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What were the new logic and four types of idols made famous by Francis Bacon's Novum Organum?

In his New Atlantis (1627), Francis Bacon (1561-1626) described a social organization for scientific research. His Novum Organum (1620) presented a new logic of induction, which would take the place of both Aristotelian logic and a simple collection of facts. The aim was to discover real natural laws or reliable generalizations about aspects of nature

Bacon's system became famous for the obstacles to acquiring such knowledge, which he described as four kinds of idols. First were idols of the tribe or natural tendencies of thought, such as a search for purposes in nature or reading human desires and needs onto natural things and events. The second were the idols of the cave or the idiosyncrasies and biases of individuals due to their education, social background, association, and the authorities they favored. The third type were idols of the marketplace or meanings of words taken for granted when the words themselves did not stand for anything that existed in reality. And, finally, the idols of the theatre were the influence of theories that had already been widely accepted.

Once the idols are eliminated what did this allow us to do, according to Bacon?

Once the mind was cleared of its idols, it would be able to discover causes through experimentation. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) thought that all of nature was made up of bodies or material objects that acted according to fixed laws. These laws were the "forms" of material objects. In seeking causes, first we must look for those things from which certain other things always follow. (For example, heat is followed by a motion of particles.) Next, we look for the cases where the effects do not happen when the cause is absent. (No heat, no movement of particles.) When what we are studying occurs to a

Francis Bacon believed that science could greatly improve the human condition (iStock).

Francis Bacon believed that science could greatly improve the human condition (iStock).

greater or lesser degree, we must be able to account for the variation. Whenever possible, we should invent instruments to measure what we are investigating. (In this case, thermometers and barometers.)

What was Bacon's influence?

Francis Bacon's (1561-1626) requirements for causal explanations were universally accepted as the basic principles of methodology in the new science. In the nineteenth century, the empiricist philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) restated them as the basis of scientific investigation in his time. Bacon's aspirations for an association of scientists were eventually realized in the British Royal Society. Bacon's methodological principles, combined with Kepler's theory of elliptical orbits, were built on by Isaac Newton (1643-1727) for his culminating scientific system of the fundamental structure and operating laws of the universe. And Newton's work was to hold at least until Albert Einstein's (1879-1955) theories in the early twentieth century.

Was Bacon's life as direct and clear as his ideas?

No. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) lived a complex life with active political involvement in the affairs of his time, great ambition, and the appearance of deviousness. He was born in London and raised as a gentleman. His father, Nicholas, served Queen Elizabeth I as Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. Francis entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at age 12 and soon met the queen. At the age of 15, he is said to have learned that he was Queen Elizabeth's illegitimate son from her secret marriage to Robert Dudley, at which Nicholas Bacon had been a witness.

When his father died suddenly in 1579, it disturbed Francis' prospects for a substantial inheritance. This initiated a lifetime of debt. He began to study law and took a seat in Parliament in 1584 and again in 1586. He urged the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic rival to Elizabeth's throne. Then he met Queen Elizabeth's favorite, Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex, who was to prove useful as his patron for a while.

Bacon applied for a succession of high offices that eluded him, although Essex helped him financially. He did get the post of Queen's Counsel in 1596, but it paid no salary. In 1586 he was briefly arrested for debt. He took an active role in investigating treason charges against his friend and patron, Essex, who was executed in 1601. At the age of 45, he married Alice Barnham, who was the 14-year-old daughter of a well-connected alderman.

After James I became king, Bacon was knighted. He served the king well and was rewarded with the office of solicitor, then attorney general, and finally lord chancellor in 1618. He again fell into debt, however. During this time he was accused and convicted of bribery. His sentence was a fine and disgrace. He continued his studies while in retirement and was honored at age 60 with a banquet held by his Rosicrucian and

How did the British Royal Society come about?

The British Royal Society grew out of the Invisible College, and the Invisible College was inspired by Francis Bacon's New Atlantis.

Masonic friends. The famous poet Ben Jonson attended and said of him, "I love the man and do honor his memory above all others.

In 1626 Bacon was in London, traveling through the snow with the King's physician, when he got the idea of using snow to preserve meat. They immediately bought a fowl, had it killed, and Bacon stuffed it with snow. He came down with pneumonia and ate the bird, hoping to regain his strength from it, but died nonetheless.

 
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