Superphysics Superphysics


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[71] Τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι, or ἦν οὐσία of Aristotle.—See lib. iii. Metap.

[72] These divisions are from Aristotle’s Metaphysics, where they are termed, 1. ὓλη ἢ τὸ ὑποκείμενον. 2. τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι. 3. ὅθεν ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κινήσεως. 4. τὸ οὗ ἕνεκεν—καὶ τὸ ἀγαθόν.

[73] See Aphorism li. and second paragraph of Aphorism lxv. in the first book.

[74] Bacon means, that although there exist in nature only individualities, yet a certain number of these may have common properties, and be controlled by the same laws.

These homogeneous qualities which distinguish them from other individuals, lead us to class them under one expression, and sometimes under a single term. Yet these classes are only pure conceptions in Bacon’s opinion, and cannot be taken for distinct substances.

He evidently here aims a blow at the Realists, who concluded that the essence which united individualities in a class was the only real and immutable existence in nature, inasmuch as it entered into their ideas of individual substances as a distinct and essential property, and continued in the mind as the mold, type or pattern of the class, while its individual forms were undergoing perpetual renovation and decay.—Ed.

[75] Bacon’s definition is obscure.

All the idea we have of a law of nature consists in invariable sequence between certain classes of phenomena; but this cannot be the complete sense attached by Bacon to the term form, as he employs it in the fourth aphorism as convertible with the nature of any object; and again, in the first aphorism, as the natura naturans, or general law or condition in any substance or quality—natura naturata—which is whatever its form is, or that particular combination of forces which impresses a certain nature upon matter subject to its influence.

In the Newtonian sense, the form of whiteness would be that combination of the 7 primitive rays of light which give rise to that color.

In combination with this word, and affording a still further insight into its meaning, we have the phrases, latens processus ad formam, et latens schematismus corporum. Now, the latens schematismus signifies the internal texture, structure, or configuration of bodies, or the result of the respective situation of all the parts of a body; while the latens processus ad formam points out the gradation of movements which takes place among the molecula of bodies when they either conserve or change their figure.

Hence we may consider the form of any quality in body as something convertible with that quality, i.e., when it exists the quality is present, and vice versâ. In this sense, the form of a thing differs only from its efficient cause in being permanent, whereas we apply cause to that which exists in order of time. The latens processus and latens schematismus are subordinate to form, as concrete exemplifications of its essence. The former is the secret and invisible process by which change is effected, and involves the principle since called the law of continuity. Thus, the succession of events between the application of the match to the expulsion of the bullet is an instance of latent progress which we can now trace with some degree of accuracy. It also more directly refers to the operation by which one form or condition of being is induced upon another. For example, when the surface of iron becomes rusty, or when water is converted into steam, some change has taken place, or latent process from one form to another. Mechanics afford many exemplifications of the first latent process we have denoted, and chemistry of the second. The latens schematismus is that visible structure of bodies on which so many of their properties depend. When we inquire into the constitution of crystals, and into the internal structure of plants, we are examining into their latent schematism.—Ed.

[76] By the recent discoveries in electric magnetism, copper wires, or, indeed, wires of any metal, may be transformed into magnets; the magnetic law, or form, having been to that extent discovered.

[77] Haller has pursued this investigation in his “Physiology,” and has left his successors little else to do than repeat his discoveries.—Ed.

[78] Bacon here first seems pregnant with the important development of the higher calculus, which, in the hands of Newton and Descartes, was to effect as great a revolution in philosophy as his method.—Ed.

[79] By spirit, Bacon here plainly implies material fluid too fine to be grasped by the unassisted sense, which rather operates than reasons. We sometimes adopt the same mode of expression, as in the words spirits of nitre, spirits of wine. Some such agency has been assumed by nearly all the modern physicists, a few of whom, along with Bacon, would leave us to gather from their expressions, that they believe such bodies endowed with the sentient powers of perception. As another specimen of his sentiment on this subject, we may refer to a paragraph on the decomposition of compounds, in his essay on death, beginning—“The spirit which exists in all living bodies, keeps all the parts in due subjection; when it escapes, the body decomposes, or the similar parts unite.”—Ed.

[80] The theory of the Epicureans and others. The atoms are supposed to be invisible, unalterable particles, endued with all the properties of the given body, and forming that body by their union. They must be separated, of course, which either takes a vacuum for granted, or introduces a tertium quid into the composition of the body.

[81] Compare the three following aphorisms with the last three chapters of the third book of the “De Augmentis Scientiarum.”

[82] Bacon gives this unfortunate term its proper signification; μετα, in composition, with the Greeks signifying change or mutation. Most of our readers, no doubt, are aware that the obtrusion of this word into technical philosophy was purely capricious, and is of no older date than the publication of Aristotle’s works by Andronicus of Rhodes, one of the learned men into whose hands the manuscripts of that philosopher fell, after they were brought by Sylla from Athens to Rome.

To fourteen books in these MSS. with no distinguishing title, Andronicus is said to have prefixed the words τα μετα τα φυσικα, to denote the place which they ought to hold either in the order of Aristotle’s arrangement, or in that of study. These books treat first of those subjects which are common to matter and mind; secondly, of things separate from matter, i.e. of God, and of the subordinate spirits, which were supposed by the Peripatetics to watch over particular portions of the universe. The followers of Aristotle accepted the whimsical title of Andronicus, and in their usual manner allowed a word to unite things into one science which were plainly heterogeneous. Their error was adopted by the Peripatetics of the Christian Church.

The schoolmen added to the notion of ontology, the science of the mind, or pneumatology, and as that genus of being has since become extinct with the schools, metaphysics thus in modern parlance comes to be synonymous with psychology.

It were to be wished that Bacon’s definition of the term had been accepted, and mental science delivered from one of the greatest monstrosities in its nomenclature. Yet Bacon whimsically includes mathematics in metaphysics in his De Augmentis.—Ed.

[83] “Ne tenues pluviæ, rapidive potentia solis Acrior, aut Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurat.” —Virg. Georg. i. 92, 93.

[84] This notion, which he repeats again, and particularizes in the 18th aph. of this book, is borrowed from the ancients, and we need not say is as wise as their other astronomical conjectures.

The sun also approaches stars quite as large in other quarters of the zodiac, when it looks down upon the earth through the murky clouds of winter. When that luminary is in Leo, the heat of the earth is certainly greater than at any other period, but this arises from the accumulation of heat after the solstice, for the same reason that the maximum heat of the day is at two o’clock instead of noon.—Ed.

[85] Bouguer was employed by Louis 14 in philosophical researches. He ascended the Andes to discover the globular form of the earth, and published an account of his passage, which verifies the statement of Bacon.

[86] Montanari asserts in his book against the astrologers that he had satisfied himself by numerous and oft-repeated experiments, that the lunar rays gathered to a focus produced a sensible degree of heat. Muschenbröck, however, adopts the opposite opinion, and asserts that himself, De la Hire, Villet, and Tschirnhausen had tried with that view the strongest burning-glasses in vain. (Opera de Igne.) De la Lande makes a similar confession in his Astronomy (vol. ii. vii. § 1413).

Bouguer, whom we have just quoted, demonstrated that the light of the moon was 300,000 degrees less than that of the sun; it would consequently be necessary to invent a glass with an absorbing power 300,000 degrees greater than those ordinarily in use, to try the experiment Bacon speaks of.—Ed.

[87] In this thermometer, mercury was not dilated by heat or contracted by cold, as the one now in use, but a mass of air employed instead, which filled the cavity of the bulb. This being placed in an inverted position to ours, that is to say, with the bulb uppermost, pressed down the liquor when the air became dilated by heat, as ours press it upward; and when the heat diminished, the liquor rose to occupy the place vacated by the air, as the one now in use descends. It consequently was liable to be affected by a change in the temperature, as by the weight of air, and could afford only a rude standard of accuracy in scientific investigations. This thermometer was not Bacon’s own contrivance, as is commonly supposed, but that of Drebbel.—Ed.

[88] La Lande is indignant that the Chaldeans should have more correct notions of the nature of comets than the modern physicists, and charges Bacon with entertaining the idea that they were the mere effects of vapor and heat. This passage, with two others more positive, in the “De Aug.” (cap. xl.) and the “Descript. Globi Intellect.” (cap. vi.) certainly afford ground for the assertion; but if Bacon erred, he erred with Galileo, and with the foremost spirits of the times. It is true that Pythagoras and Seneca had asserted their belief in the solidity of these bodies, but the wide dominion which Aristotle subsequently exercised, threw their opinions into the shade, and made the opposite doctrine everywhere paramount.—Ed.

[89] Was it a silk apron which exhibited electric sparks? Silk was then scarce.

