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York University
Natural Science
NATS 1760
Vera Pavri

NATS 1760: The Scientific Revolution, Part II I. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) • Trained as lawyer; political advisor to royal elites, like Elizabeth I • Lord Chancellor for James I • Ideas should be under control of those who can assure their credibility • Not natural philosopher but scientific reformer; spent a great deal of his time to change the scientific method • Believes that scientific knowledge extremely powerful; wants to put it to practical use in service of state • Knowledge in service of Christian purposes • Natural philosophy must be productive: “truth and usefulness are (in this kind) the very same things” • For Bacon “truth” is valuable and useful for practical purposes • Rejects idea of knowledge for its own sake; was very critical of Aristotle • He wanted to gain knowledge in technology for the sake of usefulness of the individual and state; to grow a countries economic, social and political power • Experiments of light and experiments of truth • Ideas more recognized after his death II. The Rise of Experimental Science • Very critical of Aristotle’s ideas regarding to technology • Origins of experimental science come from natural magic tradition (manipulation and control over nature) and from engineering tradition • Bacon wants to systematize experimental science • Wanted to change how others studied scientific technology (LOOK AT RECORDING) • Advocates experimental method although not necessarily our modern concept (i.e. highly mathematical) • Sees mathematics as means to knowledge but not end • Has great respect for craft knowledge and criticizes scholars like Aristotle who were contemptuous of that knowledge • Publishes Novum Organum (1620) Reason for why he wanted reforms? Baconian Idea • Believes that all knowledge is imperfect; Aristotelian approach to logic flawed • IDOLS – human beings look at world through pre-conceived ideas and have their own prejudices • He wanted to create the best method that did not contain pre-conceived ideas • Seeks new knowledge and ideas • Rejects idea of preconceived theories or hypothesis Empiricism • Empiricism based on observation, experience and experiment • True knowledge can be obtained via empiricism • Supporter of experimental knowledge; this idea was increasingly rejected by many natural philosophers • Manipulating nature is key to understanding Bacon as a whole • Bacon values disciplines like mathematics, however it was not key to his scientific reforms 1 • He valued the application of the experimental method when studying the world around us • Study small “bits” of nature in a controlled and isolated environment • Take pieces of information, put them together in “Tables of Instances” • Once all facts about a particular topic available through tables, experts then interpret information and make basic generalizations Example of use of Scientific Knowledge: • heat – made tables listing when heat is present, absent, amount of heat in substance; after listing all cases, examines what each table list has in common • In this case, concluded that “heat was a kind of motion, expansive, restrained and acting in strife upon the smaller particles of bodies” • What we know today as INDUCTION (generalities or universals based on specific or individual instances) • Induction: Bottom Up & Deduction: Up Bottom • Induction: Observe things in the world around you, gather facts and come up with the theory • Induction is way true knowledge can be obtained and gathered • Emphasis on science as collaborative and collective enterprise • Truth can be generated by taking the following approach, gather facts, analyze facts and this will allow for you to come up with general theories. Hierarchy of Scientific Knowledge 1. Gathering Facts 2. Analyzing Facts 3. Developing Theories III. Nature at Work a. Experiment – operate within nature; intervene into nature; manipulating nature is key b. Instrument – magnify and compensate our senses; advocating the increase use of tools in experiment c. Obtain factual information – “laws of nature” • If law is true, it must work and be correct; therefore, truth and utility are the same thing • Knowledge is power, laws of nature were important because they served a purpose, enhanced power of individual and state IV. The New Atlantis (1627) • Written by Francis Bacon which displayed what a utopian society would look like, the ideal state • political organization of how knowledge is acquired • mysterious island, capital is Bensalem • Everyone in Bensalem is happy and productive, no poverty or negativity • These perfect societies cam about because of their attempts at scientific reforms • “Salomon’s House” place where general, useful knowledge was gathered • Small elite group of men on island has authority to decide what should be studied and what were acceptable answers; took knowledge and made it productive • All men have specific roles: some gather facts, conduct experiments, examine books, consider experimental outcomes, direct new experiments: these group of elites delegated everybody’s roles, who did what? • Top of hierarchy are the individuals known as the “Interpreters of Nature” • 3 men which take facts and produce new scientific axioms (laws) 2 • others then uses new axioms for