John Henry gives a dramatic account of the background to Bacon's innovations and the sometimes unconventional sources for his ideas....
|Title||:||Knowledge is Power: How Magic, the Government and an Apocalyptic Vision Inspired Francis Bacon to Create Modern Science|
|Number of Pages||:||176 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Knowledge is Power: How Magic, the Government and an Apocalyptic Vision Inspired Francis Bacon to Create Modern Science Reviews
I've finished The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind not long ago, where Grayling discusses the sometimes vexed question of the relationship between religion and the emergence of modern science, with particular attention given to heterodox religion, which he calls 'occultism'. Grayling's book is good-much more general than this one-but he is sometimes predictably skeptical when it comes to religion and dogmatic when it comes to science: I was after a divergent opinion, and that's very much what this book provides. Henry teaches history of science in Edinburgh, and argues, contra Grayling, that science and 'the occult' were inextricably related - in fact, that modern scientific experimentalism arises from natural magic. I put 'the occult' in scare-quotes because that's Grayling's term, too encompassing and vague to really do justice to this field and period, one which Henry duly avoids. The book is very short and intended for a popular audience, meaning we do not get into the details of Bacon's life, no in those of the period he lived in. Instead the focus is on a few sources which Henry take to be central in the formation of Bacon's thought, and which run somewhat against the grain of traditional (pre-60s, really) history of the scientific revolution as secularisation. None of those sources (personal devotion, milleniarism, utopianism, etc.) is really explored in any depth, although the author does offer us some choice extracts from the works of Bacon to illustrate them. The one source that gets more attention is 'natural magic', which Henry describes at some length, insisting that magic was, at least by the Renaissance, never concerned with the supernatural, but rather with achieving material ends by the combination of natural elements - on other words, magic was pre-modern instrumental science. It was a science however rooted in a specific worldview, the great chain of being, and assuming 'correspondances' between different realms, and 'signatures' within things material. This would be where Bacon got both his insistence on material improvement as the ultimate purpose of science, and examples of the experimental method which he proceeded to formalize. This is a credible account, although for example, Henry's claims as to Bacon's millenarian beliefs are largely undocumented. His description of late Renaissance magic is credibly supported by quotation, but I found, maybe because of the format, that he was overly keen on 'secularising' magic, much like, say, Grayling was keen to secularise science. At this point what I would like to find is an accessible book that focus on the religious views at play during the scientific revolution.
This is a wonderful introduction to Francis Bacon. It is also a wonderful introduction to how to approach the history of science historically. Consider the question of Bacon's inductive method, which is usually criticized as simplistic. Henry does not deny those judgments, but asks how Bacon's argument that scientists should gather data without theoretical preconceptions was so popular in the seventeenth century. Henry asks these kinds of questions throughout this book. His writing is lively and this was a very easy book to read.
This book intrigued and fascinated me. The British author provides an excellent and accessible summary of the great contributions to science and philosophy that Bacon over the course of his life. His desire to pursue all possible knowledge about the physical world by employing a vast bureaucracy of civil servants was,of course, both overly ambitious and some what misguided. Never-the-less, I can conceive of another soul who did more to advance the development of natural philosophy (later, simply, the sciences).
a slim volume about the 16th century philosopher frances bacon, often thought of as the inventor of modern science. i was interested in the role of magic, religion, and especially alchemy in the development of modern science
A great little book. Gives a neat overview of Bacon's life and thought, and is not afraid to make a clear, positive link with the 'irrational' - namely, Bacon's indebtedness to contemporary views on 'natural magic' and millenarianism.
underwhelming but tbh I don't like early modern history so I'm biased toward indifference anyway with this subject