Ants, Spiders, and Bees. Francis Bacon and the Method of Natural Philosophy

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This paper argues that the methodology Francis Bacon used in his natural histories abides by the theoretical commitments presented in his methodological writings. On the one hand, Bacon advocated a middle way between idle speculation and mere gathering of facts. On the other hand, he took a strong stance against the theorisation based on very few facts. Using two of his sources whom Bacon takes to be the reflection of these two extremes—Giambattista della Porta as an instance of idle speculations, and Hugh Platt as an instance of gathering facts without extracting knowledge—I show how Bacon chose the middle way, which consists of gathering facts and gradually extracting theory out of them. In addition, it will become clear how Bacon used the expertise of contemporary practitioners to criticise fantastical theories and purge natural history of misconceived notions and false speculations.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)27-51
Aantal pagina's25
TijdschriftJournal of Early Modern Studies
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
StatusPublished - 2020

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