The Rebirth of Time: Sir. Francis Bacon and the Origins of Modernity
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Modernity properly speaking begins with Sir. Francis Bacon. Alternate accounts of modernity as beginning either with secularism or with Machiavelli (Strauss), while having partial validity are less compelling than the account of the genesis of modernity in the birth of the technological mind. Secularism is an effect not a cause of technologism by giving credibility to the idea of human self-sufficiency, while political realism was already a recognized factor in ancient Greece. The centrality of technology to modernity has been recognized as its salient feature by more recent thinkers from Marx to Heidegger. But it was Bacon who inaugurated modernity by his frontal assault on the authority of Aristotle and his conception of rationality. Though drawing on Aristotle for his inductive methodology, he critiques three fundamental assumptions of Aristotelianism. These are first the anti-utilitarian conception of Aristotle which sees wisdom as having inherent nobility quite apart from any practical considerations and consequences. Secondly, is Aristotle’s hierarchy of the sciences which privilege the theoretic sciences over the practical ones, which formed the basis for the historical privileging of the liberal arts over the mechanical arts (technology.) Third, is Aristotle’s characterization of the theoretic life which contemplates truth for its own sake as the highest. All these inter-related claims of Aristotelianism will become increasingly suspect under the impact of Baconianism which provides the foundation stone for much of the later modern outlook.
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