Of the Interpretation(1)of Nature
with the Annotations of
Hermes Stella (2)
in: The Works of Francis Bacon. Spedding, Ellis and Heath, London 1857-1874
Introduction and Commentary by Harvey Wheeler :
In all of his philosophical writings Bacon took account of what an English philosopher called the two kinds of obscurity: obscure expression, and expression of the obscure, the first being inexcusable and the second unavoidable. Bacon sometimes purposely employed both: the first to prevent the untutored mind from wrongly assuming that Bacon's abstruse ideas, though expressed in common English, had been understood; the second because, as Bacon argued, nature did not "speak" in demotic English; that language being accordingly incapable of expressing the laws of nature. This was one reason Bacon had all his most important philosophic works translated into Latin even if he had originally composed them in English. Using Latin philosophic terms, especially those of Plato, permitted him to express more closely than in English the "logic machine" he invented to discover nature's hidden laws.
Valerius Terminus, is an early treatise by Francis Bacon and has always perplexed scholars. Spedding (3) places its date as 1603, the beginning of the reign of James I. There is no agreement about the meaning of its title nor about the name of its fictional commentator. The title seems redundant - "farewell" and "termination" It could mean "Hale to the Termination" - of Elizabeth's reign - Bacon did not fare well under her chief counselor, Cecil - a close relative. The title could also mean "Hale to the Termination of the Renaissance" - i.e., the end of Aristotelian philosophy and Augustinian theology.
Valerius Terminus (4) has all the marks of an open Bacon secret. It is in English but the terms and usages are far from transparently obvious. It appears to be his justification for applying science to those domains of nature - he will christen them "natural history" - that do not fall under the prohibition of Adam's sin in Eden - the fruit of the First Tree - the knowledge of good and evil. Bacon uses this book to distinguish science - knowledge about nature, from what God doesn't want humans to investigate.
What does "Hermes Stella" stand for? "Hermes" is probably taken from Hermes Trismegistus - the ancient Egyptian god of learning who was popular in the 17th century. "Stella" was a 17th century name for a loved one, - it was Sir Philip Sidney's name for Penelope Devereaux in the Sonnets. Possibly for Bacon it meant "love of learning"- always his true love. It identifies the book as a precursor to Advancement of Learning. Another meaning of both title and commentator could be a welcome to the illumination of knowledge fostered by the new king; or again, a hope that obscure or hidden truths about philosophy were about to be revealed.
At the beginning of the reign of James I great things were expected from the new king. He was unusually intelligent and literate - author of serious books. Elizabeth had ignored Bacon's majestral projects. Perhaps Bacon is heralding this new beginning as also portending a change in his own fortunes. The commentator's name might then mean, hale to the end of obsolete knowledge, through royal love for the illumination the new learning will bring.
The book explains Bacon's innovative view of the relations between science and religion; between magic and science; and between Aristotelian logic and his new empiricist methodology. He was acutely aware that his new analytical system - Hooke called it a "logic machine" (engine) - made a fundamental break with the intellectual paradigms of the past. Not a modest man, Bacon was confident his new organon would provide the world with a "Discovery Machine." - analogous to a compass - for navigating the unexplored domains of nature, as marine explorers used the magnetic compass to discover new geographic domains. Remember that the Pillars of Hercules adorn the frontispiece of Advancement of Learning.
Bacon claimed - justly I think (5) - that the Discovery Machine he invented let him perform history's 'third intellectual revolution'. The first was Athenian philosophy and second was Roman Law. This latter requires interpretation. He did not mean Roman Law as in the Code. He referred to what lay behind it socially. Roman Law was new for its time in the sense of being an applied phenomenal reality: the Roman Pater Familias transubstantiated into a virtual reality. In his legal research Bacon sought something analogous for England's "unwritten" common law. Valerius Terminus navigates beyond the boundries of past knowledge and into the trackless frontiers of the Baconian revolution.
Bear in mind that Bacon's mother was brilliant and highly educated. She knew many languages, including Greek, and was an ardent Puritan. What faith did she transmit to young Francis? What Biblical beliefs? It appears that by his thirties Francis had become what later would be called a Deist. One main support for this conjecture is precisely the way Valerius Terminus deals with issues from the Book of Genesis and God's prohibition against violating the Two Trees of Eden: the First Tree, knowledge of good and evil, mentioned above, and the Second Tree of life. Both had been recognized in prior distinctions between Black and White magic. Bacon goes beyond those distinctions. He argues in effect that these prohibitions do not establish an "off limits" criterion for permissible research, or for the biology of life extension - he was the first scientific gerontologist. The Bible's dogmas, such as the Ten Commandments, are not questioned. Science however, can freely explore all realms of nature ("natural law" is trying to emerge). "Natural History" is the term Bacon invents for this secular domain. It includes human nature.
Prohibiting science from invading religion however, requires knowing where the boundaries lie and Francis was just the fellow to clairfy them. Put the problem another way: consider the Christian faith as a domain of right and wrong comparable to the way England's unwritten common law provided the boundaries of civil rights and wrongs. Could one treat principles of faith the way the common law treated applications of the common law? No, because this is what got Adam and Eve expelled from Eden. St. Augustine later taught the Roman Catholic Church how to know and enforce these limits through orthodox Catechism and dogmas. But the Augustinian system is exactly what the Reformation overthrew. Bacon, in effect, says something like: despite the Reformation, the domain of the sacred remains inviolable. So I will explain how to explore the "unwritten" laws of nature's secular domains: everything that can be explored without violating God's prohibitions. The following quotations explain how he did it.
"In the divine design of nature, both religion and philosophy have acknowledged goodness and perfection....Science Comprehends all things, under God's absolute sovereignty or kingdom.
"Satan, in aspiring to the throne of power, transgressed and was expelled from Heaven.
