Princeton University Press, c1998
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Francis Bacon (1561-1626), commonly regarded as one of the founders of the Scientific Revolution, exerted a powerful influence on the intellectual development of the modern world. He also led a remarkably varied and dramatic life as a philosopher, writer, lawyer, courtier and statesman. The book begins by sketching Bacon's complex personality and troubled public career. The author shows that despite his idealistic philosophy and rare intellectual gifts, Bacon's political life was marked by continual careerism in his efforts to achieve advancement. He follows Bacon's rise at court and describes his removal from his office as England's highest judge for taking bribes. He then examines Bacon's philosophy and theory of science in connection with his project for the promotion of scientific progress, which he called "The Great Institution." He shows that Bacon's critical empiricism and attempt to develop a new method of discovery made a seminal contribution to the growth of science. He demonstrates how Bacon's historic importance as a prophetic thinker, who, at the edge of the modern era, predicted that science would be used to prolong life, cure diseases, invent new materials, and create new weapons of destruction. Finally, the book examines Bacon's writings on such subjects as morals, politics, language, rhetoric, law, and history. It shows how Bacon was one of the great legal theorists of his day, an influential philosopher of language, and a penetrating historian.
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