[90] The Italian fire-fly.

[91] This last is found to be the real reason, air not being a good conductor, and therefore not allowing the escape of heat. The confined air is disengaged when these substances are placed under an exhausted receiver.

[92] This is erroneous. Air, in fact, is one of the worst, and metals are the best conductors of heat.

[93] See No. 28 in the table of the degrees of heat.

[94] Bacon here mistakes sensation confined to ourselves for an internal property of distinct substances. Metals are denser than wood, and our bodies consequently coming into contact with more particles of matter when we touch them, lose a greater quantity of heat than in the case of lighter substances.—Ed.

[95] This was the ancient opinion, but the moderns incline to the belief that these insects are produced by generation or fecundity from seeds deposited by their tribes in bodies on the verge of putrefaction.—Ed.

[96] The correct measure of the activity of flame may be obtained by multiplying its natural force into the square of its velocity. On this account the flame of vivid lightning mentioned in No. 23 contains so much vigor, its velocity being greater than that arising from other heat.—Ed.

[97] The fires supply fresh heat, the water has only a certain quantity of heat, which being diffused over a fresh supply of cooler water, must be on the whole lowered.

[98] If condensation were the cause of the greater heat, Bacon concludes the centre of the flame would be the hotter part, and vice versâ. The fact is, neither of the causes assigned by Bacon is the true one; for the fire burns more quickly only because the draught of air is more rapid, the cold dense air pressing rapidly into the heated room and toward the chimney.—Ed.

[99] Bacon appears to have confounded combustibility and fusibility with susceptibility of heat; for though the metals will certainly neither dissolve as soon as ice or butter, nor be consumed as soon as wood, that only shows that different degrees of heat are required to produce similar effects on different bodies; but metals much more readily acquire and transmit the same degree of heat than any of the above substances. The rapid transmission renders them generally cold to the touch. The convenience of fixing wooden handles to vessels containing hot water illustrates these observations.

[100] Another singular error, the truth being, that solid bodies are the best conductors; but of course where heat is diffused over a large mass, it is less in each part, than if that part alone absorbed the whole quantum of heat.—Ed.

[101] This general law or form has been well illustrated by Newton’s discovery of the decomposition of colors.

[102] I.e., the common link or form which connects the various kinds of natures, such as the different hot or red natures enumerated above.—See Aphorism iii. part 2.

[103] This is erroneous—all metals expand considerably when heated.

[104] “Quid ipsum,” the τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι of Aristotle.

[105] To show the error of the text, we need only mention the case of water, which, when confined in corked vases, and exposed to the action of a freezing atmosphere, is sure to swell out and break those vessels which are not sufficiently large to contain its expanded volume. Megalotti narrates a hundred other instances of a similar character.—Ed.

[106] Bacon’s inquisition into the nature of heat, as an example of the mode of interpreting nature, cannot be looked upon otherwise than as a complete failure.

Though the exact nature of this phenomenon is still an obscure and controverted matter, the science of thermotics now consists of many important truths, and to none of these truths is there so much as an approximation in Bacon’s process. The steps by which this science really advanced were the discovery of a measure of a heat or temperature, the establishment of the laws of conduction and radiation, of the laws of specific heat, latent heat, and the like. Such advances have led to Ampère’s hypothesis, that heat consists in the vibrations of an imponderable fluid; and to Laplace’s theory, that temperature consists in the internal radiation of a similar medium. These hypotheses cannot yet be said to be even probable, but at least they are so modified as to include some of the preceding laws which are firmly established, whereas Bacon’s “form,” or true definition of heat, as stated in the text, includes no laws of phenomena, explains no process, and is indeed itself an example of illicit generalization.

In all the details of his example of heat he is unfortunate. He includes in his collection of instances, the hot tastes of aromatic plants, the caustic effects of acids, and many other facts which cannot be ascribed to heat without a studious laxity in the use of the word.—Ed.

[107] By this term Bacon understands general phenomena, taken in order from the great mass of indiscriminative facts, which, as they lie in nature, are apt to generate confusion by their number, indistinctness and complication. Such classes of phenomena, as being peculiarly suggestive of causation, he quaintly classes under the title of prerogative inquiries, either seduced by the fanciful analogy, which such instances bore to the prerogativa centuria in the Roman Comitia, or justly considering them as Herschel supposes to hold a kind of prerogative dignity from being peculiarly suggestive of causation.

