But for this excellent person Aristotle, I will think of him that he learned that humour of his scholar, with whom it seemeth he did emulate; the one to conquer all opinions, as the other to conquer all nations. Wherein, nevertheless, it may be, he may at some men's hands, that are of a bitter disposition, get a like title as his scholar did:-

"Felix terrarum praedo, non utile mundo Editus exemplum, &c."


"Felix doctrinae praedo."

But to me, on the other side, that do desire as much as lieth in my pen to ground a sociable intercourse between antiquity and proficience, it seemeth best to keep way with antiquity usque ad aras; and, therefore, to retain the ancient terms, though I sometimes alter the uses and definitions, according to the moderate proceeding in civil government; where, although there be some alteration, yet that holdeth which Tacitus wisely noteth, eadem magistratuum vocabula.

(3) To return, therefore, to the use and acception of the term metaphysic as I do now understand the word; it appeareth, by that which hath been already said, that I intend philosophia prima, summary philosophy and metaphysic, which heretofore have been confounded as one, to be two distinct things. For the one I have made as a parent or common ancestor to all knowledge; and the other I have now brought in as a branch or descendant of natural science. It appeareth likewise that I have assigned to summary philosophy the common principles and axioms which are promiscuous and indifferent to several sciences; I have assigned unto it likewise the inquiry touching the operation or the relative and adventive characters of essences, as quantity, similitude, diversity, possibility, and the rest, with this distinction and provision; that they be handled as they have efficacy in nature, and not logically. It appeareth likewise that natural theology, which heretofore hath been handled confusedly with metaphysic, I have enclosed and bounded by itself. It is therefore now a question what is left remaining for metaphysic; wherein I may without prejudice preserve thus much of the conceit of antiquity, that physic should contemplate that which is inherent in matter, and therefore transitory; and metaphysic that which is abstracted and fixed. And again, that physic should handle that which supposeth in nature only a being and moving; and metaphysic should handle that which supposeth further in nature a reason, understanding, and platform. But the difference, perspicuously expressed, is most familiar and sensible. For as we divided natural philosophy in general into the inquiry of causes and productions of effects, so that part which concerneth the inquiry of causes we do subdivide according to the received and sound division of causes. The one part, which is physic, inquireth and handleth the material and efficient causes; and the other, which is metaphysic, handleth the formal and final causes.

(4) Physic (taking it according to the derivation, and not according to our idiom for medicine) is situate in a middle term or distance between natural history and metaphysic. For natural history describeth the variety of things; physic the causes, but variable or respective causes; and metaphysic the fixed and constant causes.

"Limus ut hic durescit, et haec ut cera liquescit, Uno eodemque igni."

Fire is the cause of induration, but respective to clay; fire is the cause of colliquation, but respective to wax. But fire is no constant cause either of induration or colliquation; so then the physical causes are but the efficient and the matter. Physic hath three parts, whereof two respect nature united or collected, the third contemplateth nature diffused or distributed. Nature is collected either into one entire total, or else into the same principles or seeds. So as the first doctrine is touching the contexture or configuration of things, as de mundo, de universitate rerum. The second is the doctrine concerning the principles or originals of things. The third is the doctrine concerning all variety and particularity of things; whether it be of the differing substances, or their differing qualities and natures; whereof there needeth no enumeration, this part being but as a gloss or paraphrase that attendeth upon the text of natural history.

Francis Bacon
Classic Literature Library
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