Did you know that Bacon's 1609 essay on "Cupid and the Atom" foreshadowed the quantum of modern physics by three centuries? Tom Melllet

 

Francis Bacon,

On

Principles and Origins according to the fables of Cupid and Coelum.

 

The stories told by the ancients concerning Cupid, or Love, cannot all apply to the same person; and indeed they themselves make mention of two Cupids, very widely differing from one another; the one being said to be the oldest, the other the youngest of the gods. It is of the elder that I am now going to speak.

They say then that this Love was the most ancient of all the gods, and therefore of all things else, except Chaos, which they hold to be coeval with him. He is without any parent of his own; but himself united with Chaos begat the gods and all things. By some however it is reported that he came of an egg that was laid by Nox.

Various attributes are assigned to him: as that he is always an infant, blind, naked, winged, and an archer. But his principal and peculiar power is exercised in uniting bodies; the keys likewise of the air, earth, and sea were entrusted to him.

Another younger Cupid, the son of Venus, is also spoken of, to whom the attributes of the elder are transferred, and many added of his own.

This fable, with the following one respecting Coelum, seems to set forth in the small compass of a parable a doctrine concerning the principles and the origins of the world…

This Chaos then, which was contemporary with Cupid, signified the rude mass or congregation of matter. But matter itself, and the force and nature thereof, the principles of things in short, were shadowed by Cupid himself. He is introduced without a parent, that is to say, without a cause; for the cause is as the parent of the effect; and it is a familiar and almost continual figure of speech to denote cause and effect as parent and child. Now of this primary matter and the proper virtue and action thereof there can be no cause in nature (for we always except God), for nothing was before it…

For if the manner could be known, yet it cannot be known by cause, seeing that next to God it is the cause of causes, itself without a cause…

And hence Cupid is represented by the ancient sages in the parable as without a parent, that is to say, without a cause,&emdash;an observation of no small significance; nay, I know not whether it be not the greatest thing of all.... Therefore a philosopher should be continually reminding himself that Cupid has no parents, lest his understanding turn aside to unrealities…

It has been said then that the primitive essence, force and desire of things has no cause. How it proceeded, having no cause, is now to be considered. Now the manner is itself also very obscure: and of this we are warned by the parable, where Cupid is elegantly feigned to come of an egg which was laid by Nox. Certainly the divine philosopher declares that 'God hath made everything beautiful in its season, also he hath given the world to their disputes; yet so that man cannot find out the work that God worketh from the beginning to the end' [Ecclesiastes iii, 11]. For the summary law of being and nature, which penetrates and runs through the vicissitudes of things (the same which is described in the phrase, 'the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end'), that is, the force implanted by God in these first particles, from the multiplication whereof all the variety of things proceeds and is made up, is a thing which the thoughts of man may offer at but can hardly take in…

But one who philosophises rightly and in order, should dissect nature and not abstract her...; and must by all means consider the first matter as united to the first form, and likewise to the first principle of motion, as it is found..... But these three are by no means to be separated, only distinguished; and matter (whatever it is) must be held to be so adorned, furnished, and formed, that all virtue, essence, action, and natural motion, may be the consequence and emanation thereof…

For that the first matter has some form is demonstrated in the fable by making Cupid a person: yet so that matter as a whole, or the mass of matter, was once without form; for Chaos is without form; Cupid is a person. And this agrees well with Holy Writ; for it is not written that God in the beginning created matter, but that he created the heaven and the earth…

For there seem to be three things with regard to this subject which we know by faith. First, that matter was created from nothing. Secondly, that the development of a system was by the word of Omnipotence; and not that matter developed itself out of chaos into the present configuration. Thirdly, that this configuration (before the fall) was the best of which matter (as it had been created) was susceptible. These however were doctrines to which those philosophies could not rise. Creation out of nothing they cannot endure…

For the anticipation of time is as much a miracle, and belongs to the same omnipotence as the formation of being. Now the Divine nature seems to have chosen to manifest itself by both these emanations of omnipotence, by operating omnipotently, first on being and matter in the creation of something out of nothing; secondly on motion and time in anticipating the order of nature and accelerating the process of being…

 

Francis Bacon :

Wisdom of the Ancients, 'Cupid or the Atom.'

They say then that Love was the most ancient of all the gods; the most ancient therefore of all things whatever, except Chaos, which was said to have been coeval with him; and Chaos is never distinguished by the ancients with divine honour or the name of a god. This Love is introduced without any parent at all; only that some say he was an egg of Night. And himself out of Chaos begot all things, the gods included. The attributes which are assigned to him are in number four: he is always an infant; he is blind; he is naked; he is an archer. There was also another Love, the youngest of all the gods, son of Venus, to whom the attributes of the elder are transferred, and whom in a way they suit.

The fable relates to the cradle and infancy of nature, and pierces deep. This Love I understand to be the appetite or instinct of primal matter; or to speak more plainly, the natural motion of the atom; which is indeed the original and unique force that constitutes and fashions all things out of matter. Now this is entirely without parent; that is, without cause. For the cause is as it were parent of the effect; and of this virtue there can be no cause in nature (God always excepted): there being nothing before it, therefore no efficient; nor anything more original in nature, therefore neither kind nor form. Whatever it be, therefore, it is a thing positive and inexplicable. And even if it were possible to know the method and process of it, yet to know it by way of cause is not possible; it being, next to God, the cause of causes&emdash;itself without cause…

For the summary law of nature, that impulse of desire impressed by God upon the primary particles of matter which makes them come together, and which by repetition and multiplication produces all the variety of nature, is a thing which mortal thought may glance at, but can hardly take in…

For beyond all doubt there is a single and summary law in which nature centres and which is subject and subordinate to God; the same in fact which in the text just quoted is meant by the words, The work which God worketh from the beginning to the end.

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