Roger Bacon Essay - Critical Essays

Roger Bacon


Roger Bacon c. 1214/1220-1292

English philosopher.

Considered one of the most profound of the Schoolmen (a group of writers and teachers from about the eleventh to the fifteenth century who were interested in logic, meta-physics, and thology), Bacon fused elements of classical humanistic philosophy with a Christian worldview as well as Judaic and Islamic scientific and mathematical knowledge to form a coherent philosophy which lasted into the Renaissance. Such was his knowledge that some scholars have considered "Doctor Mirabilis"—as Bacon was called—superior in philosophical significance to his distinguished descendent, Sir Francis Bacon.

Biographical Information

Information about the life of Bacon is slim and accounts conflict. His birthplace is believed to have been either Ilchester, Somersetshire or Bisley, Gloucestershire. He studied at Oxford during the tenure of the distinguished classicist and natural philosopher Robert Grosseteste, and by 1236 he had established himself at the University of Paris as one of the first professors of Aristotle's works. While in Paris, Bacon became interested in scientific experimentation, and in about 1247 he began pursuing optical, mathematical, and scientific studies in addition to the disciplines in which he had been trained, which included languages and philosophy. Four years later he returned to England, where he entered the Franciscan order. He returned to Paris, where his writings had come to the attention of John of Fidanza, known today as Bonaventure, head of the Franciscan order at that time. Biographers long held that Bonaventure, displeased with Bacon's writings, placed Bacon under confinement for about ten years, denying him books, paper, and writing instruments; but the story of this imprisonment today seems doubtful. Bacon's writings did come to the attention of Pope Clement IV, and, to Bacon's surprise, Clement wrote to request a fair copy of his doctrines. Now under the gaze of a protector of sorts, and hoping to be commended by the Pope, Bacon responded by writing his Opus majus (c. 1267-68). Then, thinking he might be misunderstood, he wrote a lengthy explanatory treatise, Opus minus (1267). Having composed these massive works in fifteen months, he dispatched them to Rome, along with a work on alchemy, Tractatus de multiplicatione speciarum, in about 1268. Clement died the same year, and it is unclear what he thought of Bacon's works-or, for that matter, if he read them; however, it is clear that his death and the accession of Gregory X to the papacy boded ill for Bacon, as Gregory was not sympathetic to works containing the unfamiliar and the possibly heretical. Bacon left Paris for Oxford, where he completed his third major work, Opus tertium (1268), as well as Greek and Hebrew grammars, and began an ambitious, encyclopedic work, Compendium philosophiae. This uncompleted project contains a blistering attack on Bacon's rivals among the clergy, and upon his monastic superiors for their ignorance and pedantry. In 1278 the head of the Franciscan order, Jerome of Ascoli (later Pope Nicholas IV) held an assembly in Paris to investigate contemporary works of heresy in the Church. Bacon was present at this meeting, and his writings were judged to contain serious theological errors. Bacon was then confined for (it is presumed) about ten years. Upon his release, he wrote two further treatises, not considered highly noteworthy. He died in 1292 and, it is believed, is buried at Oxford.

Major Works

Grosseteste exercised the most decisive influence upon Bacon's philosophical and scientific views as expressed in his three major works. From Grosseteste Bacon also derived his strong belief in the importance of mathematics, as well as his interest in the study of Greek and oriental languages. Bacon's originality lies in two areas: first, he further developed some of the ideas in natural philosophy which he found in Grosseteste; secondly, he attempted to completely synthesize the natural science, philosophy, and religious teaching of his time. Embracing Aristotle's works on physics and metaphysics as harmonious with Christian teaching, Bacon believed in the ultimate unity of all knowledge, physical and metaphysical; he fulminated against his contemporaries who insisted upon a separation of the two, and against the bluff ignorance of his fellow scholars who belittled and disdained learning about the physical sciences. In this, he is important for transmitting Islamic science into the Latin West. At the same time, he did not seek to free science and reason from theology. As Christopher Dawson has written, "The unity of science in which he believes is a purely theological unity. To an even greater extent than the earlier Augustinians he is prepared to subordinate all human knowledge to the divine wisdom that is contained in the Scriptures. All knowledge springs ultimately from Revelation." In his Christian humanist worldview, Bacon, wrote Dawson, "admits the possibility of scientific progress, for there is no finality in this life, and knowledge must continue to increase with the rise and fall of the world religions. All signs, he believed, pointed to the approaching end of the age and to the coming of Anti-christ, and it was to arm Christendom for the struggle and to prepare the way for its renovation under the leadership of a great Pope and a great king that he propounded his schemes for the reform of studies and the utilization of the power of science."

