Aristotle, Billium, Copernicus, deductive logic, empirical methodology, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, London, Middle Ages, Pillars of Hercules, science, Straits of Gibraltar, Tycho Brahe, Western Europe, William Gilbert
Francisci de Verulamio, Summi Angliae Cancellarii. Instauratio Magna. Multi Pertransibunt et Augebitur Scientia
Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
London: Billium, 1620
The foundations of modern science were set out by Francis Bacon in this book. Bacon advanced a new method of reasoning. Bacon argued convincingly that deductive logic, taught by Aristotle and practiced in Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages, would not work for science. Bacon wrote that experimentation was necessary to determine truth. He criticized existing methods of scientific interpretation as inadequate and provided a system based upon empirical methodology, accurate observations, and the accumulation of reliable data. The engraved image on the title page was prophetic. In 1620, the course of philosophy, with Bacon as pilot, was substantially altered. Sailing through the Pillars of Hercules (the Straits of Gibraltar), the limits of the Old World, Bacon’s ship sets out into new and uncharted seas, leaving behind a legacy of superstition and credulity. This voyage, as daring and influential as any undertaken by Renaissance explorers, ushered in a new era. Although the discoveries of Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Galileo Galilei, and William Gilbert had done much to destroy the pervasive influence of Aristotle, it was this work that established a new philosophical structure in Western Europe.