English Scientist, Author, Philosopher
English Scientist, Author, Philosopher
These instances therefore should be employed as a sort of preparative for setting right and purging the understanding. For whatever withdraws the understanding from the things to which it is accustomed, smooths and levels its surface for the reception of the dry and pure light of true ideas.
Thirdly, we must make a presentation to the understanding of instances in which the nature under inquiry is found in different degrees, more or less; which must be done by making a comparison either of its increase and decrease in the same subject, or of its amount in different subjects, as compared one with another. For since the form of a thing is the very thing itself, and the thing differs from the form no otherwise than as the apparent differs from the real, or the external from the internal, or the thing in reference to man from the thing in reference to the universe, it necessarily follows that no nature can be taken as the true form, unless it always decrease when the nature in question decreases, and in like manner always increase when the nature in question increases. This Table therefore I call the Table of Degrees or the Table of Comparison.
Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.
The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy. But then let a man take heed that the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and is two for one.
The proverb is true, that light gains make heavy purses; for light gains come often, great gains now and then.
The sun, though it passes through dirty places, yet remains as pure as before.
The water of Nilus is excellent good for hypochondriac melancholy.
There are some vain persons, that whatsoever goeth alone, or moveth upon greater means, if they have never so little hand in it, they think it is they that carry it.
There is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic. A manÂ’s own observation, what he finds good of and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health.
There is nothing makes a man suspect much, more than to know little.
These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation backward from ourselves.
This communicating of a manÂ’s self to his friend works two contrary effects, for it redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in half: for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.
Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own. Those on the other hand who have taken a contrary course, and asserted that absolutely nothing can be known Â— whether it were from hatred of the ancient sophists, or from uncertainty and fluctuation of mind, or even from a kind of fullness of learning, that they fell upon this opinion Â— have certainly advanced reasons for it that are not to be despised; but yet they have neither started from true principles nor rested in the just conclusion, zeal and affectation having carried them much too far.. Now my method, though hard to practice, is easy to explain; and it is this. I propose to establish progressive stages of certainty. The evidence of the sense, helped and guarded by a certain process of correction, I retain. But the mental operation which follows the act of sense I for the most part reject; and instead of it I open and lay out a new and certain path for the mind to proceed in, starting directly from the simple sensuous perception.
The multiplying of nobility brings a state to necessity; and in like manner when more are bred scholars than preferments can take off.
The remedy is worse than the disease.
The surest way to prevent seditions is to take away the matter of them; for if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell whence the spark shall come that shall set it on fire.
The way of fortune is like the milky way in the sky, which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars, not seen asunder, but giving light together; so are there a number of little and scarce discerned virtues, or rather faculties and customs, that make men fortunate.
There are three things which make a nation great and prosperous - a fertile soil, busy workshops, and easy conveyance for men and commodities.
There is another ground of hope that must not be omitted. Let men but think over their infinite expenditure of understanding, time, and means on matters and pursuits of far less use and value; whereof, if but a small part were directed to sound and solid studies, there is no difficulty that might not be overcome.
There is nothing more certain in nature than that it is impossible for anybody to be utterly annihilated.
These we call Idols of the Theatre, for we account all invented systems of philosophy as so many stage-plays, representing scenic and fictitious worlds... Nor in this do we comprehend only the universal philosophies, but all principles and axioms of Knowledge which have thrived on tradition, credulity and negligence.
This delivering of knowledge in distinct and disjointed aphorisms doth leave the wit of man more free to turn and toss, and to make use of that which is so delivered to more several purposes and applications.
The lame man who keeps the right road outstrips the runner who takes a wrong one... The more active and swift the latter is, the further he will go astray.
The mystery lies in the irrationality by which you make appearance Â– if it is not irrational, you make illustration.
The reverence of man's self, is, nest to religion, the chiefest bridle of all vices.