than the nature supposed, and not more secondary or of the like degree :” a remark which taken in conjunction with the illustrations by which it is followed, serves to confirm what I have elsewhere endeavoured to show, that Bacon's idea of natural philosophy was the explanation of the secondary qualities of bodies by means of the primary. The second caution is so obscurely expressed that I can only conjecture that it refers to the necessity of studying abstract qualities before commencing the study of concrete bodies. Composition subaltern and composition absolute are placed in antithesis to each other. The latter phrase apparently describes the synthesis of abstract natures by which an actual ultimate species is formed, and the former [refers] to the formation of a class of objects which all agree in possessing the nature which is the subject of inquiry. The fragment breaks off before the delivery of this second caution is completed, and we therefore know nothing of the third and last.