Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 58, Issue 2, 2021

Igor S. Dmitriev
Pages 170-194

From “Nomos” to “Physis” and Back
(The Concept of “Law of Nature” in the Philosophy of F. Bacon)

The article focuses on the following three issues: the characteristic features of understanding and using the term “law of nature” before F. Bacon, the novelty of F. Bacon’s approach to the interpretation of this concept, theological and legal origins of the concept. It is shown that in works related to the Middle Ages the term “law of nature” had either a purely descriptive (descriptive-stating) or mixed prescriptive-descriptive character. It is shown that in the works of medieval authors the term “law of nature” had either a purely descriptive or mixed prescriptive-descriptive character. The novelty of the approach to understanding the law of nature in the works of F. Bacon lies primarily in the fact that in his interpretation the contours of the understanding of the “law of nature” as an expression of the causal relationship between facts and phenomena are clearly visible. Moreover, Bacon points to the “Latentis Processus et Latentis Schematismi” of bodies as the deepest causes of natural phenomena, that is, he refers to the micro-level of organization of matter. The article also examines the theological (in the context of the notion “God acts in the world only through secondary causes” and the Protestant doctrine of “cessation of miracles”) and legal (in the context of norms and practices of “common law”) sources of the Baconian understanding of the concept of “law of nature”.