Template of The Modern in English Science and Culture

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Novum Organum; not an identity but a similarity of terms and paradigms, and it develops according to an analogous analytical progression. In short, Kant appears to have used leads from Bacon to correct Descartes and Locke and to resolve Hume's paradox. Bacon’s “idola” for decontaminating sense data is like Kant’s idea of “critique”. Bacon’s schematismus as a phenomenology of things rather than words, was the nascent phenomenology of science at the heart of the revolutionary Novum Organum,(see generally Wheeler, 1983). In the Advancement Bacon explicitly called this a revolution in thought and, as mentioned earlier was called the third in history after Greek philosophy and Roman Law; a fact missed by even so fine a scholar as I. Bernard Cohen in his history of revolutions in thought.(I.B. Cohen, 1985) Kant’s own "revolution in thought”. turned on the use of schematismus to convert Locke’s sense data empiricism into scientific phenomenology. With the appearance of post-modern paradigms like John A. Wheeler's "participant-observer" universe it was possible to see that today’s neoKantian’s talk science almost the same way as did Francis Bacon. (Wheeler, 1975) So did Einstein's associate, David Bohm, (D. Bohm, 1981) and so also did Einstein himself, according to Yehuda Elkana (Y. Elkana, 1979; Patrick A. Heelan, 1983) Kant said he was a Baconian and he was right.


Here a caution is in order. Novum Organum was written in 1620. It explains the “logic engine” that Hooke, probably Bacon’s best interpreter, found so impressive. Prior science research, especially that done before 1603, was highly conventional. Most later criticism of Bacon’s science is based upon his early writings about that work. De Interpretatione Nature Proemium,(Works, Vol VI, 431ff) for example, was written before 1603, as were many of his speculations about motion, gravity, heat, etc. The earlier explorations cannot be used to evaluate the “philosophical algebra” (Hooke’s term) of the later organon.

Newton said he was a Baconian. Was this merely a reverential nod toward the founding spirit of the Royal Academy? Or was there a deeper affinity? Not according to the conventional view of the sharp contrast between Bacon’s philosophy and Newton’s mechanics. Recent publications dull that contrast. (I..B. Cohen & R. Westfall, 1995; B.J.T. Dobbs, 1991). The fuller view of his newly found manuscripts, especially those on alchemy and religion, make it clear that he adapted Bacon’s phenomenological law-finding to mechanical cause-finding. Maynard Keynes, who had an accurate understanding of Bacon’s logic, wrote of Newton that he “...was not the first of the Age of Reason. He was the last of the magicians”. Keynes bought many Newton alchemy manuscripts at a 1936 auction and they support his quip. But Newton, like Bacon, was actually more Baroque than Gothic. Bear two factors in mind while reading the following:

First, it applies the structure of Bacon’s logic of inquiry to mechanics. Consider Bacon’s recursive search for a law that is incrementally approached but never concretely grasped. Newton’s is not a word-based mathematics. His “fluxion” is an adminical approach to a Verulamian phenomenon - “gravity.”(Spedding, Works, Vol IV) Second, notice the metaphysical extension Newton gives to “Cause” at the end. The passage that follows is from the “Method of Analysis” in “Quest. 31" of the 4th edition of the Optiks:

The Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses [rhetoric; ] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomana proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.... And if natural Philosophy in all its Parts, by pursuing this Method, shall at length be perfected, the Bounds of Moral Philosophy will also be enlarged. For so far as we can know by natural Philosophy what is the first Cause, what Power he has over us, and what Benefits we receive from him, so far our Duty towards him, as well as that towards one another, will appear to us by the Light of Nature..

This is one of the best explanations ever written of Bacon’s Adminicle support process; “inductive support”, and concludes with the structural probability theory that 20th century philosophy of science has expressed as neohermeneutics.(Heelan, 1983)

Newton queried nature the way one investigates a case for which there is no direct evidence. Where there is only circumstantial evidence one investigates to exclude. This is the way today’s disverifiability theory of science works and it is also the way Newton’s Method of Analysis worked. In May 1666 he wrote: "I had entrance into the inverse method of fluxions”. The inverse method was the exclusionary method of "analysis by experiment”. The best illustration is in his discovery that if one used a prism to isolate a beam of light and showed it through a second prism it did not split up but retained what he called its "homogeneal" character. Using prisms in an adminicle support process explains not only how he came to his correct conclusions but also how he came to the incorrect ones. The conclusion that it is impossible to make a lens completely free from chromatic aberrations later proved to be in error.

Now take a look again at the conclusion of the Optiks quotation above. Having taken all nature as his province, Newton assumed naturally that the approach that worked for nature would also unravel the secrets of the metaphysical world, and even those of God’s own mind. That effort occupied him throughout his entire career, most intensively toward its end. Newton said he was a Baconian and he was right.

A final comment on contemporary mis-readings of Bacon’s New Atlantis. A long line of erroneous interpretations of the New Atlantis contribute to persisting misunderstandings about Bacon's science. The error dates from Benjamin Farrington's impressive and well meaning Francis Bacon: Philosopher of Industrial Science (B. Farrington, 1949) . Farrington applied a generic Marxist historicism as was common in his time. New Atlantis was the prime illustration of his claim that Bacon's work prefigured Victorian British capitalism. Farrington was writing at the height of industrial capitalism and his story is highly plausible. The late twentieth-century scientific revolution; the breaking of the nuclear, genetic and binary codes; still lay ahead. But Bacon was a mercantilist, not a protocapitalist. He ran the executive offices of British mercantilism, the Chancery, like a present-day Japanese Prime Minister. New Atlantis, one of Bacon's last works, summarized his philosophy of science. It illustrated the constitutionalization of science in prescient Baconian Inns of Science under a science chancery called Salomon's House - the book's crowning institution. The king is never mentioned. Parliamentary and court functions are described fairly close to the way the cabinet government of the British "working constitution" actually turned out (Wheeler, 1991). Today, Scandinavian welfare states maintain modernized mercantilist economic systems that are like what Bacon proposed. The most vivid available understanding of New Atlantis, fatally flawed however by the absence of a “Salomon’s House”, is the sciential mercantilism of postmodern Japan.

Salomon's House in New Atlantis, named for the Old Testament law-finder, heads an elaborate science establishment that does well for the mythical Bensalem what finance capitalism does poorly for today’s post-industrial economies. It searches for evidences that "fingerpost" nature's unwritten laws. The science appeals courts evaluate science innovations and constitutionalize them. It runs, on a national scale, something like the way Bell Labs did at its prime. New Atlantis is more relevant today than at any time in the past.


The Baroque was still vibrant in 1603 but that is when, with the publication The Advancement of Learning, the Modern Age was heralded. Its first Latin expansion, The Augmentation of Science, discusses explicitly how to invent new culture making sciences. Most of Bacon’s books were rewritten three or four different ways for final inclusion in the Instauratio Magna. Large as it is, we have only one twentieth of what was planned. "Great Instauration" in English fails to convey the Olympian grandeur of the magistral reconstitution the author intended by the original Latin. The titles of the other chief books inspire Blake like images of a great secular messiah; a bringer of a Promethean gnosis. Hooke and Newton were the best expositors of Bacon’s science. Hooke, the first inventor of celestial mechanics,(Koyre, 1965) called Novum Organum a logic engine. It was: a user's how-to manual for the operation of a system of applied inventionology.

The Resuscitatio was not a mere revival as the English implies; it was more like a clarion call for the full rejuvenation of a senescent giant.

The Redargutio was not merely a refutation of archaic philosophy, rather a chewing up and spitting out.

The Instauratio! Although it is the inspiration for this treatment, I have failed to convey the audacity of the Instauratio. A complete cultural revolution was called for.

The New Atlantis tells how to pull it off.

Invention is the emblem of The Modern: the first human culture to institutionalize invention. That is why the Prometheus chapter in De Sapientia Veterum (Works, Vol XIII, loc cit.) is important; and why today's Bacon scholars who see him only as the Man of the Renaissance miss that chapter entirely. The Prometheus essay was a carefully crafted prescription for the transition from Gothic to Modern.


[References to Bacon’s Works refer to The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, and Lord High Chancellor of England, Collected and edited by James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath, 15 vols, Brown and Taggard, Boston, 1860-64. This is somewhat improved over the earlier British edition. Spedding’s Letters and Life of Francis Bacon must also be consulted.]

Bohannan, Paul, ed. (1967) Law and Warfare; Studies in the Anthropology of Conflict, “The Differing Realms of the Law”, Natural History Press, Garden City, New York.

Bohm, D (1981; 1995) Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge, London, New York,

Brinkley, R. (1955) ed. Coleridge on the Seventeenth Century Duke Univ Press, Durham

Cassirer, E. (1975) Philosophy of Symbolic Form, Yale Univ Press, New Haven

Cohen, I.B. (1985) Revolution in Science, Belknap Press, Harvard

Cohen, I.B. & R.S. Westfall, eds., Newton, WS.W. Norton, N.Y., 1995

Cohen, M. (1953; 1959) Reason and Nature; an Essay on the Meaning of the Scientific Method, 2nd ed. Free Press, Glencoe

Cohen, L. Jonathan (1977)_The Probable and the Provable, Oxford Univ Press, London

Coquillette, D.R. (1992) Francis Bacon, Stanford U. Press, Stanford. This is a superb work, not the least for its essay-like notes at the end.

Dobbs, B.J.T.,(1991) The Janus Faces of Genius; The Role of Alchemy in Newton’s Thought, Camb Univ Press, Cambridge

Eliade, Marcea (1955) The Myth of the Eternal Return, Pantheon Books, New York

Elkana, Y. (1979) “Transformations in Realist Philosophy of Science, etc.”, Van Leer Jerusalem Foundation.

Elsasser, Walter M., (1982) Biological Theory on a Holistic Basis, Johns Hopkins Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Baltimore.

Elsasser, Walter M. (1986) The Natural Philosophy of Holism, Johns Hopkins Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Baltimore.

Farrington, B. (1949) Francis Bacon: Philosopher of Industrial Science, Henry Schuman, New York

Fraser, Sir James (1959) The New Golden Bough, ed T. Gaster, Criterion Books, New York

Hacking, Ian (1983) Representing and Intervening; Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science, Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge. Hacking has remained one of Bacon’s most discerning and perceptive interpreters.

Hale, Sir Matthew (1667; 1971) History of the Common Law of England, Univ of Chicago Press, Chicago

Heelan, Patrick A. (1983) Space-Perception and the Philosophy of Science, , Univ of CA. Press, Berkeley

Hogan, J.C., & Schwartz, M.D.(1983), “On Bacon’s ‘Rules and Maximes’ of the Common Law” Law Library Journal, 76:48-77

Holdsworth, W.S. (1938) A History of English Law 6th edition, Little Brown, Boston

Kant, Immanuel (1929) Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd ed. (N.K. Smith, trans) St. Martins

Kirk, G.S. (1982) The Nature of Greek Myths, Pelican Books, New York

Koyre, Alexandre (1965) Newtonian Studies, “Hooke on Gravitational Attraction,” p 180, ff,

Phoenix Books, Univ of Chicago Press, Chicago. Koyre’s studies of Platonism and science are invaluable. Had he understood Bacon’s reverse Platonism, he would have seen the Baconian foundations of classical mechanics.

La Barre, W. (1972) The Ghost Dance; the Origins of Religion, Delta Books, Dell Publishing Co., New York

Maitland, W.F. (1911) The Collected Papers of Frederick W. Maitland, 3 vols Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge.

Martin, Julien, (1992) Francis Bacon, the State and the Reform of Natural Philosophy, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.

McIlwain, C.H., (1940) Constitutionalism, Ancient and Modern, Cornell Univ ªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªªer, The Structure of Ancient Wisdom; Symposium, Jour Soc & Bio Structs, vol 5, No 3

Wheeler, Harvey, (1983) “Science out of Law”, Toward a Humanistic Science of Politics, D.H.

Nelson & R.L. Sklar, Univ Press of Amer., New York

Wheeler, (1983-a) “Power and Positivism - Baconian Positivism”, Alternatives, A Journal of World Policy, IX No 2

Wheeler, Harvey (1983-b) “The Invention of Modern Empiricism: Juridical Foundations of Francis Bacon’s Philosophy of Science”, Law Library Journal, vol 76 No. 1
Wheeler, Harvey (1987) et. al., editors, Goethe and the Sciences: A Reappraisal, D. Reidel

Wheeler, Harvey (1987-a) The Virtual Society, book on disk, The Martha Boaz Foundation,

University of Southern California. George Boole and John von Neumann symbolize information theory and the distinctive “Archival Functions” of the Information Age.

Wheeler, Harvey (1990), “The Archival Function: Knowledge Processing from the Mandalic to the Omnificent”, ed. Michael Gorman, Convergence, American Library Association, Chicago London

Wheeler, Harvey (1991) “Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis,, etc., ed W.A. Sessions, Francis Bacon’s Legacy of Texts, AMS Press, New York

Wormuth, Francis (1949), The Origins of Modern Constitutionalism, Harper & Brothers, New Yor
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