Two high authorities in physical science (v. Herschel, Nat. Phil., art. 192; Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, vol. ii. p. 243) pronounce these instances of little service in the task of induction, being for the most part classed not according to the ideas which they involve, or to any obvious circumstance in the facts of which they consist, but according to the extent and manner of their influence upon the inquiry in which they are employed. Thus we have solitary instances, migrating instances, ostensive instances, clandestine instances, so termed according to the degree in which they exhibit, or seem to exhibit, the property, whose nature we would examine. We have guide-post instances, crucial instances, instances of the parted road, of the doorway, of the lamp, according to the guidance they supply to our advance. Whewell remarks that such a classification is much of the same nature as if, having to teach the art of building, we were to describe tools with reference to the amount and place of the work which they must do, instead of pointing out their construction and use; as if we were to inform the pupil that we must have tools for lifting a stone up, tools for moving it sidewise, tools for laying it square, and tools for cementing it firmly. The means are thus lost in the end, and we reap the fruits of unmethodical arrangement in the confusion of cross division. In addition, all the instances are leavened with the error of confounding the laws with the causes of phenomena, and we are urged to adopt the fundamental error of seeking therein the universal agents, or general causes of phenomena, without ascending the gradual steps of intermediate laws.—Ed.

[108] Of these nine general heads no more than the first is prosecuted by the author.

[109] This very nearly approaches to Sir I. Newton’s discovery of the decomposition of light by the prism.

[110] The mineral kingdom, as displaying the same nature in all its gradations, from the shells so perfect in structure in limestone to the finer marbles in which their nature gradually disappears, is the great theatre for instances of migration.—Ed.

[111] Bacon was not aware of the fact since brought to light by Römer, that down to fourteen fathoms from the earth’s mean level the thermometer remains fixed at the tenth degree, but that as the thermometer descends below that depth the heat increases in a ratio proportionate to the descent, which happens with little variation in all climates. Buffon considers this a proof of a central fire in our planet.—Ed.

[112] All the diversities of bodies depend upon two principles, i.e., the quantity and the position of the elements that enter into their composition. The primary difference is not that which depends on the greatest or least quantity of material elements, but that which depends on their position. It was the quick perception of this truth that made Leibnitz say that to complete mathematics it was necessary to join to the analysis of quantity the analysis of position.—Ed.

[113] Query?

[114] The real cause of this phenomenon is the attraction of the surface-water in the vessel by the sides of the bubbles. When the bubbles approach, the sides nearest each other both tend to raise the small space of water between them, and consequently less water is raised by each of these nearer sides than by the exterior part of the bubble, and the greater weight of the water raised on the exterior parts pushes the bubbles together. In the same manner a bubble near the side of a vessel is pushed toward it; the vessel and bubble both drawing the water that is between them. The latter phenomenon cannot be explained on Bacon’s hypothesis.

[115] Modern discoveries appear to bear out the sagacity of Bacon’s remark, and the experiments of Baron Cagnard may be regarded as a first step toward its full demonstration. After the new facts elicited by that philosopher, there can be little doubt that the solid, liquid and aëriform state of bodies are merely stages in a progress of gradual transition from one extreme to the other, and that however strongly marked the distinctions between them may appear, they will ultimately turn out to be separated by no sudden or violent line of demarcation, but slide into each other by imperceptible gradations. Bacon’s suggestion, however, is as old as Pythagoras, and perhaps simultaneous with the first dawn of philosophic reason. The doctrine of the reciprocal transmutation of the elements underlies all the physical systems of the ancients, and was adopted by the Epicureans as well as the Stoics. Ovid opens his last book of the Metamorphoses with the poetry of the subject, where he expressly points to the hint of Bacon:—

——“Tenuatus in auras Aëraque humor abit, etc., etc. Inde retro redeunt, idemque retexitur ordo.”—xv. 246–249. and Seneca, in the third book of his Natural Philosophy, quest. iv., states the opinion in more precise language than either the ancient bard or the modern philosopher.—Ed.

[116] The author’s own system of Memoria Technica may be found in the De Augmentis, chap. xv. We may add that, notwithstanding Bacon’s assertion that he intended his method to apply to religion, politics, and morals, this is the only lengthy illustration he has adduced of any subject out of the domain of physical science.—Ed.

