He called it Instauratio Magna (The Great Instauration). Bacon planned his Great Instauration in imitation of the Divine. Francis Bacon, The Great Instauration (excerpts) Basil Montague, ed. and trans. The Works, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Parry & MacMillan, ), Hanover. Great Instauration [Francis Bacon] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Francis Bacon is considered the father of modern science.
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Being convinced that the human intellect makes its own difficulties, not using the true helps which are at man’s disposal soberly and judiciously — whence follows manifold ignorance of things, and by reason of that ignorance mischiefs innumerable — he instauratioj all trial should be made, whether that commerce between the mind of man and the nature of things, which is grea precious than anything on earth, or at least than anything that is of the earth, might by any means be restored to its perfect and original condition, or if that may not be, yet reduced to a better condition than that in which it now is.
Now that the errors which have hitherto prevailed, and which will prevail for ever, should if the mind be left to go its own way either by the natural force of the understanding instaurztion by help of the aids and instruments of logic, one by one, correct themselves, was a thing not to be hoped for, because the instaurarion notions grear things which the mind readily and passively imbibes, stores up, and accumulates and it is from them that all the rest flow are false, confused, and overhastily abstracted from the facts; nor are the secondary and subsequent notions less arbitrary and inconstant; whence it follows that the entire fabric of human reason which we employ in the inquisition of nature is badly put together and built up, and insrauration some magnificent structure without grea foundation.
For while men are occupied in admiring and applauding the false powers of the mind, they pass by and throw away those true powers, which, if it be supplied with the proper aids and can itself be content to wait upon nature instead baocn vainly affecting to overrule her, are within its reach. There was but one course left, therefore — to try the whole thing anew upon a better plan, and to commence a total reconstruction of sciences, arts, and all human knowledge, raised upon the proper bwcon.
And this, though in the project and undertaking it may seem a thing infinite and beyond all the powers of man, yet when it comes unstauration be dealt with it will be found sound and sober, more so than what has been done hitherto.
For of this there is some issue; whereas in what is now done in the matter of science there is only a whirling round about, and perpetual agitation, ending where it began.
And although he was well aware how solitary an enterprise it is, and how hard a thing to win faith and credit for, nevertheless he was resolved not to abandon either it or himself, nor to be deterred from trying and entering upon that one path which is alone open to the human mind.
For better it is greatt make a beginning of that which may lead to something, than to engage in a perpetual struggle and pursuit in courses which have no exit. And certainly the two ways of contemplation are much like those two ways of action, so much celebrated, in gerat — that the one, arduous and difficult in the beginning, leads out at last into the open country, while the other, seeming at first sight easy and free from obstruction, leads to pathless and precipitous places.
Moreover, because he knew not how long it might be before these things would occur to anyone else, judging especially from this, that he has found no man hitherto who has applied his mind to the like, he resolved to publish at once so much as he has been able to complete. The cause of which haste was not ambition for himself, but solicitude for the work; that in gfeat of his death there might remain some outline and project of that which he had conceived, and some evidence likewise of his honest mind and inclination toward the benefit of the human race.
Certain it is that all other ambition whatsoever seemed poor in his eyes compared with the work which he had in hand, seeing that the matter at issue is either nothing or a thing so great that it may well be content with its own merit, without seeking other recompense. Most Gracious and Mighty King. Your Majesty may perhaps accuse me of larceny, having stolen from your affairs so much time as was required for this work.
I know not what to say for myself. For of time there can be no restitution unless it be that what has been abstracted from your business may perhaps go to the memory of your name and the honor of your age; if these things are indeed worth anything.
Certainly they are quite new, totally new in their very kind: And to say truth, I am wont for my own part to regard this work as a child of time rather than of wit, the only wonder being that the first notion of the thing, and such great suspicions concerning matters long established, should have come into any man’s mind.
All the rest follows readily enough. And no doubt there is something of accident as we call it and luck as well in what men think as in what they do or say. But for this accident which I insauration of, I wish that if there be any good in what I have to offer, it may be ascribed to the infinite mercy and goodness of God, and to the felicity of your Majesty’s times; to which as I have been an honest and affectionate servant in my life, so after my death I may yet perhaps, through the kindling of this new light in the darkness of philosophy, be the means of making this age famous to posterity; and surely to the times of the wisest and most learned of kings belongs of right yreat regeneration and restoration of the sciences.
Lastly, I have a request to make — a request no way unworthy of your Majesty, and which especially concerns the work in hand, namely, that you who resemble Solomon in so many things — in the gravity of your judgments, in the peacefulness of your reign, in the largeness of your heart, in the noble variety of the books which you have composed — would further follow his example in taking order for the collecting and perfecting of a natural and experimental history, true and severe unincumbered with literature and book-learningsuch as philosophy may be built upon — such, in fact, as I shall in its proper place describe: I have provided the machine, but the stuff must be gathered from the facts of nature.
