Sir Francis Bacon The Father of Inductive Reasoning

Have you ever been in a situation where you encounter something that is new to you, something that you can measure with your senses, and tried to fit that into your thought process when it comes to other new phenomenon? For example, say you are an explorer in one of the uncharted parts of the Amazon jungle. You have the help of a few indigenous guides familiar with the region, and you come across a specific kind of flower. You notice that the flower smells like apples and that it is lime green in colour, and you are told by your guides that it is called Thrynka. As a thinking person in the new millennium, you might conclude that all Thrynka flowers are lime green and smell like apples. If we were to write the thought process out, it would look like this: Premise: The Thrynka I am looking at is lime green, and smells like apples. Conclusion: All Thrynka are lime green, and smell like apples.

You might think that your observations are now done, but there is a third and very important step for the intellectually honest individual. You must admit that there is a chance that your conclusion may be proven wrong based on further observations of other Thrynka flowers; your conclusion is supported by the premise, but it is not actually ensured (for instance, you may walk a few more kilometres and find a grove of Thrynka flowers which are yellow and have no scent). This entire process, form the observation to the realization that the conclusion is not necessarily ensured, is known as inductive reasoning. Sir Francis Bacon and Inductive Reasoning It might seem as though inductive reasoning is the most common pattern of philosophy to the 21st century mind, but in fact this is only because it is the most commonly accepted today. There was a time when thinkers did not use this type of reasoning to create hypothesis, but that was all changed with the career of Sir Francis Bacon, a philosopher of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Bacon was very influential as a thinker and as a writer. In fact, those who think that Shakespeare did not write all of his own plays often propose Bacon as someone who may have done the job. Certainly the thought process of many of Shakespeare's protagonists and the plays themselves use the method of reasoning advocated by Bacon. Whether that little bit of history is true or not is not known, but it is certain that Bacon supported the use of inductive reasoning as a superior alternative to the syllogistic approach used by Reformation Europe; he believed that other forms of reasoning were dangerously close to putting Europe back into the Dark Ages, combining once again, and too closely, church and the state. It is generally thought that Bacon's dedication to inductive reasoning may actually have led to his death, brought about when he contracted pneumonia while attempting to find out if snow could be used to preserve meat. Although his dedication to intellectual honesty may have led to his death, Bacon had had 65 years to propose his ideas to the intellectual community, and the results can be seen today; inductive reasoning has become one of the basic principles of many of today's discovery methodologies.

From Bacon's The New Organon to Spinoza's Treatise on Theology and Politics, as well as other writings of early modern philosophy topics, have been translated to make them easier to read while leaving intact the main arguments, doctrines, and lines of thought.


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