"In attempting acquire the oracle of knowledge, man transgressed and was expelled from Eden."In pursuit of the human approximation to God's goodness or love neither man nor angel ever hath transgressed, or could transgress against God.
"When Satan plotted before his fall, he said to himself, I will ascend and be like unto the Highest; not to displace God but to rival God in power. To be like to God in goodness was not his aim, nor was Knowledge. Because he was a subordinate he aimed at a supremacy. Therefore his climbing or ascension was turned by God into a throwing down or explusion.
"Man on the other side had been promised by Satan that he could become like unto God. Not fully but in part by knowing good and evil. For being by his creation invested with sovereignty over all inferior creatures, he was not needy of power or dominion on earth like that sought by Satan in heaven. Instead, possessing a spark of divinity in God's likeness, newly inclosed in a body of earth, he was susceptible to being tempted with God-like enlightenment and liberty of knowledge Therefore his disobedient approach and intrusion into God's secrets and mysteries was rewarded with expulsion and estrangement from God's presence."
[Note: Milton was a Baconian. Paradise Lost takes off from this precept. Adam's sin was disobedience, not God robbing.]But as to the Godly virtues, there is no danger in striving to acquire them. This quest is separate and safe-guarded from all mixture and taint of evil.
"Wherefore seeing that knowledge is of the number of those things which are to be accepted with caution and distinction; and it being now as open as a fountain, it is not easy to discern where the issues and streams thereof will take and fall.
"Hence I thought it good and necessary, First to make a strong and sound bankhead to control and guide the course of the waters by setting down this position or firmament, namely, that all Knowledge is to be limited by religion , and to be concerned only with utility and application. For if any man shall think by searching and inquiring into these sensible and material things, to attain to any light for the revealing of the nature or will of God, he shall dangerously abuse himself.
"But as to the nature of God, not knowledge, but wonderment, there is no method for the invention of knowledge but by simulation, for God is unique, having nothing in common with any creature, otherwise than as a similie or metaphor". n.b. "Simulation", as in phenomenology]
"To conclude, the misindurstandings have been infinite for both divine and human knowledge, because of the intermingling and tempering of the one with the other; as that which hath filled religion full of heresies, and philosophy full of speculative fictions and vanities.
"It was not that pure light of natural knowledge, whereby man in paradise was able to give unto every living creature a name according to his kind, which gave occasion to the fall; but it was an aspiring desire to attain to that part of moral knowledge which defineth of good and evil which was the original temptation.
"Many shall pass to and fro, and science shall be increased; as if today's opening of the world by navigation and commerce and the further discovery of knowledge should meet in one time or age.
"But howsoever that be, there are besides the authorities or Scriptures before recited, two reasons of exceeding great weight and force why religion should dearly protect all increase of natural knowledge: the one, because it leadeth to the greater exaltation of the glory of God; for as the Psalms and other Scriptures do often invite us to consider and to magnify the great and wonderful works of God, so if we should rest only in the contemplation of those discoveries which first offer themselves to our senses, we should do a like injury to the majesty of God, as if we should judge of the store of some excellent jeweller by that only which is set out to the street in his shop.
"To conclude then, let no man presume to doubt the liberality of God's gifts, who, as was said, hath set the world in man's heart. So as whatsoever is not God but parcel of the world, he hath fitted it to the comprehension of man's mind, if man will open and dilate the powers of his understanding as he may.
"For whereas founders of states, lawgivers, extirpers of tyrants, fathers of the people, were honoured but with the titles of Worthies or Demigods, inventors were ever consecrated amongst the Gods themselves. it is no less true in this human kingdom of knowledge than in God's kingdom of heaven, that no man shall enter into it except he become first as a little child. There is no royal road to science."
Partial text of Valerius Terminus follows :
OF THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE.
Of the limits and end of knowledge.
In the divine nature both religion and philosophy hath acknowledged goodness in perfection, science or providence comprehending all things, and absolute sovereignty or kingdom. In aspiring to the throne of power the angels transgressed and fell (6), in presuming to come within the oracle of knowledge man transgressed and fell (7&8): but in pursuit towards the similitude of God's goodness or love (which is one thing, for love is nothing else but goodness put in motion or applied(9) neither man or spirit ever hath transgressed, or shall transgress.(10)
The angel of light that was, when he presumed before his fall, said within himself, I will ascend and be like unto the Highest(11); not God, but the highest. To be like to God in goodness, was no part of his emulation; knowledge, being in creation an angel of light, was not the want which did most solicit him; only because he was a minister he aimed at a supremacy; therefore his climbing or ascension was turned into a throwing down or precipitation.
Man on the other side, when he was tempted before he fell, had offered unto him this suggestion, that he should be like unto God (12). But how? Not simply, but in this part, knowing good and evil. For being in his creation invested with sovereignty of all inferior creatures (13), he was not needy of power or dominion; but again, being a spirit newly inclosed in a body of earth, he was fittest to be allured with appetite of light and liberty of knowledge; therefore this approaching and intruding into God's secrets and mysteries was rewarded with a further removing and estranging from God's presence. But as to the goodness of God, there is no danger in contending or advancing towards a similitude thereof, as that which is open and propounded to our imagination. For that voice (whereof the heathen and all other errors of religion have ever confessed that it sounds not like man), Love your enemies; be you like unto your heavenly Father, that suffereth his rain to fall both upon the just and the unjust(14), doth well declare, that we can in that point commit no excess; so again we find it often repeated in the old law, Be you holy as l am holy(15); and what is holiness else but goodness, as we consider it separate and guarded from all mixture and all access of evil?
Wherefore seeing that knowledge is of the number of those things which are to be accepted of with caution and distinction(16); being now to open a fountain, such as it is not easy to discern where the issues and streams thereof will take and fall; I thought it good and necessary in the first place to make a strong and sound head or bank to rule and guide the course of the waters; by setting down this position or firmament(17), namely, That all knowledge is to be limited by religion, and to be referred to use and action(18).
