Francis Bacon was a man of a rare breed. He had three goals in life which shaped his accomplishments: serving his country, serving his church and learning the truth. His distinguished abilities included authorship, science, law, and philosophy. Being an Englishman of many trades, he effectively wrote essays which still today receive worldwide appeal. He also initiated the widely used Scientific Method. Living in England during King James I and later Queen Elizabeth, he also experienced the era of Shakespeare's entrance to the world stage.
During his early years he grew intellectually quickly finding himself at Trinity College by age 12. In his studies he later led a movement to employ inductive reasoning in an effort to solve problems, something we still work toward in classrooms and business models today.
He grew in law to become England's Attorney General as well as a Lord Chancellor. He also received the role of a knight.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an Englishman best known for his essays, who played an important role in acceptance and popularization of experimental science and the scientific method of solving problems. He was also a philosopher, jurist, and statesman.
Bacon was born in London, to an important counsellor to Queen Elizabeth I. He was elected to Parliament in 1584, and knighted In 1603. He held several government positions, notably lord chancellor in 1618. In 1621, Bacon was convicted of taking bribes and imprisoned briefly. Later the charges were established to be false. However, on this account Bacon withdrew from public life and devoted rest of his life to study and writing
Bacon developed the formal essay style and is considered to be the first English essayist. One of his major works was a collection of 10 essays dealing with subjects like death, fear, truth, and wealth explain how to lead a sensible life.
Bacon held that claims to knowledge prevalent in his time, particularly the ones based medieval science, were doubtful because they were based on poor logic. He believed the mind of people has a tendency to make hasty generalizations, that interfere with the attainment of knowledge. At the same time he also stated that the mind could discover truths that would enable humanity to conquer disease, poverty, and war by gaining power over nature. Bacon believed that a new world of culture and leisure could be gained by inquiry into the laws and processes of nature.
He argued that to discover such knowledge, the human mind must rid itself of four prejudices, which he called Idols of the Mind. These include
- the tendency of general human perception to generalize too quickly,
- the tendency of each person to base a knowledge of things on individual experiences, education, and tastes,
- the dependence on language to communicate, and
- the influence of previous philosophies and laws of reasoning that are merely products of human imagination.
Bacon advocated inductive method of investigation, which he described as four step process consisting of:
- Listing all known cases in which a phenomenon occurs
- Listing similar cases where the phenomenon does not occur
- Listing the cases in which the phenomenon occurs in differing degrees
- Examination of the three lists, to understand the cause of a phenomenon.