Critical Reception

For centuries Bacon's works existed, for the most part, only in manuscript form in libraries in Oxford, London, Douai, Paris, and Italy. One scholar declared that "it is easier to collect the leaves of the Sybil than the titles of the works written by Roger Bacon." Several fragments, mostly related to alchemy, were published sporadically throughout the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and for all that period Bacon was commonly thought of as an alchemist. A better-informed scholarly interest in them began in 1733, when Samuel Jebb published an incomplete Latin edition of Opus majus. For over one hundred years, this was the only available edition of Bacon's major works-until J. S. Brewer published Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera Quœdam hactenus inedita (1859), containing Opus tertium, Opus minus, and the extant portion of Compendium philosophiae, in 1859. This was followed by a still-incomplete Latin edition in 1897, with the first principal English edition of Bacon's writings appearing in 1928. Perhaps the most intriguing of Bacon's works came to light around 1912, when Wilfrid M. Voynich, a specialist in rare books and manuscripts, purchased at auction an illustrated treatise on natural science which came to be called the Voynich Manuscript. This bizarre document, written entirely in cypher, presents an attempt by Bacon to explain and integrate aspects of natural science not otherwise understood by thirteenth-century scholars. Only a few studies of the Voynich Manuscript have been published in the twentieth century, but many books and articles on Bacon's overall accomplishment have appeared, with key explorations conducted by Dawson, Robert Steele, Lynn Thorndike, A. G. Little, and Etienne Gilson. Current Bacon scholarship, in regard to translations and critical studies, is dominated by Jeremiah Hackett, Thomas S. Maloney, and David C. Lindberg. Although the extent of Bacon's influence and his importance to the beginnings of science in the western world have still not been fully noted or understood, commentators agree that he played a major part in the intellectual arena of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Europe.

Principal Works

Quaestiones supra libros quatuor physicorum Aristotelis [Questions on Aristotle's Physics] (treatise) c.1240-47

Quaestiones supra undecim prime philosophiae Aristotelis (treatise) c. 1240-47

Summa grammaticae (treatise) c. 1240-52

Communium naturalium (treatise) c. 1267-70

Opus majus (treatise) c. 1267-68

Tractatus de multiplicatione speciarum [Multiplication of Species] (treatise) c. 1267-68

Communia mathematica (treatise) c. 1267

Epistola fratris Rogerii Baconis de secretis operibus naturae et de nullitate magiae [Letter on the Secret Works of Art and the Nullity of Magic] (treatise) c. 1267

Opus minus (treatise) 1267

Opus tertium (treatise) 1268

Compendium studii philosophiae [Compendium of the Study of Philosophy] (treatise) c. 1292

Compendium studii theologiae (treatise) 1292

Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera Qucedam hactenus inedita (treatises) 1859

Opera Hactenus Inedita Fratris Rogeri Baconis. 12 vols. (treatises) 1905-40

Principal English Translations

The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon (translated by Roger Belle Burke) 1928

Roger Bacon's Philosophy of Nature: A Critical Edition, with English Translation, Introduction, and Notes, of "De multiplicatione specierum" and "De speculis comburentibus" (translated by David C. Lindberg) 1983

Compendium of the Study of Theology (translated by Thomas S. Maloney) 1988

Three Treatments of Universals by Roger Bacon (translated by Thomas S. Maloney) 1989


Anthony à Wood (essay date 1674)

Anthony à Wood (essay date 1674)

SOURCE: "Life of Roger Bacon (from Wood's Antiquitates Univ. Oxon.)," in Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quœdam hactenus inedita, Vol. I, edited by J. S. Brewer, 1859. Reprint by Kraus Reprint Ltd, 1965, pp. lxxxv-c.

[Wood was an historian whose works are primarily concerned with the City and University of Oxford. In the following excerpt from a chapter reprinted from his Historia et Antiquitates Universitatis Oxoniensis (1674), he provides a brief overview of Bacon's significance in advancing human knowledge.]