[117] The collective instances here meant are no other than general facts or laws of some degree of generality, and are themselves the result of induction. For example, the system of Jupiter, or Saturn with its satellites, is a collective instance, and materially assisted in securing the admission of the Copernican system. We have here in miniature, and displayed at one view, a system analogous to that of the planets about the sun, of which, from the circumstance of our being involved in it, and unfavorably situated for seeing it otherwise than in detail, we are incapacitated from forming a general idea, but by slow and progressive efforts of reason.

But there is a species of collective instance which Bacon does not seem to have contemplated, in which particular phenomena are presented in such numbers at once, as to make the induction of their law a matter of ocular inspection. For example, the parabolic form assumed by a jet of water spouted out of a hole is a collective instance of the velocities and directions of the motions of all the particles which compose it seen together, and which thus leads us without trouble to recognize the law of the motion of a projectile. Again, the beautiful figures exhibited by sand strewed on regular plates of glass or metal set in vibration, are collective instances of an infinite number of points which remain at rest while the remainder of the plate vibrates, and in consequence afford us an insight into the law which regulates their arrangement and sequence throughout the whole surface. The richly colored lemniscates seen around the optic axis of crystals exposed to polarized light afford a striking instance of the same kind, pointing at once to the general mathematical expression of the law which regulates their production. Such collective instances as these lead us to a general law by an induction which offers itself spontaneously, and thus furnish advanced posts in philosophical exploration. The laws of Kepler, which Bacon ignored on account of his want of mathematical taste, may be cited as a collective instance. The first is, that the planets move in elliptical orbits, having the sun for their common focus. The second, that about this focus the radius vector of each planet describes equal areas in equal times. The third, that the squares of the periodic times of the planets are as the cubes of their mean distance from the sun. This collective instance “opened the way” to the discovery of the Newtonian law of gravitation.—Ed.

[118] Is not this very hasty generalization? Do serpents move with four folds only? Observe also the motion of centipedes and other insects.

[119] Shaw states another point of difference between the objects cited in the text—animals having their roots within, while plants have theirs without; for their lacteals nearly correspond with the fibres of the roots in plants; so that animals seem nourished within themselves as plants are without.—Ed.

[120] Bacon falls into an error here in regarding the syllogism as something distinct from the reasoning faculty, and only one of its forms. It is not generally true that the syllogism is only a form of reasoning by which we unite ideas which accord with the middle term. This agreement is not even essential to accurate syllogisms; when the relation of the two things compared to the third is one of equality or similitude, it of course follows that the two things compared may be pronounced equal, or like to each other. But if the relation between these terms exist in a different form, then it is not true that the two extremes stand in the same relation to each other as to the middle term. For instance, if A is double of B, and B double of C, then A is quadruple of C. But then the relation of A to C is different from that of A to B and of B to C.—Ed.

[121] Comparative anatomy is full of analogies of this kind. Those between natural and artificial productions are well worthy of attention, and sometimes lead to important discoveries. By observing an analogy of this kind between the plan used in hydraulic engines for preventing the counter-current of a fluid, and a similar contrivance in the blood vessels, Harvey was led to the discovery of the circulation of the blood.—Ed.

[122] This is well illustrated in plants, for the gardener can produce endless varieties of any known species, but can never produce a new species itself.

[123] The discoveries of Tournefort have placed moss in the class of plants. The fish alluded to below are to be found only in the tropics.—Ed.

[124] There is, however, no real approximation to birds in either the flying fish or bat, any more than a man approximates to a fish because he can swim. The wings of the flying fish and bat are mere expansions of skin, bearing no resemblance whatever to those of birds.—Ed.

[125] Seneca was a sounder astronomer than Bacon. He ridiculed the idea of the motion of any heavenly bodies being irregular, and predicted that the day would come, when the laws which guided the revolution of these bodies would be proved to be identical with those which controlled the motions of the planets. The anticipation, was realized by Newton.—Ed.

[126] But see Bacon’s own corollary at the end of the Instances of Divorce, Aphorism xxxvii. If Bacon’s remark be accepted, the censure will fall upon Newton and the system so generally received at the present day. It is, however, unjust, as the centre of which Newton so often speaks is not a point with an active inherent force, but only the result of all the particular and reciprocal attractions of the different parts of the planet acting upon one spot. It is evident, that if all these forces were united in this centre, that the sum would be equal to all their partial effects.—Ed.

[127] Since Newton’s discovery of the law of gravitation, we find that the attractive force of the earth must extend to an infinite distance. Bacon himself alludes to the operation of this attractive force at great distances in the Instances of the Rod, Aphorism xlv.

