Imágenes de páginas

to develop, and in the first place with the law of the point of support, of which we have already treated : effects accurately observed arę but points of support, which assist us in ascending to their causes, and the causes, discovered and ascertained, become in their turn points of support to aid us in producing effects. It is connected with the law of the chain,* since it exhibits, the relations which unite effects to causes, and vice versa. It is equally connected with the law of gradation, or the universal scale of beings,+ which determines the natural and necessary progress of the human mind, continually advancing from the known to the unknown. It teaches us to watch all beginnings with attention, that we may discover the principles and elements of things and of the sciènces : hence arises a new connection between it and that principle of gradation, which likewise recommends to us the most careful examination of every shade and every degree of the series or progression of a thing, considered from its first origin, that we may not suffer any of the links of the chain to escape our notice, but be able to ascend

* See the third law, the Law of the Chain-all things are connected.

+ See the fourth law, the Law of Gradation.

without interruption from effects to causes, or to descend again from causes to effects. Lastly, it is connected with the law of ends,* since it enjoins us in all the sciences to keep in view a specific end—the investigation of the causes of the effects and phænomena which we observe.

Bacon frequently insists on the utility of the search after and discovery of forms and causes. According to him, the luminous, productive, and truly philosophical facts are such as are calculated to unfold the laws of nature, or causes, and to enrich practice by this knowledge. The power of man consists entirely in his knowledge. Knowledge and power are therefore in reality one and the same thing.

The art of inventing is, according to Bacon, the art of extracting principles or causes from experience or observation, and deducing from these principles new observations and new experiences,

Genius with bold and correct eye embraces causes and results : it applies the one and creates the other.

A good method of employing time is a fertile cause of pleasures and advantages, and a medium of happiness.

* See the twelfth law, the Law of Ends.



All Things in the World are connected.

We will first examine the law of the chain properly so called, and then the law of gradation, which springs out of it, and is perhaps but a subdivision and a consequence of the former.

The study of the relations existing among all beings (which may be considered as a kind of universal, physical, metaphysical, philosophical, and moral chemistry), and the observation of the successive degrees of which the great scale of beings consists, and of which we shall treat sepa. rately, are intimately connected with the search after causes, already proposed, according to Bacon, as the real aim of the sciences, and as the creative principle, or the productive and generative medium of discoveries. The art of observation requires strict continuity. It is necessary to observe without the slightest interruption, and to follow every operation without once losing sight of it.

Relations are to be found between all the sciences, and even between things apparently the most opposite. All things are connected.* These relations serve as points of support for one ano. ther, and constitute the materials of exchanges, whence result means of creation. The law of exchanges, to which we shall come presently (see the sixth law), is not less fertile in consequences than those of the chain and of gradation, and the two foregoing laws of the point of support and of causes. Good forms an iminense chain, all the links of which are connected; and the same is the case with evil. One truth leads to others : it is a fruitful seed, that springs up and produces more. Errors have, in some respects, the same property of fecundity. It is therefore of the utmost importance to keep our hearts and minds as much as possible within the bounds of the good and true, for then principles invariably pure produce consequences, opinions, actions, and

* The cultivation of the sense of beauty in literature, and in the arts, extends and improves the human understanding, the enlargement of which cannot be neglected without a kind of mutilation of a principal part of the faculties conferred by nature upon man. In this point of view, numberless facts with which we are acquainted in geometry, astronomy, and other sciences, cannot but be regarded as highly interesting, though we are not aware of their immediate connection with things useful in the concerns of ordinary life.

results, which have the same character. We have then a fixed base; we have within ourselves a noble and exalted principle, whence spring effects corresponding with their cause.

Our law of the universal chain is more particularly applicable in education, or the art of regulating and employing life, the three grand divisions, or the physical, moral, and intellectual branches of which are closely and necessarily connected. Health, morals, instruction, are bound together by secret, indissoluble, and indivisible ties, and cannot be separated with impunity.

The study of the sciences, by enlightening the mind, disposes the heart to virtue : when generally diffused and encouraged, it tends to soften the manners, and contributes to individual happiness, and to the public prosperity. “Those who devote themselves to the peaceful study of nature,” observes a philosopher, who confirms his opinion by his example,* “ have but little temptation to launch out upon the tempestuous sea of ambition ; they will scarcely be hurried away by the brutal or cruel passions, the ordinary failings of those hot-headed persons who cannot control their

Cuvier; the celebrated French naturalist. · Preface to his Traité elementaire de l'Aist. Nat. des Animaux.

« AnteriorContinuar »