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Francis Bacon Edit Profile

essayist , Lawyer , Philosopher , scientist , statesman

Francis Bacon was a legendary English philosopher, scientist, lawyer, author, statesman, jurist and father of the scientific methods. He was one of the most influential personalities in natural philosophy and was also a key thinker to develop new scientific methodologies.

Background

Francis Bacon was born on January 22, 1561 in London. He was the younger son of Sir Nicholas Bacon and his second wife, Lady Anne Bacon.

Education

From 1573 to 1575 Bacon attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but his weak constitution caused him to suffer ill health there. In 1576 he began the study of law at Gray's Inn, but his studies were interrupted for 2, 5 years. In 1759 he reentered Gray's Inn and became a barrister in June 1592.

Career

From 1576 to 1579 Bacon was in France as a member of the English ambassador’s suite. He served with Sir Amyas Paulet, the English ambassador to France. He was recalled abruptly after the sudden death of his father, who left him relatively little money.

After becoming a barrister in 1582 he progressed in time through the posts of reader (lecturer at the Inn), bencher (senior member of the Inn), and queen’s (from 1603 king’s) counsel extraordinary to those of solicitor general and attorney general.

In 1584 he sat as the Member of Parliament for Melcombe Regis in Dorset and subsequently represented Taunton, Liverpool, the County of Middlesex, Southampton, Ipswich, and the University of Cambridge. From time to time he addressed letters of advice to Queen Elizabeth, notable for their unbiased presentation of the most expedient political action on the points under discussion; if his advice had been followed, some of the later troubles between the Crown and Parliament might have been avoided.

In 1593 came a setback to his political hopes: he took a stand objecting to the government’s intensified demand for subsidies to help meet the expenses of the war against Spain. Elizabeth took offense, and Bacon was in disgrace during several critical years when there were chances for legal advancement.

Bacon tied himself closely to Essex and received many favors from him but later helped prosecute him for treason. While his part in the fate of Essex has been criticized as an ungrateful betrayal, it has also been defended as a duty painfully performed. In 1604 Bacon published “Apologie in Certaine Imputations Concerning the Late Earle of Essex” in defense of his own actions.

When Elizabeth died in 1603, Bacon’s letter-writing ability was directed to finding a place for himself and a use for his talents in James I’s services. He pointed to his concern for Irish affairs, the union of the kingdoms, and the pacification of the church as proof that he had much to offer the new king. The following year he was confirmed as learned counsel and sat in the first Parliament of the new reign in the debates of its first session. He was also active as one of the commissioners for discussing a union with Scotland. In 1605 he published “The Advancement of Learning”, hoping to move James to support science.

Preferment in the royal service, however, still eluded him, and it was not until June 1607 that his petitions and his vigorous though vain efforts to persuade the Commons to accept the king’s proposals for union with Scotland were at length rewarded with the post of Solicitor General.

In 1609 his “De Sapientia Veterum” (“The Wisdom of the Ancients”), in which he expounded what he took to be the hidden practical meaning embodied in ancient myths, came out and proved to be, next to “Essayes”, his most popular book in his own lifetime. In 1614 he seems to have written “The New Atlantis”, his far-seeing scientific utopian work, which did not get into print until 1626.

In 1612 Bacon renewed his efforts to gain influence with the king, writing a number of remarkable papers of advice upon affairs of state and, in particular, upon the relations between Crown and Parliament. The king adopted his proposal for removing Coke from his post as chief justice of the common pleas and appointing him to the King’s Bench, while appointing Bacon attorney general in 1613. During the next few years Bacon’s views about the royal prerogative brought him, as attorney general, increasingly into conflict with Coke, the champion of the common law and of the independence of the judges. Coke’s dismissal in November 1616 for defying this order was quickly followed by Bacon’s appointment as lord keeper of the great seal in March 1617.

Between 1608 and 1620 he prepared at least 12 drafts of his most-celebrated work “Novum organum” and wrote several minor philosophical works. “Novum organum” was a philosophical treatise in Latin which constituted the only completed part of the second division of Bacon's projected philosophical system “Instauratio magna. ” Having outlined the several fields of knowledge in “De augmentis”, which constituted the first division of “Instauratio magna”, Bacon developed his method for the further advancement of learning and the interpretation of nature in “Novum organum”, literally “New Instrument. ” In the second book he describes the inductive method, whereby he proposes to overthrow all the “Idols” of the mind. Here he sets up three methods of induction, insisting primarily upon the necessity of discovering “forms” in nature, that is, upon finding the unique qualities of phenomena.

The last 4 years of his life he devoted to writing “History of Henry VII”, “De Augmentis Scientiarum” (1623), “The New Atlantis” (1624), “Sylva sylvarum” (1627), and a number of other pieces.

Achievements

  • Sir Francis Bacon served both as Attorney General as well as Lord Chancellor of England. Leaving apart the disgraceful ending of his political career, throughout his life, Bacon continued to be quite an influential politician because of his work, specifically as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method and pioneer in the scientific revolution. He has been known as the “Father of Empiricism”. Francis Bacon’s work led and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry. These methodologies are also often denoted as Baconian method. The rhetorical and theoretical composition for science faced a new turn as a result of the Bacon’s appeal for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural, most of which still encircle ideas of proper methodology even today.

Works

Views

Bacon developed a dislike for Aristotelian philosophy at Trinity College, and he also opposed Platonism.

He felt that Aristotle's system was more suited to disputation than to discovery of new truth and that Plato's doctrine of innate knowledge turned the mind inward upon itself, "away from observation and away from things. "

This is part of what Bacon means by "active science. "

Quotations: ". .. to drop all preconceived notions and make a fresh start; and . .. to refrain for a while from trying to rise to the most general conclusions or even near to them. "

Connections

father:
Sir Nicholas Bacon

mother:
Lady Anne Bacon