For if any man shall think by view and inquiry into these sensible and material things, to attain to any light for the revealing of the nature or will of God, he shall dangerously abuse himself. It is true that the contemplation of the creatures of God hath for end (as to the natures of the creatures themselves) knowledge, but as to the nature of God, no knowledge, but wonder; which is nothing else but contemplation broken off, or losing itself. Nay further, as it was aptly said by one of Plato´s school the sense of man resembles the sun, which openeth and revealeth the terrestrial globe, but obscureth and concealeth the celestial(19); so doth the sense discover natural things, but darken and shut up divine. And this appeareth sufficiently in that there is no proceeding in invention of knowledge but by similitude (20); and God is only self-like, having nothing in common with any creature, otherwise than as in shadow and trope(21).
Therefore attend his will as himself openeth it, and give unto faith that which unto faith belongeth(22); for more worthy it is to believe than to think or know, considering that in knowledge (as we now are capable of it) the mind suffereth from inferior natures; but in all belief it suffereth from a spirit which it holdeth superior and more authorised than itself. (23)
To conclude, the prejudice hath been infinite that both divine and human knowledge hath received by the intermingling and tempering of the one with the other; as that which hath filled the one full of heresies, and the other full of speculative fictions and vanities(24).
But now there are again which in a contrary extremity to those which give to contemplation an over-large scope(25), do offer too great a restraint to natural and lawful knowledge, being un- justly jealous that every reach and depth of knowledge where- with their conceits have not been acquainted, should be too high an elevation of man's wit, and a searching and ravelling too far into God's secrets(26); an opinion that ariseth either of envy (which is proud weakness and to be censured and not confuted), or else of a deceitful simplicity. For if they mean that the ignorance of a second cause(27) doth make men more de- voutly to depend upon the providence of God, as supposing the effects to come immediately from his hand, I demand of them, as Job demanded of his friends, Will you lie for God as man will for man to gratify him?(28) But if any man without any sinister humour doth indeed make doubt that this digging further and further into the mine of natural knowledge(29) is a thing without example and uncommended in the Scriptures, or fruitless; let him remember and be instructed; for behold it was not that pure light of natural knowledge, whereby man in paradise was able to give unto every living creature a name according to his propriety(30), which gave occasion to the fall; but it was an aspiring desire to attain to that part of moral knowledge which defineth of good and evil, whereby to dispute God's commandments and not to depend upon the revelation of his will, which was the original temptation. And the first holy records, which within those brief memorials of things which passed before the flood entered few things as worthy to be registered but only lineages(31) and propagations, yet nevertheless honour the remembrance of the inventor both of music(32)and works in metal(33). Moses again (who was the reporter) is said to have been seen in all the Egyptian learning(34), which nation was early and leading in matter of knowledge. And Salomon the king,(35) as out of a branch of his wisdom extraordinarily petitioned and granted from God, is said to have written a natural history of all that is green from the cedar to the moss(36), which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb, and also of all that liveth and moveth..........
1.The word "interpretation" occurs also e.g. in the title of the
essay De interpretatione naturae proemium (1603; in Spedding
vol. III) and in his definition of man as "the servant and
interpreter of Nature" (IV,47). This definition of man is the same
definition that we find in the magico-alchemical tradition which is
in general refuted by Bacon.
Paolo Rossi ("Bacon´s idea of science", in: The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, ed. by Markku Peltonen , 25-46) gives the following comment :
"Bacon condemned magic and alchemy on ethical grounds. He accused them of imposture and of megalomania. He refuted their non-participatory method and their intentional unintelligibility, their attempt to replace human sweat by a few drops of elixir. But he borrows from the magico-alchemical tradition the idea that man can attempt to make himself the master of nature. Bacon understands knowledge not as contemplation or recognition, but as venatio, a hunt, an exploration of unknown lands, a discovery of the unknown. Nature can be transformed from its foundations. Bacon´s definition of man as "the servant and interpreter of Nature" is the same definition we find in the magico-alchemical tradition, for instance in the texts of Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim.
But for all the exponents of magic and alchemistic culture, the texts of ancient wisdom take the form of sacred texts which indude secrets that only a few men can deeiphen The truth is hidden in the past and in the profound. Like when dealing with sacred texts, it is necessary continuously to go beyond the Jetter, in search of a message which is more and more hidden.The secret message expresses a Truth which is at the Origins and which is always the same.
In the Hermetic tradition, as in the tradition of Platonism, the natural world is conceived as the image or living manifestation of God. Understanding nature can reveal the presence in the world of divine ideas and archetypes. Bacon's rejection of any natural philosophy founded on allegorical interpretations of Scriptures meant a withdrawal from exemplarism and symbolism, both common features of mediaeval philosophy and still flourishing in the seventeenth century. As all works - says Bacon - show the power and ability of their maker, but not his image, so God's work "do shew the omnipotency and wisdom of the maker but not his image" (III, 350). The distinction between the will and power of God, so fully and subtly present in Baconian texts, is very important. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handworks": this verse from the Psalms (18,2) is quoted by Bacon several times. The image of the world, immediately after the Word, is a sign of the divine wisdom and power, and yet the Scriptures do not call the world ,"the image of God," but regard it only as "the work of his hands," neither do they speak of any image of God other than man. Theology is concerned with knowing the book of the word of God, natural philosophy studies the book of God's works. The book of Scripture reveals the will of God, the book of nature, his power. The study of nature has nothing to say about God's essence or his will (IV; 340-3).
