I. Intro Bacon
[I have used information from
for the Bacon presentation.]
Sir Francis Bacon
lord chancellor of England (1618–21). A lawyer, statesman, and philosopher.
Powerful speaker in Parliament and in trials.
/“Great Instauration” lays out a
comprehensive plan to reorganize the sciences and to restore man to that mastery over nature that he
was conceived to have lost by the fall of Adam.
He’s in Elizabethan time, he’s not just a philosopher
cause he’s a lawyer and a statesman. Bacon proposes radically transformed science. Science didn’t
have a universal methodology (there is a monster in Africa). He claimed that science needed to be
based on observations.
In his work Bacon rejects what he calls
‘idols’ - causes of human error. He distinguishes four idols, or
main varieties of proneness to error. The idols of the
are intellectual faults that are universal to
mankind, or, at any rate, very common, for example a tendency toward oversimplification. The idols of
are the intellectual peculiarities of individuals. One person may concentrate on likenesses,
another on differences between things. One may fasten on detail, another on the totality. The idols of
are the kinds of error for which language is responsible. Language is unreliable nature
and suggests to us things that are not true, for example that the sun rises. Idols of the
mistaken systems of philosophy.
Bacon writes against the proposed opinion. He persuades his audience
what he is saying should be adopted.
Against the idols, Bacon musters a leading idea: Knowledge of nature is to rely on the findings of the
senses. Bacon is convinced that the human mind is fitted for knowledge of nature and must derive it
from observation, not from abstract reasoning. The method of science ought to be inductive.
Generalizations are validated in an inductive way.
II. Back to Aristotle.
How does Bacon portray his character?
The three pisteis:
character traits, personal representation that persuade people to adopt
or accept or endorse the speaker’s opinions, proposals or evaluations. Which traits will undermine a
speaker’s appeal to character? Credence/credibility is the general trait: the speaker is a person who is
worthy of credence (as concerns this subject.) Aristotle: practical intelligence (
), a virtuous
character, and good will. My examples: experience, honesty, expertise, thoughtfulness, authority,
previous good advice, authoritativeness (?), determinacy (?), be loved by audience (?). And the
opposites: inexperience, dishonesty, rashness, insecurity, hesitation, disagreeable, hated by
audience . . . Important: different qualities of speaker will be differently significant for issue: political
decision, personal advice, expert witness, estimate, etc.
An example from Bacon,