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The Concept of Changing Laws of Nature in the Baconian Corpus from 1597 to 1623

In: Early Science and Medicine
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  • 1 University of Michigan, Flint, MI, USA
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Abstract

In his Confession of Faith, Francis Bacon makes the striking claim that the laws of nature have changed over time. While the connections between this claim and theology are outlined in the Confession itself, it is not clear what role the proposal of mutable laws of nature might play in Bacon’s program of reform for natural philosophy. I argue that the notion that the laws of nature have changed over time plays a significant role in shaping the character and content of much of Baconian natural philosophy. I explore this role as it evolves in published works from the 1597 Meditationes Sacrae to the 1623 Historia Vitae et Mortis, while also showing how unpublished material can provide important clarification and illumination of the published works.

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