Obrazy na stronie

become acquainted with a peculiar form of "the old atheistic cabala."

The most remarkable passage in which Eros (not Phanes) is spoken of as the producer of all things, is in the Argonautics:

πρῶτα μὲν ἀρχαίου χάεος μεγαλήφατον ὕμνον,
ὡς ἐπάμειψε φύσεις, ὥς τ ̓ οὐρανὸς ἐς πέρας ἦλθεν,
γῆς τ ̓ εὐρυστέρνου γένεσιν, πυθμένας τε θαλάσσης,
πρεσβύτατόν τε καὶ αὐτοτελῆ πολύμητιν Ερωτα,

ὅσσά τ' ἔφυσεν ἅπαντα, τὰ δ ̓ ἔκριθεν ἄλλου ἀπ ̓ ἄλλο.

Nothing is said here, or elsewhere I believe, of his having mingled with Uranos in the engendering of the universe; and I am inclined to think that when Bacon says, "Ipse cum Cælo mistus, et deos et res universos progenuit," we ought to substitute Chao for Colo. For the passage in Aristophanes goes on to say that in wide Tartarus Eros and Chaos mingled in love and produced first the race of birds and then gods and men.

Of Phanes nothing of this kind is mentioned, except his intercourse with Night'; so that Bacon's statement does not seem to be in any way justified.

It would be endless to cite passages in which the attributes of Eros are described, nor is it necessary to do so.

The form in which Bacon connects the myth of the primeval Eros with philosophy is far less artificial and unreal than most of the interpretations which he has given in the Wisdom of the Ancients. Chaos represents uninformed matter; Eros matter actually existing, and possessed of the law or principle by which it is energised; the first principle, in short, which is the cause of all phenomena. The parents of Eros are unknown; that is to say, it is in vain to seek to carry our inquiries beyond the fact of the existence of matter possessed of such and such primitive qualities. On what do those primary qualities ultimately depend? On the "lex summa essentiæ atque naturæ . . . vis scilicet primis particulis a Deo indita, ex cujus multiplicatione omnis rerum varietas emergat et confletur." Whether this highest law can ever be discovered is


'See Cudworth, Intellect. Syst.

2 Argonaut. 423. In the third line voμévas is admitted to be corrupt. I would venture to suggest πολιᾶς, making θαλάσσης the genitive case after γένεσιν.

This conjecture is confirmed by the corresponding passage in the De Sap. Vet., where for cum cœlo mistus we have ex chao. — J. S.

4 Lobeck, i. 501. It is to this intercourse that the line quoted by Proclus refers:Αὐτὸς ἑῆς γὰρ παιδὸς ἀφείλετο κούριον ἄνθος.

by Bacon left here as elsewhere doubtful; but he does not forbid men to seek for it. But what he utterly condemns is the attempt to make philosophy rise above the theory of matter. We must ever remember that Eros has no progenitors, "ne forte intellectus ad inania deflectat"- that we turn not aside to transcendental fancies; for in these the mind can make no real progress, and "dum ad ulteriora tendit ad proximiora recidit." We must of necessity take as the starting point of our philosophy, matter possessed of its primitive qualities; and this principle is in accordance with the wisdom of those by whom the myth of Eros was constructed. And certainly, Bacon goes on to say, "that despoiled and merely passive matter is a figment of the human mind;" a statement which refers to the Aristotelian doctrine in which the primitive λn is not conceived of as a thing actually existing, but as that which first receives existence through the sidos, wherewith it is united. Of this doctrine Bacon asserts that it is altogether trifling: "For that which primarily exists must no less exist than that which thence derives its existence;" that is to say, matter must in itself exist actually and not potentially. And the same conclusion follows from the Scriptures, "wherein it is not said that God created hyle, but that he created heaven and earth."

This application of Scripture certainly does not deserve the indignation which Le Maistre, perhaps in honest ignorance, has poured out upon it.' "He asserts the eternity of matter," is Le Maistre's commentary on the passage in which it occurs. Beyond doubt he denies that hyle was created, but he also denies that it exists; treating it as the mere figment of the Aristotelian philosophy.

But although Le Maistre's remark is only a fair specimen of his whole work, in which ignorance and passion are so mixed together that it is hard to say how much is to be ascribed to the one and how much to the other, yet it cannot be denied that Bacon does not appear to have understood Aristotle. So far from putting at the origin of things that which is potential, and educing the actual from it, Aristotle asserts that any system which does this is untenable; and it is curious that he refers particularly to the theogonists, οἱ ἐκ νυκτὸς γεννῶντες, who

Examen de la Philosophie de Bacon, ii. p. 143.

engender realities out of night.' For night and chaos may not unfitly be taken to represent uninformed matter.2 The doctrine of Aristotle being in this as in other matters followed by the schoolmen, it was a question with them how the words " and the earth was without form," which come immediately after the declaration that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, ought to be understood. For to create the earth is to give it actual existence; how then can it be without form? To this the most satisfactory answer was that the words without form do not imply the absence of substantial form, failing which the earth could have no actual existence, but simply mean that as yet the earth was unadorned and in disorder; a solution in which we see how far they were from supposing that according to Aristotle the first created thing ought to be uninformed matter. They insist on the contrary that the Scripture cannot mean that any created thing can be mere matter: non enim datur ens actu sine actu."


