Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Bacon, Francis

Born: 22 January 1561 Strand, London, UK
Died: 9 April 1626 Highgate, UK
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_1-1


The general aim of Francis Bacon’s philosophy was the reformation of human knowledge, with the intent to put it into practice and use it for the benefit of humankind. He criticized Aristotelian-Scholastic philosophy on the grounds that its method was unable to bring about progress. Bacon’s method of induction was the antidote to the idleness of previous philosophies, and it had a twofold function. First, it was supposed to eradicate the errors and idols from human mind, so that this could become like a polished mirror in which the nature could reflect itself, leading to the cultivation of virtues and elimination of vices. Second, it was supposed to discover the inner structure of matter and its activity. This was done by gradual abstraction and, most important, with the help of experiments. Bacon’s emphasis on experience and the use of experiments as the right tools to be employed in the study of nature was an idea that influenced future generations of philosophers, and it is considered a building stone in the establishment of the societies of knowledge founded in the second half of the seventeenth century. Bacon contended that his method of induction should be employed beyond the study of nature into other disciplines, such as ethics. This enterprise, he believed, would bring about not only knowledge, but also welfare and happiness.

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Primary Literature

  1. Bacon, Francis. 1859–1874. The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England (14 vols.). Collected and edited by James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath (London: Longman & Co. Facsimile reprint:1961–1963). Stuttgart-Bad Cannsttat: Friedrich Frommann Verlag-Günther Holzboog.Google Scholar
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Secondary Literature

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly