Sir Francis Bacon was born January 22, 1561. He died April 9, 1626. He was an English essayist, lawyer, statesman, and philosopher. He had a major influence on the philosophy of science. When he was 12 years old, he began studies at Trinity College, Cambridge.

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In 1576 he entered Gray’s Inn to pursue a career in law. He was first elected in 1584. Bacon’s opposition to royal tax measures would probably have brought an end to his political advancement, but he had the support of the Earl of Essex, whose prosecution for treason he later managed. He was knighted in 1603 after the succession of James I. Bacon and he became solicitor-general in 1609, attorney-general in 1613, lord keeper of the great seal in 1617, and Lord Chancellor in 1618; he was also created Baron of Verulam I 1618, and Viscount St. Albans in 1621. Bacon retained James’s favor by steadfast defense of royal prerogative, but in 1621 he was found guilty of accepting bribes and was removed from his office. Retiring to Gorhambury, he devoted himself to writing and scientific work.

Philosophically, Bacon wrote marks such as the Instauratio Magna (Great Restoration), setting forth his concepts for the restoration of humankind to mastery over nature. It was intended to contain six parts: first a classification of sciences; second a new inductive logic; third a gathering of empirical and experimental facts; fourth examples to show the effectiveness of his new approach; fifth generalization derivable from natural history; and a new philosophy that would be a complete science of nature. Bacon completed only two parts, however, the Advancement of Learning in 1605, later expanded as De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum (On the Dignity and Growth of Sciences, 1620); and the Novum Organum (The New Organon, 1620), which was to replace Aristotle’s Organon. Sciences were under the general headings of history, poetry, and philosophy.

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Their culmination was an inductive philosophy of nature, in which proposed to find the natural laws, of bodily action. To this end, he devised so-called tables of induction designed to discover such forms with the goal of mastery over nature. Although Bacon was not a great scientist, he gave impetus to the development of modern inductive science. His works were held in esteem by Robert Boyle, Robert Hook, Sir Isaac Newton, and Thomas Hobbes. In the eighteenth century, Voltaire and Diderot considered him the father of modern sentence. Other works of Bacon’s include his essays from 1597-1625 and the New Atlantis in 1627. So nineteenth century writers suggested that Bacon was the real author of Shakespeare’s plays, but this theory is discounted by most scholars.  

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Bibliography:

World Book Encyclopedia, Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1962. Volume B Pp. 18. Wegman, Richard J., Medical and Health Encyclopedia, New York: Ferguson Publishing Company, 1992, Pp. 491-492.

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