To conclude, therefore, the true natural magic, which is that great liberty and latitude of operation which dependeth upon the knowledge of forms, I may report deficient, as the relative thereof is. To which part, if we be serious and incline not to vanities and plausible discourse, besides the deriving and deducing the operations themselves from metaphysic, there are pertinent two points of much purpose, the one by way of preparation, the other by way of caution. The first is, that there be made a calendar, resembling an inventory of the estate of man, containing all the inventions (being the works or fruits of Nature or art) which are now extant, and whereof man is already possessed; out of which doth naturally result a note what things are yet held impossible, or not invented, which calendar will be the more artificial and serviceable if to every reputed impossibility you add what thing is extant which cometh the nearest in degree to that impossibility; to the end that by these optatives and potentials man's inquiry may be the more awake in deducing direction of works from the speculation of causes. And secondly, that these experiments be not only esteemed which have an immediate and present use, but those principally which are of most universal consequence for invention of other experiments, and those which give most light to the invention of causes; for the invention of the mariner's needle, which giveth the direction, is of no less benefit for navigation than the invention of the sails which give the motion.

(4) Thus have I passed through natural philosophy and the deficiences thereof; wherein if I have differed from the ancient and received doctrines, and thereby shall move contradiction, for my part, as I affect not to dissent, so I purpose not to contend. If it be truth,

"Non canimus surdis, respondent omnia sylvae,"

the voice of Nature will consent, whether the voice of man do or no. And as Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that entry of truth which cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up those minds which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with pugnacity and contention.

(5) But there remaineth a division of natural philosophy according to the report of the inquiry, and nothing concerning the matter or subject: and that is positive and considerative, when the inquiry reporteth either an assertion or a doubt. These doubts or non liquets are of two sorts, particular and total. For the first, we see a good example thereof in Aristotle's Problems which deserved to have had a better continuance; but so nevertheless as there is one point whereof warning is to be given and taken. The registering of doubts hath two excellent uses: the one, that it saveth philosophy from errors and falsehoods; when that which is not fully appearing is not collected into assertion, whereby error might draw error, but reserved in doubt; the other, that the entry of doubts are as so many suckers or sponges to draw use of knowledge; insomuch as that which if doubts had not preceded, a man should never have advised, but passed it over without note, by the suggestion and solicitation of doubts is made to be attended and applied. But both these commodities do scarcely countervail and inconvenience, which will intrude itself if it be not debarred; which is, that when a doubt is once received, men labour rather how to keep it a doubt still, than how to solve it, and accordingly bend their wits. Of this we see the familiar example in lawyers and scholars, both which, if they have once admitted a doubt, it goeth ever after authorised for a doubt. But that use of wit and knowledge is to be allowed, which laboureth to make doubtful things certain, and not those which labour to make certain things doubtful. Therefore these calendars of doubts I commend as excellent things; so that there he this caution used, that when they be thoroughly sifted and brought to resolution, they be from thenceforth omitted, discarded, and not continued to cherish and encourage men in doubting.

The Advancement of Learning Page 55

Francis Bacon

16th Century Literature

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