Re: Big Reply 7

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Thu, 11 Jul 1996 20:58:46 -0700

On Tue, 9 Jul 1996, Clyde Davenport wrote:

> Francis Bacon (1561-1626) states that the underlying
> purpose of experimentation is "natura vexata," to annoy
> or vex nature so that it reveals its secrets. He also directly
> compares the role of the experimentor to the role of the
> inquisitor who tortures his victims....

> The question here is in evaluating Bacon's role in the
> development of science. How influential was he? Also
> to what extent did others share his view of the nature
> of experimentation.

Hard to say. Bacon's ideas about scientific method were dogma in
high school science texts of the 1950's. I don't know about today.

From observation, working scientists are not much interested in
philosophy, at least on a day to day basis. Einstein and Percy Bridgeman
and Schroedinger, etc., are pretty rare beasts.
The argument has been made, though, that Bacon had enormous
influence, because most educated people after 1700 or so thought that
Isaac Newton had developed his theory of gravity through Baconian
induction. And that David Hume's assault on unnamed believers in
induction in his ESSAY had to be delicately worded because he was
attacking a pair of English icons.

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge