Template of The Modern in English Science and Culture

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”.(Works, vol IX, De Augmentis, Book 56, P. 63) Note two things: These processes are close to the archival functions associated today with information processing.(Wheeler, 1990). Secondly, they describe for empiricism the hermeneutic circle of confirmation in textual analysis; the process called neo-hermeneutics in today’s postmodern philosophy of science. (Hacking, 1983)

It was but a short step to extend that approach to other database archival resources: If one used the proper logic engine, evidences of the law could be extracted from archives of common law rulings. Hence the same method would yield laws of science when applied to archives of natural history, as science was called in England until well into the twentieth century. Neither kind of archive contained laws. To find the unwritten laws of nature required a theory, a philosophy, for processing book-borne information into science. Bacon was the philosopher of scientific research: how to process information out of its database repositories; law, experiment, exploration and print - the Gutenberg Galaxy - into knowledge: The Advancement of Knowledge. Bacon’s innovations in law-finding grew out of his innovative way of exploiting the archival resources in books. What was happening in the pre-Gutenberg archives of the common law was also spreading to the other scroll and codex repositories of knowledge, which were all just as chaotic as were the common law reports.

Bacon’s approach did not rest upon a distinction between book-based and experimental information; rather upon a general theory of processing evidence out of database resources. The book based archival revolution was turning all human knowledge into an information database. The world of books was an uncharted continent. Bacon is the first to treat the book the same way today's research labs do. His new logic machine performed on printed data the functions of the information processing computer. If used critically with the aid of his refinement processes and if purified by his data cleansing idola, printed books could be made into resources for scientific research. By developing archival exploration, navigating and processing tools he could become the Columbus of the new continent of information and “take all knowledge for his province”, illustrated by the ship sailing past the Pillars of Hercules on the fronticepiece of The Advancement of Learning. They are the portico pillars to a research library; not for deduction, nor induction, and not realism, but a new kind of evidentiary empiricism whose source data is not matter and mechanics but impalpable Verulamium law stuff phenomena. When Bacon proposed the codification of common law resources he did not mean, as is usually assumed, a Roman Law Code Civile; rather he visualized an organization of maxims, and of rule of law classifications. He wanted to create an arrangement of them by their leading headings, to facilitate something like what is now possible when "Shepardizing" a case. In effect, Bacon wanted to be able to “Shepardize” scientific evidence; something only now becoming possible.

Taking title to all knowledge was shown to be theoretically possible by the Instauratio Magna. Its design specifications told how to process archives of printed information into knowledge, whose generic name until the nineteenth century was science, and to make it handily available in an encyclopaedia. Although Novum Organum discusses pure science, its primary concern is operational science; applied science made into a kind of pre-computer "software" operating system for an entire culture. That is the way science was portrayed in the Advancement of Learning, later enlarged into The Augmentation of Science. It was illustrated concretely in New Atlantis. The basic intellectual revolutions of the early seventeenth century rested on innovative computer-like "archival functions"(Wheeler, 1990) and were thought of as book-based "software applications" required to design and operate a modern society.


Very little experimental data was available to Bacon. Most of it was highly unreliable. There was some experimentation in medicine by contemporaries like Harvey and in magnetism by Gilbert; little else. Science, like the common law, was burgeoning, but there was no way of evaluating the results. Bacon himself did much more scientific experimentation than is usually acknowledged. The Verulam experiments in a post-Pythagorean sound physics have been largely ignored but were not surpassed for decades. Bacon’s table of specific gravities while awkwardly prepared was the most extensive one of the times. Giovanni Porta had published a twenty volume encyclopedia of science, Magia Naturalis, and Bacon made copious use of it throughout his writings, but it was too much like Coke’s Institutes to be used uncritically. Empirical science at that time was like biology before Linnaeus and evolution before Darwin, both of whom acknowledged their debt to Bacon. There was simply no logic engine for studying and analyzing phenomena until one was invented in the Novum Organum. Peter Ramus, the French Reformation philosopher, had pointed out that Aristotle's logic would not do for science; it was about words for things. Ramist dialectical chain reasoning was useful but was still rhetoric rather than empiricism. Bacon surveyed the available alternatives and in the spirit of his logic engine, rejected all but one.

Modern Times, as Charlie Chaplin illustrated, are addicted to invention. Invention "sells" even when it masks mere "style obsolescence"; cars repackaged in different encasements every few years. People did not always take kindly to invention; not until after it was invented. The word invent, from invenire, means to come upon; to discover. Toward the middle of the sixteenth century it had begun to mean inventing new ideas, not just words. It is used often in Bacon’s publications and usually means modern science and technology. A chapter heading in one of the early books is "The Inventary”. The word is used like the word "labor-atory" to mean an institutionalized activity, as is described in "Of The Interpretation of Nature”. That chapter contains "an enumeration and view of inventions already discovered" It goes on to describe Bacon’s newly invented system of inquiry, designed for the conduct of an "inquisition" of knowledge even more than of nature: an invention-making logic engine. The Inven-tary was explicitly for the "revealing and discovery of new inventions”.(Works, vol VI, p. 52; Works, XIII, 144) The invention of invention was one of Bacon’s leading inventions. It is described technically in his legal and philosophical writings. It was designed to do for science what Thomas Edison’s New Jersey “Invention Factory” did for technology, and what Jonas Salk dreamed of for the Salk Institute. The New Atlantis, one of his last publications, presents a practical plan for nothing less that the complete science-based re-invention of seventeenth century English culture. That aim was latent in many other of his writings.


Coleridge called attention to Bacon's Platonism. At first thought the idea seems rather silly. The Bacon that resides in professors’ lectures is at the materialist opposite pole from Plato's idealism. But problems over what Bacon means by a Platonic term, "Form" occur throughout the translations from Latin to English. "Form" is the forcing bed of Baconian science. Because it is so often debated and so much denigrated one must trace it back to its original Latin. There lies a surprise. Form is described in terms of the Latin schematismus, a word adapted from the Greek schematismos - in Plato! English has no good translation for it. Schematism is pedantic and conveys little. Schema has acquired some currency but mainly under the intellectual patent of one particular neurophilosopher. But the mere sight of the word in the primordial versions of Bacon’s thought ignites another even brighter intellectual flare: Immanuel Kant. First Plato and then Kant! Kant's use of schematismus in developing the philosophy of phenomenology comes vividly to mind. Coleridge was right. There are indeed signs in the Latin versions of what seems to be a kind of Platonism: a reverse Platonism.

What was Bacon's reverse Platonism? What did he mean by calling his logic machine a Platonism of things rather than words? What had Plato done that Bacon wanted to do the opposite or the upside down of? Again, what had Plato invented which if reversed could be used by a Francis Bacon to invent scientific empiricism? Figuring out how Plato had invented political philosophy though daunting would help explain Bacon's science(Wheeler, 1963). The classicists who have studied Plato as an inventor are almost countless. Academe is full of Foucaultian archaeologists of Platonism: Gilbert Murray (G. Murray, 1957) and the "Cambridge Ritualists”, (G.S. Kirk, 1982) Ernst Cassirer's "symbolic transformation”, (E. Cassirir, 1975), Sir James Fraser (J. Fraser, 1959), Edward Sapir, (E. Sapir, 1949) Marcei Eliade. (M. Eliade, 1955) and Weston LaBarre (W. LaBarre, 1972). They show how Plato invented philosophy:(Wheeler, 1963) how Plato converted the attributes of the traditional deities into abstractions; purged them dialectically of their contradictions and inconsistencies; and then combined them into dialogues on political wisdom. Charles S. Peirce describes it as a projectivist model of invention (C.S. Peirce, 1966) that combines the analytical structure of the Platonic dialogue with metaphor making. One figuratively "throws" a known thing onto an unknown thing and identifies the first as the metaphor of the second. Then the properties of the unknown thing are explained by the properties of the metaphor.

Plato's dialectics was about the fundamental Logos-words and concepts behind every day appearances. An approach like that would obviously be congenial to someone trying to deal more fundamentally with the law behind the appearances of it in the rulings about the unwritten English common law. The process was summarized in The Advancement of Learning as requiring the performance of four information processing operations. They were named: *Invention*, *Judgment*, *Storage* and *Transmission*;(Works, Vol XI, Advancement of Learning, pp 300ff). They are uncanny anticipations of the protocols of the computer’s information processes: Encode, Store, Recall, Display, Process and Communicate(Wheeler,1990).


Today's English speaking academics use the term science in a highly specific way and restrict its meaning to essentially the mathematical and experimental sciences. Not all "sciences" can pass this muster. For ages prior to the "modern synthesis" the term “naturalist” emphasized the equivocal status of biology, conjuring up an image of the weekend amateur gentleman bird watcher. James Hutton based geological theory on the Baconian principle of a an underlying uniformitarianism. Taxonomy has been Baconian from its birth and Cladistics, its most productive offspring, has strong Baconian foundations, including versions of his "adminicle support" theory and of Goethe’s formenslehre. (Wheeler 1987) New Atlantis describes the inauguration of both science, and science as a profession. Science is the institutionalized revolution in knowledge of the Modern Age. In today's terms Bacon's inventions were like the invention of Systems Theory. Coleridge was right in calling Bacon "the British Plato [who] describes the Laws of the material universe as the Ideas in nature”. (Brinkley, 1955) He was right and he merely paraphrased Bacon's own statement that his new method was a Platonism of things rather than ideas. Indeed, the structure of Plato's process of invention was in fact very similar to Bacon's, (Wheeler, 1982), as was that of St. Augustine (Wheeler, 1997). Bacon's revolution in thought consisted of powering Plato's dialectic with his own new law-finding logic engine, resulting in scientific empiricism.(Wheeler,1983; 1983-b)

Why has this been missed? The main explanation derives from a defect of the otherwise superb Spedding edition of the Works. It was such an impressive achievement that historians and philosophers ever since have taken it as gospel. While this may be justified in the non-scientific writings, its translations of the scientific writings have conveyed a crippled understanding of Bacon’s contributions to the philosophical foundations of scientific empiricism. Robert Ellis, the editor and translator of Bacon's scientific writings, distorted and excised crucial passages in several of the scientific and philosophical works. He found "Baconian Form" difficult to understand and thought the result did not repay the effort. He abridged and shortened many of the Latin phrases and passages that he deemed obscure and unscientific, especially those dealing with the concept of schematismus. As a result, generations of scholars and philosophers who used the Ellis English translations were seriously misled about the new logic engine explained in the Latin originals. Ellis removed completely from the English translations Bacon's application of Plato's schematismos in the development of his own quite un-Platonic concept of "Form”. Ellis even denied the relevance of Form to an exposition of Bacon's logic of inquiry. Actually, the situation is even worse than this. Due to his final illness Ellis was not able to complete translating the philosophical and scientific works and was not even able to finish editing the translations he had already done. Ellis tended to play fast and loose with the Latin originals of Bacon’s arcane terms. Spedding, the chief editor, was a much sounder scholar and states he would have argued with Ellis about his translations if a discussion of them had been possible. A fascinating running debate is conducted by Spedding with Ellis post mortem in the prefaces, addenda and footnotes to the Latin originals.(Works, I, 133; 177, et. seq.) They make an important dialogue on Bacon’s science. Morris R. Cohen and Karl Popper philosophers of science in the positivist (classical mechanics) tradition were Bacon's most egregious detractors; Immanuel Kant his most appreciative follower. A retranslation of the passages containing Bacon’s schematismus arguments shows that it was used in much the same sense Immanuel Kant did a century and a half later. (Wheeler, 1983)


What Plato called schematismos is called Form in English, and in back of what is called Form in Bacon’s English texts lies schematismus in the Latin originals. Schematismus is also the key term in the phenomenology Kant used in Critique of Pure Reason to perform the "revolution in thought" that accommodated Hume’s criticism of Locke’s empiricism. Consult Kant’s Second Edition. Its Preface memorializes Baco de Verulamio and quotes in Latin the entreaty in Bacon’s Preface to the Great Instauration: science is not a dogma to be embraced but a calling to be pursued. Further along, Bacon’s role in the intellectual revolution of modern science is acknowledged.(I. Kant [N.K. Smith] 1933; especially Kant’s “Preface”.) It is too bad Ellis did not try to understand Bacon’s protest against the ignorance of intellectuals, and also Bacon’s decision not to make his theories easy to understand: “I cannot be fairly asked to abide by the decisions of a tribunal which is itself on trial”. Bacon was talking about people just like Ellis, his translator!

One cannot prove beyond any doubt that Bacon’s proto-phemenological schematismus led Kant to his own phenomenological schematismus but the thematic development of the first part of Critique of Pure Reason is like that in
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