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The New Organon by Francis Bacon

The New Organon (1620)

by Francis Bacon

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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310455,770 (3.73)3
"When The New Organon appeared in 1620, as part of a six-part programme of scientific inquiry entitled 'The Great Renewal of Learning', Francis Bacon was at the high point of his political career, and his ambitious work was groundbreaking in its attempt to give formal philosophical shape to a new and rapidly emerging experimentally based science. Bacon combines theoretical scientific epistemology with examples from applied science, examining phenomena as various as magnetism, gravity and the ebb and flow of the tides, and anticipating later experimental work by Robert Boyle and others. His work challenges the entire edifice of the philosophy and learning of his time, and has left its mark on all subsequent philosophical discussions of scientific method. This volume presents a new translation of the text into modern English by Michael Silverthorne, together with an introduction by Lisa Jardine that sets the work in the context of Bacon's scientific and philosophical activities."--Jacket.… (more)

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In some ways - allowing a little anachronism - this could be called the very earliest manifesto of the Enligthenment. Certainly one of the central texts of the 17th century's scientific revolution, as well as lasting inspiration to the empiricism & scientism of the "real" Enlightenment, a century or more later. A radically fresh, unprejudiced, step-by-step programme for the ordered exploration & appropriation of the world. ( )
1 vote nielspeterqm | Nov 26, 2010 |
His "New Organon" is actually the second of seven parts of Bacon's full synopsis of thought. Written 6 years before his death, Bacon here takes a very large step in the direction of modern scientific inquiry. The theme is an argument for "Interpretation of Nature" rather than the then -- and now -- current "Anticipation of the Mind." Bacon's claim is that anticipation involves jumping to conclusions about scientific law and then observing that which confirms those conclusions, while "interpretation" involves building sequentially based on proof and observation. There are four obstacles to proper inquiry, which Bacon calls Idols. Idols of the Tribe involve the nature of all men. Logic is distorted because we are moved by our own realizations (the discoverer of magnetism sees it in everything), tend toward that which is easily understood, and are quicker to see that which confirms our hypotheses. The Idols of the Cave involve those of the individual, tending to focus at one level and on one concept of interest at a time. The Idols of the Marketplace involve our interaction with each other, creating barriers with "words and names" that are imprecise and describing things that do not exist. The Idols of the Theater involve groupthink and superstitions that become part of a community or culture. Bacon then categorizes topics of inquiry into tables, such as a listing of all the occurences of hearing and cold, in an attempt to get to the physics (rather than the metaphysics of forms?). While his observations are not always correct (spices have fire upon mastication while moonbeams do not), the organization represents a very early attempt toward organized discovery. He comes up with 26 different types of instances that at least approach an organized method of inquiry through categorization, recording, and even ordinal measurement. He defines a "true and perfect rule" as one that is "certain, free, and disposing or leading to action. He defines a "true axiom of knowledge... will be that, another nature be discovered which is convertible with the given nature and yet is a limitation of a more general nature, as of a true and real genus." ( )
  jpsnow |
Showing 2 of 2
Many principles paralleled in scientific writing and publishing today find their expression in this work of 1620: the quest for funding; rival claims of administrative duties on the scientist’s attention; delegation of practical work to lab assistants; disputes with predecessors in the field; the recording of negative results; necessity for proper records and reports; and even style guides for these. He touches on medical ethics: ‘It would be inhuman to make investigations of wellformed animals ready for birth by cutting the foetuses out of the womb, except for accidental abortions and in hunting and so on’; rather, the investigator of the processes of generation and growth should observe the hatching of eggs and ‘animals from putrefaction’.
added by KayCliff | editLearned Publishing, Hazel K. Bell (Apr 1, 2000)

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Francis Baconprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cīrule, BrigitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zariņš, VilnisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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