English 233:Introduction to Western Humanities--Baroque & Enlightenment

Study Guide to selections from
Francis Bacon's Novum Organon

Note:   We will not be reading the article by Laurence Stone or the passage by John Locke mentioned below.  The same goes for the passages you are referred to from Thomas Aquinas' two Summae.  You may ignore these references.  Nor will we be reading excerpts from Book II of the Novum Organum.

You may wish to use this sheet for taking notes (in your own words) on your reading of the assigned excerpts.  If you want it to print out in its entirety, and you are using a printer in one of the KSU public labs, you'll need to go into the File menu, choose Page Set-up, and click on Black Type.

Before undertaking the selections from the Bacon's Novum Organum (our main business), be sure you have read

Bacon's critique of the philosophical tradition

In Bacon's picture, the method of generating knowledge still in force in educated circles is unfit to meet the demands that we are entitled to put upon it.

What parallel develops between Bacon's critique of traditional knowledge and the critique brought forward a hundred years earlier by the Protestant Reformers? (Cf. #31 and 38.)

A useful exercise:  Show how this common tendency operates when brought to bear on the notions of "substance" and "accident" as they appear in the Catholic doctrine of the sacrament of communion. (Consult the class handout sketching a chain of syllogism employing these notions.)

Be able to relate this to the trends discussed in the article by Lawrence Stone on "The Disenchantment of the World."

Bacon's critique of the artisanal tradition

In Bacon's picture, too, there is something deficient for the generation of the sort of science we need in the way in which practical artisans approach their task craftsmen who have been educated as apprentices, within the guild system.

Bacon's proposal for a new way

What is Bacon's proposal for correcting the complementary defects of these two inherited traditions for dealing in knowledge?  Here we should note how certain sections provide us with convenient "nodes," each presenting us with a different level of elaboration of his project for an effective scientific method:

Connections urther afield

What is "empiricism"?

How does the Baconian stress on the goal of obtaining power over the natural world (for what end, by the way?) importantly compare (or contrast)

  Go to the Introduction to Bacon.
  Go to Selections from Bacon's Novum Organum.
  Go to a discussion of Bacon's and Descartes' complementary departures from scholasticism in philosophy.
  Return to Reading List #3.
  Return to the Home Page for English 233 (Introduction to Western Humanities:  Baroque & Enlightenment).

  Suggestions are welcome.  Please send your comments to lyman@ksu.edu .
      Contents copyright 199 by Lyman A. Baker
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  This page last updated 14 December 1998.