May God Almighty long preserve your Majesty! Your Majesty’s Most bounden and devoted Servant. That the state of knowledge is not prosperous nor greatly advancing, and that a way must be opened for the human understanding entirely different from any hitherto known, and other helps provided, in order that the mind may exercise over the nature of things the authority which properly belongs to it.
It seems to me that men do not rightly understand either their store or their strength, but overrate the one and underrate the other. Hence it follows that either from an extravagant estimate of the value of the arts which they possess they seek no further, or else from too mean an estimate of their own powers they spend their strength in small matters and never put it fairly to the trial in those which go to the main.
These are as the pillars of fate set in the path of knowledge, for men have neither desire nor hope to encourage them to penetrate further. And since opinion of store is one of the chief causes of want, and satisfaction with the present induces neglect of provision for the future, it becomes a thing not only useful, but absolutely necessary, that the excess of honor and admiration with which our existing stock of inventions is regarded be in the very entrance and threshold of the work, and that frankly and without circumlocution stripped off, and men be duly warned not to exaggerate or make too much of them.
For let a man look carefully into all that variety of books with which the arts and sciences abound, he will find everywhere endless repetitions of the same thing, varying in the method of treatment, but not new in substance, insomuch that the whole stock, numerous as it appears at first view, proves on examination to be but scanty.
And for its value and utility it must be plainly avowed that that wisdom which we have derived principally from the Greeks is but like the boyhood of knowledge, and has the characteristic property of boys: So that the state of learning as it now is appears to be represented to the life in the old fable of Scylla, who had the head and face of a virgin, but her womb was hung round with barking monsters, from which she could not be delivered.
For in like manner the sciences to which we are accustomed have certain general positions which are specious and flattering; but as soon as they come to particulars, which are as the parts of generation, when they should produce fruit and works, then arise contentions and barking disputations, which are the end of the matter and all the issue they can yield. Observe also, that if sciences of this kind had any life in them, that could never have come to pass which has been the case now for many ages — that they stand almost at a stay, without receiving any augmentations worthy of the human race, insomuch that many times not only what was asserted once is asserted still, but what was a question once is a question still, and instead of being resolved by discussion is only fixed and fed; and all the tradition and succession of schools is still a succession of masters and scholars, not of inventors and those who bring to further perfection the things invented.
New Atlantis and the Great Instauration by Francis Bacon
In the hreat arts we do not find it so; they, on the contrary, as having in them some breath of life, are continually growing and becoming more perfect. As originally invented they are commonly rude, clumsy, and shapeless; yhe they acquire new powers and more commodious arrangements and constructions, in so far that men shall sooner leave the study and pursuit of them and turn to something else than they arrive at the ultimate instauratipn of which they are capable.
Philosophy and the intellectual sciences, on the contrary, stand like statues, bacn and celebrated, but not moved or advanced. Nay, they sometimes flourish most in the hands of the first author, and afterwards degenerate. For when men have once made over their judgments to others’ keeping, and like those senators whom they called Pedarii have agreed to support some one bscon opinion, from that time they make no enlargement of the sciences themselves, but fall to the servile office of embellishing certain individual authors and increasing their retinue.
And let it not be said that the sciences have been growing gradually till they have at last reached their full stature, and so their course being completed have settled in the works of a few writers; and that there being now no room instaurration the tge of better, all that remains is to embellish and cultivate instwuration things which have been invented inwtauration.
Would it were so! But the truth is that this appropriating of the sciences has its origin in nothing better than the confidence of a few persons and the sloth and indolence of the rest. For after the sciences had been in several perhaps cultivated and handled diligently, there has risen up some man of bold disposition, and famous for methods and short ways which people like, who has in appearance reduced them to an art, while he has in fact only spoiled all that the others had done.
And if any one take this general acquiescence and consent for an argument of weight, as being the judgment of Time, let me tell him that the reasoning on which he relies is most fallacious and weak.
Inztauration, first, we are far from knowing all that in the matter of sciences and tne has in various ages and places been brought to light and published, much less all that has been by private persons secretly attempted and stirred; so neither the births nor the miscarriages of Time are entered in our records.
Nor, secondly, is the consent itself and the time it has continued a consideration of much worth. For however various are the forms of civil polities, there is but one form of polity in the sciences; baco that always has been and always will be popular.
