Francis Bacon's Natural History and Civil History: A Comparative Survey

in Early Science and Medicine
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to offer a comparative survey of Bacon's theory and practice of natural history and of civil history, particularly centered on their relationship to natural philosophy and human philosophy. I will try to show that the obvious differences concerning their subject matter encompass a number of less obvious methodological and philosophical assumptions which reveal a significant practical and con ceptual convergence of the two fields. Causes or axioms are prescribed as the theoretical end-products of natural history, whereas precepts are envisaged as the speculative outcomes derived from perfect civil history. In spite of this difference, causes and precepts are thought to enable effective action in order to change the state of nature and of man, respectively. For that reason a number of common patterns are to be found in Bacon's theory and practice of natural and civil history.

Francis Bacon's Natural History and Civil History: A Comparative Survey

in Early Science and Medicine

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