Aristotle, as I have said, condemns the theogonists in whose system Night is a producing principle,— a remark in which he may refer either to Hesiod or to the Orphic writers, but which probably relates to the former only. In the reason of this condemnation Bacon agrees with him, and yet takes into the myth which he proposes to explain, Aristophanes's fancy that the egg from which Eros came forth was laid by Night. His reason for doing so is that this part of the fable appears to him to relate not to essence but to cognition, that is to the method whereby we may arrive at a knowledge of Eros, or of the fundamental properties of matter. For conclusions obtained by means of affirmatives are, so to speak, brought forth by Light: whereas those which are obtained by negatives and exclusions are the offspring of Night and Darkness. Therefore the egg is laid by Night, seeing that the knowledge of Eros, though it is assuredly attainable, can yet only be attained by exclusions and negatives; that is, to express the same opinion in the language of the Novum Organum, the knowledge of Forms necessarily depends on the Exclusiva. That this method of exclusions must of necessity be ultimately successful is intimated by the myth itself; for the incubation of the pri

Arist. Metaph. xii. 6.

2 See Brandis's Schol. in Aristot. p. 803., and for the remarks of Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Lobeck, Aglaoph. i. 488.

meval egg is not eternal. In due time the egg is hatched and Eros is made manifest. If it be asked what analogy there is between darkness and the method of exclusions, Bacon's answer is satisfactory, that darkness is as ignorance, and that in employing the method of exclusions we are all along ignorant of that which at any stage of the process still remains unexcluded. It may again be asked why the method of exclusions is the only one whereby Eros may be disclosed,-a question to which Bacon suggests an answer by saying that Democritus did excellently well in teaching that atoms are devoid of all sensible qualities. Bacon's opinion seems therefore to be, that any method but a negative one would necessarily fail, because that which is sought bears no analogy to any of the sensible objects by which we are surrounded. The parable, he says, maintains throughout the principles of heterogeneity and exclusion: meaning by heterogeneity a strongly marked antithesis between the fundamental qualities of matter and the sensible qualities of which we are directly cognisant. In accordance with this he censures Democritus for departing from this principle in giving his atoms the downward motion of gravity and the impulsive motion (motus plage) which belong to ordinary bodies. Not only are atoms and bodies different as touching their qualities, but also in their motions.

In these views, which however do not show either that the method of exclusions is the only one which can succeed or that it will always do so, there is much which deserves attention. They show that Bacon had obtained a deep insight into the principles of the atomic theory. The earlier developments of this theory have always been encumbered by its being thought necessary, in order to explain phenomena, to ascribe to the atoms properties which in reality belong only to the bodies which they compose; that is, by its being thought necessary to break through Bacon's principle of heterogeneity. Thus the atoms have been supposed of definite sizes and figures, thereby resembling other and larger bodies, and to be perfectly hard and unyielding. When freed from these subsidiary hypotheses, the atomic theory becomes a theory of forces only, and of whatever ulterior developments it may be capable, these can only be introduced when it has assumed this form. The speculations of Boscovich do not mark the farthest point to which the atomic theory may be carried, but they were

nevertheless an essential step in advance, and altogether in accordance with what Bacon has here said, though in an obscure and somewhat abrupt manner. "We do well," remarks Leibnitz, "to think highly of Verulam, for his hard sayings have a deep meaning in them :" a judgment which may not improbably have had a particular reference to the views now spoken of. For Leibnitz's own monadism is in effect only an abstract atomic theory: more abstract doubtless than any thing which Bacon had conceived of, but yet a system which might have been derived from that of Democritus by insisting on and developing Bacon's principle of heterogeneity. And again, in a different point of view, it seems not unlikely that Leibnitz perceived an analogy between his own doctrine and that of Bacon. In the earlier part of his philosophical life, Leibnitz was disposed to agree with the opinion common among the reformers of philosophy, that what Aristotle had said of matter, of form, and of mutation, was to be explained by means of magnitude, figure, and motion. This opinion he ascribes to all the reformers of the seventeenth century, mentioning by name Bacon and several others.2 Thirty years afterwards, in giving some account of the history of his opinions, he says that he came to perceive, "que la seule considération d'une masse étendue ne suffisoit pas, et qu'il falloit employer encore la notion de la force, qui est très-intelligible, quoiqu'elle soit du ressort de la Métaphysique." In introducing this notion of force, he conceived that he was rehabilitating the Aristotelian or scholastic philosophy, seeing "que les formes des Anciens ou Entelechies ne sont autre chose que les forces." These primitive forces being the constituent forms of substances, he supposed them, with one exception (founded on dogmatic grounds), to have been created at the beginning of the world. The "lex a Deo lata" at the creation "reliquit aliquod sui expressum in rebus vestigium," namely an efficacy, or form, or force, by virtue of which and in accordance with the divine precept all phenomena had been engendered."

If we compare these expressions, which contain the fundamental idea of Leibnitz's philosophy, with those which have

'The monad, Leibnitz himself remarks, is a metaphysical point, or formal atom. 2 Epist. ad Thomas. p. 48. of Erdmann's edition of Leibnitz's Phil. Works.

* Système nouveau, p. 124., Erdmann.

Lettre à Bouvet, p. 146., Erdmann.
See his De ipsâ Naturâ, p. 156.

Forces primitives, v. Syst. Nouv.

« PoprzedniaDalej »