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and bone. As the former tenet points to the corpuscular theories of modern times, so the latter may be considered as a dim glimpse of the idea of chemical analysis. The Stoics also, who were, especially at a later period, inclined to materialist views, had their technical modes of speaking on such subjects. They asserted that matter contained in itself tendencies or dispositions to certain forms, which dispositions they called aóyou ospulatixoi, seminal proportions, or seminal reasons.

Whatever of sound view, or right direction, there might be in the notions which suggested these and other technical expressions, was, in all the schools of philosophy (so far as physics was concerned) quenched and overlaid by the predominance of trifling and barren speculations ; and by the love of subtilizing and commenting upon the works of earlier writers, instead of attempting to interpret the book of nature. Hence these technical terms served to give fixity and permanence to the traditional dogmas of the sect, but led to no progress of knowledge.

The advances which were made in physical science proceeded, not from these schools of philosophy (if we except, perhaps, the obligations of the science of Harmonics to the Pythagoreans), but from reasoners who followed an independent path. The sequel of the ambitious hopes, the vast schemes, the confident undertakings of the philosophers of ancient Greece, was an entire failure in the physical knowledge of which it is our business to trace the history. Yet we are not, on that account, to think slightingly of these early speculators. They were men of extraordinary acuteness, invention, and range of thought; and, above all, they had the merit of first completely unfolding the speculative faculty-of starting in that keen and vigorous chase of knowledge out of which all the subsequent culture and improvement of man's intellectual stores have arisen. The sages of early Greece form the heroic age of science. Like the first navigators in their own mythology, they boldly ventured their untried bark in a distant and arduous voyage, urged on by the hopes of a supernatural success; and though they missed the imaginary golden prize which they sought, they unlocked the gates of distant regions, and opened the seas to the keels of the thousands of adventurers who, in succeeding times, sailed to and fro, to the indefinite increase of the mental treasures of mankind.

But inasmuch as their attempts, in one sense, and at first, failed, we must proceed to offer some account of this failure, and of its nature and

causes,

CHAPTER III.

FAILURE OF THE PHYSICAL PHILOSOPHY OF THE GREEK SCHOOLS.

Sect. 1.-- Result of the Greek School Philosophy. HE methods and forms of philosophizing which we have described

as employed by the Greek Schools, failed altogether in their application to physics. No discovery of general laws, no explanation of special phenomena, rewarded the acuteness and boldness of these early students of nature. Astronomy, which made considerable progress during the existence of the sects of Greek philosophers, gained perhaps something by the authority with which Plato taught the supremacy and universality of mathematical rule and order; and the truths of Harmonics, which had probably given rise to the Pythagorean passion for numbers, were cultivated with much care by that school. But after these first impulses, the sciences owed nothing to the philosophical sects; and the vast and complex accumulations and apparatus of the Stagirite do not appear to have led to any theoretical physical truths.

This assertion hardly requires proof, since in the existing body of science there are no doctrines for which we are indebted to the Aristotelian School. Real truths, when once established, remain to the end of time a part of the mental treasure of man, and may be discerned through all the additions of later days. But we can point out no phys ical doctrine now received, of which we trace the anticipation in Aristotle, in the way in which we see the Copernican system anticipated by Aristarchus, the resolution of the heavenly appearances into circular motions suggested by Plato, and the numerical relations of musical intervals ascribed to Pythagoras. But it may be worth while to look at this matter more closely.

Among the works of Aristotle are thirty-eight chapters of "Problems," which may serve to exemplify the progress he bad really made in the reduction of phenomena to laws and causes. Of these Problems, a large proportion are physiological, and these I here pass by, as not illustrative of the state of physical knowledge. But those which are properly physical are, for the most part, questions concerning such

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facts and difficulties as it is the peculiar business of theory to explain. Now it may be truly said, that in scarcely any one instance are the answers, which Aristotle gives to his questions, of any value. For the most part, indeed, he propounds his answer with a degree of hesitation or vacillation which of itself shows the absence of all scientific distinctness of thought; and the opinions so offered never appear to involve any settled or general principle.

We may take, as examples of this, the problems of the simplest kind, where the principles lay nearest at hand—the mechanical ones. * Why,” he asks,' “ do small forces move great weights by means of a lever, when they have thus to move the lever added to the weight? Is it,” he suggests, " because a greater radius moves faster ?" does a small wedge split great weights ? Is it because the wedge is composed of two opposite levers ?” “Why,' when a man rises from a chair, does he bend his leg and his body to acute angles with his thigh? Is it because a right angle is connected with equality and rest ?” “Why can a man throw a stone further with a sling than with his hand ? Is it that when he throws with his hand he moves the stone from rest, but when he uses the sling he throws it already in motion ?” “Why, if a circle be thrown on the ground, does it first describe a straight line and then a spiral, as it falls ? Is it that the air first presses equally on the two sides and supports it, and afterwards presses on one side more ?" Why® is it difficult to distinguish a musical note from the octave above? Is it that proportion stands in the place of equality ?" It must be allowed that these are very vague and worthless surmises; for even if we were, as some commentators have done, to interpret some of them so as to agree with sound philosophy, we should still be unable to point out, in this author's works, any clear or permanent apprehension of the general principles which such an interpretation implies.