Bacon proposed to the European culture an alternative view of science. For hirn science had a public, democratic, and collaborative character, individual efforts contributing to its general success. In science, as Bacon conceives it, truly effective results (not the illusory achievements of magicians and alchemists) can be attained only through collaboration among researchers, circulation of results, and clarity of language. Scientific understanding is not an individual undertaking. The extension of man's power over nature is never the work of a single investigator who keeps his results secret, but is the fruit of an organized community financed by the state or by public bodies. Every reform of learning is always a reform also of cultural institutions and universities.
Not only a new image of science, but also a new portrait of the ,"natural philosopher" took shape in Bacon's writings. This portrait differed both from that of the ancient philosopher or sage and from the image of the saint, the monk, the university professor, the courtier, the perfect prince, the magus. The values and the ends theorized for the composite groups of intellectuals and artisans who contributed in the early seventeenth century to the development of science were different from the goals of individual sanctity or literary immortality and from the aims of an exceptional and "demonic" personality.
A chaste patience, a natural modesty, grave and composed manners, a smiling pity are the characteristics of the man of science in Bacon's portrait of him. In the Redargutio philosophiarum Bacon wrote :Then he told me that in Paris a friend had taken him along and introduced him to a gathering, `the sight of which´, he said, `would rejoice your eyes. lt was the happiest experience of my life´. There were some fifty men there, all of mature years, not a young man among them, all bearing the stamp of dignity and probity. . . . At his entry they were chatting easily among themselves but sitting in rows as if expecting somebody. Not long after there entered to them a man of peaceful and serene air, save that his face had become habituated to the expression of pity. .. he took his seat, not on a platform or pulpit, but on level with the rest and delivered the following address . . (III, 559; Farrington´s translation).
Bacon's portrait doubtless resembles Galileo or Einstein more than it does the turbulent Paracelsus or the unquiet and skittish Cornelius Agrippa. The titanic bearing of the Renaissance magus is now supplanted by a classical composure similar to that of the "conversations" of the earliest Humanists. Also in Galileo's Dialogo and in Descartes's Recherche de la verité we find the same familiar tone and style of conversation in which [Descartes wrote] "several friends, frankly and without ceremony, disclose the best of their thoughts to each other." But there is besides, in Bacon, the quiet confidence that comes from knowing the new powers made available to man by technology and collaboration.The new kind of learning, for which Bacon is searching, must get away from touches of genius, arbitrary conclusions, chance, hasty summaries. The emphasis laid by Bacon on the social factor in scientific research and in determining its ends, places his philosophy on a radically different plane from that of the followers of Hermetic tradition."
In De Sapientia Veterum Bacon describes Orpheus as the mythical prototype of the philosopher ("Orpheus sive Philosophia", VI, 646-649).
. Bacon gives the following definition of "interpretation: "that reason which is elicited from facts by a just and methodological process, I call Interpretation of nature" (IV, 51). Now, this definition means a harsh critique of Aristotelianism, Scholasticism and Ramism. Michel Malherbe comments on this :
"The main and most characteristic feature of Bacon´s epistemology is that it rests upon a single method, which is induction... It must help the understanding on its way toward truth... Thus, true knowledge will go from a lower certainty to a higher liberty and from a lower liberty to a higher certainty, and so on. This rule is the basic principle of Bacon´s theory of science; prepared in the natural and experimental history, determining the relationship between the tables of presence, it governs the induction of axioms and the abstraction of notions and ordains the divisions of sciences within the general system of knowledge. lt is well known that this rule of invention originates in Ramus´s methodology and, more formerly, in Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. To characterize the nature of the premises required for the foundation of true demonstrations, Aristotle had set down three criteria: the predicate must be true in every instance of its subject; it must be part of the essential nature of the subject; and it must be universal, that is, related to the subject by itself and qua itself. Aristotle was defining first propositions as being essential propositions; and he referred universality to necessity and extension to comprehension These three criteria were much commented upon during the whole scholastic period, and were transformed, or rather extended, by Ramus and others in the sixteenth century. Whereas in Aristotle they had expressed the initial conditions of any conclusive syllogism, in Ramus they became the conditions of every systematic art: within a system, methodically organized for the exhibiting of knowledge, any statement must be taken in its full extension, it must join things which are necessarily related and it must be equivalent to a definition. But these rules for syllogistic or dialectic art in Aristotle or Ramus become rules for inductive invention in Bacon: and their meaning is quite different. With the rule of certainty and iiberty, Bacon aims at directiy opposing the old logic, infected by syllogistic or rhetoric formalism.
By its title, the Novum Organum makes Bacon's ambition clear: to replace the Aristotelian organon, which has governed all knowledge until the end of the sixteenth century with an entireiy new logicai instrument, a new method for the progress and profit of human science. And the Chancellor proclaims that he has achieved his aim, if posterity acknowledges that, even if he has failed to discover new truths or produce new works, he will have built the means to discover such truths or to produce such works (III, 520). He insists that his method has nothing to do with the old one nor does it try to improve it. And he puts out the choice in these terms :There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes tor settled and immoveable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried. (IV, 50)
When it is left to itself, the understanding follows the first way, hastily applies itself to reality and generates anticipations of nature. But "that reason which is elicited from facts by a just and methodological process, I call Interpretation of nature" (IV, 51).
Taken as a whole, Bacon's critique comes to this: from a formal point of view, Aristotle's syllogism is essentially a logic for deductive reasoning, which goes from the principles to the consequences, from the premises to the conclusions. And, of course, in this kind of reasoning, the truth of the conclusions is necessarily derived from the truth of the premises, so that knowledge will start with primary truths that are supposed to be necessary and universal, that is, essential. Now, Bacon asks, how does the mind acquire the knowledge of these primary truths, since, as it is allowed by Aristotle himseif, all knowledge starts with experience, which experience is always contingent and particular? How does the mind go from the empirical knowledge of facts or sensible effects (phenomena) to the knowledge of the very nature of things? The formal necessity of the syllogism (or deductive reasoning) makes the old logic forget the pre-judicial question of how we set up first principles. Therefore, any attempt to define the valid form of theories must go through the inquiry upon how we establish truth.