practical purposes • scientists akin to religious priests; Salomon’s House to modern research institute V. Bacon’s Attitudes towards Nature and Women Idea of Nature prior to 1600 • Human beings have control over their environment are ideas present in the work of Bacon; this represented a major shift in attitudes of those prior to the sixteenth century • Feminists believe many of his ideas are misogynistic • Prevailing view of nature up until the 1500’s - nature seen as living organism; idea that nature was in essence something to be looked at with respect, admiration • Natural world provided human beings with necessities, food, water and shelter (Mother Nature) • • Central to this idea: nature (earth) is compared to nurturing mother; nature considered to be alive, living organism because humans got most of their essential form natural world • Carolyn Merchant: nature seen as “kindly, beneficent female who provided for needs of mankind in an ordered, planned universe” • at same time, nature also feared because regarded as wild and at times uncontrollable; something that could cause destruction and chaos • Here, nature is something to be respected, revered and awed • Idea that earth is “alive” deters people from disrespecting it Bacons Idea of Nature • Bacon believed that domination of nature would benefit mankind • Believed humans most prized position of nature but had lost it • Anti-feminist attitudes present in his work • Considered fall from Garden of Eden cause of man’s loss of “dominion over creation” • Recovery of knowledge by exploiting nature with mechanical technologies would reverse this • Only way gain God’s respect is by dominating the natural world once again; necessary to achieve salvation, an ultimate religious goal. • Described natural world in feminine terms • Bacon saw science and technology as the tools that human being can use to manipulate, dominate and control the environment • Productive is taking knowledge of environment and using to better serve the purpose of man  Bacon claimed humans must attain salvation by reacquiring a dominance over nature by using their tools, science and technology • Mother nature, womb of life • Nature had to be controlled and this idea has been claimed to be based on gender bias • His idea of raping and torturing of nature is relational to rape and torture of women • Bacon considered Nature has three states: liberty, error (natural disasters), and bondage (nature had to be controlled by human beings) • Nature’s secrets are to be extracted for economic production • Presents idea that nature should be “tortured” through mechanical invention to discover her secrets • Bacons world contained Submissive nature versus active nature • Nature should be “bound into service” and “made a slave” by the mechanical arts • Idea of interrogating nature may have come from courtroom experiences • Links with witch trials • Bacons controversial quotation: 3  Sexual implications of language evident: “neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into these holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole object” • Ideas about gender also evident in Bacon’s New Atlantis • Patriarchal family, role of women invisible • Creation of new species done in Salomon’s House; reproduction now a masculine domain • Feminist who analyzed Bacon’s ideas is Caroline merchant • Women played no role in his Atlantis, a utopian society • Bacon participated in the witch trials, heavenly misogynistic enterprise, women who were considered witches were those who had some sort of power and influence in the world VI. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) • Born to wealthy family and trained as lawyer • Consider him a philosopher but was also mathematician; became court philosopher to (Royal Elites) Queen Christina of Sweden in 1649 • He came from a time of skepticism; everything was doubted and debated • Achievements in algebra and analytical geometry; introduction of “Cartesian” co-ordinates • Prefers deductive method of reasoning as opposed to induction (Bacon) • Also doubts validity of experimentation: our senses cannot be trusted, only valid reasoning; experiencing true knowledge • Reasoning used to obtain true knowledge • Publishes Discourse on Method in 1637 as an alternative to Aristotle’s epistemological system • Foundation for reasoning lies in skepticism: everything must be doubted • Descartes will take on the deduction method; general theories which are used and universal truths that you come up with and based on that you take and understand facts • Uses deductive method to come up with series of universal truths based on first principles • More mathematical approach than that of Bacon • Note: skepticism starts with Reformation – Luther – each individual can find meaning from Bible without need for Church • Individual enlightenment thus creates skeptical crisis – how should one ground knowledge claims? • Doubting everything led Descartes to create this idea: Everything can be doubted but our existence because he is a thinking being, therefore exists. • Only thing is true: in order to be a thinking, doubting being, he must exist in order think this in the first place • Cognito Ergo Sum: “I think therefore I am” VII. Mechanical Philosophy • Popular way of understanding the world in Desc
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