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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, Issue 1, 2020

Igor S. Dmitriev
Pages 181-201

The Gay Science of Francis Bacon

The article is the study of some aspects of the methodology of scientific knowledge that F. Bacon addressed in his treatise “New Organon” (1620) and in other works in one way or another related to his work on the project of the Instauratio Magna Scientiarum. The article focuses on the following three questions: Bacon’s attitude to Aristotle’s legacy, the context of Bacon’s doctrine of idols and the reasons for the English philosopher to choose a fragmented (aphoristic) form of presentation of his ideas in the “New Organon” and in some other works. Based on an analysis of Bacon’s works related to the above project, it was shown that his statements about Aristotle and his philosophy were differentiated depending on whether the corresponding text was intended for printing or served as a working draft. In the latter case, the estimates of Aristotle by Bacon were more stringent. Baconian criticism of Aristotelianism was formed in the context of the development by the English philosopher of the doctrine of the idols of knowledge. The article shows that developing this doctrine, Bacon proceeded from the idea of mass insanity of the human race (insania publica), which has ancient roots and was shared by a number of contemporaries of F. Bacon. At the same time, the latter considered Aristotle as the creator of “a kind of art of insanity (artemque quondam insaniae componere)”. As a cure for “insania universalis”, Bacon proposed a new method (the “new organon”) of cognition, and the presentation of his ideas in the form of separate, but conceptually related aphorisms, as a way of activating the reader’s thought process.

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