[128] Snow reflects light, but is not a source of light.

[129] Bacon’s sagacity here foreshadows Newton’s theory of the tides.

[130] The error in the text arose from Bacon’s impression that the earth was immovable. It is evident, since gravitation acts at an infinite distance, that no such point could be found; and even supposing the impossible point of equilibrium discovered, the body could not maintain its position an instant, but would be hurried, at the first movement of the heavenly bodies, in the direction of the dominant gravitating power.—Ed.

[131] Fly clocks are referred to in the text, not pendulum clocks, which were not known in England till 1662. The former, though clumsy and rude in their construction, still embodied sound mechanical principles. The comparison of the effect of a spring with that of a weight in producing certain motions in certain times on altitudes and in mines, has recently been tried by Professors Airy and Whewell in Dalcoath mine, by means of a pendulum, which is only a weight moved by gravity, and a chronometer balance moved and regulated by a spring. In his thirty-seventh Aphorism, Bacon also speaks of gravity as an incorporeal power, acting at a distance, and requiring time for its transmission; a consideration which occurred at a later period to Laplace in one of his most delicate investigations.

Crucial instances, as Herschel remarks, afford the readiest and securest means of eliminating extraneous causes, and deciding between the claims of rival hypotheses; especially when these, running parallel to each other, in the explanation of great classes of phenomena, at length come to be placed at issue upon a single fact. A curious example is given by M. Fresnel, as decisive in his mind of the question between the two great theories on the nature of light, which, since the time of Newton and Huyghens, have divided philosophers. When two very clean glasses are laid one on the other, if they be not perfectly flat, but one or both, in an almost imperceptible degree, convex or prominent, beautiful and vivid colors will be seen between them; and if these be viewed through a red glass, their appearance will be that of alternate dark and bright stripes. These stripes are formed between the two surfaces in apparent contact, and being applicable on both theories, are appealed to by their respective supporters as strong confirmatory facts; but there is a difference in one circumstance, according as one or other theory is employed to explain them. In the case of the Huyghenian theory, the intervals between the bright stripes ought to appear absolutely black, when a prism is used for the upper glass, in the other half bright. This curious case of difference was tried, as soon as the opposing consequences of the two theories were noted by M. Fresnel, and the result is stated by him to be decisive in favor of that theory which makes light to consist in the vibrations of an elastic medium.—Ed.

[132] Bacon plainly, from this passage, was inclined to believe that the moon, like the comets, was nothing more than illuminated vapor. The Newtonian law, however, has not only established its solidity, but its density and weight. A sufficient proof of the former is afforded by the attraction of the sea, and the moon’s motion round the earth.—Ed.

[133] Rather the refraction; the sky or air, however, reflects the blue rays of light.

[134] The polished surface of the glass causes the reflection in this case, and not the air; and a hat or other black surface put behind the window in the daytime will enable the glass to reflect distinctly for the same reason, namely, that the reflected rays are not mixed and confused with those transmitted from the other side of the window.

[135] These instances, which Bacon seems to consider as a great discovery, are nothing more than disjunctive propositions combined with dilemmas. In proposing to explain an effect, we commence with the enumeration of the different causes which seem connected with its production; then with the aid of one or more dilemmas, we eliminate each of the phenomena accidental to its composition, and conclude with attributing the effect to the residue. For instance, a certain phenomenon (a) is produced either by phenomenon (B) or phenomenon (C); but C cannot be the cause of a, for it is found in D, E, F, neither of which are connected with a. Then the true cause of phenomenon (a) must be phenomenon (B).

This species of reasoning is liable to several paralogisms, against which Bacon has not guarded his readers, from the very fact that he stumbled into them unwittingly himself. The two principal ones are false exclusions and defective enumerations. Bacon, in his survey of the causes which are able to concur in producing the phenomena of the tides, takes no account of the periodic melting of the Polar ice, or the expansion of water by the solar heat; nor does he fare better in his exclusions. For the attraction of the planets and the progression and retrograde motion communicated by the earth’s diurnal revolution, can plainly affect the sea together, and have a simultaneous influence on its surface.

Bacon is hardly just or consistent in his censure of Ramus; the end of whose dichotomy was only to render reasoning by dilemma, and crucial instances, more certain in their results, by reducing the divisions which composed their parts to two sets of contradictory propositions. The affirmative or negative of one would then necessarily have led to the acceptance or rejection of the other.—Ed.