Thus the Aristotelian physics cannot be considered as otherwise than a complete failure. It collected no general laws from facts; and consequently, when it tried to explain facts, it had no principles which were of any avail.

The same may be said of the physical speculations of the other schools of philosophy. They arrived at no doctrines from which they could deduce, by sound reasoning, such facts as they saw; though they

Ib. 18.

* Ib. 18.

1 Mech. Prob. 4.

. llepi 'Ayuxa. 11. VOL 1-6

3 Ib. 81.
. llepi 'Apuov. 14.

us.

often venture so far to trust their principles as to infer from them propositions beyond the domain of sense. Thus, the principle that each element seeks its own place, led to the doctrine that, the place of fire being the highest, there is, above the air, a Sphere of Fire-of which doctrine the word Empyrean, used by our poets, still conveys a reminiscence. The Pythagorean tenet that ten is a perfect number, led some persons to assume that the heavenly bodies are in number ten; and as nine only were known to them, they asserted that there was an antichthon, or counter-earth, on the other side of the sun, invisible to

Their opinions respecting numerical ratios, led to various other speculations concerning the distances and positions of the heavenly bodies: and as they had, in other cases, found a connection between proportions of distance and musical notes, they assumed, on this suggestion, the music of the spheres.

Although we shall look in vain in the physical pbilosophy of the Greek Schools for any results more valuable than those just mentioned, we shall not be surprised to find, recollecting how much an admiration for classical antiquity has possessed the minds of men, that some writers estimate their claims much more highly than they are stated here. Among such writers we may notice Dutens, who, in 1766, published his "Origin of the Discoveries attributed to the Moderns; in which it is shown that our most celebrated Philosophers have received the greatest part of their knowledge from the Works of the Ancients.” The thesis of this work is attempted to be proved, as we might expect, by very large interpretations of the general phrases used by the ancients. Thus, when Timæus, in Plato's dialogue, says of the Creator of the world, “ that he infused into it two powers, the origins of motions, both of that of the same thing and of that of different things;" Dutens' finds in this a clear indication of the projectile and attractive forces of modern science. And in some of the common declamation of the Pythagoreans and Platonists concerning the general prevalence of numerical relations in the universe, he discovers their acquaintance with the law of the inverse square of the distance by which gravitation is regulated, though he allows that it required all the penetration of Newton and his followers to detect this law in the scanty fragments by which it is transmitted.

Argument of this kind is palpably insufficient to cover the failure of the Greek attempts at a general physical philosophy; or rather we may say, that such arguments, since they are as good as can be brought in favor of such an opinion, show more clearly how entire the failure was.

7 Arist. Metaph. i. 5.

& Tim. 96.

. 3d ed. p. 83.

10 Ib. p. 88.

I proceed now to endeavor to point out its causes.

Sect. 2.-Cause of the Failure of the Greek Physical Philosophy.

The cause of the failure of so many of the attempts of the Greeks to construct physical science is so important, that we must endeavor to bring it into view here; though the full development of such subjects belongs rather to the Philosophy of Induction. The subject must, at present, be treated very briefly.

I will first notice some errors which may naturally occur to the reader's mind, as possible causes of failure, but which, we shall be able to show, were not the real reasons in this case.

The cause of failure was not the neglect of facts. It is often said that the Greeks disregarded experience, and spun their philosophy out of their own thoughts alone; and this is supposed by many to be their essential error. It is, no doubt, true, that the disregard of experience

, is a phrase which may be so interpreted as to express almost any defect of philosophical method; since coincidence with experience is requisite to the truth of all theory. But if we fix a more precise sense on our terms, I conceive it may be shown that the Greek philosophy did, in its opinions, recognize the necessity and paramount value of observations ; did, in its origin, proceed upon observed facts; and did employ itself to no small extent in classifying and arranging phenomena. We must endeavor to illustrate these assertions, because it is important to show that these steps alone do not necessarily lead to science.

1. The acknowledgment of experience as the main ground of physical knowledge is so generally understood to be a distinguishing feature of later times, that it may excite surprise to find that Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers, not only asserted in the most pointed manner that all our knowledge must begin from experience, but also stated in language much resembling the habitual phraseology of the most modern schools of philosophizing, that particular facts must be collected; that from these, general principles must be obtained by induction; and that these principles, when of the most general kind, are axioms. A few passages

will show this. “ The way" must be the same," says Aristotle, in speaking of the rules of reasoning, “with respect to philosophy, as it is with respect to.

11 Anal. Prior. i. 30.

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