Sidor som bilder

and Geometry, by applying its menfurations to that motion, erects this part of natural philosophy into the science of Mechanics : the fimilar Motion of bodies in the heavens is the phenomenon established by Obfervation, which, whether the cause of that motion can be known or not, is the Physical Principle; and Geometry, by the application of fimilar mensurations, produces the science of Asronomy : and the same might be observed of MuficAll which departments of Philofophy, by this application of Mathematics, enjoy advantages, indeed, different and superior to other parts of Physics.

If he would, therefore, hope for success in his philosophical researches, he will not adapt Physics to Mathematics, but Mathematics to Physics, in obedience to the directions of the guide and patron of philofophy, who hath observed that all Natural enquiries succeed . the best, when a Physical Principle is made • to terminate in a Mathematical operation'.'

y Optime cedit inquisitio naturalis, quando phyficum terminatur in mathematico. Baconi Nov. Org. lib. iii.


And thus we have observed, according to the Rule prescribed by LORD BACON, the friend and father of philosophers, and according to the Practice of Sir Isaac NewTON, who put in execution the precepts of his great master, that all REASONING in Natural Philosophy, is afcendent and defcendentfrom Experiments up to Axioms, and from Axioms down to new Inventions.”

Sect. III.

Of Physical Truth.

DUT, as the best and most accurate ExD periments that are instituted and conducted by human skill, which are the basis and support of all sound Philosophy, cannot pene

* Neque enim in plano via sita est, sed afcendendo et descendendo ; ascendendo primo ad axiomata, descendendo ad opera. Baconi Noy. Org. lib. 1. Aph. 104. See De Augm. Sc. lib. III, cap. 3.


trate into the real essences of things ; as they can only inform the Senses of some of their apparent qualities, and of secondary, which we call physical, causes, and sometimes only of the phænomena or effects themselves; since the Induction, by which the general truths are collected from particular Experiments, is only partial and confined, and extended by Analogy, which is an indire&t species of reafoning, never absolutely. conclusive; since these general truths, which become the Laws and Principles of Philosophy, do not poffefs the evidence of Mathematical Axioms; and, lastly, since from these Principles particular, not general, conclusions are deduced, PhysiCAL TRUTH must consequently partake of the nature and inferiority of their Principles and Mode of Reasoning." And though Mathematics, by a friendly mixture and communication, often facilitate their production and elucidate their force, imparting

• Διόπερ φανερόν ότι ουκ έσιν απόδειξις ουσίας, ουδε τα τί έσιν εκ της τοιαύτης επαγωγής, αλλά τις άλλος τρόπG pñs önmağaws..Aristot. Metaph. lib. vi. cap. i.

to them, in all subjects capable of menfurafel tion and where Quantity can apply, the use will and fimilarity of scientific demonstration; schowever CERTAIN, they are not to be pro

nounced absolutely necessARY : and, phithilofophically considered, they are in nature

and evidence greatly inferior to Mathematifed cal conclusions.

Still, the Philosophy of Nature is the field of utility and glory. It ministers to the wants, and supplies many of the ornaments, of life. It opens one of the universal books of God, in which his infinite Power, his stupendous Wisdom, and unbounded Goodness are written with his own finger in

• Zealous for the honour and perfection of their favour. ite study, some of our modern philosophers strenuously contend that almost every thing in Physics is demonstrable. "The ground and reason of which,' observes one of better information, “I apprehend to be, that many of our geo'metricians, ambitious of dictating to us about the causes "and first springs of Nature, while they can reach only to

the measure of some of its effeEts, have not been careful 'to distinguish how far a Mathematical conclusion will l'extend, and how far not.' Jones's Philosophy, p. 91.


most fair and convincing characters: and thus the material world is made the counterpart of the immaterial mind, in which the latter contemplates, as in a glass, the image of its Author. And, after all the improvements which have honoured the labours of a Boyle, a Newton, a Halley and others, whose studies, since the great Bacon founded the true, that is the Inductive, Logic, have conferred upon this nation the laurel of philofophy; so great is its variety and extent, that our best knowledge of Nature is still partial and imperfect. The more we know, the more we shall acknowledge to remain unknown, and the more readily subscribe to the verdict of that illustrious child of Wifdom who hath sublimely observed, that “God “ hath planted the world in man's heart; yet “ cannot man find out the work which he s worketh from the beginning unto the end.""

Though not in the sense in which the word was used by the old philosophers, many Qualities and Causes are yet occult, which may be brought to light by future Experiments

[merged small][ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »