The New Organon

Original contributions

An interesting characteristic of Bacon's apparently scientific tract was that, although he amassed an overwhelming body of empirical data, he did not make any original discoveries. Indeed, that was never his intention, and such an evaluation of Bacon's legacy may wrongfully lead to an unjust comparison with Newton. Bacon never claimed to have brilliantly revealed new unshakable truths about nature—in fact, he believed that such an endeavour is not the work of single minds but that of whole generations by gradual degrees toward reliable knowledge.[1]

In many ways, Bacon's contribution to the advancement of human knowledge lies not in the fruit of his scientific research but in the reinterpretation of the methods of natural philosophy. His innovation is summarised in The Oxford Francis Bacon:

Before Bacon where else does one find a meticulously articulated view of natural philosophy as an enterprise of instruments and experiment, and enterprise designed to restrain discursive reason and make good the defects of the senses? Where else in the literature before Bacon does one come across a stripped-down natural-historical programme of such enormous scope and scrupulous precision, and designed to serve as the basis for a complete reconstruction of human knowledge which would generate new, vastly productive sciences through a form of eliminative induction supported by various other procedures including deduction? Where else does one find a concept of scientific research which implies an institutional framework of such proportions that it required generations of permanent state funding to sustain it? And all this accompanied by a thorough, searching, and devastating attack on ancient and not-so-ancient philosophies, and by a provisional natural philosophy anticipating the results of the new philosophy?”[1]

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