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Bacon Philosopher

  • Date Submitted: 06/04/2013 02:00 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 48.8 
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Bacon as a philosopher
The great man whose memory we are honouring today was so universal a genius, his speculative and practical activities were so various, that we must be content either with a superficial glance at his achievements as a whole or with the contemplation, at the risk of one-sidedness, of a single aspect of his work. Faced with these unsatisfactory alternatives I choose the second. Others, better fitted than I, must appraise Bacon's merits as lawyer, statesman, and stylist; I shall consider only his claims to be the Father of Inductive Philosophy. It is fitting that Bacon should be viewed in that light in this country and this University. Inductive Logic is almost wholly the work of Englishmen, and in the short list of great Englishmen who have contributed to this branch of philosophy Cambridge is proud to number Bacon, Whewell, and Venn in the past, and Mr Johnson and Mr Keynes in the present. Even the restricted subject which I have chosen is of vast extent, so without further preface I will enter on it.

    Bacon's grounds for dissatisfaction with the past and present state of human knowledge and his hopes for the future were stated in many forms; but they reduce in essence to the following. Our present Natural Philosophy amounts to very little. It consists of portions of Greek philosophy tricked out in various ways, so that the apparent plenty is like a number of dishes made of the same meat disguised with different sauces. Nor does it include the whole even of Greek philosophy; for Aristotle, like the Turk, would brook no rivals near his throne, and the Barbarian invasions extinguished what he and his followers had failed to suppress. The current philosophy, derived from Aristotle, is difficult to criticism partly because its technical terms and fundamental concepts have passed into theology, law, and common discourse; and partly because its premises and modes of reasoning are questionable, so that there is no common basis for argument....


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