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Bacon's thesis and its opposition to customary practices and beliefs

Your assignment is to write a critical analysis of Francis Bacon's "A Guide to the Interpretation of Nature." There is no official word limit for this analysis, but you should strive for 5 double-spaced, typed pages


The due date for your assessment is November 26th, 2018. How to Write a Literature Review for HP52105  A critical analysis is a description of an academic work relevant to a particular field or topic. It asks you to summarize and evaluate a text (whether of a book, a journal article, or a chapter of a book). The object is to show your reader that you have read, and hove a good understanding of the assigned text, including what questions are being asked, what thesis is being asserted, and what methods and methodologies ore appropriate and useful. 


It is very important to note that your analysis should not be simply a summary of the text, but should take the form of a critical discussion, showing insight and an awareness of differing arguments, theories and approaches. To be critical does not mean to criticize in a negative manner. Instead, it requires you to question the information and opinions in a text and present your evaluation or judgement of the text. Evaluating requires an understanding of not just the content of the text, but also an understanding of a text's purpose, the intended audience and why it is structured the way it is. 


Here are the steps in writing our critical analysis: 
Prepare by reading the Bacon article thoroughly: understanding what you are being asked to review is critical. 
As you read, make notes of the followi :

a What is Bacon's thesis? Is his thesis novel in the sense that it o poses ome customary practice or belief?

(b) What is the philosophical context of his  ar:_qunent?

(c) What are his motivation(s) for taking his_position?

(d) Does he have a solution to the issue(s) that he is addressing in his article? 

Take note of any support, evidence that he advances on his thesis? In particular, note if Bacon makes appeals to e the reader that go beyond the evidence that he offers In ,does he make any appeals other than to the evidence? ring the writing stage, ask yourself constantly about the fectiveness of Bacon's writing. 


e sure to include in your answer all relevant information about the rticle (the title, the author, and perhaps a brief summary at the eginning. Include a clear and distinct statement of Bacon's argument early in your review. ("Bacon argues "). If the main point is covered early in your answer, then additional paragraphs should describe the evidence that Bacon has marshaled in advance of his position. Be prepared to describe these main supporting points/evidence and to evaluate then. 


Bear in mind that a critical analysis is different from a summary. It may include a summary, but should go beyond this. Remember that the purpose of a critical analysis is to evaluate. What about this text is worthwhile, useful, important, significant, valid, or truthful) 

Bacon's thesis and its opposition to customary practices and beliefs

One of the most dynamic and leading ideas in Bacon’s natural philosophy, A Guide to the Interpretation of Nature ,(1855) aims to present new methods and insights into the investigation of nature. Despite the originality and scientific importance of the conjectures provided in the work, it has not received the due scholarly attention. This essay aims to summarize and evaluate of the article the differing arguments, theories and approaches made in Bacon’s work, with the intention of critically reviewing the article and comprehending the purpose behind the text. Some of the questions that will be explored in the essay is based on Bacon’s thesis and how it opposes some customary practices and beliefs (Harrison, 2016).

Bacon is of the opinion that humankind has so far not used the mind efficiently enough to understand and investigate the laws of nature. He proceeds to expose the signs and causes of the errors in man’s attempt to unveil scientific mysteries, using refutation, theories and practical demonstrations to argue his point. His method takes a dual standing point: rational and empirical, and meticulously refers to contemporary and ancient philosophers for concretizing on the aphorisms. Bacon suggests an exclusive and innovative system of logistics, which, he bases on induction instead of syllogism (Popper, 2014). The process begins by stating the facts fundamental to nature and proceeds to formulate the general propositions or axioms by identifying the comparisons in a tabular form. Bacon uses experiments to assist the process and inform the readers of the credibility of his findings.