Omitting a great number of disputes which occurred this year [A.D. 1292,] between the University...

(The entire section is 370 words.)

William Whewell (essay date 1847)

William Whewell (essay date 1847)

SOURCE: "The Innovators of the Middle Ages," in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History, Vol 2, second edition, 1847. Reprint by Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1967, pp. 155-73.

[Whewell was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University, and the author of several distinguished works on the inductive sciences. In the following excerpt, he focuses upon Opus Majus, seeking "to point out… the way in which the various principles, which the reform of scientific method involved, are here brought into view."]

[Roger Bacon] was termed by his brother monks Doctor Mirabilis. We...

(The entire section is 3480 words.)

J. S. Brewer (essay date 1859)

J. S. Brewer (essay date 1859)

SOURCE: A preface to Fr. Rogeri Bacon Opera quœdam hactenus inedita, Vol. 1, edited by J. S. Brewer, 1859. Reprint by Kraus Reprint, 1965, pp. ix-lxxxiv.

[Brewer was Professor of English Literature at King's College, London, and Reader at the Rolls. By the authority of Queen Victoria 's Treasury and under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, he edited a one-volume edition of Bacon's works which includes Opus Minus, Opus Tertium, Compendium studii philosophiae, and Epistola fratris Rogeri Baconis de secretis operibus artis et naturae, et de nullitate magiae. In the following excerpt, Brewer summarizes the significance of...

(The entire section is 595 words.)

The Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review (essay date 1864)

SOURCE: "The Life and Writings of Roger Bacon," in The Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. LXXXI, No. CLIX, January, 1864, pp. 1-30.

[In the following excerpt, an anonymous critic surveys Bacon's career and outlines Bacon's character based on his writings.]

Roger Bacon is one of the few really great men who have been equally neglected by their contemporaries and by posterity. All who have looked into his writings, Leland and Selden no less than Humboldt and Victor Cousin, point to him as the most original thinker of the middle ages. His anticipations of the course of scientific discovery, yield only in importance to the justness of his conceptions of the...

(The entire section is 3577 words.)

E. H. Plumptre (essay date 1866)

E. H. Plumptre (essay date 1866)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon," The Contemporary Review, Vol. II, May-August, 1866, pp. 364-92.

[In the following excerpt, Plumptre offers a general estimate of Bacon's teaching on universals and of his views on ethical and political philosophy. The critic also discusses the relation in which Bacon stood to the religious life of Oxford and of England.]

Few of the chance coincidences of history are more striking than the fact that the great philosophical reformers of the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries, who fought the same battles against the same foes, who used almost the same weapons, should have also borne the...

(The entire section is 3267 words.)

George S. Morris (essay date 1880)

George S. Morris (essay date 1880)

SOURCE: "Mediaeval Anticipations of the Modem English Mind—John of Salisbury, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, William of Occam," in British Thought and Thinkers: Introductory Studies, Critical, Biographical and Philosophical, S. C. Griggs and Company, 1880, pp. 30-52.

[Morris was Lecturer on Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and an Associate of the Victoria Institute, London. In the following excerpt, he surveys Bacon's accomplishment as the work of a martyr to the cause of scientific and philosophical truth: a "wonder," whose profound works went unappreciated in the "darkness of the Middle Ages" and are superior to those of his...

(The entire section is 1397 words.)

Herbert Maxwell (essay date 1894)

Herbert Maxwell (essay date 1894)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon," in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. CLVI, No. DCCCXLIX, November, 1894, pp. 610-23.

[In the following excerpt, Maxwell summarizes Bacon's significance as an enlightener of the modern mind, emphasizing his role as a persecuted seeker of truth.]

The coincidence that Roger Bacon bore, in a time before surnames had come into general use, the same surname that was to be carried to fame four centuries later by "the wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind," has cast into deeper eclipse the reputation of one of the most penetrating thinkers who have from time to time revolted against false teaching...

(The entire section is 661 words.)

John Henry Bridges (essay date 1897)

John Henry Bridges (essay date 1897)

SOURCE: An introduction to The "Opus Majus" of Roger Bacon, Vol. I, edited by John Henry Bridges, 1897. Reprint by Minerva G. m. b. H., 1964, pp. xxi-xcii.

