A First Sketch of the Nature of Heat (Novum Organum Book 2: 15-25)

This is the eleventh post in the Novum Or­ganum se­quence. For con­text, see the se­quence in­tro­duc­tion. For the read­ing guide, see ear­lier posts in the se­quence.

We have used Fran­cis Ba­con’s Novum Or­ganum in the ver­sion pre­sented atwww.ear­ly­mod­ern­texts.com. Trans­lated by and copy­right to Jonathan Ben­nett. Pre­pared for LessWrong by Ruby.

[[In the pre­vi­ous sec­tion, Ba­con in­tro­duced his “three ta­bles”: his care­ful col­lec­tion of data and ob­ser­va­tions that are core to build­ing up his sci­en­tific method.

Th­ese ta­bles are:

1) A table of pres­ence which lists many ex­am­ples where phe­nom­ena of in­ter­est in pres­ence, e.g. many ex­am­ples of things where we have heat.

2) A table of nearby essence. His ex­am­ple is heat and to dis­crim­i­nate its true heat, Ba­con looks for ex­am­ples of things that re­sem­ble those in the table of pres­ence yet are lack­ing the heat. For the ex­am­ple, the light of the moon (cold) is con­trasted with the light of the sun (hot) which is in­ter­est­ing given they are both heav­enly bod­ies.

3) A table of de­grees or com­par­i­son where are ex­am­ples are brought where the amount of per­ceived heat differs in de­gree be­tween things. This is also use­ful in dis­crim­i­nat­ing the true un­der­ly­ing cause and and na­ture of heat.]]

Apho­rism Con­cern­ing the In­ter­pre­ta­tion of Na­ture: Book 2: 15-25

15. The job of these three ta­bles is—in the ter­minol­ogy I have cho­sen—to pre­sent in­stances to the in­tel­lect. After the pre­sen­ta­tion has been made, in­duc­tion it­self must get to work. After look­ing at each and ev­ery in­stance we have to find a na­ture which

  • is always pre­sent when the given na­ture (in our pre­sent case: heat) is pre­sent,

  • is always ab­sent when the given na­ture is ab­sent,

  • always in­creases or de­creases with the given na­ture, and

  • is a spe­cial case of a more gen­eral nature

(I men­tioned this last re­quire­ment in 4). If the mind tries to do this •af­fir­ma­tively from the out­set (which it always does when left to it­self), the re­sult will be fan­cies and guesses and ill-defined no­tions and ax­ioms that have to be ad­justed daily. (Un­less like the school­men* we choose to fight in defence of er­ror; and in that case how well an ax­iom fares will de­pend ·not on how much truth it con­tains but· on the abil­ity and strength of its defen­der.) It is for God (who de­signed and gave the forms), and per­haps also for an­gels and higher in­tel­li­gences, to have an im­me­di­ate •af­fir­ma­tive knowl­edge of forms straight away. This is cer­tainly more than man can do. We have to pro­ceed at first through

[[*School­men: Aris­totelian schol­ars.]]


[Ba­con will now be liken­ing sci­en­tific pro­ce­dure to a kind of chem­i­cal anal­y­sis, in which var­i­ous com­po­nents of a com­plex liquid are dis­til­led off by heat, leav­ing the resi­due in which we are in­ter­ested.]

So we have to sub­ject the na­ture ·in which we are in­ter­ested· to a com­plete dis­man­tling and anal­y­sis, not by fire but by the mind, which is a kind of di­v­ine fire. The first task of true in­duc­tion (as re­gards the dis­cov­ery of forms) is to re­ject or ex­clude na­tures that

  • are not found in some in­stance where the given na­ture is pre­sent, or

  • are found in some in­stance from which the given na­ture is ab­sent, or

  • are found to in­crease in some in­stance when the given na­ture de­creases, or

  • are found to de­crease when the given na­ture in­creases.

After these re­jec­tions and ex­clu­sions have been prop­erly made, and all volatile opinions have been boiled off as vapour, there will re­main at the bot­tom of the flask (so to speak) an af­fir­ma­tive form that is solid, true and well defined. It doesn’t take long to say this, but the pro­cess of do­ing it is lengthy and com­plex. Per­haps I’ll man­age not to over­look any­thing that can help in the task.

17. I have to warn you—and I can’t say this too of­ten!—that

When you see me giv­ing so much im­por­tance to forms, do not think I am talk­ing about the ‘forms’ that you have been used to think­ing about.

·Treat­ing my forms as your ‘forms’ in the pre­sent con­text would be wrong in two ways·. (1) I’m not talk­ing here about com­pos­ite forms, the ones in which var­i­ous sim­ple na­tures are brought to­gether in the way the uni­verse brings them to­gether—the likes of the forms of lion, ea­gle, rose, gold, and so on. It will be time to treat of these when we come to hid­den pro­cesses and hid­den microstruc­tures, and the dis­cov­ery of them in so-called sub­stances or com­pos­ite na­tures.

(2) In speak­ing of ·forms or· sim­ple na­tures, I’m not talk­ing about ab­stract forms and ideas which show up un­clearly in mat­ter if in­deed they show up in it at all. When I speak of ‘forms’ I mean sim­ply the ob­jec­tive real-world laws of pure ac­tion* that gov­ern and con­sti­tute any sim­ple na­ture—e.g. heat, light, weight—in ev­ery kind of mat­ter and in any­thing else that is sus­cep­ti­ble to them. Thus the ‘form of heat’ or the ‘form of light’ is the same thing as the law of heat or the law of light; and I shan’t ever use ab­strac­tions through which I step back from things them­selves and their op­er­a­tions.

