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Emmarlone Salva Ravago Modern Philosophy

October 14, 2010 Rev. Fr. Nilo Lardizabal, OP


An unexamined life is not worth living. - Socrates

The Legacy of Modern Philosophers


Francis Bacon Martyr to Science

Life and Background Francis Bacon was born in London in 1561. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and studied law in Grays Inn. He entered the Parliament in 1584. On the accession of James I, he became solicitor-general and was knighted. He was appointed as Lord Chancellor in 1618 with the title Lord Verulam. He pleaded guilty to charges of accepting bribes and was shortly imprisoned. He died at Highgate in 1626.

Works and Contributions The Advancement of Learning (1606) a systematic classification of scientific disciplines. Instauratio Magna (The Great Instauration) (begun in 1618) two parts completed: a revision of the Advancement of Learning and the Novum Organum (which was his principal work on scientific method). He divided philosophy into two: 1) Natural a) Speculative Physics - deals with the material and efficient causes of things. Metaphysics - deals with the formal and final causes. b) Operative Mechanics - practical application of physics. Magic - practical application of metaphysics. 2) Human

Knowledge Three parts of human understanding: 1) History to his memory a) Natural Nature in course Nature erring or varying Nature altered or wrought b) Civil history 2) Poesy to his imagination 3) Philosophy to his reason

To be free from personal biases on observation man must be free from the four idols: 1) Idols of the Tribe - consist in thinking of things and their relations by analogy with man, that is, considering things as actual and organized when such aspects do not objectively exist, but are merely conceived by man. 2) Idols of the Cave - derived from the psychic formation of the individual, who knows the things not in themselves, but only from their subjective images, as in the case of Plato's celebrated slaves imprisoned in the cave. 3) Idols of the Marketplace - are derived from social relationships and, above all, from the use of a common language. 4) Idols of the Theater - are errors coming from false philosophical systems which, like the fables of the theater, are simply fantastic. Tables of Inquiry: 1) The table of presence (tabula praesentiae) 2) The table of absence (tabula absentiae) 3) The table of degrees (tabula graduum)

Metaphysics He calls metaphysics first philosophy or summary philosophy it is a receptacle for all the universal principles that are not exclusive to particular disciplines.

Mind and Soul Two operations of the soul: 1) Understanding or reason - function is judgment 2) Will or appetite - function is action or execution Imagination is no mere a servant of the other faculties.

God In his natural theology, Bacon tells us: it suffices to refute atheism but not to inform religion. Natural theology is sufficient in proving that there is a god, however we should not delve deeper into that.

Critique He was the springboard of/for modern philosophy. He is responsible for our positivist heritage. Being a positivist, Bacon lacked metaphysical support for his philosophy. He wanted to have a unified body of science which, I think, is impossible. Baconian method can explain the course of nature and what it is, however it does prove the necessity and universality of any laws. His Idols informed and helped both philosophers and scientists from falling into such biases.