Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bacon!! Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!Bacon!

I'm sure you've seen that commercial.

But I mean Sir Francis. Here's the source of a couple of famous aphorisms. See if you can pick them out.

The sixth part of my work (to which the rest is subservient and ministrant) discloses and sets forth that philosophy which by the legitimate, chaste, and severe course of inquiry which I have explained and provided is at length developed and established. The completion however of this last part is a thing both above my strength and beyond my hopes. I have made a beginning of the work--a beginning, as I hope, not unimportant:--the fortune of the human race will give the issue;--such an issue, it may be, as in the present condition of things and men's minds cannot easily be conceived or imagined. For the matter in hand is no mere felicity of speculation, but the real business and fortunes of the human race, and all power of operation. For man is but the servant and interpreter of nature: what he does and what he knows is only what he has observed of nature's order in fact or in thought; beyond this he knows nothing and can do nothing. For the chain of causes cannot by any force be loosed or broken, nor can nature be commanded except by being obeyed. And so those twin objects, human knowledge and human power, do really meet in one; and it is from ignorance of causes that operation fails.

Okay, everything but the last two sentences was obfuscation on my part as far as my question was concerned, but I wanted to include that part to show Bacon's admirable humility before the task he foresaw.

That was the antepenultimate paragraph. To continue the theme of exposing proper scientific humility, let me submit the penultimate and ultimate (I just love those three words) paragraphs of The Great Instauration (all of them are on pp. 22-23 of my copy of The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill, by Edwin A. Burtt):
And all depends on keeping the eye steadily fixed upon the facts of nature and so receiving their images simply as they are. For God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world; rather may He graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on his creatures.

Therefore do Thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the first fruits of creation, and didst breathe into the face of man the intellectual light as the crown and consummation thereof, guard and protect this work, which coming from Thy goodness returneth to Thy glory. Thou sawest that all was very good, and didst rest from Thy labors. But man, when he turned to look upon the work which his hands had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and could find no rest therein. Wherefore if we labor in Thy works with the sweat of our brows, Thou wilt make us partakers of Thy vision and Thy sabbath. Humbly we pray that this mind may be steadfast in us, and that through these our hands, and the hands of others to whom Thou shalt give the same spirit, Thou wilt vouchsafe to endow the human family with new mercies.

Some say he was Shakespeare. Not I, but some.


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Al said...

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