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The New Organon

Francis Bacon


Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1

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Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1

Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1

Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1

Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1

Book Two: Aphorisms I–XX1


I–X. The task of human power is to generate and super-induce on a body a new nature. The task of human science is to find the form of a given nature. Two other tasks are subordinate to these. Human power must also transform concrete bodies from one thing into another within the bounds of the possible. Science must also discover the continuous hidden process and latent structure of bodies in motion and at rest.

Using the idea of four causes (Material, Formal, Efficient and Final) is unhelpful. True thought and free operation results from knowing Forms. When we think about super-inducing a nature on a given body, we need to consider what sort of guidance and instruction we would like to receive, and give it in simple language. This is the same as the discovery of a true Form. The form of a nature is always present and absent with that nature. A true form derives a given nature from the source of an essence that exists in several subjects.

There are two kinds of precepts of the transformation of bodies. The first looks at the body as a combination of simple natures. This method of operation proceeds from what is eternal in nature, and offers vast opportunities to human power. The second kind of axiom proceeds by compound bodies. This investigation looks not only at the generation of bodies, but also at other movements and workings of nature, and depends on latent process.

The latent process does not readily occur in men's minds; it largely escapes the senses. Questions about what is lost and what remains, what expands and what contracts, and so on, have to be asked. But all these questions are unknown to the sciences. As every natural action depends on small particles, one cannot master nature without grasping or modifying them. The discovery of latent structure and process in bodies is a new thing. Knowledge of the modification and transformation of bodies is necessary to understand how to endow a body with a new nature. The latent structure of a body can be discovered by primary axioms. The more an inquiry moves towards simple natures, the clearer things will be. The inquiry after eternal forms is metaphysics; the inquiry after efficient and material causes, latent structure and latent processes, is physics. Mechanics is subordinate to physics, and magic to metaphysics. Directions for interpreting nature have two parts; firstly, directions for drawing axioms from experience and secondly for deducing new experiments from axioms. The foundation of this is the compilation of a sound natural history. Tables must be drawn up, and instances coordinated. Induction is the key to interpretation.

XI–XXI. To investigate forms, one must begin by presenting to the intellect all the known instances that meet in the same nature. Bacon uses the example of heat; his first Table is of instances meeting in the nature of heat. This is the table of existence and presence. Then a presentation must be made to the intellect of instances devoid of a particular nature (his second Table). It is necessary to attach negatives to our affirmatives, and investigate absences only in subjects that are closely related to others in which a given nature appears. This is therefore the table of closely related divergences. Thirdly, we need to present instances in which the nature under investigation exists to a certain degree. This can be done by comparing increase and decrease in the same subject, or by comparing different subjects with another. A nature cannot be accepted as a true form unless it always decreases when the nature itself decreases, and increases when that nature increases. This is a table of degrees or table of comparison. The task and function of the three tables is the presentation of instances to the intellect. After the presentation has been made, induction must take place.

Man's intellect can proceed only through negatives, and arrive at affirmatives only after making every kind of exclusion. The first task of true induction is the exclusion of singular natures that are not found in an instance where the given nature is present. Only when rejection and exclusion have been performed properly will the affirmative form remain. The forms of which Bacon speaks are not the contemporary conception (composite forms or abstract forms), but are the laws and limitations that organize and constitute a simple nature. Bacon now gives examples of exclusions of natures from the form of heat. Every contradictory instance destroys a conjecture about a form.

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by anon_2223129944, November 27, 2014

"Bacon's scathing attack on current philosophy and on the scientific method."
As I recall, Bacon attacked the philosophical thinking and scholasticism of his day, but his work DESCRIBED what has become known as the scientific method, which had not been formalized previously. Also, while he emphasized beginning with inductive reasoning, he warned AGAINST leaving off at gathering data and generalizing from it. Not only was (as noted) experimentation important, but so was DEDUCTIVE reasoning, in its proper place. Bacon also suggested t... Read more


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