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vows to Neptune, saying, “Advise now, you that “ think it folly to invocate Neptune in tempest :"
Yea, but,” saith Diagoras, “ where are they painted “ that are drowned ?" Let us behold it in another instance, namely, That the spirit of man, being of an equal and uniform substance, doth usually suppose and feign in nature a greater equality and uniformity than is in truth. Hence it cometh, that the mathematicians cannot satisfy themselves, except they reduce the motions of the celestial bodies to perfect circles, rejecting spiral lines, and labouring to be discharged of eccentrics. Hence it cometh, that whereas there are many things in nature, as it were “monodica, sui juris ;” yet the cogitations of man do feign unto them relatives, parallels, and conjugates, whereas no such thing is; as they have feigned an element of fire, to keep square with earth, water, and air, and the like: nay, it is not credible, till it be opened, what a number of fictions and fancies the similitude of human actions and arts, together with the making of man “ communis
mensura,” have brought into Natural Philosophy; not much better than the heresy of the Anthropomorphites, bred in the cells of gross and solitary monks, and the opinion of Epicurus, answerable to the same in heathenism, who supposed the gods to be of human shape. And therefore Velleius the Epicurean needed not to have asked, why God should have adorned the heavens with stars, as if he had been an Ædilis, one that should have set forth some magnificent shews or plays. For if that great
Work-master had been of an human disposition, he would have cast the stars into some pleasant and beautiful works and orders, like the frets in the roofs of houses; whereas one can scarce find a posture in square, or triangle, or straight line, amongst such an infinite number; so differing an harmony there is between the spirit of Man and the spirit of Nature.
Let us consider again the false appearances imposed upon us by every man's own individual nature and custom, in that feigned supposition that Plato maketh of the cave: for certainly if a child were continued in a grot or cave under the earth until maturity of age, and came suddenly abroad, he would have strange and absurd imaginations. So in like manner, although our persons live in the view of heaven, yet our spirits, are included in the caves of our own complexions and customs, which minister unto us infinite errors and vain opinions, if they be not recalled to examination. But hereof we have given many examples in one of the errours,
, or peccant humours, which we ran briefly over in our first book.
And lastly, let us consider the false appearances that are imposed upon us by words, which are framed and applied according to the conceit and capacities of the vulgar sort: and although we think we govern our words, and prescribe it well “ Lo
quendum ut vulgus, sentiendum ut sapientes;" yet certain it is that words, as a Tartar's bow, do shoot back upon the understanding of the wisest, and mightily entangle and pervert the judgment; so as it is almost necessary, in all controversies and disputations, to imitate the wisdom of the mathematicians, in setting down in the very beginning the definitions of our words and terms, that others may know how we accept and understand them, and whether they concur with us or no. For it cometh to pass, for want of this, that we are sure to end there where we ought to have begun, which is, in questions and differences about words. To conclude therefore, it must be confessed that it is not possible to divorce ourselves from these fallacies and false appearances, because they are inseparable from our nature and condition of life; so yet nevertheless the caution of them, (for all elenches, as was said, are but cautions) doth extremely import the true conduct of human judgment. The particular elenches or cautions against these three false appearances, I find altogether deficient.
There remaineth one part of judgment of great excellency, which to mine understanding is so slightly touched, as I may report that also deficient; which is the application of the differing kinds of proofs to the differing kinds of subjects ; for there being but four kinds of demonstrations, that is, by the immediate consent of the mind or sense, by induction, by sophism, and by congruity (which is that which Aristotle calleth demonstration in orb or circle, and not “ a notioribus ;") every of these hath certain subjects in the matter of sciences, in
which respectively they have chiefest use; and certain others, from which respectively they ought to be excluded : and the rigour and curiosity in requiring the more severe proofs in some things, and chiefly the facility in contenting ourselves with the more remiss proofs in others, hath been amongst the greatest causes of detriment and hindrance to knowledge. The distributions and assignations of demonstrations, according to the analogy of sciences, I note as deficient.
The custody or retaining of knowledge is either in Writing or Memory; whereof writing hath two parts, the nature of the character, and the order of the entry; for the art of characters, or other visible notes of words or things, it hath nearest conjugation with grammar; and therefore I refer it to the due place : for the disposition and collocation of that knowledge which we preserve in writing, it consisteth in a good digest of common-places; wherein I am not ignorant of the prejudice imputed to the use of common-place books, as causing a retardation of reading, and some sloth or relaxation of memory. But because it is but a counterfeit thing in knowledges to be forward and pregnant, except a man be deep and full, I hold the entry of commonplaces, to be a matter of great use and essence in studying, as that which assureth “copia” of invention, and contracteth judgment to a strength. But this is true, that of the methods of common-places that I have seen, there is none of any sufficient worth;
all of them carrying merely the face of a school, and not of a world; and referring to vulgar matters and pedantical divisions, without all life, or respect to action.
For the other principal part of the custody of knowledge, which is Memory, I find that faculty in my judgment weakly inquired of. An art there is extant of it; but it seemeth to me that there are better precepts than that art, and better practices of that art, than those received. It is certain the art, as it is, may be raised to points of ostentation prodigious: but in use, as it is now managed, it is barren, (not burdensome, nor dangerous to natural memory, as is imagined, but barren,) that is, not dexterous to be applied to the serious use of business and occasions. And therefore I make no more estimation of repeating a great number of names or words upon once hearing, or the pouring forth of a number of verses or rhimes ex tempore, or the making of a satirical simile of every thing, or the turning of every thing to a jest, or the falsifying or contradicting of every thing by cavil, or the like, (whereof in the faculties of the mind there is great “copia," and such as by device and practice may be exalted to an extreme degree of wonder,) than I do of the tricks of tumblers, funambuloes, baladines ; the one being the same in the mind that the other is in the body, matters of strangeness without worthiness.
This art of Memory is but built upon two intentions; the one prenotion, the other emblem. Prenotion dischargeth the indefinite seeking of that