From this general critique, it is easy to understand Bacon's various comments on the old organon. First, since such a logic induces a kind of double start, the empirical one and the rational one, and since it confuses the origin of knowledge with its foundation, the mind is condemned to jump immediately from empirical particulars to first principles (or axioms, in Bacon's terms) and to render superfluous the required induction which would gradually lead from one point to the other. This instantaneous slip from empirical data to rational and essential dogmas is made possible by the very nature of the human mind. Left to itself, the mind hurries toward certainty; it is prone to gain assent and consent; it fills the imagination with idols, untested generalities. And it is this natural haste and prejudice which gives mental activity its anticipative form. By themselves, anticipations draw the most general principles from immediate experience, in order to proceed, as quickly as possible, to the formal deduction of consequences. Therefore, however paradoxical it may appear, the old logic is unduly empirical and unduly logical. And the critique of formalism [formalism draws the conclusions from the premises without inquiring upon the truth of the premises] must be attended by the critique of the nature of the human mind.
The human mind is so disposed that it relies on the senses, which provide it with the rudiments of all knowledge. Of course, Bacon argues, we cannot get any information about things except with the senses, and skeptics are wrong when, questioning them, they plunge the mind into despair. "But by far the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dulness, incompetency, and deceptions of the senses" (IV, 58). On the one hand, they are too dull and too gross, and let the more subtle parts of nature escape our observation: their range is limited to the most conspicuous information. On the other hand, they are misleading, by a fundamental illusion: they offer things to the mind according to the measure of human nature. "For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe" (IV, 54). In order to have access to reality, we have to rectify their information and reduce a double delusion: the illusion that the sensible qualities offered by them are the real determinations of things and the illusion that things are divided according to our human sensibility (IV, 194 et sq.).
Thus we can understand a third critique against the old method: the Aristotelian logic rests upon a metaphysies which believes that sensible experience gives the human mind the things as they are, with their essential qualities, and that philosophy can be satisfied with taking empirical phenomena for the true reality of nature, thanks to a mere generalization that erases the particular circumstances of existence. Nevertheless, empirically qualified existences are not to be mistaken for the things themselves. So far, Bacon is undoubtedly a modern, since he claims that the object of knowledge is reality and that reality, if it can be inductively known from empirical data, cannot be reduced to the matter of experience.
Bacon's fourth censure of the old logic follows from this. He agrees with the sjxteenth-century dialecticians that Aristotle was wrong when he thought that understanding could skip, without the hard work of induction, from what is immediately given to the senses to what is posed in the first principles of science. Aristotle wanted to know the truth, but did not expiain the method of invention. On the other hand, the dialecticians, giving up the attempt to set up the first principles (and thereby the traditional Aristotelian demonstrative science), gave up any attempt to reach the truth. They only retained the deductive and systematic form of discourse to introduce order into men's opinions, and maintained that invention could be reduced to the mere search for arguments, that is, for probable reasons invented to persuade or convince.
Bacon, however, wants to promote the idea of an inductive science and argues that Aristotle's mistake affects the syllogistic form. In the fourth chapter of the fifth book of the De augmentis, Bacon develops a remarkable critique of the syllogism and is partly responsible for the widespread disregard of formal logic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
According to Bacon, "in all inductions, whether in good or vicious form the same action of the mind which inventeth, judgeth" (III, 392). One cannot find without proving, nor prove without finding. But this is not the case in the syllogism: "for the proof being not immediate but by mean, the invention of the mean is one thing, and the judgement of the consequence is another, the one exciting only, the other examining" (III, 392). The syllogism needs the means (the middle term) so that the derived conclusion amounts to a proof. But since the syllogism is incapable of inventing the middle term, it must have been known before. In other words, syllogistic form leaves the invention of the middle term to the natural shrewdness of the mind or to good fortune. Thus, it is because of its own demonstrative form that the syllogism is unable to provide a method of truth and is useless for science.
By now it is dear why the old logic and the knowledge which is built on it are unable to produce works or why the extant works "are due to chance and experience rather than to sciences" (IV, 48). To deduce practical effects, the mind must know real causes or laws of nature. Since the old method does not supply the mind with the means of inventing causes and does not set up the scale of the intermediate propositions that are needed to reduce sensible experience and reach the real science, or to derive rightly and by degrees the consequences from the principles, it is not surprising that invented works are too few and not very useful for men's lives. Thus, from the start in sensible experience to the end in practical deduction, this old method is of no use. And an entirely new one must be proposed, which will be able to carry the human mind from empirical data to the real causes, to supply it with the means of invention, to justify the position of first truths and to manage a secure deduction of practical consequences. And, as the critique of the old logic has to be understood as a whole, so the interpretation of nature has to be conceived as a continuous attempt, proceeding by degrees, by successive stages, to invent truth and to derive works. ("Bacon´s method of science", in: The Cambridge Companion to Bacon. ed. by Markku Peltonen , 76-82).
Harvey Wheeler´s comment :
Most historians of the philosophy of science are unfamiliar with
Bacon's transformation of his innovative theory of juridical
lawfinding into scientific empiricist lawfinding. Baconian
law-finding is not to be confused with cause-finding inmodern
"classical" physics.Bacon's quest changed as he matured. In
Valerius Terminus he is writing in English, trying to lay the
groundwork for the validity of the co-existence of Religion and
Bacon's early experimental treatises - like Dense and Rare - are experimental and of limited value. Historians of the philosophy of science have little trouble in disposing these early experimentalist efforts of Bacon.
