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bly encouraging a predilection for restraints and checks, and all the other technical combinations of an antiquated and scholastic policy; -the latter, by inspiring, on the one hand, a distrust of the human powers, when they attempt to embrace in detail, interests at once so complicated and so momentous; and, on the other, a religious attention to the designs of Nature, as displayed in the general laws which regulate her economy;-leading, no less irresistibly, to a gradual and progressive simplification of the political mechanism. It is, indeed, the never failing result of all sound philosophy, to humble, more and more, the pride of science before that Wisdom which is infinite and divine ;-whereas, the farther back we carry our researches into those age, the institutions of which have been credulously regarded as monuments of the superiority of unsophisticated good sense, over the false refinements of modern arrogance, we are the more struck with the numberless insults offered to the most obviour suggestions of nature and of reason. We may remark this, not only in the moral depravity of rude tribes, but in the universal disposition which they discover to disfigure and distort the bodies of their infants;-in one case, new-modelling the form of the eyelids ; -in a second, lengthening the ears;-in a third, checking the growth of the feet;-in a fourth, by mechanical pressures applied to the head, attacking the seat of thought and intelligence. To allow the human form to attain, in perfection its fair proportions, is one of the latest improvements of civilized society; and the case is perfectly analogous in those sciences which have for their object to assist nature in the cure of diseases; in the development and improvement of the intellectual faculties; in the correction of bad morals; and in the regulations of political economy.
OF THE SPECULATION CONCERNING FINAL CAUSES.
Opinion of Lord Bacon on the subject.-Final Causes rejected by Des Cartes, and by the majority of French Philosophers.-Recognized as legitimate Objects of research by Newton.-Tacitly acknowledged by all as a useful logical guide, even in Sciences which have no immediate relation to Theology.
THE study of Final Causes may be considered in two different points of view; first, as subservient to the evidences of natural religion; and secondly, as a guide and auxiliary in the investigation of physical laws. Of these views it is the latter alone which is immediately connected with the principles of the inductive logic; and it is to this, accordingly. that I shall chiefly direct my attention in the following observations. I shall not, however, adhere so scrupu
lously to a strict arrangement, as to avoid all reference to the former, where the train of my reflections may naturally lead to it. The truth is, that the two speculations will, on examination, be found much more nearly allied, than might at first sight be apprehended.
I before observed, that the phrase Final Cause was first introduced by Aristotle; and that the extension thus given to the notion of causation contributed powerfully to divert the inquiries of his followers from the proper objects of physical science. In reading the strictures of Bacon on this mode of philosophizing, it is necessary always to bear in mind, that they have a particular reference to the theories of the schoolmen; and, if they should sometimes appear to be expressed in terms too unqualified, due allowances ought to be made for the undistinguishing zeal of a reformer, in attacking prejudices consecrated by long and undisturbed prescription. "Causarum finalium inquisitio sterilis est, et tanquam Virgo Deo consecrata, "nihil parit." Had a similar remark occurred in any philosophical work of the eighteenth century, it might perhaps have been fairly suspected to savour of the school of Epicurus; although, even in such a case, the quaintness and levity of the conceit would probably have inclined a cautious and candid reader to interpret the author's meaning with an indulgent latitude. On the present occasion, however, Bacon is his own best commentator; and I shall therefore quote, in a faithful, though abridged translation, the preparatory passage by which this allusion is introduced.