Now the doctrines which find most favor with the populace are those which are either contentious and pugnacious, or specious greaat empty — such, I say, as either entangle assent or tickle it. And therefore no doubt the greatest wits in each successive age have been forced out of their own course: So that Time is like a river which has brought down to us things light and puffed up, while those which are weighty and solid have sunk. Nay, those very authors who have usurped a kind of dictatorship in the baconn and taken upon them to lay down the law with such confidence, yet when from time to thw they come to themselves again, they fall to complaints of the subtlety of nature, the hiding places of truth, the obscurity of things, the entanglement of causes, the weakness of the human mind; wherein nevertheless they show themselves never the more modest, seeing that they will rather lay the blame upon the common condition of men and nature than upon themselves.
And then whatever any art fails to attain, they ever set it down upon the authority baconn that art itself as impossible of attainment; and how can art be found guilty when it is judge in its own cause? So it is but a device for exempting ignorance from ignominy. Now for those things which are delivered and received, this is their condition: And if there be any who have determined to make trial for themselves and put their own strength to the work of advancing the boundaries of the sciences, yet have they not ventured to cast themselves completely loose from received opinions or to seek their knowledge at the fountain; but they think they have done some great thing if they do but add and introduce into the existing sum of science something of their own, prudently considering with themselves that by making the addition they can assert their liberty, while they retain the credit of modesty by assenting to the rest.
But these mediocrities and middle ways so much praised, in deferring to opinions and customs, turn to the great detriment of the sciences.
For it is hardly possible at once to admire an author and to go beyond him, knowledge being as water, which will not rise above the level from which it fell.
Men of this kind, therefore, jnstauration some things, but advance little, and improve the condition of knowledge, but do not extend its range. Some, indeed, there have been who have gone more boldly to work and, taking it all for an open matter and giving their genius full play, have made a passage for themselves and their own opinions by pulling down and demolishing former ones; and yet all their stir has but little advanced the matter, since their aim has been not to extend philosophy and bzcon arts in substance and value, but only to change doctrines and transfer the kingdom of opinions to themselves; whereby little has indeed been gained, for though the error be the opposite of the other, the greeat of erring are the same in both.
And if there have been any who, not binding themselves either to other men’s opinions or to their own, but loving liberty, have desired to engage others along with themselves in search, these, though honest in intention, have been weak instaudation endeavor. For they have been content to follow probable reasons and are carried round in a whirl of arguments, and in the promiscuous liberty of search have relaxed the severity of inquiry.
There is none who has dwelt upon experience and the facts of nature as long as is necessary. Some there thhe indeed who have committed themselves to the waves of experience and almost turned mechanics, insturation these again have in their very experiments pursued a kind of wandering inquiry, without any regular system of operations.
And besides they have mostly proposed to themselves certain petty tasks, taking it for a great matter to work out some single discovery — a course of proceeding at once poor in aim and unskillful in design. For thhe man can rightly and successfully investigate the nature of anything in the thing itself; let him vary his experiments as laboriously as he will, he never comes to a resting-place, but still finds something to seek beyond.
And there is another thing to be remembered — namely, that all industry in experimenting has begun with proposing to itself certain definite works to be accomplished, and has pursued them with premature and unseasonable eagerness; it has sought, I say, experiments of fruit, not experiments of light, not imitating the divine procedure, which in its first day’s work created light only and assigned to it one entire day, on which day it produced no material work, but proceeded to that on the days following.
As baxon those who have given the first place to logic, supposing that the surest helps to the sciences were to be found in that, they have indeed most truly and excellently perceived that the human intellect left to its own course is not to be trusted; but then the remedy is altogether too weak for the disease, nor is it without evil in itself.
New Atlantis and the Great Instauration
For the logic which is received, though it be very properly applied to civil business and to those arts which rest in discourse and opinion, is not nearly subtle enough to deal with nature; and in attempting what it insfauration master, has done more to establish and perpetuate error than to open the way to baxon.
Upon the whole, therefore, it seems that men have not been happy hitherto either in the trust which they have placed in others or in their own industry with regard to the sciences; especially as neither the demonstrations nor the experiments as yet known are much to be relied upon.
But the universe to the eye of the human understanding is framed like a labyrinth, presenting as it does on every side so many ambiguities of way, such bzcon resemblances of objects and signs, natures so irregular in their lines and so knotted and entangled. And then the way is still to be made by the uncertain light of the sense, sometimes shining out, sometimes clouded over, through the woods of experience and particulars; while those who offer themselves for guides are as was said themselves also puzzled, and increase the number of errors and wanderers.
In circumstances so difficult neither the natural force of man’s judgment nor even any accidental felicity offers any chance of success. No excellence of wit, no repetition of chance experiments, can overcome such difficulties as these. Our steps must be guided by a clue, and the whole way from the very first perception of the senses must be laid out upon a sure plan. Not that I would be understood to mean that nothing whatever has been done in so many ages by so great labors.