His work on sound was somewhat better - experimental-theoretical. It is a post-pythagorean theory of harmonics and still not appropriately analyzed. Contemproary musicologists like to quote the passages on sound in New Atlantis for being compatible with today's approach to music.
By the time of the Novum Organum Bacon was seeking a more "general theory of science." Its 'logic machine' (Hooke) was designed to be relevant to all non-theological domains.
However, most Bacon interpreters evaluate his science in contrast to the prior Aristotelian approaches and in comparison to the Ramist approaches of Bacon's day. He rejected them both.
Scholars then look beyond Bacon and evaluate his logic machine in
contrast to the "classical mechanics" of Newtonian Optics (physics):
linear time-sequence prediction. Bacon was not seeking that type of
"cause/prediction"science. He was seeking hidden, "unwritten" "laws"
of nature, more on the model of Pasteur than of Newton.Any treatment
that tries to interpret Bacon's Logic Machine in the light of what
classical physics called "science" will distort Bacon's meaning and
achievement. Note: if a scholar's interpretation of Bacon's Science
does not square with the detailed description of the application of
Bacon's science in "Salomon's House" in New Atlantis, it
should be viewed with scepticism.
Bacon's science is more applicable to what we call post-modern neo-hermeutics than to Newtonian mechanics. (Patrick Heelan is good on post-modern neo-hermeneutics.)
Consider: why did Bacon conclude that his New Logic Machine would produce scientific knowledge in the form of aphorisms and apothegms - not linear time-sequence predictions?
To summarize the above: Most contemporary interpreters of Bacon evaluate his science by comparison with Newtonian mechanics. If one interprets Bacon on the basis of classical mechanics, the result will not truly reflect Bacon's science. A more fruitful modern model is the Watson-Crick type of "science" illustrated by their discovery of the double helix. Their process, as described carefully in Watson's book, could have been lifted from Bacon. It was not. But the point is that it tells of a highly successful, highly empiricist (in Bacon's and Kant's meaning of phenomenological empiricism) approach to the "understanding" of the "unwritten laws" of cell theory and genetics.
NOTE" It is very instructive to study why Linus Pauling failed to dsiscover the genetic code. He was an expert in the physics of biochemistry and applied quantum theory to molecular biology. His theory of the molecular bond won a Nobel Laureate. Read Watson's explanation of why Pauling failed to crack the genetic code. Guenther Stent, the molecular biologist of U.C. Berkeley is an avowed Kantian who narrowly missed cracking the genetic code, His philosophy of science is highly relevant to the application of neo-hermeneutics to contemporary biology.
Today's philosophy of physics, as developed by John Wheeler and David Bohm describes a "Baconian" idea of the "participant-observer-universe" to account "scientifically" and empirically for the evidence produced in post-modern physics.
I hold to two points that may not persuade others. The first is the relevance of "law-finding" to the phenemonological empiricism at the heart of Bacon's Novum Organum logic machine - as contrasted with his early experimentalism. The second is the standard for us to use in evaluating Bacon's science. Those who apply the model of science widespread in the social sciences and humanities during the 19th and mid 20th centuries - essentially a model based upon pre-Einsteinian physics. -
Franz Träger (S. 25-26) the past discussion combines into the title of the fragment: Babel Fish Translation, In English: "the title of the fragment was interpreted twice. Ellis (Vorwort, 201/2):
."It is impossible to ascertain the motive which determined Bacon to give the supposed author the name of Valerius Terminus, or to his commentator, of whose annotations we have no remains, that of Hermes Stella. It may be conjectured that by the name Terminus he intended to intimate that the new philosophy would put an end to the wandering of mankind in search of truth, that it would be the terminus ad qaem in which when it was once attained the mind would finally acquiesce.
Again the obscurity of the text was to be in some measure removed by the annotations of Stella; not however wholly, for Bacon in the epitome of the eighteenth chapter commends the manner of publishing knowledge `whereby it shall not be to the capacity nor taste of all, but shall as it were single and adopt his reader.' Stella was therefore to throw a kind of starlight on the subject, enough to prevent the student´s losing his way, but not much more."
The other classical interpretation gives Anderson (op.cit.16/17):
"The word `terminus´ probably indicates the `limits and end´ to which investigation may proceed. The Annotations, of which `none are set down in this fragments´ - to quote a statement written on the manuscript by Bacon's hand, are to throw a light as by a star (stella). Now `star´ is the symbol used by Bacon in the Gesta Grayorum, the Advancement of Learning, and the De augmentis to represent the sovereign. And the significance which he attaches to the word `Hermes´ is evident from his address to King James in the Introduction to the Advancement of Learning. `There is met in your Majesty, says Bacon, `a rare conjunction as well of divine and sacred literature as of profane and human; so as your Majesty standeth invested of that triplicity which in great veneration was ascribed to the ancient Hermes; the power and fortune of a King, the knowledge and illumination of a Priest, and the learning and the universality of a Philosopher.´ Bacon is, or pretended to be, greatly impressed by James's learning: `To drink indeed´, he says, `of the true fountains of learning, nay to have such a fountain of learning in himself, in a king, and in a king born, is always a miracle.´ And it would appear that he hopes at the beginning of James´s reign - long before he suffers disillusionment respecting his sovereign's interest in the advance of `solid´ knowledge - that, whether or not he can obtain a greater position of state beyond that alloted to him by Elizabeth, he may be enabled to have the modern Hermes, king of the realm and head of the church, and a literary man of no mean fame and importance, annote a subject's work on the new science. James, when he has done this, may well be prevailed upon to make provision for the operation of the new method of knowledge either by subsidizing helpers or by placing at the author's disposal old or new foundations of learning (Works, II, 175, 180; VI, 90, 172; VIII, 396, 401)."
Brandt (op.cit., 54)Iehnt this interpretation off:
"2. no clear designation of the king is as a star, it leaves
itself to the texts indicated of Anderson does not infer that Stella
has to be considered as symbol to Jakob I.. 2. can be addressed only
one king as Hermes Trismegistos (so VIII, 335 and I, 432, not in the
English version III, 263), because in the name the unit of priest,
philosopher and king lies, but in the title of our writing only
Hermes stands, and the figure of the Hermes has eme various meaning;
Hermes is the border God, on it in the word ` term ' of the title is
already alluded; Hermes the God messenger is further, ` hermeneus '
or interpreter - the Hermesmythologie is hineingesponnen itself into
interpretatio the naturae, the Bacon to the task steilt and into its
role as ` keryx ' and ` buccinator ', as messenger of the peace (I,
580-581). One will thus let one of the many masks Bacons be dear
Hermes Stella and thereby at the same time from the embarrassing
conception release, Bacon announces themselves in the title of its
work the fact that the king writes the footnotes in addition (evenly
follows from the acceptance of Anderson)."
These arguments earn the meaning of the title a new explanation to add, hold I, as long as no new documents are found, for a little meaningful. However, it is marked, wanted to free itself we with Brandt from this embarrassing conception concerning Bacon's thinking and trachten, then still enough embarrassingnesses of the Hybris Bacons remained."
Hermes Stella; or, Notes upon the Bacon Cipher. London,
1890..WIGSTON W. C. F. Shakespeare and the Rosicrucians,
included are Bacon's astrological MSS. Notes, 1603, with strange
Parallels from the Rosicrucian Robert Fludd, The German text of
Fludd's Tractatus Apologeticus, (explains how the appearance
of new stars were taken by society as a sign of God's will to them
indicating a restoration of the world and an augmentation of the
Order" 1617, showing how in 1603 the planet Jupiter was in
conjunction with Saturn Wigston says that Hermes Stella means secret
star. This may all be related to a Super-Nova that took place in the
Heavens in 1604 and that portended of great things to come.
3. Spedding, et.al WORKS, op. cit.
4.Valerius Terminus, op. cit.
5.Harvey Wheeler, "Francis Bacon's "Verulamium"; the common law template of the modern in english science and culture," Angelaki.4:1. 1999
6. What about the fall of the angels in the Bible and e.g. in Augustine´s Civitas Die? Which version of the fall of the angels did Bacon know? His sources?
7. Spedding´s footnote:This clause is repeated in the margin, in the transcriber´s hand.
8. Cite Bible
10 similarly in: : I.M. Praefatio Sp. I,132, 19-22; AL Sp. III, 12 seq. (D.A. Sp. I, 742, 1 9 seq. (footnote taken from Vert edition of VT
11 Isaiah 14, 14:
AV: (Authorized Version of the Bible). I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high. 12 Genesis 3, 5:
AV: For God does know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
For Bacon´s alleged use of the Geneva Bible see Henri Durel-Leon in Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, XI:2 (1997), p. 160 and n. 74, modified in the direction of AV by, probably, Lancelot Andrewes in AL.(Adv of Learning) (Thanks to Dr. Leedham-Green)
Geneva Bible: The First Booke of Moses, called Genesis, Chap 3,4+5: Then the serpent said to the woman, Ye shal not dye at all, But God doeth knowe, that when ye shal eat thereof, your eyes shalbe opened, & ye shalbe as gods knowing good and evil. [footnote c: As thogh he shulde say, God doeth not forbid you to eat of the frute, save that he knoweth that if you shulde eat thereof, you shulde be like to him]
AV: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Vulgata: dixit autem serpens ad mulierem nequaquam morte moriemini / scit enim Deus quod in quocumque die comederitis ex eo aperientur oculi vestri et eritis sicut dii scientes bonum et malum
13.Genesis I, 1,26
Geneva Bible: Furthermore God said, Let us make man in our image according to our lickeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the foule of the heaven, and over the beastes, & over all the earth, and over everiething that crepeth & moveth on earth.
AV: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Vulgata: Et ait faciamus hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram et praesit piscibus maris et volatilibus caeli et bestiis universaeque terrae omnique reptili quod movetur in terra
14. Matthew 5, 44-45
Geneva Bible: Love your enemies..... That you may be the children of your Father that is in heaven: for he maketh his sunne to arise on the veil, and the good, and he sendeth raine on the iuste, & unjuste.
AV: Love your enemies:.... That you may be the children of your father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Vulgata: Ego autem dico vobis diligite inimicos vestros .. . ut sitis filii Patris vestri qui in caelis est qui solem suum oriri facit super bonos et malos et pluit super iustos et iniustos.
15. Leviticus 11,44:
AV: For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourself with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth
1 Peter 1, 16:
AV: For it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. see also Leviticus 20,7 and 20,26
16.cf. A.L. Sp.III, 264, 1.18 (D.A. Sp. I, 433, I. 29,30)
17. Check OED
18.Ad meritum et usus vitae", Works, vol. I, p. 132
Italics in order to stress the importance; probably not a quotation Comment
19. Fußnote Vert: Philo d`Alexandrie, Des Songes, Livre I, 83-4
22.St Matthew 22, 21:
AV: ... Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar´s; and unto God the things that are God´s.
23.cf. A.L. Sp. III,478,1.8 sq. (D.A. Sp. I, 830, I. 24 seq.
similarly: A.L. Sp.III, 350,I.24 seq. (D.A. Sp. I, 545, I.35 swq.)
