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The Idols of the Cave consist of conceptions or doctrines which are dear to the individual who cherishes them, without possessing any evidence of their truth. These idols are due to the preconditioned system of every individual, comprising education, custom, or accidental or contingent experiences. These idols are based on false conceptions which are derived from public human communication. They enter our minds quietly by a combination of words and names, so that it comes to pass that not only does reason govern words, but words react on our understanding. According to the insight that the world is a stage, the Idols of the Theatre are prejudices stemming from received or traditional philosophical systems.

These systems resemble plays in so far as they render fictional worlds, which were never exposed to an experimental check or to a test by experience. The idols of the theatre thus have their origin in dogmatic philosophy or in wrong laws of demonstration. He discusses the idols together with the problem of information gained through the senses, which must be corrected by the use of experiments Bacon IV [], Within the history of occidental philosophy and science, Bacon identifies only three revolutions or periods of learning: the heyday of the Greeks and that of the Romans and Western Europe in his own time Bacon IV [], 70ff.

This meager result stimulated his ambition to establish a new system of the sciences. This tendency can already be seen in his early manuscripts, but is also apparent in his first major book, The Advancement of Learning. In this work Bacon presents a systematic survey of the extant realms of knowledge, combined with meticulous descriptions of deficiencies, leading to his new classification of knowledge. In both texts this function is attributed to philosophia naturalis , the basis for his concept of the unity of the sciences and thus of materialism.

Natural science is divided by Bacon into physics and metaphysics.


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The former investigates variable and particular causes, the latter reflects on general and constant ones, for which the term form is used. Forms are more general than the four Aristotelian causes and that is why Bacon's discussion of the forms of substances as the most general properties of matter is the last step for the human mind when investigating nature.

Metaphysics is distinct from philosophia prima. The latter marks the position in the system where general categories of a general theory of science are treated as 1 universal categories of thought, 2 relevant for all disciplines. Final causes are discredited, since they lead to difficulties in science and tempt us to amalgamate theological and teleological points of doctrine. At the summit of Bacon's pyramid of knowledge are the laws of nature the most general principles. At its base the pyramid starts with observations, moves on to invariant relations and then to more inclusive correlations until it reaches the stage of forms.

The process of generalization ascends from natural history via physics towards metaphysics, whereas accidental correlations and relations are eliminated by the method of exclusion. It must be emphasized that metaphysics has a special meaning for Bacon.

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This concept 1 excludes the infinity of individual experience by generalization with a teleological focus and 2 opens our mind to generate more possibilities for the efficient application of general laws. Bacon's conception of structures in nature, functioning according to its own working method, concentrates on the question of how natural order is produced, namely by the interplay of matter and motion. In De Principiis atque Originibus , his materialistic stance with regard to his conception of natural law becomes evident.

The Summary Law of Nature is a virtus matter-cum-motion or power in accordance with matter theory, or. Bacon V [], Bacon VI [], The natural philosopher is urged to inquire into the. Bacon III [], 17—22; V [], —6 and ff. IV [], Bacon's theory of active or even vivid force in matter accounts for what he calls Cupid in De Principiis atque Originibus Bacon V [], —5. Since his theory of matter aims at an explanation of the reality which is the substratum of appearances, he digs deeper than did the mechanistic physics of the 17 th century Gaukroger , —7.

Bacon's ideas concerning the quid facti of reality presuppose the distinction. Gaukroger , This is the point in his work where it becomes obvious that he tries to develop an explanatory pattern in which his theory of matter, and thus his atomism, are related to his cosmology, magic, and alchemy. I … understand [magic] as the science which applies the knowledge of hidden forms to the production of wonderful operations; and by uniting as they say actives with passives, displays the wonderful works of nature. The fundamental research of Graham Rees has shown that Bacon's special mode of cosmology is deeply influenced by magic and semi-Paracelsian doctrine.

For Bacon, matter theory is the basic doctrine, not classical mechanics as it is with Galileo. Consequently, Bacon's purified and modified versions of chemistry, alchemy, and physiology remain primary disciplines for his explanation of the world. For 2 Bacon conjoins his specific version of Paracelsian cosmic chemistry to Islamic celestial kinematics especially in Alpetragius [al-Bitruji]; see Zinner , The chemical world system is used to support Bacon's explanation of celestial motion in the face of contemporary astronomical problems Rees b, f.

There are thus two sections in Bacon's Instauratio , which imply the modes of their own explanation. Bacon's speculative cosmology and matter theory had been planned to constitute Part 5 of Instauratio Magna. The theory put forward refers in an eclectic vein to atomism, criticizes Aristotelians and Copernicans, but also touches on Galileo, Paracelsus, William Gilbert, Telesio, and Arabic astronomy.

Whereas magia was connected to crafts in the 16 th and 17 th centuries, Bacon's science remains the knowledge of forms in order to transform them into operations. Knowledge in this context, however, is no longer exclusively based on formal proof. Bacon's cosmological system—a result of thought experiments and speculation, but not proven in accordance with the inductive method—presupposes a finite universe, a geocentric plenum, which means that the earth is passive and consists of tangible matter.

The remaining universe is composed of active or pneumatic matter.

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Ether is explained as the medium in which planets move around the central earth. Air and ether, as well as watery non-inflammable bodies, belong to Bacon's first group of substances or to the Mercury Quaternion. Terrestrial fire is presented as the weak variant of sidereal fire; it joins with oily substances and sulphur, for all of which Bacon introduces the Sulphur Quaternion. These quaternions comprise antithetical qualities: air and ether versus fire and sidereal fire. The struggle between these qualities is determined by the distance from the earth as the absolute center of the world system.

Air and ether become progressively weaker as the terrestrial and sidereal fire grow stronger. The quaternion theory functions in Bacon's thought as a constructive element for constituting his own theory of planetary movement and a general theory of physics. The diurnal motion of the world system 9 th sphere is driven by sympathy; it carries the heavens westward around the earth.

The sidereal fire is powerful and, accordingly, sidereal motion is swift the stars complete their revolution in 24 hours. Since the sidereal fire becomes weaker if it burns nearer to the earth, the lower planets move more slowly and unevenly than the higher ones in this way Bacon, like Alpetragius, accounts for irregular planetary movement without reference to Ptolemy's epicycle theory.

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He applies his theory of consensual motion to physics generally e. With quaternion theory we see that, in the final analysis, Bacon was not a mechanist philosopher. Bacon distinguishes between non-spiritual matter and spiritual matter. These spirits are never at rest. This points towards his inductive procedure and his method of tables, which is a complicated mode of induction by exclusion. It is necessary because nature hides her secrets.

There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth.

The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immoveable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all.

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This is the true way, but as yet untried. Bacon IV [], Through these forms the natural philosopher understands the general causes of phenomena Kargon , His language turned from that of Greek physics to the usage of contemporary chemists. Only method leads to the knowledge of nature: in Sylva Sylvarum , Century I.

These spirits have two different desires: self-multiplication and attraction of like spirits. According to Kargon , 51 :. Bacon's later theory of matter is one of the interaction of gross, visible parts of matter and invisible material spirits, both of which are physically mixed. Spirits interact with matter by means of concoction, colliquation and other non-mechanical chemical processes, so that Bacon's scientific paradigm differs from Descartes' mechanist theory of matter in his Principia Philosophiae , which presupposes res extensa moving in space.

Bacon's theory of matter is thus closely related to his speculative philosophy:. The distinction between tangible and pneumatic matter is the hinge on which the entire speculative system turns. Rees , ; Paracelsus had already stated that knowledge inheres in the object: see Shell , Bacon's theory of matter in its final version was more corpuscular than atomist Clericuzio , Bacon's particles are semina rerum : they are endowed with powers, which make a variety of motions possible and allow the production of all possible forms.

These spirits are constitutive for Bacon's theory of matter. As material, fine substances, composed of particles, combined from air and fire, they can, as we have seen, be either inanimate or animate.

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Bacon thus suggests a corpuscular and chemical chain of being:. Organs responsible for these functions, for digestion, assimilation, etc. These functions flow from the spirit's airy-flamy constitution. The spirit has the softness of air to receive impressions and the vigour of fire to propagate its actions.


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  4. Bacon's speculative system is a hybrid based on different sources which provided him with seminal ideas: e. In his theory he combines astronomy, referring to Alpetragius see Dijksterhuis , —43; Rees and Upton , 26; Gaukroger, , —5; and see Grant , —66, for discussion of the cosmology of Alpetragius , and chemistry Rees a, 84—5 :.

    Rees b, Bacon had no explanation for the planetary retrogressions and saw the universe as a finite and geocentric plenum, in which the earth consists of the two forms of matter tangible and pneumatic. The earth has a tangible inside and is in touch with the surrounding universe, but through an intermediate zone. This zone exists between the earth's crust and the pure pneumatic heavens; it reaches some miles into the crust and some miles into air. Terrestrial fire is a weakened form of sidereal fire.

    Air and ether loose power when terrestrial and sidereal fires grow more energetic—Bacon's sulphur and mercury are not principles in the sense of Paracelsus, but simply natural substances. The Paracelsian principle of salt is excluded by Bacon and the substance, which plays a role only in the sublunary realm, is for him a compound of natural sulphur and mercury Rees and Upton , Bacon used his quaternion theory for his cosmology, which differs greatly from other contemporary systems Rees , 68 :.