[*Ba­con doesn’t ex­plain ac­tus pu­rus. In each of its other three oc­cur­rences he con­nects it with laws, and his mean­ing seems to be some­thing like: ‘the laws gov­ern­ing the pure ac­tions of in­di­vi­d­ual things, i.e. the things they do be­cause of their own na­tures in­de­pen­dently of in­terfer­ence from any­thing else’. If x does A partly be­cause of in­fluence from some­thing else y, then x is not purely •ac­tive in re­spect of A be­cause y’s in­fluence gives A a cer­tain de­gree of •pas­sivity. From here on, ac­tus pu­rus will be trans­lated by ‘pure ac­tion’.]

[In the next sen­tence, ‘rar­ity’ is cog­nate with ‘rare’ in the sense of ‘thin, at­ten­u­ated, not dense’.] So when I say (for in­stance) in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the form of heat

  • ‘re­ject rar­ity ·from the list of sim­ple na­tures that con­sti­tute heat·’, or

  • ‘rar­ity does not be­long to the form of heat’,

·I may seem to be talk­ing about an ab­stract prop­erty rar­ity, but what I am say­ing can just as well be said with­out any noun pur­port­ing to re­fer to any such ab­strac­tion. For· those state­ments are tan­ta­mount to

  • ‘It is pos­si­ble for us to make a dense body hot’, or

  • ‘It is pos­si­ble for us keep or re­move heat from a rare body’,

·where ‘rar­ity’ and ‘dense­ness’ give way to ‘rare’ and ‘dense’·.

You may think that my forms also are some­what ab­stract, as they mix and com­bine things that are very differ­ent from one an­other. ·This com­plaint might come from your notic­ing that·

  • the heat of heav­enly bod­ies seems to be very un­like the heat of fire,

  • the rel­a­tively durable red­ness of a rose (say) is very un­like the ·tran­sient shim­mer­ing· red­ness that ap­pears in a rain­bow, an opal, or a di­a­mond, and the differ­ent kinds of death—by drown­ing, burn­ing, stab­bing, stroke, star­va­tion—are very un­al­ike;

yet they share the na­ture of heat, red­ness and death re­spec­tively. If you do have that thought, this shows that your mind is cap­tive to •habit, to •things taken as a whole ·and not sub­ject to anal­y­sis or bit-by-bit ex­am­i­na­tion·, and to •men’s opinions. For it is quite cer­tain that these things, how­ever un­al­ike they may be, agree in the form or law that gov­erns heat, red­ness and death (re­spec­tively); and hu­man power can’t pos­si­bly be freed from the com­mon course of na­ture, and ex­panded and raised to new pow­ers and new ways of op­er­at­ing, ex­cept by dis­cov­er­ing of forms of this kind. This •union of na­ture is the most im­por­tant thing I have to talk about; but when I have finished with it I shall take up, in the proper place, the •di­vi­sions and veins of na­ture, both the or­di­nary ·su­perfi­cial· ones and also the ones that are more in­ter­nal and true. ·By the ‘union of na­ture’ I mean the com­ing to­gether of dis­parate things un­der a sin­gle form. By the ‘di­vi­sion and veins of na­ture’ I mean the com­plex­ities in which dis­parate struc­tures and func­tions come to­gether in a sin­gle thing·.

18. I should now provide an ex­am­ple of the ex­clu­sion or re­jec­tion of na­tures that are shown by the Tables of Pre­sen­ta­tion not to be­long to the form of heat. All that is needed for the re­jec­tion of any na­ture ·from the form we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing· is a sin­gle ·con­trary· in­stance from one of the ta­bles; for what I have said makes it ob­vi­ous that any con­jec­ture ·of the type ‘Na­ture N be­longs to form F’· is knocked out by a sin­gle con­trary in­stance. But I shall some­times cite two or three such in­stances—for clar­ity’s sake and to provide prac­tice in us­ing the ta­bles.

An ex­am­ple of ex­clu­sion or re­jec­tion of na­tures from the form of heat:

(1) re­ject: el­e­men­tal na­ture be­cause of the rays of the sun

(2) re­ject: heav­enly na­ture be­cause of or­di­nary fire, and es­pe­cially un­der­ground fires, which are the most com­pletely cut off from the rays of heav­enly bodies

(3) re­ject: how fine-grained a body’s struc­ture is be­cause of the fact that all kinds of bod­ies (min­er­als, veg­eta­bles, skin of an­i­mals, wa­ter, oil, air, and so on) be­come warm sim­ply by be­ing close to a fire or other hot body

(4) re­ject: be­ing at­tached to or mixed with an­other body that is hot be­cause of the fact that red-hot iron and other met­als give heat to other bod­ies with­out los­ing any of their own weight or substance

(5) re­ject: light and bright­ness be­cause of boiling wa­ter and ·hot· air, and also met­als and other solids that be­come hot but not enough to burn or glow

(6) re­ject: light and bright­ness be­cause of the rays of the moon and other heav­enly bod­ies (ex­cept the sun)

(7) re­ject: light and bright­ness be­cause of the fact that red-hot iron has more heat and less bright­ness than the flame of alcohol

(8) re­ject: rar­ity be­cause of very hot gold and other met­als that have the great­est density

(9) re­ject: rar­ity be­cause of air, which re­mains rare how­ever cold it becomes

(10) re­ject: change in a body’s size or shape be­cause of red-hot iron, which doesn’t be­come larger or change its shape

(11) re­ject: change in a body’s size or shape be­cause of the fact that in ther­mome­ters, and the like, air ex­pands with­out be­com­ing no­tice­ably warmer

(12) re­ject: de­struc­tive na­ture, or the force­ful ad­di­tion of any new na­ture be­cause of the ease with which all bod­ies are heated with­out any de­struc­tion or no­tice­able alteration

(13) re­ject: ex­pand­ing or con­tract­ing mo­tion of the body as a whole be­cause of the agree­ment and con­for­mity of similar effects dis­played by both heat and cold

(14) re­ject: the ba­sic na­tures of things (as dis­tinct from prop­er­ties they have through an­tecedent causes) be­cause of the cre­ation of heat by rub­bing things to­gether There are other na­tures beside these; I’m not offer­ing com­plete ta­bles, but merely ex­am­ples.

Not a sin­gle one of the ‘re­ject:’ na­tures be­longs to the form of heat. In all our deal­ings with heat we can set those aside.

19. The pro­cess of ex­clu­sion is the foun­da­tion of true in­duc­tion; but the in­duc­tion isn’t com­pleted un­til it ar­rives at some­thing af­fir­ma­tive. Of course the ex­clud­ing part ·of our work· is it­self noth­ing like com­plete, and it can’t be so at the be­gin­ning. For ex­clu­sion is, ob­vi­ously, the re­jec­tion of sim­ple na­tures; so how can we do it ac­cu­rately when we still don’t have sound and true no­tions of sim­ple na­tures? Some of the no­tions that I have men­tioned (such as the no­tions of el­e­men­tal na­ture, heav­enly na­ture and rar­ity) are vague and ill defined. I’m well aware of, and keep in mind, how great a work I am en­gaged in (namely mak­ing the hu­man in­tel­lect a match for things and for na­ture); so I am not satis­fied with what I have said up to here. I now go fur­ther, and de­vise and sup­ply more pow­er­ful aids for the in­tel­lect—aids that I shall now pre­sent. In the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of na­ture the mind should be thor­oughly pre­pared and shaped up, so that it will at each stage set­tle for the de­gree of cer­tainty that is ap­pro­pri­ate there, while re­mem­ber­ing (es­pe­cially at the be­gin­ning) that the an­swer to ‘What is this that we have be­fore us?’ de­pends to a great ex­tent on what will come of it later on.

20. Truth emerges more quickly from er­ror than from con­fu­sion, ·which im­plies that it can be worth­while to aim for clar­ity even at the risk of go­ing wrong·. So I think it will be use­ful, af­ter mak­ing and weigh­ing up three ta­bles of first pre­sen­ta­tion (such as I have ex­hibited), to give the in­tel­lect per­mis­sion to try for an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of na­ture of the af­fir­ma­tive kind on the strength of the in­stances given in the ta­bles and also of any oth­ers that may turn up el­se­where. I call this kind of at­tempt •‘per­mis­sion for the in­tel­lect’ or •‘sketch of an in­ter­pre­ta­tion’ or—·the la­bel I shall ac­tu­ally use in this work·—•the ‘first har­vest’.

A first har­vest of the form of heat

Some­thing that is perfectly clear from what I have said ear­lier should be borne in mind here, namely that the •form of a thing is pre­sent in each and ev­ery in­stance of the thing; oth­er­wise it wouldn’t be its •form; from which it fol­lows that there can’t be any counter-in­stances ·where the thing is pre­sent and the form isn’t·. Still, the form is much more con­spicu­ous and ob­vi­ous in •some in­stances than in oth­ers, namely in •those where the na­ture of the form is less re­strained and ob­structed and limited by other na­tures. In­stances of •this kind I call ‘lu­mi­nous’ or (·most of the time·) ‘re­veal­ing’ in­stances. So now let us pro­ceed to the first har­vest con­cern­ing the form of heat.

In each and ev­ery case of heat the cause of the na­ture of which heat is a spe­cial case ap­pears to be mo­tion. This shows most con­spicu­ously in flames, which are on the move all the time, and in boiling or sim­mer­ing liquids, which are also con­stantly in mo­tion. It is also shown when mo­tion stirs heat up or in­creases it—as hap­pens with bel­lows and with wind (Third Table 29) and with other kinds of mo­tion (28 and 31). It is also shown when fire and heat are ex­tin­guished by any strong com­pres­sion, which checks and stops the mo­tion (see 30 and 32). It is shown also by the fact that all bod­ies are de­stroyed or at any rate sig­nifi­cantly changed by any fire or strong heat, which makes it quite clear that heat causes a tu­mult and ag­i­ta­tion and lively mo­tion in the in­ter­nal parts of a body, which grad­u­ally moves it to­wards dis­solu­tion.

In cer­tain cases heat gen­er­ates mo­tion and in cer­tain cases mo­tion gen­er­ates heat, but that isn’t what I am say­ing when I say that mo­tion is like a genus in re­la­tion to heat ·as one of its species·. What I mean is that heat it­self is noth­ing but mo­tion of a cer­tain spe­cific kind; I’ll tell you soon what spe­cial fea­tures of a case of mo­tion make it qual­ify as a case of heat. Be­fore com­ing to that, though I shall pre­sent three cau­tions that may be needed to avoid unclar­ity about some of the terms I shall be us­ing.

·First cau­tion: My topic is heat, not heat-as-we-feel-it·. Heat as we feel it is a rel­a­tive thing—rel­a­tive to hu­mans, not to the world; and it is rightly re­garded as merely the effect of heat on the an­i­mal spirits. More­over, in it­self it is vari­able, since a sin­gle body in­duces a per­cep­tion of cold as well as of heat, de­pend­ing on the con­di­tion of the senses. This is clear from the item 41 in the Third Table [here].

·Se­cond cau­tion: My topic is heat, not the pass­ing on of heat·. Don’t con­fuse the form of heat with the pass­ing on of heat from body to body, for heat is not the same as heat­ing. Heat is pro­duced by the mo­tion of rub­bing some­thing that at first has no heat; and that’s enough to show that the trans­mis­sion of heat is no part of the form of heat. And even when some­thing is heated by an­other hot thing’s com­ing close to it, that doesn’t come from the form of heat; rather, it de­pends en­tirely on a higher and more gen­eral na­ture, namely the na­ture of as­simila­tion or self-mul­ti­pli­ca­tion, a sub­ject that needs to be in­ves­ti­gated sep­a­rately. [See here.]

·Third cau­tion: My topic is heat, not fire·. Our no­tion of fire is a lay­man’s one, and is use­less ·for sci­en­tific pur­poses·. What it counts as ‘fire’ is the com­bi­na­tion of heat and bright­ness in a body, as in or­di­nary flame and bod­ies that are red hot. [Red-heat is treated as a kind of ‘burn­ing’ in item 24 here.]

Hav­ing guarded against ver­bal mi­s­un­der­stand­ings, I now at last come to the true spe­cific differ­ences which qual­ify a case of •mo­tion (·genus·) to count as a case of •heat (·species·).

The first differ­ence then is this. Heat is an ex­pan­sive mo­tion in which a body tries ex­pand to a greater size than it had be­fore. We see this most clearly in flame, where the smoke or thick vapour ob­vi­ously ex­pands into flame.

It also ap­pears in any boiling liquid, which can be seen to swell, rise and bub­ble, and goes on ex­pand­ing it­self un­til it turns into a body that is far big­ger than the liquid it­self, namely into steam, smoke, or air.

It ap­pears also in all wood and ·other· flammable things, where there is some­times sweat­ing and always evap­o­ra­tion.

It is shown also in the melt­ing of met­als. Be­cause they are highly com­pact, met­als don’t eas­ily ex­pand and di­late; but their spirit ex­pands, and wants to ex­pand fur­ther; so it forces and ag­i­tates the lumpier parts into a liquid state. If the metal be­comes hot­ter still, it dis­solves and turns much of it­self into a volatile sub­stance.

It ap­pears also in iron or rocks: they don’t liquefy or run to­gether, but they be­come soft. Similarly with wooden sticks, which be­come flex­ible when slightly heated in hot ashes.

But this kind of mo­tion is best seen in air, which a lit­tle heat causes to ex­pand—see Third Table 38 [here].

It shows up also in the con­trary na­ture, namely cold. For cold con­tracts all bod­ies—makes them shrink—so that in a hard frost nails fall out of walls, bronze ves­sels crack, and heated glass when ex­posed to cold cracks and breaks. Similarly, a lit­tle cool­ing makes air con­tract, as in 38. But I’ll say more about this when I deal prop­erly with cold.

It’s no won­der that heat and cold should ex­hibit many ac­tions in com­mon (for which see the Se­cond Table 32). This first spe­cific differ­ence ·helping to denar­cate the species heat within the genus mo­tion· con­cerns a fea­ture of heat that is di­a­met­ri­cally op­po­site to a fea­ture of cold, be­cause whereas heat ex­pands cold con­tracts; but the third and fourth differ­ences (still to come) be­long to the na­tures both of heat and of cold.

The sec­ond differ­ence is a spe­cial case of the first, namely: Heat is a mo­tion in which the hot body •ex­pands while it •rises. This is a case of mixed mo­tion, of which there are many—e.g. an ar­row or javelin •ro­tates while it •flies for­ward. Similarly the mo­tion of heat is an ex­pan­sion as well as a move­ment up­wards.

This differ­ence ap­pears when you put a poker into a fire. If you put it in up­right and hold it by the top, it soon burns your hand; if you put it in at the side or from be­low, it takes longer to burn your hand.

It can also be seen in frac­tional dis­til­la­tion, which men use for ·ex­tract­ing essences from· del­i­cate flow­ers that soon lose their scent. It has been found in prac­tice that one should place the fire not be­low ·the dis­till­ing re­tort· but above it, so as to burn less. For all heat, not only flame, tends up­ward.

This should be tried out on the op­po­site na­ture, cold, to learn whether cold con­tracts a body down­ward as heat ex­pands it up­ward. Here’s how to do it. Take two iron rods or glass tubes of ex­actly the same di­men­sions, warm them a lit­tle and place a sponge steeped in cold wa­ter or snow at the bot­tom of the one, and a similar one at the top of the other. I think that the end of the rod that has snow at the top will cool sooner than the end of the rod with snow at the bot­tom—the op­po­site of what hap­pens with heat.

The third spe­cific differ­ence is this: heat is a mo­tion that isn’t ex­pan­sive uniformly through the whole ·hot· body, but only through its smaller par­ti­cles; and this ex­pan­sion ·in any one par­ti­cle· is at the same time checked, re­pel­led, and beaten back ·by the ex­pan­sions of other par­ti­cles·, so that there’s a back-and-forth mo­tion within the body, which is ir­ri­tated by all the quiv­er­ing, strain­ing and strug­gling that goes on; and from that comes the fury of fire and heat.

This ·spe­cific· differ­ence is most ap­par­ent in flames and in boiling liquids, where there are con­tinual lit­tle rises and falls across their sur­face.

It also shows up in bod­ies that are so com­pact that when heated or ig­nited they don’t swell or ex­pand in bulk—e.g. in red-hot iron, in which the heat is very sharp.

And it is ap­par­ent in hearth fires, which burn bright­est in the cold­est weather.

It also shows in the fact that when the air in a cal­en­dar glass [see item 38 here] ex­pands with­out ob­sta­cles or counter-pres­sures, and thus ex­pands at the same rate through­out, there is no per­cep­ti­ble heat. Also when an en­closed body of ·com­pressed· air es­capes, no great heat is ob­served; that is be­cause al­though the air bursts out with the great­est force, its only ex­pan­sive mo­tion is a mo­tion of the whole, with no back-and-forth mo­tions in the par­ti­cles. . . .

It is also shown in this, that all burn­ing acts on minute pores in the body in ques­tion, so that burn­ing digs into the body, pen­e­trat­ing and prick­ing and sting­ing it like the points of countless nee­dles. . . .

And this third spe­cific differ­ence is shared with the na­ture of cold. For in cold the con­trac­tive mo­tion is checked by a ten­dency to ex­pand, just as in heat the ex­pan­sive mo­tion is checked by a ten­dency to con­tract. Thus, whether the par­ti­cles of a body work in­ward or out­ward, the mode of ac­tion is the same though the de­gree of strength may be very differ­ent; be­cause on the sur­face of the earth we don’t have any­thing that is in­tensely cold. [See item (3) here.]

The fourth spe­cific differ­ence is a spe­cial case of the third. It is that the mo­tion of prick­ing and pen­e­trat­ing must be fairly fast, not slug­gish, and must go by par­ti­cles—very small ones but a bit big­ger than the small­est.

This differ­ence is ap­par­ent when you com­pare the effects of •fire with the effects of •time or age. Age or time makes things wither, con­sumes and un­der­mines them, re­duces them to ashes, just as much as fire does, though it acts on even smaller par­ti­cles than fire acts on; be­cause that mo­tion is very slow and acts on very tiny par­ti­cles, there is no de­tectable heat.

It is also shown by com­par­ing the dis­solu­tion ·in acids· of iron and gold. Gold is dis­solved with­out any heat be­ing stirred up, whereas iron, when it is dis­solved about as quickly as gold, starts up a vi­o­lent heat. This is be­cause the solvent for gold en­ters the gold gen­tly and works at a level of very small par­ti­cles, so that the par­ti­cles of the gold give way eas­ily; whereas the solvent for iron en­ters the iron roughly and forcibly, and the par­ti­cles of the iron are more stub­born.

It is also ap­par­ent in some gan­grenes and cases of rot­ting flesh, which don’t arouse much heat or pain be­cause the rot­ting pro­cess op­er­ates at the level of such tiny par­ti­cles.

I offer this as the •first har­vest—or •sketch of an in­ter­pre­ta­tion—con­cern­ing the form of heat, made by way of •per­mis­sion to the in­tel­lect [these three la­bels are in­tro­duced in 20 here.].

The form or true defi­ni­tion of heat can be de­rived from this first har­vest. (I’m talk­ing about heat con­sid­ered ab­solutely, not heat rel­a­tive to the senses.) Here it is, briefly:

•Heat is an ex­pan­sive mo­tion that is re­sisted, and that fights its way through the smaller par­ti­cles ·of the hot body·.

Spe­cial case of this ex­pan­sion:

•While ex­pand­ing in all di­rec­tions ·the hot body· has a ten­dency to rise.

Spe­cial case of the strug­gle through the par­ti­cles:

•It is not very slow; rather it is fast and has some force.

This tells us how in prac­tice to cre­ate heat. Here is the story:

In some nat­u­ral body, arouse a mo­tion to ex­pand; and re­press this mo­tion and turn it back on it­self so that the ex­pan­sion doesn’t pro­ceed evenly, but partly suc­ceeds and is partly held back.

If you do that you will un­doubt­edly gen­er­ate heat. It makes no differ­ence whether

•the body is made of earthly el­e­ments or con­tains heav­enly sub­stances,
•is lu­mi­nous or opaque,
•is rare or dense,
•is spa­tially ex­panded or still of its origi­nal size,
•tends to­wards dis­solu­tion or keeps its origi­nal con­di­tion,
•is an­i­mal, veg­etable, or min­eral (wa­ter, oil or air),

or any other sub­stance that is ca­pa­ble of the mo­tion de­scribed. Sen­si­ble heat is the same, but con­sid­ered with refer­ence to the senses. Let us now pro­ceed to fur­ther aids.

[That last re­mark refers to the ‘aids’ that were promised in 19 here; the first such ‘aid’ has been 20. A re­minder about ‘the ta­bles of first pre­sen­ta­tion’:

•the first table, of essence and pres­ence, starts here;
•the sec­ond table, of di­ver­gence or nearby ab­sence, starts here;
•the third table, of de­grees or of com­par­i­son, starts here;
•‘the table of ex­clu­sion or re­jec­tion’ starts here;
•‘the first har­vest’ starts here.

This re­minder may be use­ful as a guide to Ba­con’s next re­mark.]

21. So much for the ta­bles of •first pre­sen­ta­tion and of •re­jec­tion or ex­clu­sion, and the •first har­vest based on them. Now we have to pro­ceed to the other aids to the in­tel­lect in the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of na­ture and in true and perfect in­duc­tion. I’ll pre­sent them in terms of heat and cold when­ever ta­bles are ap­pro­pri­ate; but when only a few ex­am­ples are needed I’ll take them from all over the place, so as to give my doc­trine as much scope as pos­si­ble with­out cre­at­ing con­fu­sion.

[We are about to meet the phrase ‘priv­ileged in­stances’. The Latin praerog­a­tiva in­stan­ta­rum strictly means ‘priv­ilege of in­stances’, but Ba­con always han­dles it as though it stood for a kind of in­stance, not a kind of priv­ilege. The use of ‘priv­ilege’ to trans­late praerog­a­tiva is due to Silver­thorne, who re­lates it to the cen­turia praerog­a­tiva in an­cient re­pub­li­can Rome—the aris­to­crats’ priv­ilege of vot­ing first and thus hav­ing the best chance to in­fluence the votes of oth­ers.]

My top­ics will be, in this or­der:

1. priv­ileged instances

2. sup­ports for induction

3. the cor­rect­ing of induction

4. adapt­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the na­ture of the subject

5. which na­tures should be in­ves­ti­gated first, and which later

6. the limits of in­ves­ti­ga­tion, or a syn­op­sis of all na­tures in the universe

7. prac­ti­cal consequences

8. prepa­ra­tions for investigation

9. the as­cend­ing and de­scend­ing scale of ax­ioms.

[There are twenty-seven classes of priv­ileged in­stances, some with a num­ber of sub-classes. Ba­con’s dis­cus­sion of them runs to the end of the work. The other eight top­ics were to have been dealt with in later in­stal­ments of the Great Fresh Start, which he never wrote.]

22. Class 1 of priv­ileged in­stances: soli­tary in­stances. Those are ones in which the na­ture we are investigating

ap­pears in things that have noth­ing else in com­mon with other things that have that na­ture,

or ones in which the na­ture we are investigating

does not ap­pear in things that have ev­ery­thing else in com­mon with other things that do have that na­ture.

·I put these first · be­cause it is clear that they save us from de­tours, lead­ing quickly and se­curely to ex­clu­sions, so that a few soli­tary in­stances are as good as many.

Sup­pose for ex­am­ple that we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the na­ture of colour: in that con­text prisms, crys­tals, dew-drops and the like, which make colours in them­selves and pro­ject them out­side them­selves onto a wall, are soli­tary in­stances. For they have noth­ing else in com­mon with the colours in­her­ent in flow­ers, coloured stones, met­als, woods, etc.—i.e. noth­ing but colour. From which we can eas­ily draw the con­clu­sion that colour is merely a mod­ifi­ca­tion of the light that the ob­ject takes in. With prisms, crys­tals etc. the light is mod­ified by the differ­ent an­gles at which the light strikes the body; with flow­ers, coloured stones etc. it is mod­ified by var­i­ous tex­tures and microstruc­tures of the body. Th­ese in­stances are •re­sem­blance-soli­tary.

In that same in­ves­ti­ga­tion of light: the dis­tinct veins of white and black in a piece or mar­ble, and the variega­tion of colour in flow­ers of the same species, are soli­tary in­stances. The black and white streaks in mar­ble have al­most ev­ery­thing in com­mon ex­cept their colour, and so do the streaks of pink and white in a car­na­tion. From this we can eas­ily in­fer that colour doesn’t have much to do with the in­trin­sic na­ture—·the micro­scopic fine tex­ture·—of a body, but only on the quasi-me­chan­i­cal ar­range­ment of its larger parts. Th­ese in­stances are •differ­ence-soli­tary. . . .

23. Class 2 of priv­ileged in­stances: shift­ing in­stances. Those are ones where the na­ture un­der study is •shift­ing to­wards be­ing pro­duced when it didn’t pre­vi­ously ex­ist, or •shift­ing to­wards non-ex­is­tence when it ex­isted be­fore. Shift­ing in­stances, whichever kind of shift they in­volve, are always twofold, or rather it is one in­stance in which the move­ment is con­tinued un­til it reaches the op­po­site state.

[At this point some ma­te­rial is re­moved, and will be reinserted as a para­graph be­tween *as­ter­isks* be­low; it is eas­ier to un­der­stand there than it would be here.]

Here is an ex­am­ple of a shift­ing in­stance. Sup­pose we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing white­ness: shift­ing in­stances in which the shift is to­wards pro­duc­tion or ex­is­tence ·of white­ness· are

un­bro­ken glass shift­ing to pow­dered glass or­di­nary wa­ter shift­ing to wa­ter shaken up to make foam.

Plain glass and wa­ter are trans­par­ent, not white, whereas pounded glass and foam­ing wa­ter are white, not trans­par­ent. So we have to ask what hap­pened to the glass or wa­ter in this shift. Ob­vi­ously, the form of white­ness is brought in by the pound­ing of the glass and the shak­ing of the wa­ter; but we find that noth­ing has oc­curred ex­cept the break­ing up of the glass and wa­ter into small parts, and the in­tro­duc­tion of air. So we have this re­sult:

Two bod­ies, air and wa­ter (or: air and glass) which are more or less trans­par­ent come to ex­hibit white­ness as soon as they are bro­ken up into small bits ·and the bits are mixed·, this white­ness be­ing brought about by the un­equal re­frac­tion of the rays of light.

This is a big step to­wards dis­cov­er­ing the form of white­ness.

*Such in­stances don’t just lead quickly and se­curely to ex­clu­sions, but also nar­row down the search for the af­fir­ma­tion or the form it­self [‘ex­clu­sion’ and ‘af­fir­ma­tion’ are in­tro­duced in 15 here]. For the form of a thing must be some­thing that is in­tro­duced by a shift, or re­moved and wiped out by a shift in the other di­rec­tion. Of course ev­ery ex­clu­sion sup­ports some af­fir­ma­tion, but the sup­port is more di­rect when the ex­clu­sion comes from one case rather than from a num­ber of cases. And my dis­cus­sion has made it clear that the form that comes to light in a sin­gle in­stance leads the way to the dis­cov­ery of it in all the rest. And the sim­pler the shift, the more value we should at­tach to the in­stance. And an­other thing: shift­ing in­stances are of great value in the prac­ti­cal part ·of sci­en­tific in­quiry·: a shift­ing in­stance ex­hibits •the form ·un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion· linked with •the cause of its ex­ist­ing (or the cause of its not ex­ist­ing); that pro­vides great clar­ity in one in­stance and an easy tran­si­tion to oth­ers. But shift­ing in­stances cre­ate a cer­tain dan­ger against which I should warn you: they may lead us to link the form too closely to its effi­cient cause, and so en­courage a false view of the form, drawn from a view of the effi­cient cause. The effi­cient cause is always un­der­stood to be merely the ve­hi­cle for or bearer of the form. It is not hard to avoid this dan­ger in a prop­erly con­ducted ex­clu­sion.*

I should give an ex­am­ple of this dan­ger. A mind that is led astray by effi­cient causes of this sort will too eas­ily con­clude that •air is always re­quired for the form of white­ness, or that •white­ness is gen­er­ated only by trans­par­ent bod­ies—both of which are en­tirely false, and re­futed by nu­mer­ous ex­clu­sions. What will be found (set­ting air and the like aside) is this:

all the par­ti­cles that af­fect vi­sion are equal
un­equal and sim­ply textured
un­equal with com­plex reg­u­lar texture
any but black
un­equal and com­plex in an ir­reg­u­lar way

So now we have be­fore us an in­stance with a shift to the •pro­duc­tion of the na­ture un­der study, namely white­ness. For an in­stance that shifts to the •de­struc­tion of the same na­ture of white­ness, con­sider break­ing up foam or melt­ing snow. In each case, what you then have is wa­ter, not bro­ken into lit­tle par­ti­cles and not mixed with air, and this sheds white­ness and puts on trans­parency.

It’s im­por­tant to note that shift­ing in­stances in­clude not only those in which the na­ture un­der study shifts to­ward pro­duc­tion or to­ward de­struc­tion, but also those in which the na­ture shifts to­wards in­creas­ing or de­creas­ing. It’s be­cause these also con­tribute to re­veal­ing the form, as can be clearly seen from the defi­ni­tion of form that I have given ·in 17·, and the Table of De­grees [start­ing here]. Paper that is white when dry be­come less white and nearer to be­ing trans­par­ent when it is wet­ted—i.e. when air is ex­cluded and wa­ter in­tro­duced. The ex­pla­na­tion of what is hap­pen­ing here is analo­gous to the ex­pla­na­tion of the first shift­ing in­stances.

24. Class 3 of priv­ileged in­stances: re­veal­ing in­stances, which I have already men­tioned in the first har­vest con­cern­ing heat, and which I also call ‘lu­mi­nous’ and ‘freed and pre­dom­i­nant’. They are the in­stances in which the na­ture un­der study is revealed

naked and stand­ing on its own feet, and al­so
at its height and in full strength,

not muffled by any im­ped­i­ments. This is ei­ther be­cause •there aren’t any im­ped­i­ments in this in­stance or be­cause •there are some but the na­ture we are study­ing is pre­sent in such strength that it holds them down and pushes them around. ·Here is the back­ground set­ting for these re­veal­ing in­stances·:

Every body is ca­pa­ble of hav­ing many forms or na­tures linked to­gether; they can crush, de­press, break and bind one an­other so that the in­di­vi­d­ual forms are ob­scured. But we find that in some sub­jects the na­ture un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion stands out from the oth­ers, ei­ther be­cause there are no ob­sta­cles or be­cause its vi­gor­ous strength makes it promi­nent.

In­stances of this kind re­veal the form with spe­cial clar­ity.

But we should be care­ful in our han­dling of ·what seem to be· re­veal­ing in­stances, not rush­ing to con­clu­sions. When some­thing re­veals a form very con­spicu­ously and seems to force it on the no­tice of our in­tel­lect, we should view it with sus­pi­cion and should avail our­selves of a strict and care­ful ex­clu­sion ·of other po­ten­tially rele­vant fea­tures, rather than abruptly brush­ing them aside in our en­thu­si­asm for the con­spicu­ous na­ture that has at­tracted our at­ten­tion·.

Sup­pose, for ex­am­ple, that we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the na­ture of heat. As I said ear­lier [in item 38 here], the mo­tion of ex­pan­sion is the main el­e­ment in the form of heat, and a re­veal­ing in­stance of that is a •ther­mome­ter. Although •flame ob­vi­ously ex­hibits ex­pan­sion, it doesn’t show ex­pan­sion as an on­go­ing pro­cess, be­cause a flame can be so quickly snuffed out. Nor does •boiling wa­ter provide a good dis­play of ex­pan­sion in its own body ·as wa­ter· be­cause it so eas­ily turns into vapour or air. As for red-hot iron and its like: they are so far from ex­hibit­ing ex­pan­sion as an on­go­ing pro­cess that their ex­pan­sion is al­most im­per­cep­ti­ble; that’s be­cause their spirit is be­ing crushed and bro­ken by the coarse and com­pact par­ti­cles, which curb and sub­due the ex­pan­sion. But a ther­mome­ter clearly dis­plays ex­pan­sion in air, re­veal­ing it as con­spicu­ous, pro­gres­sive, and en­dur­ing rather than tran­si­tory.

To take an­other ex­am­ple: sup­pose the na­ture in­quired into is weight. A re­veal­ing in­stance of weight is mer­cury. It is heav­ier than any­thing else ex­cept gold, which is only slightly heav­ier; and mer­cury does a bet­ter job of in­di­cat­ing the form of weight than gold does, be­cause gold is solid and com­pact—fea­tures that seem to come from its den­sity— whereas mer­cury is liquid and full of spirit de­spite be­ing much heav­ier than the di­a­mond and other bod­ies that are thought to be the most solid. This re­veals that the form of heav­i­ness or weight de­pends sim­ply on the quan­tity of mat­ter and not on how com­pact the body is.

25. Class 4 of priv­ileged in­stances: con­cealed in­stances, which I also ·though not again in this work· call ‘in­stances of the twilight’. They are pretty nearly the ex­act op­po­sites of re­veal­ing in­stances. They ex­hibit the na­ture un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion at its low­est strength, as though it were in its cra­dle, newly born, mak­ing its first at­tempts but buried un­der and sub­dued by a con­trary na­ture. Still, such in­stances are very helpful in the dis­cov­ery of forms; be­cause just as

re­veal­ing in­stances lead eas­ily to •spe­cific differ­ences,

so also

con­cealed in­stances are the best guides to •gen­era,

i.e. to the com­mon na­tures of which the na­tures un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion are merely spe­cial cases. ·That is to say, re­veal­ing in­stances help us to move down the clas­sifi­ca­tory table, con­cealed in­stances help us to move up·.

Sup­pose for ex­am­ple that the na­ture un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion is •solidity or a thing’s hold­ing its shape, the op­po­site of which is •fluidity. Con­cealed in­stances of this are ones that ex­hibit some low level of shape-hold­ing in a fluid—for ex­am­ple a bub­ble of wa­ter, which has a sort of shaped skin made of wa­ter. Similarly with trick­ling wa­ter: if the wa­ter keeps com­ing, the drops lengthen them­selves out into a thin thread so as to keep the stream un­bro­ken; and if there isn’t enough wa­ter for that, the wa­ter falls in round drops, that be­ing the shape that best pre­serves the wa­ter from break­ing up ·into still smaller por­tions·. But the in­stant the thread of wa­ter stops and the drops be­gin, the wa­ter jumps back up­wards so as to avoid break­ing. And in met­als, which when melted form thick fluids, the molten drops of­ten jump back up and stay there. . . . The same kind of thing can be seen in the chil­dren’s game when they take wa­ter, thicken it a lit­tle with soap, and blow it through a hol­low reed: this com­bines the wa­ter with air so as to make a cluster of bub­bles that is firm enough to be thrown some dis­tance with­out break­ing up. But foam and snow provide the best ex­am­ples of this phe­nomenon. They be­come al­most solid enough to be cut with a knife, al­though they are made out of two fluids—air and wa­ter. All of this pretty clearly in­di­cates •that ‘solid’ and ‘liquid’ are ·not use­ful terms in the pre­sent con­text, be­cause they are· lay­man’s no­tions which re­late ·not to the sci­en­tific facts about a thing but only to how it strikes· our senses. It also in­di­cates •that in fact all bod­ies have a ten­dency to avoid be­ing bro­ken up, a ten­dency that is weak in ho­mo­ge­neous bod­ies (which is what fluids are), and stronger in bod­ies made up of differ­ent kinds of ma­te­ri­als (·the ones the lay­man calls ‘solid’·). That is be­cause a body is bound to­gether when het­ero­ge­neous mat­ter is in­tro­duced to it, whereas the in­ser­tion of ho­mo­ge­neous mat­ter dis­solves the body and makes it fall apart.

Here are three more ex­am­ples. (1) Sup­pose that the na­ture we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing is the at­trac­tion or com­ing to­gether of bod­ies. The best re­veal­ing in­stance of the form of this is the mag­net. There is also the non-at­tract­ing na­ture—the con­trary of the at­tract­ing one—and this can even be found in the same sub­stance. Thus iron doesn’t at­tract iron, lead doesn’t at­tract lead, or wood wood, or wa­ter wa­ter.

[In what fol­lows, an ‘armed’ mag­net is one equipped with an ‘ar­ma­ture’ in the sense of ‘a piece of soft iron placed in con­tact with the poles of the mag­net, which pre­serves and in­creases the mag­netic power; or any ar­range­ment which pro­duces the same re­sult’ (OED). Another such ar­range­ment is an ‘ar­ma­ture’ in our sense of the word—coils of wire con­duct­ing elec­tric­ity— but that wasn’t dis­cov­ered as a means of mag­netism un­til two cen­turies later.]

Now a con­cealed in­stance ·of at­trac­tion· is pro­vided by •a mag­net armed with iron, or rather by •the iron in an armed mag­net. Its na­ture is such that

an armed mag­net does not at­tract iron from a dis­tance more pow­er­fully than an un­armed mag­net does,


when the iron in an armed mag­net touches some other iron, the mag­net sup­ports a far greater weight of iron than a sim­ple un­armed mag­net would.

This is be­cause of the similar­ity of sub­stances, iron on iron—an effect that was la­tent in the iron ·all along·, but was com­pletely con­cealed be­fore the mag­net was brought into play. So it is clear that the form of com­ing-to­gether is some­thing that is lively and strong in the mag­net, fee­ble and la­tent in iron. (2) It has been no­ticed that small wooden ar­rows with no iron points, shot from large guns into the sides of ships or into other wooden tar­gets, pen­e­trate more deeply than they would if they were tipped with iron. This is be­cause of the similar­ity of sub­stances, wood on wood, al­though this prop­erty had pre­vi­ously been la­tent in the wood—·only la­tent, and thus con­cealed·. (3) Similarly, whole bod­ies of air (wa­ter) don’t ob­vi­ously at­tract other bod­ies of air (wa­ter), but the like­li­hood of a bub­ble’s burst­ing is in­creased when it is touched by an­other bub­ble. This is be­cause of wa­ter’s ·usu­ally con­cealed· in­cli­na­tion to join with wa­ter, and air’s to join with air. Such con­cealed in­stances (which are very use­ful, as I have said) show up most con­spicu­ously in small por­tions of bod­ies. The rea­son for that is that larger masses fol­low more gen­eral forms, as I’ll ex­plain in due course.

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