Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

Sir Francis Bacon

1. Life & times:

2. Epistemology:

3. His vision of the nature and significance of science:

Some review questions:

1. Under which English king did Bacon achieve his political success?

2. How old was Bacon’s wife when they married?

3. What did Bacon do after his political disgrace?

4. Bacon’s epistemology has been described as having two interlocking themes. What were they?

5. For Bacon, what were the main barriers to understanding the world as it was?

6. Identify Bacon’s four ‘idols of the mind’ and describe how each prevents us from understanding the world.

7. Give examples of Bacon’s ‘idols of the market place’ and ‘idols of the theatre’.

8. What was Bacon’s ‘new tool’ of scientific research?

9. What is inductive empiricism? What should it begin with, and how should it proceed?

10. For Bacon, why was it essential to test the generalizations reached in each stage of induction?

11. (i) From the standpoint of the scientific researcher, what is the problem with Bacon’s model of scientific reasoning, and (ii) how did the methodology of the scientists of his day diverge from this model?

12. Name any 3 of the major scientists of Bacon’s time and identify their main discoveries.

13. In what ways did Bacon’s ideas have a lasting impact on modern scientific epistemology?

14. On what basis were Bacon and his followers willing to accept the ideas of traditional authors such as Aristotle?

15. For Bacon, science should be utilitarian, progressive, secular and collaborative. Explain each of these concepts in his portrayal of science.

16. Which institution was founded just over 50 years after Bacon’s death on Baconian principles?

17. How does the motto ‘Nullius in verba’ reflect Bacon’s ideas?


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This entry was posted on May 29, 2013 by in History of Ideas and tagged , .
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