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Noftra Phyfica tu nofti, que conti
quam fingit & for mat effe
But where shall we fix among all thefe Uncertainties; or by what Direction fhall we fteer in fo difficult a Way? Plutarch, in the fecond nentur ex Volume of his Opufcula, reports at large the effectione different Opinions of the ancient Naturalifts, & ex maas Tully had done before him in his Books of teriâ eâ Academick Questions; and both the one and the other acquiefce in that of Ariftotle, as, upon a nice Examination, preferable to all the reft. In which Judgment they are follow'd by Galen, Cic. l. 1. and by all the greatest Genius's of fucceeding Qu. Ac. Times. We have here a noble Appearance in Laudemus Ariftotle's behalf; and what can be alledg'd Deum qui more for the Honour and Advantage of this Separavit great Philofopher,than the concurrent Testimony Ariftote of fo many famous Men, admir'd for the Solilem ab alidity of their Judgment, and Exactness of their is in perfe- Cenfure. The fame Opinion of Ariftotle's appropria- Worth was afterwards entertain'd by all that apvitque plied themfelves to contemplate the vast Capaultimam city of his mighty Genius. S. Ferom confeffes, ei dignita- that the Soul of this Philofopher was a Kind of nam, quam Prodigy in Nature, and that he knew as much nullus po- as 'tis poffible for Man, by his own unaffifted seft attin- Strength to attain. Medina, a Spanish Divine, gere. do's not stick to affert, that the Force of huEx Aver. 1. 1. de man Understanding could not go fo far into the Gener. Knowledge of natural Things, as Ariftotle apHieron. pears to have, done, without the peculiar Aid Epift. either of a good or evil Spirit. And it must be granted, that as he gives us a Rehearsal of all that had been propos'd in Phyficks before his Time, in order to refute it; fo there has scarce been any Thing rationally advanc'd in this Science, which did not pafs thro' his Invention, and derive it's Principles from his Store. But because Men either feldom study him in the Ori
Th. 1. 2. Eu. 109.
ginal, or feldom understand him, they are too
Yet let us not be dazled with this Splendor of Ariftotle's Name and Glory; let us fet afide the Voice of fo many Ages, and the Suffrage of all the Learned concurring in his Favour. Let us view Ariftotle as he appears in himself; let us obferve how he has managed the Subject of natural Philofophy, that great Rock upon which fo many of his Profeflion have split, and that we may pass the more equitable Judgment on his Doctrine, let us first confider it in its Principles. We may expect that fo great a Genius, and fo much above the ordinary Standard, could not proceed, but by uncommon Ways. He begins therefore with a Kind of Hiftory of the Opinions of all the Philofophers before him; he defires to know all that others have faid, that his Mind may be ftor'd and replenish'd with his Matter, and he may deliver nothing but upon
the fulleft Information. And whereas Plato af fected a perfonal View of all his learned Contemporaries of all Nations, and travell'd into Egypt, Perfia, and Italy, to enjoy their Converse, and be fatisfied of their Opinions; Ariftotle fhut himself up in his Study, to inspect and examine all that had been written upon the Subject of Nature, and upon this Examination to build his own Hypothefis, rejecting every Thing that
made against it, and taking in every Thing that
afforded it Countenance and Support. The a
the first Draught of his Method; he offers nothing but what he is affur'd of by his perfect Comprehenfion of the feveral Doctrines advanced by his Predeceffors. His Phyficks are an Abridgment of thofe of Pythagoras, Ocellus Lucanus, Timaus, Leucippus, Parmenides, Hippocra tes, Meliffus, Democritus, and the reft of the elder Sages. And it may be affirm'd that he fhews a greater Concern to destroy their Systems, than to establish his own. At least, Jofeph Scaliger, who studied him very closely, appears to have been of this Judgment. The greatest Part of the ancient Naturalifts afferted Things precariously, and utter'd their Fancies and imaginary Schemes. Ariftotle alone fearch'd his Matter to the Bottom, prepared and difpofed it, by ridding all contrary Tenets out of the Way, and pronounced upon nothing till he had defeated the oppofite Affertion, 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 Meliffus, who held but one Principle, infinite and immoveable; and having evinced the Abfurdity of Democritus, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, &c. He fubftitutes his own three Principles, Matter, Form and Privation, as thofe by which we might best comprehend the Change that is made in all natural Productions; in which we always fuppofe fomewhat that receives, and fomewhat that is receiv'd; or fome common Subject of the Form excluded, and the Form admitted in its Place: And this is fo 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 Form, did not diftin
guilh Privation from Matter; and therefore Ariftotle, the Author of the Distinction, boasts of it as his own peculiar Work. And hence he Ex Caraffirms in the laft Chapters of the first Book of pent. his Phyficks, that most of the Errors of anci- præf. in ent Philofophy, were owing to the Neglect of Alcino. Philofophers, in not framing a clear and accurate Discerniment between Matter and Privation. What he calls Form, is no more than the Caufe and Original of the feveral Difpofitions, Qualities and Operations, in every compound Being, or that which conftitutes a Thing in its effential Perfections. Thus if we take these three Principles of Ariftotle, as a proper Method to give us an Idea of what paffes in the common Generation of Things, and to facilitate our Knowledge of Nature, they feem preferable to all that have been invented by other Authors. Let us now take a curfory View of the Series of his general Phyficks.
In the firft Book he fets down the Method and Order of his following Defign, and fince the Face of Nature is fo dark and obfcure, he maintains that we ought to raife our Speculation by fo many Steps and Degrees, from confus'd and inevident Notions to thofe that are Clear and Evident, and to defcend in this Science, from Generals to Particulars: He adds that there is no other Way of Illuftrating the latter, but by bringing them to the notice of Senfe, and by cloathing them in their proper Circumftances. Having fettled this Method, in the remaining Part of the Book, he refutes the Principles of the other Philofophers, and establishes his own in their Room. In the fecond Book he difcourfes of Nature, and states the true Meaning and Import of that Term. In the fame Book, as alfo in their Third, Fourth and
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 juft Treatise on that one Subject. He begins in his seventh Book to fettle the Doctrine of a first Mover; and in the eighth he fpeaks of Time, the natural Rule and Meafure of Motion. He defcribes the heavenly Bodies, their Matters or Substance, their Qualities, Motion, Situation and Figure, and all that relates to the Syftem of the World, in his firft and fecond Book de Cœlo: In the third and fourth, he treats of the Gravity and Levity of the heavenly Bodies, and of the different Opi nions entertain'd by the Ancients on that Subject. In his firft Book of Meteors, he represents thofe that are produc'd in the Air; as in the third and fourth, thofe 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 Parbelia. In the fourth he difcourfes of Heat and Cold, of Drinefs and Moisture, of Putrefaction and of Salts, of the various Qualities of mixt Bodies, their Compofition and Temperament. In his three Books of the Soul, he explains all that belongs to its Nature and Operations, whether in refpect of the outward Senfes, or of the inward Faculties. In his Book of Parva Naturalia, he enlarges more particularly on the Subject of Senfation, 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 Hiftory of Animals is his Mafter-piece, and the most finish'd of all his Treatifes of Nature: