« AnteriorContinuar »
of Jesse which were "brought before him in the house, and should not have sought David who was absent in the field.
"4. The abandoning universality is an opposite error to hasty generalization. For after distribution of particular arts and sciences into their several places, many men have presently abandoned the universal notion of things, or philosophia prima, which is a deadly enemy to all progression, for prospects are made from turrets and high places; and it is impossible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the flat and level of the same science, and ascend not as into a watch-tower to a higher science.
The mind has a tendency to run into subtleties and refinements, and endless inquiry.
1. The great error of our nature is not to know where to stop, not to be satisfied with any reasonable acquirement: not to compound with our condition: but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable pursuit after more. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
2. The human understanding shoots itself out, and cannot rest, but still goes on, though to no purpose.
"3. The mind of man is as a mirror or glass, capable of the image of the universal world, and as joyful to receive the impressions thereof as the eye rejoices to receive the light; and not only delighted in the beholding the variety of things and the vicissitudes of times, but raised also to discover the inviolable laws and the infallible decrees of nature:—but if any man shall think by view and enquiry into sensible and material things, to attain that light whereby he may reveal unto himself the nature and will of God, then is he spoiled through vain philosophy: for the sense of man is as the sun which opens and reveals the terrestrial bodies, but conceals and obscures the stars and bodies celestial..
"The Mind is warped by supposing that Nature acts in the same way as
"1. The human mind supposes that man is, as it were, the common measure and mirror, or glass of nature; and it is not credible (if all particulars were scanned and noted) what a troop of fictions and idols, the reduction of the operations of nature, to the similitude of human actions, hath brought into philosophy; I say, this very fancy, that it should be thought that nature doth the same things that man doth.—Instead of this arrogance, men should intentively observe all the workmanship and particular workings of nature, and meditate which of these may be translated into arts for the benefit and use of man.
"2. The understanding is perverted by the sight of things performed in the mechanic arts, which generally alter the bodies by composition or separation: whence men are apt to imagine that something of the like kind happens in all natural bodies: and from this notion the figment of the elements and their uniting to compose all natural bodies had its rise.
"The Mind has a tendency to hasty assent without due and mature suspension of judgment.
"1. The mind of man doth wonderfully endeavour and extremely covet that it may not be pensile: but that it may light upon something fixed and immoveable, on which, as on a firmament, it may support itself in its swift motions and disquisitions. Aristotle endeavours to prove that in all motions of bodies there is some point quiescent: and very elegantly expounds the fable of Atlas, who stood fixed, and bare up the heavens from falling, to be meant of the poles of the world, whereupon the conversion is accomplished. In like manner, men do earnestly seek to have some atlas or axis of their cogitations within themselves, which may, in some measure, moderate the fluctuations and wheelings of the understanding, fearing it may be the falling of their heaven.
"2. An impatience of doubt and an unadvised haste to assertion without due and mature suspension of the judgment, is an error in the conduct of the understanding. For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action commonly spoken of by the ancients: of which the one was a plain and smooth way in the beginning, but in the end impassable: the other, rough and troublesome in the entrance, but, after a while, fair and even: so it is in contemplations: if a man will begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he can be content to begin with doubts and have patience awhile, he shall end in certainties.
"3. This tendency to hasty assent is one of the chief causes of credulity, which is of two sorts: it is either of matters of fact, which are admitted without a careful examination, or of matters of opinion, which are either in certain arts and sciences, or in certain favourite authors, who are regarded not as Consuls to advise, but as Dictators to command.
"The Mind is more disposed to Affirmatives than Negatives*
"1. The mind has the peculiar and constant error of being more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives, whereas it should duly and equally yield to both. But, on the contrary, in the raising of true axioms, negative instances have the greatest force.
"2. The mind of man, if a thing have once been existent, and held good, receives a deeper impression thereof, than if the same thing far more often failed and fell out otherwise: which is the root, as it were, of all superstition and vain credulity. So that he answered well to him that shewed him the great number of pictures of such as had escaped shipwreck, and had paid their vows: and, being pressed with this interrogatory, whether he did not now confess the divinity of
* This seems to be in the nature of a corollary to the last proposition.
Neptune? returned this counter-question by way of answer: Yea, but where are they painted, that are drowned? And there is the same reason of all such like superstitions, as in astrology, dreams, divinations, and the rest.
The Mind is warped by a Love of Simplicity,
1. As diamonds are plainest set we are apt to suppose that what is plain and simple must be valuable.
2. The Brunonian states that diseases are of two classes. 1st. Too much, 2dly. Too little excitability.—Whether this position is well or ill founded, there seems to be a disposition to assent to it from the simplicity of the statement.
3. The spherical is one of the most simple of all re-entering figures, since it depends only on a single element, the size of its radius. The natural inclination of the human mind, to attribute that form to bodies which it comprehends with the greatest facility, disposed it to give the earth a spherical form, cut the simplicity of nature should not always be measured by our conceptions. It was no sooner discovered that there was an inequality in the equatorial and polar diameters than, the ellipse being, next to the circle, the most simple of the re-entering curves, the earth was considered as a solid formed by the revolution of an ellipse about its shorter axis.
The Mind is warped by a Love of Uniformity.
"1. The spirit of man pre-supposes and feigns a greater equality and uniformity in nature than in truth there is. Hence that fiction of the mathematicians that in the heavenly bodies all is moved by perfect circles, rejecting spiral lines. So it comes to pass that whereas there are many things in nature, as it were, monodica and full of imparity: yet the conceits of men still feign and frame unto themselves relatives, parallels, and conjugates.
2. As the northern part of the earth was supposed to be a hemisphere, the southern part was conceived to assume the same form and plan.
3. That produce increases in arithmetic and population in a eometric ratio, however different the laws of their increase may e, is a position which seems to partake of this love of uniformity.
The mind is warped by a Love of Arrangement.
"1. Knowledge is uttered to men in a form, as if every thing were finished: for it is reduced into arts and methods which in their divisions do seem to include all that may be. And how weakly soever the parts are filled, yet they carry the shew and reason of a total; and thereby the writings of some received authors go for the very act: whereas antiquity used to deliver the knowledge which the mind of man had gathered in observations,'aphorisms, or short or dispersed sentences or small tractates of some parts that they had diligently meditated and laboured; which did incite men both to ponder that .which was invented and to add and supply further.
"2. Rawley, in his preface to the Sylva Sylvarum, says, I have heard his Lordship often say,that, if hee should have served the glory of his owne name, hee had beene better not to have published this Naturall History : For it may seetne an indigested heape of particulars, and cannot have that lustre, which bookes cast into methods have: But that he resolved to preferre the goode of men, and that which might best secure it, before any thing that might have relation to himselfe. I have heard his Lordship say also, that one great reason, why hee would not put these particulars into any exact method (though hee that looketh attentively into them shall finde that they have a secret order) was, because he conceived that other men would not thinke, that they could doe the like; and so goe on with a further collection; which if the method had beene exact, "many would have despaired to attaine by imitation."
From these specimens it is hoped that the nature of this Idolatry, so deprecated by Bacon, may appear manifest.—We pass on to the next species, not without some apprehension, that we may ourselves be worshipping the idol arrangement, when we suggest that all these idols may possibly be traced either to love of truth, or to passions by which the love of truth is disturbed: and that they may be thus exhibited.
1. By love of Truth.
2.By other Designs.
1. Hasty Assent.
3. Strength of immediate Impression.
We are aware that, at first view, it may appear extraordinary that the love of truth should be considered as a cause of error: and yet, from our impatience to possess this treasure, it seems that we are induced to accept counterfeits without due examination: to preserve them as valuable coin and to be satisfied that all riches are of the same nature: it seems to induce us hastily to assent: to be tenacious in retaining: to generalize with precipitation: and not to know where to stop.
Such is the nature of these idols, when separately considered. When united, one idol may be moulded out of them all: assuming all forms, more properly speaking, all distinctions to which fallen man is liable: whose temples are universal, and worshippers every where. We speak of "Prejudice," of which it has been truly said, that it has the singular ability of accommodating itself to all the possible varieties of the human mind. Some passions and vices are but thinly scattered among mankind, and find only here and there a fitness of reception. But prejudice, like the spider, makes every where its home. It has neither taste or choice of place, and all that it requires is room. There is scarcely a situation, except fire and water, in which a spider will not live. So, let the mind be as naked as the walls of an empty and forsaken tenement, gloomy as a dungeon, or ornamented with the richest abilities of thinking, let it be hot, cold, dark, or light, lonely or inhabited, still prejudice, if undisturbed, will fill it with the cob-webs, and live like the spider, where there seems nothing to live on. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same; and as several of our passions are strongly characterised by the animal world, prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind.
[To be concluded in our next.]
Art. X. The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets, never before in any language truly translated; with a Comment upon some of his chief places, done according to the Greek, by George Chapman. At London, printed for Nathaniel Butter, [N.D.]
The whole Works of Homer, Prince of Poets, in his Iliads and Odysses, translated according to the Greeke, by George Chapman. London, printed for Nathaniel Butter. Folio, 1616'.
Homer, his Iliads and Odysses translated, adorned with sculpture, 'and illustrated with annotations, by John Ogilby, Esq. Master
of his Majestie's Revells in the Kingdom of' Ireland. 2 vols.
folio. London, printed for the Author, 1660-5.
Homer's Iliads, to which is added Homer's Oddysses, both in English, by Thomas Hobbes, of Malmsbuiy. London, 1684, \2mo.
The Iliad of Homer, translated by Mr. Pope, 6 vols, folio. London, printed for Bernard Lintot, 1715.
The Odyssey of Homer, [by Alexander Pope,] 5 vols, folio. London, printed for Bernard Lintot, 1725.