[A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and sometime Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, Bridges was a scholar of Auguste Compte's work and himself a philosophical positivist. He edited a Latin edition of Opus Majus which was first published in two volumes in 1897, but was withdrawn by the Clarendon Press after critics noted serious errors in the text due to Bridges's faulty reading of Bacon's manuscripts, his too-strict reliance upon Samuel Jebb's 1733 edition, and his...

(The entire section is 1704 words.)

Henry Osborn Taylor (essay date 1911)

Henry Osborn Taylor (essay date 1911)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon," in The Mediaeval Mind: A History of the Development of Thought and Emotion in the Middle Ages, Vol. II, Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1911, pp. 484-508.

[In the following excerpt, Taylor offers a balanced examination of Bacon's attitude toward Scripture and the doctrines of the Church, his views of the state of knowledge in his time, and his interest in optics and experimental science.]

Of all mediaeval men, Thomas Aquinas achieved the most organic and comprehensive union of the results of human reasoning and the data of Christian theology. He may be regarded as the final exponent of...

(The entire section is 7282 words.)

S. A. Hirsch (essay date 1914)

S. A. Hirsch (essay date 1914)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon and Philology," in Roger Bacon Essays Contributed by Various Writers on the Occasion of the Commemoration of the Seventh Centenary of His Birth, edited by A. G. Little, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1914, pp. 101-51.

[In the following excerpt, Hirsch offers a disinterested assessment of the philological theory and practice of Bacon, tracing possible sources and assessing his influence.]

Roger Bacon held that the knowledge of languages was the first gate that led to the acquisition of wisdom. It was particularly indispensable to the 'Latins', whose entire acquaintance with theology and philosophy...

(The entire section is 14679 words.)

William Romaine Newbold (essay date 1921)

William Romaine Newbold (essay date 1921)

SOURCE: "The Forerunner of Modern Science," in The Cipher of Roger Bacon, edited by Roland Grubb Kent, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1928, pp. 1-28.

[Newbold was the Adam Seybert Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania until his death in 1926. He was a master at decoding ciphers, a lifelong passion, and he spent considerable time and industry deciphering the Voynich Manuscript—a discourse on natural science by Bacon, written in cipher, and purchased in or about 1912 by Wilfrid M. Voynich, a specialist in rare books and manuscripts. Newbold lectured on the Voynich Manuscript in 1921...

(The entire section is 8375 words.)

Robert Steele (essay date 1921)

Robert Steele (essay date 1921)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon and the State of Science in the Thirteenth Century," in Studies in the History and Method of Science, Vol II, edited by Charles Singer, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1921, pp. 121-50.

[Steele was one of the editors of the twelve-volume Opera Hactenus Inedita Fratris Rogeri Baconis (1905-40). In the following excerpt, he places Bacon within the context of his world and of his scholarly contemporaries, summarizing Bacon's contributions to knowledge in several fields of learning.]

In estimating Bacon's position among the men of his own time it is important to remember, first of all, the...

(The entire section is 3636 words.)

Lynn Thorndike (essay date 1923)

Lynn Thorndike (essay date 1923)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon," in A History of Magic and Experimental Science during the First Thirteen Centuries of Our Era, The Macmillan Company, 1923, pp. 616-87.

[In the following excerpt from a lengthy chapter in his important History of Magic and Experimental Science, Thorndike turns from a brief overview of Bacon's life to examine Opus Maius, Opus Minus, and Opus Tertium, Bacon's contributions in the development of modern experimental science, and his attitude toward magic and astrology. Throughout his essay, Thorndike scornfully emphasizes Bacon's gullibility and derivitiveness.]


(The entire section is 14450 words.)

George Sarton (essay date 1927)

George Sarton (essay date 1927)

SOURCE: "Philosophic and Cultural Background: Roger Bacon," in Introduction to the History of Science: From Rabbi Ben Ezra to Roger Bacon, Vol. II, The Williams & Wilkins Company, 1931, pp. 952-67.

[In the following excerpt from a work originally published in 1927, Sarton surveys Bacon's achievement, arranged by discipline, referring occasionally to his unfinished Compendium philosophiae.]

General appreciation—Bacon was essentially an encyclopaedist; that is, he was tormented with the idea of the unity of knowledge, and his life was a long effort better to grasp and to explain that unity. He denounced...

(The entire section is 3631 words.)

