Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Roger Bacon

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_449
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Abstract

Roger Bacon was born in Ilchester in either 1214 or 1220. After his matriculation at Oxford, he was one of the pioneers to teach Aristotle at the University of Paris. His return to Oxford in the late 1240s marked a turning point in his career. He joined the Franciscans in 1257, and in 1267/1268, he sent three works, comprising a plan for a thorough reorganization of Christian studies, to the Pope. He was condemned and imprisoned about 1277, to be set free only a year before his death, in 1293. In his Parisian phase of career, he developed the idea of the utmost significance of the speaker’s intention, and original theories of imposition and equivocation. He affirmed that universals are extramental, believed in innate confused knowledge and held to the theory of universal hylomorphism. Instead of the Aristotelian linear scale of colors, he posited five principal colors, from which the other colors are produced by mixtures. In his mature phase of thought, he proposed an order of sciences in which the practical sciences received precedence, advocated the use of experimental method, developed the theory of the multiplication of species, and combined it with Alhacen’s ideas on light and vision. He stressed the importance of mathematics in providing scientific explanations and drew geometrical diagrams exemplifying the rules of reflection, refraction, and other related phenomena. His view of matter as positive and worthy of investigation found expression in his strong notion of representation, arguing for the need to portray not only formal aspects but material ones as well in both cognitive contents and language. Bacon described the details of the workings of the sensitive soul and ascribed complex cognitive capacities to animals. He presented an original classification of signs and reversed the linguistic triangle prescribed by Aristotle and Boethius.

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Bibliography

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of HaifaMount CarmelIsrael