"The second part of metaphysics is the investigation of final causes; which I object to, not as a speculation which ought to be 66 neglected, but as one which has, in general, been very improper"ly regarded as a branch of physics. If this were merely a fault "of arrangement, I should not be disposed to lay great stress upon "it; for arrangement is useful chiefly as a help to perspicuity, and "does not affect the substantial matter of science: But, in this "instance, a disregard of method has occasioned the most fatal consequences to philosophy; in as much as the consideration of final "causes in physics has supplanted and banished the study of physical causes; the fancy amusing itself with illusory explanations deriv"ed from the former, and misleading the curiosity from a steady pro66 secution of the latter." After illustrating this remark by various examples, Bacon adds: “I would not, however, be understood, by "these observations, to insinuate, that the final causes just mentioned "may not be founded in truth, and, in a metaphysical view, extremely worthy of attention; but only, that when such disquisitions invade "and overrun the appropriate province of physics, they are likely to lay waste and ruin that department of knowledge." The passage "concludes with these words: "And so much concerning metaphy : "sics; the part of which relating to final causes, I do not deny, "has been often enlarged upon in physical, as well as in metaphysi"cal treatises. But while, in the latter of these, it is treated of with "propriety, in the former, it is altogether misplaced; and that, not
"merely because it violates the rules of a logical order, but because "it operates as a powerful obstacle to the progress of inductive "science."*
The epigrammatic maxim which gave occasion to these extracts has, I believe, been oftener quoted (particularly by French writers) than any other sentence in Bacon's works; and, as it has in general been stated, without any reference to the context, in the form of a detached aphorism, it has been commonly supposed to convey a meaning widely different from what appears to have been annexed to it by the author. The remarks with which he has prefaced it, and which I have here submitted to the consideration of my readers, sufficiently shew, not only that he meant his proposition to be restricted to the abuse of final causes in the physics of Aristotle, but that he was anxious to guard against the possibility of any misapprehension or misrepresentation of his opinion. A further proof of this is afforded by the censure which, in the same paragraph, he bestows on Aristotle, for "substituting Nature, instead of "God, as the fountain of final causes; and for treating of them "rather as subservient to logic than to theology."
A similar observation may be made on another sentence in Bacon, in the interpretation of which a very learned writer, Dr. Cudworth, seems to have altogether lost sight of his usual candour. "Incre"dible est quantum agmen idolorum philosophiae immiserit natura"lium operationum ad similitudinem actionum humanarum reductio." "If (says Cudworth) the Advancer of Learning here speaks of those "who unskilfully attribute their own properties to inanimate bodies, "(as when they say, that matter desires forms as the female does "the male, and that heavy bodies descend down by appetite towards "the centre, that they may rest therein) there is nothing to be re"prehended in the passage. But, if his meaning be extended fur"ther to take away all final causes from the things of nature, then "is it the very spirit of atheism and infidelity. It is no idol of the
cave or den (to use that affected language) that is, no prejudice or "fallacy imposed on ourselves, from the attributing our own ani"malish properties to things without us, to think that the frame "and system of this whole world was contrived by a perfect under"standing and mind."
It is difficult to conceive that any person who had read Bacon's works, and who, at the same time, was acquainted with the theories which it was their great object to explode, could, for a moment, have hesitated about rejecting the latter interpretation as altogether absurd; and yet the splenetic tone which marks the conclusion of Cudworth's strictures, plainly shews, that he had a decided leaning to it, in preference to the former. The comment does no hon
* De Augm. Scient. Lib. III. cap. iv. v. See note (AA)
+ Even the former interpretation is not agreeable (as appears manifestly from the context) to Bacon's idea. The prejudices which he has here more particularly in view, are those
our to his liberality; and, on the most favourable supposition, must be imputed to a superstitious reverence for the remains of Grecian wisdom, accompanied with a corresponding dread of the unknown dangers to be apprehended from philosophical innovations. Little was he aware, that, in turning the attention of men from the history of opinions and systems to the observation and study of nature, Bacon was laying the foundation of a bulwark against atheism, more stable and impregnable than the united labours of the ancients were able to rear;-a bulwark which derives additional strength from every new accession to the stock of human knowledge.*
Whether Bacon's contempt for the Final Causes of the Aristotelians has not carried him to an extreme in recommending the total exclusion of them from physics, is a very different question; and a question of much importance in the theory of the inductive logic. My own opinion is, that his views on this point, if considered as applicable to the present state of experimental science, are extremely limited and erroneous. Perhaps, at the time when he wrote, such an exclusion may have appeared necessary, as the only effectual antidote against the errors which then infected every branch of philosophy; but, granting this to be true, no good reason can be given for continuing the same language, at a period, when the proper object of physics is
which take their rise from a bias in the mind to imagine a greater equality and uniformity in nature than really exists. As an instance of this, he mentions the universal assumption among the ancient astronomers, that all the celestial motions are performed in orbits per fectly circular;-an assumption, which, a few years before Eacon wrote, had been com pletely disproved by Kepler. To this he adds some other examples from physics and chemistry; after which he introduces the general reflection animadverted on by Cudworth.-The whole passage concludes with these words. "Tanta est harmoniae discre pantia inter spiritum hominis et spiritum mundi "
The criticisms may appear minute; but I cannot forbear to mention, as a proof of the carelessness with which Cudworth had read Bacon, that the prejudice supposed by the former to belong to the class of idola specus, is expressly quoted by the latter, as an exam. ple of the idola tribus. (See the 5th Book de Augment. Scient. Cap. iv.)
•Extabit eximium Newtoni opus adversus Atheorum impetus munitissimum praesidium. (Cotesii Praef. in Edit. Secund. Princip.)
In the above vindication of Bacon, I have abstained from any appeal to the instances in which he has himself forcibly and eloquently expressed the same sentiments here as cribed to him; because I conceive that an author's real opinions are to be most indisputab y judged of from the general spirit and tendency of his writings. The following passage, however, is too precious a document to be omitted on the present occasion. It is indeed one of the most hackneyed quotations in our language; but it forms, on that very account, the more striking a contrast to the voluminous and now neglected erudition displayed by Cudworth in defence of the same argument.
"I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind! It is true that a little philosophy incli meth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to providence and Deity: nay, even that school which is most accused of atheism, doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and Epicurus. for it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal." (Bacon's Essays.)
too well understood, to render it possible for the investigation of final causes to lead astray the most fanciful theorist. What harm can be apprehended from remarking those proofs of design which fall under the view of the physical inquirer in the course of his studies? Or, if it should be thought foreign to his province to speak of design, he may, at least, be permitted to remark what ends are really accomplished by particular means; and what advantages result from the general laws by which the phenomena of nature are regulated. In doing this, he only states a fact; and if it be illogical to go farther, he may leave the inference to the moralist or the divine.
In consequence, however, of the vague and commonplace declamation against final causes, sanctioned (as has been absurdly supposed) by those detached expressions of Bacon, which have suggested the foregoing reflections, it has, for many years past, become fashionable to omit the consideration of them entirely, as inconsistent with the acknowledged rules of sound philosophizing;—a caution (it may be remarked by the way) which is most scrupulously observed by those writers who are the most forward to censure every apparent anomaly or disorder in the economy of the universe. The ef fect of this has been, to divest the study of nature of its most attractive charms; and to sacrifice to a false idea of logical rigour, all the moral impressions and pleasures which physical knowledge is fitted to yield.*
Nor is it merely in a moral view, that the consideration of uses is interesting. There are some parts of nature in which it is necessary to complete the physical theory; nay there are instances, in which it has proved a powerful and perhaps indispensable organ of physical discovery. That Bacon should not have been aware of this, will not appear surprising, when it is recollected, that the chief facts which justify the observation have been brought to light since
Of these facts, the most remarkable are furnished by the science of anatomy. To understand the structure of an animal body, it is necessary not only to examine the conformation of the parts, but to consider their functions; or, in other words, to consider their ends and uses: Nor, indeed, does the most accurate knowledge of the former, till perfected by the discovery of the latter, afford satisfaction to an inquisitive and scientific mind. Every anatomist, accordingly, whatever his metaphysical creed may be, proceeds, in his
"If a traveller (says the great Mr. Boyle) being in some ill-inhabited eastern country, should come to a large and fair building, such as one of the most stately of those they call caravanzeras, though he would esteem and be delighted with the magnificence of the structure, and the commodiousness of the apartments, yet supposing it to have been erect. ed but for the honour or the pleasure of the founder, he would commend so stately a fabric, without thanking him for it; but, if he were satisfied that this commodious building was designed by the founder as a receptacle for passengers, who were freely to have the use of the many conveniences the apartments afforded, he would then think himself oblig. ed, not only to praise the magnificence, but with gratitude to acknowledge the bounty and the philanthropy of so munificent a benefactor." ~(Boyle's Works, Vol. IV. p.,517. Folio edition.)