[136] Père Shenier first pointed out the spots on the sun’s disk, and by the marks which they afforded him, computed its revolution to be performed in twenty-five days and some hours.—Ed.

[137] Rust is now well known to be a chemical combination of oxygen with the metal, and the metal when rusty acquires additional weight. His theory as to the generation of animals, is deduced from the erroneous notion of the possibility of spontaneous generation (as it was termed). See the next paragraph but one.

[138] “Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit Uno eodemque igni.”—Virg. Ecl. viii. [139] See Table of Degrees, No. 38.

[140] Riccati, and all modern physicists, discover some portion of light in every body, which seems to confirm the passage in Genesis that assigns to this substance priority in creation.—Ed.

[141] As instances of this kind, which the progress of science since the time of Bacon affords, we may cite the air-pump and the barometer, for manifesting the weight and elasticity of air: the measurement of the velocity of light, by means of the occultation of Jupiter’s satellites and the aberration of the fixed stars: the experiments in electricity and galvanism, and in the greater part of pneumatic chemistry. In all these cases scientific facts are elicited, which sense could never have revealed to us.—Ed.

[142] The itinerant instances, as well as frontier instances, are cases in which we are enabled to trace the general law of continuity which seems to pervade all nature, and which has been aptly embodied in the sentence, “natura non agit per saltum.” The pursuit of this law into phenomena where its application is not at first sight obvious, has opened a mine of physical discovery, and led us to perceive an intimate connection between facts which at first seemed hostile to each other. For example, the transparency of gold-leaf, which permits a bluish-green light to pass through it, is a frontier instance between transparent and opaque bodies, by exhibiting a body of the glass generally regarded the most opaque in nature, as still possessed of some slight degree of transparency. It thus proves that the quality of opacity is not a contrary or antagonistic quality to that of transparency, but only its extreme lowest degree.

[143] Alluding to his theory of atoms.

[144] Observe the approximation to Newton’s theory. The same notion repeated still more clearly in the ninth motion. Newton believed that the planets might so conspire as to derange the earth’s annual revolution, and to elongate the line of the apsides and ellipsis that the earth describes in its annual revolution round the sun. In the supposition that all the planets meet on the same straight line, Venus and Mercury on one side of the sun, and the earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn on the side diametrically opposite; then Saturn would attract Jupiter, Jupiter Mars, Mars the moon, which must in its turn attract the earth in proportion to the force with which it was drawn out of its orbit. The result of this combined action on our planet would elongate its ecliptic orbit, and so far draw it from the source of heat, as to produce an intensity of cold destructive to animal life. But this movement would immediately cease with the planetary concurrence which produced it, and the earth, like a compressed spring, bound almost as near to the sun as she had been drawn from it, the reaction of the heat on its surface being about as intense as the cold caused by the first removal was severe. The earth, until it gained its regular track, would thus alternately vibrate between each side of its orbit, with successive changes in its atmosphere, proportional to the square of the variation of its distance from the sun. In no place is Bacon’s genius more conspicuous than in these repeated guesses at truth. He would have been a strong Copernican, had not Gilbert defended the system.—Ed.

[145] This is not true except when the projectile acquires greater velocity at every successive instant of its course, which is never the case except with falling bodies. Bacon appears to have been led into the opinion from observing that gunshots pierce many objects at a distance from which they rebound when brought within a certain proximity of contact. This apparent inconsistency, however, arises from the resistance of the parts of the object, which velocity combined with force is necessary to overcome.—Ed.

[146] This passage shows that the pressure of the external atmosphere, which forces the water into the egg, was not in Bacon’s time understood.—Ed.

[147] We have already alluded, in a note prefixed to the same aphorism of the first book, to Newton’s error of the absolute lightness of bodies. In speaking again of the volatile or spiritual substances (Aph. xl. b. ii.) which he supposed with the Platonists and some of the schoolmen to enter into the composition of every body, he ascribes to them a power of lessening the weight of the material coating in which he supposes them inclosed. It would appear from these passages and the text that Bacon had no idea of the relative density of bodies, and the capability which some have to diminish the specific gravity of the heavier substances by the dilation of their parts; or if he had, the reveries in which Aristotle indulged in treating of the soul, about the appetency of bodies to fly to kindred substances—flame and spirit to the sky, and solid opaque substances to the earth, must have vitiated his mind.—Ed.

