‘Borders,’ ‘Leaps’ and ‘Orbs of Virtue:’ A Contextual Reconstruction of Francis Bacon’s Extension-Related Concepts

  • Dana JalobeanuEmail author
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 41)


Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy contains a whole series of interconnected concepts related to extension, such as “borders,” “leaps” and “orbs of virtue.” These Baconian concepts are still not fully understood and are in need of a detailed analysis. They do not derive from a general conception of physical or mathematical space, and are not explainable in terms of parts of matter and aggregates. Instead, they are somewhat mysteriously defined in terms of limits and boundaries of action. This article offers a contextual investigation of Bacon’s extension relating concepts. I show that in adopting a particular strategy of deriving spatial properties and extension related concepts from a theory of action and force, Bacon follows in the footsteps of Gilbert’s magnetic philosophy. However, in contrast to the more traditional approaches of William Gilbert, Giovan Battista della Porta and Johannes Kepler, Bacon strips his extension-related concepts from most natural philosophical content and argues for a methodologically driven approach, leading to operational definitions.


Operational Definition Simple Motion Planetary Motion Magnetic Body Magnetic Attraction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Research for this paper has been financed from the ERC Starting Grant Medicine of the Mind in Early Modern Europe: A New Interpretation of Francis Bacon and from the research grant PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0719, From natural history to science. I would like to thank Koen Vermeir and Jonathan Regier, as well as the anonymous referees, for their helpful and useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Research in the Humanities–ICUBUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania

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