The former half of the book is a derisive criticism of the contemporary philosophies  and the scientific principles of the time. Bacon condemns the method of syllogistics as it has habitually prevented people from a reasonable investigation of nature. The knowledge humankind has of nature is limited and rather regressive, owing to the lack of interest and attention paid to the studies of natural philosophy. Another driving factor of such stunted growth is the excessive, rather thoughtless reverence to ancient authors who routinely insisted prioritized nurture over nature. The latter half of the work is an elaborate account of Bacon’s method. Using several examples, Bacon creates tables of several instances that illustrates the nature required to investigate. The course of induction can only be undertaken once the applicable instances are made acquainted with the intellect. The process of induction is based on the exclusion of several possibilities, until the achievement of a definite affirmative. The following stage considers the privileged instances, these instances assist the procedure in practical or informative terms. Bacon finally concludes with a rough draft delineating the kind of natural history, which, according to Bacon, is crucial before one proceeds with the interpretation of nature.

Bacon opposes the defective notion of people that prevent them from understanding the state of nature and makes them more gullible as human beings with intellectual capabilities. He refutes the propositions made by Aristotle, arguing that they collect facts methodically, establishing a hierarchical order of things but failing to produce knowledge (Lewis, 2014). The context of his argument is extremely philosophical in nature and attempts to launch a scathing attack on the scientific practices and the philosophical beliefs of the time. He rejects such sterile procedures of interpreting nature and endorses openness and receptivity to reason for attaining wisdom, revelation and valuable knowledge. Bacon’s motivation behind creating a work such as this was triggered by a desire to replace the ‘universal truths’ that Aristotle claimed were absolute and must be discovered. He sought to criticize empirical philosophy and orchestrate a new school of thought that was free from the biases of archaic beliefs. His motive was to eradicate the faulty conceptions, which he referred to as idols that is innate in human nature.

To a great extent, New Organon was a practical, theoretical and ambitious project with the intent of overhauling and reforming the methods in which people investigate nature and its components. Induction is essentially a revolutionary way of exploring the truth. Induction differs radically from syllogism in the sense that it focus on the natural phenomena, working through a sequence of intermediary steps for arriving at universal axioms or general statements on nature (Donaldson, 2016). According to Bacon’s argument, induction improves syllogism since it centers on natures and concrete things rather than on words, hence, reducing ambiguity. Induction also confirms the already established impressions by refraining from producing generalized statements. An interesting fact to consider in this context is that Bacon himself did not strictly categorize his work as scientific, but observations in natural philosophy. This explains the overtly hypothetical nature of some of the impressions.

Another key aspect of the work is experimentation. The experiments hypothesized in Bacon’s work are using for investigating nature and to examine the performance of things within an unknown circumstance (Serjeantson, 2014). This is where Bacon radically differs from the scientists and thinkers of his time who only used experiments for confirming a theory that had been held previously. The thinker before and during Bacon’s time based their experiments on known and verified facts whereas Bacon insisted on using unfamiliar materials for arriving at exclusive conclusions. He addresses some crucial issues in the way people perceive of things and reveals the faulty methods of researches prevalent in his time. The solutions provided by Bacon, no matter how effective and theoretically sound, are nevertheless limited by its complex and hypothetical nature. This is precisely why several critics had accused Bacon of being too hypothetical himself while underestimating the importance of hypotheses in scientific experiments.

Considered in a simplified manner, the article is Bacon’s attempt to reconstruct the way people approached knowledge and shed light on the unexplored filed of studies that had been demanding attention for a long time. Nature is a valuable source of knowledge and anyone who wishes to gain a profound insight into the true workings of things must attempt to unveil the mysteries of nature to delve deeper into the universal truths. Apart from negating archaic beliefs endorsed by ancient scientific thinkers and formulating new methods of conducting experiments, Bacon, through his article, urges young minds to reinvent the true nature of things by exploring Nature.

References:

Bacon, F. (1855). The Novum Organon: Or a True Guide to the Interpretation of Nature. The University Press.

Donaldson, I. M. L. (2016). Francis Bacon’s comments on the power of negative observations in his Novum Organum, first published in 1620. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 109(12), 459-460.

Harrison, P. (2016). Science, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Isis, 107(3), 587-591.

Lewis, R. (2014). Francis Bacon and ingenuity. Renaissance Quarterly, 67(1), 113-163.

Popper, K. (2014). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. routledge.

Serjeantson, R. (2014). Francis Bacon and the “Interpretation of Nature” in the Late Renaissance. Isis, 105(4), 681-705.

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