[148] Römer, a Danish astronomer, was the first to demonstrate, by connecting the irregularities of the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites with their distances from the earth, the necessity of time for the propagation of light. The idea occurred to Dominic Cassini as well as Bacon, but both allowed the discovery to slip out of their hands.—Ed.

[149] The author in the text confounds inertness, which is a simple indifference of bodies to action, with gravity, which is a force acting always in proportion to their density. He falls into the same error further on.—Ed.

[150] The experiments of the last two classes of instances are considered only in relation to practice, and Bacon does not so much as mention their infinitely greater importance in the theoretical part of induction. The important law of gravitation in physical astronomy could never have been demonstrated but by such observations and experiments as assigned accurate geometrical measures to the quantities compared. It was necessary to determine with precision the demi-diameter of the earth, the velocity of falling bodies at its surface, the distance of the moon, and the speed with which she describes her orbit, before the relation could be discovered between the force which draws a stone to the ground and that which retains the moon in her sphere.

In many cases the result of a number of particular facts, or the collective instances rising out of them, can only be discovered by geometry, which so far becomes necessary to complete the work of induction. For instance, in the case of optics, when light passes from one transparent medium to another, it is refracted, and the angle which the ray of incidence makes with the superficies which bounds the two media determines that which the refracted ray makes with the same superficies. Now, all experiment can do for us in this case is, to determine for any particular angle of incidence the corresponding angle of refraction. But with respect to the general rule which in every possible case deduces one of these angles from the other, or expresses the constant and invariable relation which subsists between them, experiment gives no direct information. Geometry must, consequently, be called in, which, when a constant though unknown relation subsists between two angles, or two variable qualities of any kind, and when an indefinite number of values of those quantities are assigned, furnishes infallible means of discovering that unknown relation either accurately or by approximation. In this way it has been found, when the two media remain the same, the cosines of the above-mentioned angles have a constant ratio to each other. Hence, when the relations of the simple elements of phenomena are discovered to afford a general rule which will apply to any concrete case, the deductive method must be applied, and the elementary principles made through its agency to account for the laws of their more complex combinations. The reflection and refraction of light by the rain falling from a cloud opposite to the sun was thought, even before Newton’s day, to contain the form of the rainbow. This philosopher transformed a probable conjecture into a certain fact when he deduced from the known laws of reflection and refraction the breadth of the colored arch, the diameter of the circle of which it is a part, and the relation of the latter to the place of the spectator and the sun. Doubt was at once silenced when there came out of his calculus a combination of the same laws of the simple elements of optics answering to the phenomena in nature.—Ed.

[151] As far as this motion results from attraction and repulsion, it is only a simple consequence of the last two.—Ed.

[152] These two cases are now resolved into the property of the capillary tubes and present only another feature of the law of attraction.—Ed.

[156] Observe this approximation to Newton’s theory.

[157] Those differences which are generated by the masses and respective distances of bodies are only differences of quantity, and not specific; consequently those three classes are only one.—Ed.

[158] See the citing instances, Aphorism xl.

[159] Aristotle’s doctrine, that sound takes place when bodies strike the air, which the modern science of acoustics has completely established, was rejected by Bacon in a treatise upon the same subject: “The collision or thrusting of air,” he says, “which they will have to be the cause of sound, neither denotes the form nor the latent process of sound, but is a term of ignorance and of superficial contemplation.” To get out of the difficulty, he betook himself to his theory of spirits, a species of phenomena which he constantly introduces to give himself the air of explaining things he could not understand, or would not admit upon the hypothesis of his opponents.—Ed.

[160] The motion of trepidation, as Bacon calls it, was attributed by the ancient astronomers to the eight spheres, relative to the precession of the equinoxes. Galileo was the first to observe this kind of lunar motion.—Ed.

[161] Part of the air is expanded and escapes, and part is consumed by the flame. When condensed, therefore, by the cold application, it cannot offer sufficient resistance to the external atmosphere to prevent the liquid or flesh from being forced into the glass.

[162] Heat can now be abstracted by a very simple process, till the degree of cold be of almost any required intensity.—Ed.

[163] It is impossible to compare a degree of heat with a degree of cold, without the assumption of some arbitrary test, to which the degrees are to be referred. In the next sentence Bacon appears to have taken the power of animal life to support heat or cold as the test, and then the comparison can only be between the degree of heat or of cold that will produce death.

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