Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early-Modern Philosophy


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In Stephen Gaukroger's new study, Francis Bacon is lauded all too familiarly as the inaugurator of "the transformation of philosophy into science, and philosophers into scientists" But it's far from the old story: Gaukroger sees Bacon not as progenitor of the Scientific Revolution or revered Father of Modern Science, but as launching "the first systematic, comprehensive attempt to transform the early-modern philosopher from someone whose primary concern is with how to live morally into someone whose primary concern is with the understanding of and reshaping of natural processes" 5.

In Gaukroger's account, Bacon had a definite objective: Pointing to Bacon's education in statecraft and his almost lifelong immersion in law and politics, Gaukroger argues—here following the work of Julian Martin—that the law was of intellectual interest because "the law was really as close as one got to a model for inquiry and argument" 59 ; and, moreover, that legal reasoning, like Bacon's conception of natural philosophy, "has a very practical imperative": Although the features of the legal model could be applied to natural philosophy—"the reliability of testimony, what should be concluded from particular testimonies, and how one decided the relevance of particular laws to the case" 61 —Gaukroger wisely registers the caveat that one model cannot simply be mapped onto another, since natural philosophy "needs to be legitimated as an area of activity that it is proper and fruitful to pursue" This project occupies chapter 3.

Deductive and Inductive Reasoning (Bacon vs Aristotle - Scientific Revolution)

In his famous announcement that he was taking "all knowledge to be my province," Bacon wrote of his need to purge that province "of two sorts of rovers. Chapter 4 moves on to the man himself, "the shaping of the natural philosopher," and includes convincing readings of two under-read but important texts, the polemical Temporis partus masculus and Redargutio philosophiarum , which between them demonstrate "a novel and powerful doctrine" being advocated by Bacon , founded in an appreciation of the historicization of knowledge.

The shaping of the natural philosopher.

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Method as a way of pursuing natural philosophy. The Medical World of Walter Charleton Argument and Authority in Early Modern England: Francis Bacon's Natural Philosophy: A New Source, And: Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Science: An Account and a Reappraisal, And: Science, Faith, and Politics: A Commentary of Bacon's "Advancement of Learning".

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This ambitious and important book, first published in , provides a truly general account of Francis Bacon as a philosopher. Stewart - - Metascience 12 1: Stephen Gaukroger shows that this reform of natural philosophy was dependent on the creation of a new philosophical persona: A New Source, And: The Cambridge Companion to Bacon.

Craig Walton - - Journal of the History of Philosophy 28 2: The Cambridge Companion to Bacon. Stewart - - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 4: Stewart - - Metascience 12 1: Dana Jalobeanu - - Society and Politics 7 The Oxford Francis Bacon Vi: Francis Bacon - - Clarendon Press. Francis Bacon and the Classification of Natural History.

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