Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes

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Connections and Contrasts of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes| |


The Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences is one of the most influential works in the history of modern philosophy, and important to the evolution of natural sciences. In this work, Descartes tackles the problem of skepticism. Descartes modified it to account for a truth he found to be incontrovertible. Descartes started his line of reasoning by doubting everything, so as to assess the world from a fresh perspective, clear of any preconceived notions. Whereas Francis Bacon’s Scientific Method wanted to replace the deductive reasoning by inductive reasoning. The important concept in this reformed thought is about discovering truth rather than establishing the beliefs by deduction. The scientific and philosophical contributions that Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon helped form a single concept of the scientific method. The scientific method was a new way to reach a conclusion about anything and refers to a way one should acquire knowledge, or investigate a phenomenon or to correct and refine previous unproven knowledge. It is a five step method; the inquiry, initial hypothesis, action of investigation, results and conclusion. Rene Descartes was born in France at La Haye near the city of Tours in 1596. He went to school at the age of eight at La Fleche in France; he was a student there until the age of sixteen, in which he studied scholastic philosophy and mathematics. Later he was educated at the Jesuit College of La Flèche between 1606 and 1614. When he was nineteen he left Jesuit College for the University of Poitiers, where he studied law for two years and graduated in the year 1616. He got a degree in law but developed a passion for mathematics because he saw it as one field where absolute certainty could be found. Descartes also saw it as a means for achieving greater progress in both science and philosophy. He later claimed that his education gave him little of substance and that only mathematics had given him certain knowledge. In 1618-1621 he enlisted in the army, military service was tradition in his family, and when the Thirty Years' War began he was encouraged to volunteer under the Count de Bucquoy in the Bavarian army. In his leisure time he studied mathematics, having been influenced by the Dutch mathematician and scientist Beeckman. He left the army in 1621 he dedicated his life to the study of science and philosophy (1621-1649). During which time he published his most influential works, by 1650 his health was depleting and he passed away in Stockholm of pneumonia at the age of fifty-three. Francis Bacon was born in London. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of twelve. He studied law and became a barrister in 1582; two years later he took a seat in the House of Commons. Bacon’s opposition, in 1584, to Queen Elizabeth's tax program delayed his political advancement. While in the earlier days he supported the Earl of Essex, Bacon, in 1601, was involved in his prosecution. With the accession of James I (1566-1625) and thereafter, a number of honours were bestowed on Bacon: he was knighted in 1603, made Solicitor General in 1604, Attorney General in 1613, and Lord Chancellor in 1618. He was an English lawyer, statesman, essayist, historian, intellectual reformer, philosopher, and supporter of modern science. Early in his career he claimed “all knowledge as his province” and afterwards dedicated himself to an extensive revaluation and re-structuring of traditional learning. To take the place of the established tradition a miscellany of Scholasticism, humanism, and natural magic, he proposed an entirely new system based on empirical and inductive principles and the active development of new arts and inventions, a system whose ultimate goal would be the production of practical knowledge. Descartes and Bacon were influenced by 16th century society. What...
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