Chapter 17

Magical Instances Icon

27. magical instances

51 In this, the matter or efficient agent is scanty or small compared with the grandeur of the effect produced.

so that even when common they appear miraculous, some at first sight, others even upon more attentive observation.[287] Nature, however, of herself, supplies these but sparingly.

What she will do when her whole store is thrown open, and after the discovery of forms, processes, and conformation, will appear hereafter. As far as we can yet conjecture, these magic effects are produced in three ways, either by self-multiplication, as in fire, and the poisons termed specific, and the motions transferred and multiplied from wheel to wheel; or by the excitement, or, as it were, invitation of another substance, as in the magnet, which excites innumerable needles without losing or diminishing its power; and again in leaven, and the like; or by the excess of rapidity of one species of motion over another, as has been observed in the case of gunpowder, cannon, and mines.

The two former require an investigation of harmonies, the latter of a measure of motion. Whether there be any mode of changing bodies per minima (as it is termed), and transferring the delicate conformations of matter, which is of importance in all transformations of bodies, so as to enable art to effect, in a short time, that which nature works out by divers expedients, is a point of which we have as yet no indication. But, as we aspire to the extremest and highest results in that which is solid and true, so do we ever detest, and, as far as in us lies, expel all that is empty and vain.

52 We treat of logic, and not of philosophy.

Our logic instructs and informs the understanding, in order that it may not, with the small hooks, as it were, of the mind, catch at, and grasp mere abstractions, but rather actually penetrate nature, and discover the properties and effects of bodies, and the determinate laws of[288] their substance (so that this science of ours springs from the nature of things, as well as from that of the mind); it is not to be wondered at, if it have been continually interspersed and illustrated with natural observations and experiments, as instances of our method.

The prerogative instances are, as appears from what has preceded, twenty-seven in number, and are termed, solitary instances, migrating instances, conspicuous instances, clandestine instances, constitutive instances, similar instances, singular instances, deviating instances, bordering instances, instances of power, accompanying and hostile instances, subjunctive instances, instances of alliance, instances of the cross, instances of divorce, instances of the gate, citing instances, instances of the road, supplementary instances, lancing instances, instances of the rod, instances of the course, doses of nature, wrestling instances, suggesting instances, generally useful instances, and magical instances.

The advantage, by which these instances excel the more ordinary, regards specifically either theory or practice, or both. With regard to theory, they assist either the senses or the understanding; the senses, as in the five instances of the lamp; the understanding, either by expediting the exclusive mode of arriving at the form, as in solitary instances, or by confining, and more immediately indicating the affirmative, as in the migrating, conspicuous, accompanying, and subjunctive instances; or by elevating the understanding, and leading it to general and common natures, and that either immediately, as in the clandestine and singular instances, and those of alliance; or very nearly so, as in the constitutive; or still less so, as in the similar instances; or by correcting the understanding of its habits, as in the deviating instances; or by leading to the grand form or fabric of the universe, as in the bordering[289] instances; or by guarding it from false forms and causes, as in those of the cross and of divorce. With regard to practice, they either point it out, or measure, or elevate it. They point it out, either by showing where we must commence in order not to repeat the labors of others, as in the instances of power; or by inducing us to aspire to that which may be possible, as in the suggesting instances; the four mathematical instances measure it. The generally useful and the magical elevate it.

Out of these 27 instances, some must be collected immediately, without waiting for a particular investigation of properties. Such are the similar, singular, deviating, and bordering instances, those of power, and of the gate, and suggesting, generally useful, and magical instances; for these either assist and cure the understanding and senses, or furnish our general practice.

The remainder are to be collected when we finish our synoptical tables for the work of the interpreter, upon any particular nature; for these instances, honored and gifted with such prerogatives, are like the soul amid the vulgar crowd of instances, and (as we from the first observed) a few of them are worth a multitude of the others. When, therefore, we are forming our tables they must be searched out with the greatest zeal, and placed in the table. And, since mention must be made of them in what follows, a treatise upon their nature has necessarily been prefixed.

We must next, however, proceed to the supports and corrections of induction, and thence to concretes, the latent process, and latent conformations, and the other matters, which we have enumerated in their order in the twenty-first aphorism. In this way, we may yield up their fortune to mankind upon the emancipation and majority of their understanding. From this must necessarily follow an improvement of their estate, and an increase of their power over nature. For man, by the fall, lost at once his state of innocence, and his empire over creation, both of which can be partially recovered even in this life, the first by religion and faith, the second by the arts and sciences.

For creation did not become entirely and utterly rebellious by the curse, but in consequence of the Divine decree, “in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,” she is compelled by our labors (not assuredly by our disputes or magical ceremonies), at length, to afford mankind in some degree his bread, that is to say, to supply man’s daily wants.

END OF “NOVUM ORGANUM”

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