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British professor takes up cause of Francis Bacon, scientific revolutionary

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Steve Fuller, a professor of social epistemology at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, UK, takes up this question with regard to English scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a prominent intellectual of his time, whose work spanned politics, philosophy, and science. Fuller's essay appears in a special 2021 issue of Epistemology & Philosophy of Science devoted to Bacon (Vol. 58, Issue 3, 2021). 

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Steve Fuller, "The Prophetic Bacon:

Response to Garber," Epistemology & Philosophy of Science,

Volume 58, Issue 3, 2021.


DOI https://doi.org/10.5840/eps202158345


"A mark of Bacon's long-term influence is that his conception of knowledge makes more sense now than it did to his contemporaries," he said. "Most of Bacon's contemporaries regarded knowledge as a state of mind, namely, one aligned with reality, which typically bore some clear relationship to God as the creator. A secular version of this idea is still taken for granted by philosophers." 

"In contrast, Bacon believed that knowledge was basically something produced--say, in a laboratory as the result of an experiment," he added. "In this conception, the scientist does not possess knowledge as a state of his or her own mind, but as something external to the scientist's mind. Words like 'finding', 'discovery,' and 'invention' capture this rather objectified conception of knowledge."

"Moreover, unlike the authority granted to ancient and holy books, which are also arguably 'objectified knowledge,' Bacon stressed that one should be able to produce the knowledge for oneself," Fuller said. "Hence the great stress he placed on the idea of a 'scientific method.'"

Fuller concludes with his argument for Bacon as a prophet. "

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