The Enlightenment as a Baconian Revolution
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The great movement in Western thought known as “The Enlightenment” can be characterized as in essence a Baconian revolution. Bacon’s role in fostering an experimental method produced an association with the new science which culminated in Newton and the prospect of technical advances. Moreover, Bacon’s conviction that the philosophy of the past and in particular reliance on the authority of Aristotle was fruitless, made him a potent symbol of the dawning era. Bacon was for the French Encyclopedists a kind of new Aristotle on whom the new age of science and progress would be based. The enormous effectiveness of the movement was to popularize and extend Baconian conceptions in such a way as to transform Western societies in fundamental ways. Modernity as noted by Hegel and Pope Benedict XVI among others is characterized by the restriction of speculative or metaphysical rationality, and the valorization of scientific or empirical rationality. The Enlightenment’s Baconian revolution which was instrumental in this transition is thus a major turning point in the history of the West.
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