« PoprzedniaDalej »
had the Vogue for Acutenefs and Subtlety of Wit; with what Juftice we may eafily difcern. Hence proceeded that dead Weight of Sums, and Courses, and Comments, which ftifled all the Remains of good Letters in the World. Yet we must confefs, That the fcholaftick Method, how barren foever, was ftrong and substantial, and very proper for the Detection of Falfhood; Error and Sophiftry not being able to stand before its Light. And, as for that Sharpness and Severity, thofe Animofities, and Heats, and Transports, that appear'd\ in the publick Contentions, they were not fo much the Fault of the Schools, as of those who disturb'd the Schools, and perverted their genuine Ufe.
The fame Ages produced three other Philofophers, who by a Spirit of Innovation, deferted the fcholaftick Rules, and fet up a quite oppofite Method. These were Remondus Lullius, Cardan and Paracelfus, who feem'd to have follow'd almost the fame Character under three very different Views. Lully, by the Commerce he held with the Arabians, attain'd an eminent Skill in natural Philofophy, Aftronomy, and Medicine: Out of these three Sciences he compos'd a Fourth, that of Chy mistry; of which he defired to pass for the great Restorer in Italy and Spain. He attempted utterly to difplace the Order establish'd in the Schools, by a Method of his own Invention, which is fo far from making Men learned, that it has fcarce ever fuffer'd them to continue rational. Cardan's Genius is irregular and vaft, flying at all, and fixing upon nothing. What he tells us of his own In Dial, Spirit, that it was form'd of a Mixture of Saturn and Mercury, is ridiculously whimsical: And
what he adds, that he held no Communication with it but in Dreams, has ftill more of the Enthufiaft, or the Madman. It was he, that by bringing the dark and cabalistical Philofophy again upon the Stage, fill'd the World with airy Appearances; and pretended, by the Refinements of his Art, to turn Men into the Magnus Similitude of pure Spirit: But Paracelfus, who Chymifta- had more the Air of an Operator, than of a rum pater Philofopher, was the most extravagant of these Paracel Undertakers. He had entertain'd an unaccounjus, cujus
philofo- table Design of framing a new Philofophy,
Doctrine of Pythagoras in Germany, as Marcilius Ficinus had re-establish'd that of Plato in Italy. Such were the Distempers of thofe Ages, the Weakness of which fufficiently fhews it felf in thefe different Ragouts of Philofophy, this Contrariety in Opinions, and general Inftability of Judgment.
To proceed; as the Love of Learning, and efpecially of Philofophy, was now confin'd to Europe, fo different Nations applied them felves to it, according to the Difference of their Ge-nius. The Spaniards grew fubtile in their Rea fonings, great Formalifts and Metaphyficians, as having an Head turn'd for fevere Reflection, and grave Difputes. The Italians aflum'd a more agreeable Character of Wit, and were choice and curious in fine Ideas. The Works of Niphus gave them a Value for Ariftotle's Philofophy, as thofe of Cardinal Beffarion, and Marcilius Ficinus, infpired them with a Passion for the Doctrine of Plato, to which they were more inclined than their Neighbours, by the Beauty of their Genius, which is publick and lively, and impatient of hard Labour. The French, as they found themselves capable of all Sciences, fo they ventur'd upon all; and by their ingeni ous and inquifitive Temper, fuccessfully copied whatever was excellent in other Nations. The English by that Depth of Genius which is natu→ ral to them, undertook the more abftrufe Refearches, into the Caufes of Things, and by an invincible Application to Labour, excell'd the reft of Europe in their Improvements of natural Knowledge; as appears from the Works they have publifh'd on this Subject. The Germans, by the Neceffity which their Climate lays upon them of keeping near the Fire, and by the CC 2
Convenience of their Stoves, apply'd themfelves to Chymistry; together with the other People of the North. Thus the fouthern Countries were imploy'd, in rendring Philofophy profound and fubtile; the Northern in rendring it laborious and mechanical. Of modern Philofophers, those who have made the greatest Noife, are Galilei, an Italian, Bacon, Hobbes and Boyle Englifhmen, Gaffendus and Defcartes Frenchmen, and Vanhelmont a Fleming. Galilei feems to have had the finest Genius, and ought, in my Opinion, to be look'd on as the Father of modern Philofophy. His Method holds a near Refemblance with that of the Platonifts; his Style is agreeable, and he difguifes a great many Faults under his artful Manner of Writing. Whatever he has borrow'd from the Ancients he makes his own; and in many Places where his Work is but a Copy, we take it for an Original. BaCon's Genius is extenfive and vaft; the Largeness of his Capacity hinders him from being ftrictly accurate; and he cannot ftay to go to the Bottom of Things. The greatest Part of his Maxims, are rather Heads of Meditations, and Noble Strictures of Thought, than Rules of Pra&tice; his Opinions feem too fine and too glittering; more like fudden Sparks of Fire, than like a continued and natural Light. Hobbes is obfcure and unplea fant, fingular in his Notions; learned but not folid, inconftant in his Sect and Party; sometimes an Epicurean, fometimes a Peripatetick Boyle is exact in his Obfervations; no Perfon in Europe has enrich'd Philofophy with fo many Experiments, and he reafons very justly from thofe Experiments; which yet are not always infallible, because the Principles on which they proceed have no abfolute Ćertainty. After all, he must be own'd to be a noble
noble Philofopher, and a great Master of Nature. Gaffendus, who acts only as a Reftorer of the Philofophy of Democritus and Epicurus, advances little himself, and has fcarce any Thing of his own, but his Beauty of Stile, in which he is admirable. To refute his natural System, we need only make use of the Arguments urged by AriStotle against Democritus and his Followers. Defcartes is one of the most extraordinary Wits that has appear'd in these latter Ages; of a fertile Invention, and a profound Meditation; the thread of his Doctrine is finely drawn out; the Method, according to his Principles, exactly contriv'd; and his Syftem, tho' partly ancient and partly modern, very well put together. Indeed he inclines too much to Scepticism, and is a very ill Pattern for those who are naturally of an incredulous Temper; but still he is more of an Original in his Way. Vanhelmont, by the Skill in natural Caufes which he had obtain'd after his peculiar Manner; perform'd fo prodigious Cures, that he was put into the Inquifition, as fufpected of doing Things beyond the Powers of Nature. In a Word, Galilei is the moft agreeable of the Moderns; Bacon the most fubtile; Gaffendus the most learned and knowing; Hobbes the most roving and capricious; Boyle the most curious; Defcartes the most ingenious; Vanbelmont the most of a Naturalist, but too much addicted to Paracelfus; the general Method of his Doctrine is founded upon the Sympathy and Antipathy of Minerals and Simples, of which' he had a very great Comprehenfion. XIX.
After a fummary View of the different Opinions and Characters of ancient and modern Philofophy, this is what may be faid upon the Comparison. The Ancient is grounded more