Christopher Dawson (essay date 1934)

Christopher Dawson (essay date 1934)

SOURCE: "Religion and Mediaeval Science," in Mediaeval Religion (The Forwood Lectures 1934) and Other Essays, Sheed & Ward Inc., 1934, pp. 57-94.

[In the following excerpt, Dawson summarizes the significance of Bacon's thought and its originality, citing him as a key example of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake.]

[It] is difficult to overestimate the influence of Grosseteste's thought on the mind of one of the most remarkable figures of the thirteenth century, whose fame has indeed overshadowed that of his master—I mean Roger Bacon. It was from Grosseteste that Bacon derived not only his...

(The entire section is 822 words.)

F. Winthrop Woodruff (essay date 1938)

F. Winthrop Woodruff (essay date 1938)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon as a Critic among the Schoolmen," in Roger Bacon: A Biography, James Clark & Co., Ltd, 1938, pp. 89-101.

[In the following excerpt, Woodruff examines the role of Bacon as a critic of and among the Schoolmen, comparing his philosophical emphases with those of Thomas Aquinas, Alexander of Hales, and others.]

Bacon was somewhat critical of the intellectual world around him, and it is important to consider his comments on some of the great individuals of his day. At first he seems to have studied with a docile spirit, and to have been appreciative of his teachers. Indeed to judge from his...

(The entire section is 2553 words.)

Bertrand Russell (essay date 1945)

Bertrand Russell (essay date 1945)

SOURCE: "Franciscan Schoolmen," in A History of Western Philosophy, and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, Simon and Schuster, 1945, pp. 463-75.

[A respected and prolific author, Russell was an English philosopher and mathematician known for his support of humanistic concerns. Two of his early works, Principles of Mathematics (1903) and Principia Mathematica (1910-13), written with Alfred North Whitehead, are considered classics of mathematical logic. His philosophical approach to all his endeavors discounts idealism or emotionalism and asserts a progressive...

(The entire section is 1157 words.)

Frederick Mayer (essay date 1948)

Frederick Mayer (essay date 1948)

SOURCE: "Religion and Science in Roger Bacon," in The Personalist, Vol XXIX, No. 3, Summer, 1948, pp. 261-71.

[In the following essay, Mayer discourses upon Bacon's achievement, arguing that Bacon, far from being a dabbler in medieval magic, was a scholar who believed that the pursuit of scientific knowledge was complementary to Christian belief, not antithetical to it.]

Until the sixteenth century only three of Bacon's minor works had been printed. The obscurity of his life and his labors in science, together with his aloofness from the affairs of his day, caused his name to be linked with magic. This impression...

(The entire section is 3581 words.)

Stewart C. Easton (essay date 1952)

Stewart C. Easton (essay date 1952)

SOURCE: "The Universal Science of Roger Bacon," in Roger Bacon and His Search for a Universal Science: A Reconsideration of the Life and Work of Roger Bacon in the Light of His Own Stated Purposes, Columbia University Press, 1952, pp. 167-85.

[In the following excerpt, Easton sketches the philosophy of science "which Bacon took for granted as his intellectual framework, but himself never stated in formal terms.']

It has sometimes been supposed that the science of Roger Bacon is full of contradictions. He believed in revealed and experimental knowledge at the same time; he thought of theology as the queen of...

(The entire section is 7236 words.)

A. C. Crombie (essay date 1953)

A. C. Crombie (essay date 1953)

SOURCE: "Grosseteste and the Oxford School," in Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1100-1700, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1953, pp. 135-88.

[In the following excerpt, Crombie demonstrates the influence of Robert Grosseteste 's thought upon Bacon 's scientifictheories.]

The writer who most thoroughly grasped, and who mostelaborately developed Grosseteste's attitude to nature andtheory of science was Roger Bacon (c. 1214-92) himself. Recent research has shown that in many of the aspects ofhis science in which he has been thought to have beenmost original, Bacon was simply taking over the...

(The entire section is 7471 words.)

Etienne Gilson (essay date 1955)

Etienne Gilson (essay date 1955)

SOURCE: "Roger Bacon," in History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Random House, 1955, pp. 294-312.

[Gilson was a prominent and prolific Neo-Thomist philosopher. He was the founder and longtime director of the Institute of Mediaeval Studies in association with St. Michael's College, the University of Toronto. In the following excerpt, Gilson offers a detailed overview of Bacon's beliefs as a philosopher and as a reformer.]


