Francis Bacon (1561-1625) was one of the leading figures of natural philosophy and scientific methodology, and has influenced these things even today. He is known for his creation of the Baconian Method, and, by extension, today’s Scientific Method. It was a step by step procedure for scientific investigation, and was used to identify and learn about the natural world.
The Baconian Method
The first step of the Baconian Method is to create a description of the item requirements to make observations to produce facts about it. These facts generalize and reveal information about the object. Next, specific facts such as negative impacts to the object or experimental instances that will provide more information about the item. This whole process is repeated until there is increased knowledge about the topic. In the book Novum Organum, Bacon states that, “Our only hope on building true knowledge is through this careful method.”
The Baconian Method v. The Scientific Method
What makes the Baconian different from the modern Scientific Method is that Baconian Method focuses on observation, and forming hypotheses based on the observations. However, the Scientific Method focuses on using deduction to form a hypothesis and then using induction to prove it. The Scientific is done first by, asking a question, then researching, next, creating hypotheses, now experimenting, and lastly, analyzing the results.
Deduction and Induction
Also, Bacon believed that classical philosophers, and by extension pure deduction, held scientific progress back. Deduction is when a problem or question is answered by simply thinking about it in one’s head, while induction focuses on using controlled experimentation to reveal the laws of nature. Francis Bacon was a large promoter of induction in science, and that is shown through his Baconian Method.
Francis Bacon's methods of Induction directly contrast aristotle's methods of deduction
Francis Bacon was also one of the first people to support the idea of research institutes. He believed that research institutes would help with experimentation and the spread of ideas. After his death, a group of scientists known as the Boyle Circle, or the Invisible College, used his methods of induction and created the Royal Society of London for the Advancement of Natural Knowledge. Better known as the Royal Society. This scientific organization is still in existence today, and is believed to be one of the oldest of its kind.
The Royal Society building
Through his scientific philosophy and radical ideas, Francis Bacon helped revolutionize science. Without him, science would have stayed with the classical methods of deduction and philosophy, and scientific progress would have been stalled indefinitely.