We have no reason to be ashamed of the discoveries which have been made, and no doubt the ancients proved themselves in everything that turns on wit and abstract meditation, wonderful men. But, as in former ages, when men sailed only by observation of the stars, they could indeed coast fhe the shores of the old continent or cross a few small and Mediterranean seas; but before the ocean could be traversed and the new world discovered, the use of the mariner’s needle, as a more faithful and certain guide, had to be found out; in like manner the discoveries which have been hitherto made in the arts and sciences are rhe as might be made by practice, meditation, observation, argumentation — for they lay near to the senses and immediately beneath common notions; but before jnstauration can reach the remoter and more hidden parts of nature, it is necessary that a more perfect use and application of the human mind and intellect be introduced.
For my own part at least, in obedience to the everlasting love of truth, I have committed myself to the uncertainties and difficulties and solitudes of the ways and, relying on the divine assistance, have upheld my mind both against the shocks and embattled ranks of opinion, and against my own private tne inward hesitations and scruples, and against the fogs and clouds of nature, and the phantoms flitting about on every side, in the hope of providing at last for the present and future generations guidance more faithful and secure.
Wherein if I have made any progress, the way has been opened to me by no other means than the true and legitimate humiliation of the human spirit. For all those who before me have applied themselves to the invention of arts have but cast a glance or two upon facts and examples and experience, and straightway proceeded, as if invention were nothing more than an exercise of thought, to invoke their own spirits to give them oracles.
I, on the contrary, dwelling purely and constantly among the facts of nature, withdraw my intellect from them no further than may suffice to let the images and rays of natural objects meet in a point, as they do in the sense of vision; whence it follows that the strength and excellence of the wit has but little to do in the matter.
And the same humility which I use in inventing I employ likewise in teaching. For I do not endeavor either by triumphs of confutation, or pleadings of antiquity, or assumption of authority, or even by the veil of obscurity, to invest these inventions of mine with any majesty; which might easily be done by one who sought to give luster to his own name rather than light to other men’s minds.
I have not sought I say nor do I seek either to force or ensnare men’s judgments, but I lead them to things themselves and the concordances of things, that they may see for themselves what they have, what they can dispute, what they can add and contribute to the common stock. And for myself, if in anything I have been either too credulous or too little awake and attentive, instaauration if I have fallen off by the way and left the inquiry incomplete, nevertheless I so present these things naked and open, that my errors can be marked and set aside before the mass of knowledge be further infected by them; and it will be easy also for others to continue and carry on my labors.
And by these means I suppose that I have established forever a true and lawful marriage between the empirical and the rational faculty, the unkind and ill-starred divorce and separation of which has thrown into confusion all the affairs of the human family. Wherefore, seeing that these things do not insfauration upon myself, at the outset of the work I most humbly and fervently pray to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, that remembering the sorrows of mankind and the pilgrimage of this our life wherein we wear out days few and evil, they will vouchsafe through my hands to endow the human family with new mercies.
This likewise I humbly pray, that things human may not interfere with things divine, and that from the opening of the ways of sense and the increase of natural light there may arise in our minds no incredulity or darkness with regard to the divine mysteries, but rather that the understanding being thereby purified and purged of fancies instaurstion vanity, and yet not the less subject and entirely submissive to the divine oracles, may give to faith that which is faith’s.
Lastly, that knowledge being now discharged of that venom which the serpent infused into it, and which makes the mind of man to swell, we may not be wise above measure and sobriety, but cultivate truth in charity. And now, having said my prayers, I turn to men, to whom I have certain salutary admonitions to offer and certain fair requests to make.
Instauratiln first admonition geat was also my prayer is that men confine the sense within the limits of duty in respect of things divine: My next, that in flying from this evil they fall not into the opposite error, which they will surely do if they think that the inquisition of nature is in any part interdicted or forbidden. For it was not that pure and uncorrupted natural knowledge whereby Adam gave names to the creatures according to their propriety, which, gave occasion to the fall.
It was the ambitious and proud desire of moral knowledge to judge of good and evil, to the end that instahration may revolt from God and give laws to himself, which was the form and manner of the temptation.
Whereas of the sciences which regard nature, the divine philosopher declares that “it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but it is the glory of the King to find a thing out.
Lastly, I would address one general admonition to all — that they consider what are the true ends of knowledge, and that they seek it not either for pleasure of the mind, or for contention, or for superiority to others, or for profit, or fame, or power, or any of these inferior things, but for the benefit and use of life, and that they perfect and govern it in charity.
For it was from lust of power that the angels fell, from lust of knowledge that man fell; but of charity there can be no excess, neither did angel or man ever come in danger by it. The requests I have to make are these.