John Channing Briggs (""Bacon´s science and religion", in: The Cambridge Companion to Bacon, ed. by Markku Peltonen, Cambridge 1996) comments on Bacon´s separation of divinity and natural philosophy (quotations in Briggs´ text are from The Advancement of Learning):
A longstanding commonplace in Bacon scholarship has been the notion that the Baconian advancement of learning depends upon a strict separation of divinity and natural philosophy. In a number of memorable passages Bacon indeed warns his readers of the dire consequences of confusing divinity with natural science: to combine them, he says, is to confound them. This is supposedly what Plato and the scholastics did, and what Bacon explicitly designs the new learning to overcome. Even the acceptable hybrid "divine philosophy," when it is "commixed together" with natural philosophy, leads to "an heretical religion, and an imaginary and fabulous philosophy" (III, 350). According to this emphatic strand of Baconian doctrine, religion that joins with the study of nature is in danger of becoming atheistic, or an enthusiastic rival of the true church. Natural philosophy that traffics unwisely with divinity collapses into idolatry or fakery.
Bacon´s exemplum of these abuses in a modern proto-science is the divine philosophy of the Paracelsian school, which seeks "the truth of all natural philosophy in the Scriptures." The Paracelsians mirror and reverse the heresies of pagan pantheism by seeking what is "dead" (mortal or natural) from among the "living" (eternal) truths of divinity, when "the scope or purpose of the Spirit of God is not to express matters of nature in the Scriptures, otherwise than in passage, and for application to man's capacity and to matters moral or divine" (ut 485-6). If we take Thomas Sprat at his word, the Royal Society was founded on generally similar principles. The first corruption of knowledge, he argues, resulted from the Egyptians' concealment of wisdom "as sacred Mysteries." The current age of inquiry benefitted from "the dissolution of the Abbyes, whereby their Libraries came forth into the light, and fell into industrious Mens hands." Surrounded by the warring forces of contrary religions (the society's rooms at Gresham College, London, were occupied by soldiers in 1658), the founders of the Royal Society - according to Sprat's account - were "invincibly arm'd" not only against scholastic Catholicism, but against the "inchantments of Enthusiasm" and "spiritual Frensies" that sometimes characterized the Protestant revolutionaries.
In Bacon's project, there is an explicit, delineated role for the
study of divinity, which he carefully separates from his own work.
Reason is at work "in the conception and apprehension of the
mysteries of God to us revealed" and in "the inferring and deriving
of doctrine and direction thereupon" (III, 479). In the first
instance reason stirs itself only to grasp and illustrate revelation;
it does not inquire. This is the foundation of Bacon's distinction
between true natural philosophy, which inquires into the world as
God's manifestation of his glory or power, and true theology,
which piously interprets the scripturally revealed meaning of God's
inscrutable will. The natural world declares God's glory but not his
will (III, 478). Reason's power in theology therefore "consisteth of
probation and argument." lt formulates doctrine only insofar as God's
revelation, largely or wholly through Scripture, makes it possible.
The Lord "doth grift [graft) his revelations and holy doctrine
upon the notions of our reason, and applieth his inspirations to open
our understanding" (III, 480). (pp. 172- 173)
28. Job 13, 7-9:
AV: Will ye speak wickedly for God? and talk deceitfully for him? Will ye accept his person? will ye contend for God? Is it good that he should search you out? as one man mocketh another, do ye so mock him?
This image is also used in A.L. Sp. III, 351, I, 16 where Bacon refers to Democritus.
30. Genesis 2,19-20
Geneva Bible: So the Lord God formed of the earth everie beast of the field, and verie foule of the heaven, & broght them unto the man to se how he wolde call them: for howsoever the man named the living creature, so was the name thereof.The man therefore gave names unto all cattle, and to the foule of the heaven, and to everie beast of the field: but for Adam found he not an help mete for him.
AV: And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the
field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see
what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living
creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all
cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;
but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Vulgata:Igitur Dominus Deus de humo cunctis animantibus terrae et
universis volatilibus caeli adduxit ea ad Adam ut videret quid
vocaret ea / omne enim quod vovavit Adam animae viventis ipsum est
nomen eius / appelavitque Adam nominibus suis cuncat animantia / et
universa volatilia et omnes bestias terrae / Adam vero non
inveniebatur adiutor similis eius
31. Spedding´s footnote: linages in original. See note 3, p. 148
32. Genesis 4,21:
AV: And his brother´s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.Vulgata: et nomen fratris eius Iuabal ipse fuit pater canentium cithara et organo
33. Genesis, 4,22:
AV: And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron...Vulgata: Sella quoque genuit Thubalcain qui fuitmalleator et faber in cuncta opera aeris et ferri...
34. The Acts 7,22:
AV: And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.
35. cf. A.L. Sp.III, 298,I.38; N.A. Sp. III, 145, I seq.
36. 1 Kings 4, 29-34
Geneva Bible: And God gave Salomon wisdome, und understanding exceeding muche, and a large heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Salomons wisdome excelled the wisdome of all the children of the East and all the wisdome of Egypt. For he was wiser than anie man.... and he was famous throughout all nacions rounde about. And Salomon spake thre thousand proverbes: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tre that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssope that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beastes, and of foules, and of creping things, and of fishes. And there came all the people to heare the wisdome of Salomon, from all Kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdome.
Vulgata: Liber Malachim 4, 29-34: Dedit quoque Deus sapientiam Salomoni et prudentiam multam nimis et latitudinem cordis quasi harenam quae est in litore maris / et praecedebat sapientia Salomonis sapientiam omnium orientalium et Aegyoptorum / et erat sapientia cunctis hominibus.. Et erat nominatus inuniversis gentibus per cicuitum / locutus est quoque Salomon tria milia parabolas et fuerunt carmina eius quinque et mille / et disputavit super lignis a cedro quae est in Libano usque ad hysopum quae egreditur de pariete et disseuit de iumentis et volucribus et reptilibus et piscibus / et veniebant de cunctis populis ad audiendam sapientiam Salomonis et ab universis regibus terrae qui audiebant sapientiam eius
Luther Bible: 1. Könige 5, 9-14
SirBacon.org - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning