Bacon Essay, Research Paper
From the seventeenth century to the Age of Revolution, the shift from spiritual deference to secular or scientific fascination happened gradually. The new faith in man’s rational abilities led to a rise in secular feeling and a corresponding decline in God’s importance. Francis Bacon, among many other prominent figures in history, helped encourage this display of feelings.
Francis Bacon was born in London in the year 1551 and died in 1626. He was a propogandizer for science, but himself, was not a scientist. He discussed in his writings many aspects in attaining scientific knowledge. Firstly, he felt the need to challenge the old text in order to make further progress. Secondly, he discussed how man is limited to what he observes. Finally, Bacon enumerated four classes of Idols, which hamper human understanding. Bacon’s proposals had a powerful influence on the development of science in seventeenth century Europe.
Bacon had a strong rejection of Aristotelianism. He credited Aristotle’s theories to the era of that time, but vehemently attacked its usage in modern
Day science. Experience, he claimed, had an advantage over ancient authorities. As time progresses, certain truths get revealed that conflict with old findings. Introducing new concepts to fit in with old axioms would impede on the search for the truth. Instead of trying to fix the errors of the past to fit in with recent discoveries, we should start from scratch. Thus, he encouraged people to venture out on their own quest for wisdom. He placed great faith in man’s ability in the pursuit of knowledge. His beliefs were in sync with the creed of that time, which was the emphasis on man’s capabilities in understanding. We can see this in the fact that there is no mention of God in any of Bacon’s teachings. Spirituality played a minor role in history by this era of time. There was an idea of not relying on God to understand, but relying on man’s rational mind.
Bacon insisted that people only believe that which they see. This belief has tremendous implications. Until that point, God and spirituality were something you were taught and didn’t question. In the pursuit of knowledge, people were urged to question everything they were told. People were reluctant to accept the church’s belief, without substantial proof. The church was unable to meet these demands. Thus, scientists were regarded as the only link to truth. In 1626, Bacon predicted that scientist
Will be the leading statesman. People believed that scientists could answer all their questions, whereas, the church couldn’t satiate the peoples demand for explanations.
Bacon suggests reasons for the limitations in the humans’ quest for answers. He describes four classes of Idols that beset men’s minds. The Idol of Tribe, is the human mistake in believing all they perceive, as the truth. Humans are susceptible in distorting what they heed from their senses. This makes it hard to know what’s real and what’s false. The Idols of the Cave, is obstruction for expanding ones knowledge, based on the individuals life experiences and education. New information gets processed and sorted by information already learned. Anything that doesn’t coincide with previous information gets refuted. Therefore, valuable data will get lost. The Idols of the Market – place, shows how language can be a barrier. There is only so much a person can express with words. In addition, people tend to define words differently. Thus, a certain level of understanding is lacking when trying to explain concepts, verbally. Idols of the Theatre are false laws of demonstration, stemming from various dogmas and philosophies. This too, can also be a hindrance in trying to find the truth. By bringing these human impediments to light, Bacon tried to show that the
World is not easy to grasp and ascertain. That is to say, there is a world behind the world, and to find its secrets, one must overcome certain human deterrents.
Bacon’s teaching had a profound effect in history for many reasons. People were inspired to search for the truth on their own. They were told to question everything and accept nothing at face value. No more were they to follow the church blindly. They were told that if one looked hard enough, one could find the key to life’s mysteries. This concept of questioning was a nuance to mankind. To examine a belief was deemed a sin by the church. At this point in history, not only were you free to ask, you were told you must. Man started to rely on himself, as an individual. The idea of depending on man’s rational mind, and not God, was a tremendous concept.
Bacon’s suggestion to an empirical method to generalizing principles proved to be a useful tool for establishing principles. Instead of speculating reasoning to building general theories, experimental research was urged. Thus began the general theory of inductive reasoning. In order to make a general observation, one had to collect a multitude of facts to analyze and compare. This gave an enormous leap in crystallizing the modern scientific method.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that Francis Bacon helped in the creation of modern day science. His teachings brought a new light of understanding to a world that was left in the dark for so many years. New ways of looking at the world were introduced. Mankind as a whole developed and matured into thinking, rational species.