A mere glance at the philosophical works of Roger Bacon is enough to convince the reader that they were written under the predominant...

(The entire section is 8699 words.)

Julius R. Weinberg (essay date 1964)

Julius R. Weinberg (essay date 1964)

SOURCE: "Philosophy in Thirteenth Century Christendom," in A Short History of Medieval Philosophy, Princeton University Press, 1964, pp. 157-81.

[In the following excerpt, Weinberg succinctly summarizes Bacon's philosophy and its significance.]

In his Opus Majus, a lengthy exposition of the need to improve philosophical study, Roger Bacon (born about 1214 or a little later; died after 1292) expresses points of view which link him to Avicenna and the older Augustinian doctrines and at the same time reveal his intense interest in the development of mathematics and experimental science.


(The entire section is 848 words.)

Joseph Kupfer (essay date 1974)

Joseph Kupfer (essay date 1974)

SOURCE: "The Father of Empiricism: Roger Not Francis," in Vivarium, Vol XII, No. 1, May, 1974, pp. 52-62.

[In the following essay, Kupfer examines Bacon's credentials as the true father of empiricism for awarding "utility, observation, and 'experience' the central place in his philosophy of science and knowledge. ']

Although Roger Bacon's life spanned most of the Thirteenth century, his philosophy of science carried his thought into what has been loosely dubbed the "Modern period". And although often credited with heralding this Modern period of philosophy Francis Bacon's emphasis on experiment is itself anticipated...

(The entire section is 3833 words.)

Jeremiah M. G. Hackett (essay date 1980)

Jeremiah M. G. Hackett (essay date 1980)

SOURCE: "The Attitude of Roger Bacon to the Scientiaof Albertus Magnus," in Albertus Magnus and the Sciences, Commemorative Essays 1980, edited by James A. Weisheipl, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980, pp. 53-72.

[Hackett has written extensively on Bacon's works. In the following excerpt, he examines four of Bacon's works to discern the identity of the "unnamed master" derided by Bacon in his writings and to determine the reason for Bacon's objections to the science of this mysterious authority.]

Since the rediscovery of the works of Roger Bacon in the nineteenth century, it has been...

(The entire section is 6928 words.)

David C. Lindberg (essay date 1987)

David C. Lindberg (essay date 1987)

SOURCE: "Science as Handmaiden: Roger Bacon and the Patristic Tradition," in Isis, Vol. 78, No. 294, December, 1987, pp. 518-36.

[Lindberg has written extensively on Bacon's accomplishment and is the editor of Roger Bacon's Philosophy of Nature: A Critical Edition with English Translation, Introduction, and Notes of "De multiplicatione specierum" and "De speculis comburentibus" (1983). In the following excerpt, he seeks to demonstrate that "Bacon was not a modern, out of step with his age, or a harbinger of things to come, but a brilliant, combative, and somewhat eccentric schoolman of the thirteenth century, endeavoring to...

(The entire section is 4662 words.)

Jeremiah Hackett (essay date 1988)

Jeremiah Hackett (essay date 1988)

SOURCE: "Averroes and Roger Bacon on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy," in A Straight Path: Studies in Medieval Philosophy and CultureEssays in Honor of Arthur Hyman, edited by Ruth Link-Salinger and others, The Catholic University of America Press, 1988, pp. 98-112.

[In the essay below, Hackett seeks to demonstrate that Bacon managed to reproduce the essential teaching of Averroes's treatise Kitab fasl al-maqal (The Decisive Treatise Determining the Nature of the Connection between Religion and Philosophy); he posits that the two men shared essentially the same belief regarding the harmony of religion and...

(The entire section is 5389 words.)

Further Reading

Coulton, G. G. "The Universities." In his Studies in Medieval Thought, pp. 130-50. New York: Russell & Russell, 1965.

Surveys the lives and accomplishments of several figures prominent in the Universitates of the Middle Ages, including Alexander of Hales, Thomas Aquinas, Boneventura, and Bacon. Coulton emphasizes Bacon's stature as a founder of empirical rationalism. This work was originally published in 1940.

Crowley, Theodore. Roger Bacon: The Problem of the Soul in his Philosophical Commentaries. Dublin: James Duffy & Co., 1950, 223 p.

In-depth study of Bacon's philosophy of the...

(The entire section is 827 words.)