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Atomism and ‘subtlety’ in Francis Bacon's philosophy

Atomism and ‘subtlety’ in Francis Bacon's philosophy Summary Francis Bacon's reflections on atomism have generally been misunderstood because they have never been systematically studied in relation to the speculative chemical philosophy which he developed in the interval between about 1592 and his death in 1626. This philosophy, in many respects unknown to historians until quite recently, was the only body of positive science which Bacon ever accepted. The speculative philosophy was, on the whole, chemical and non-mechanical, and consequently not consistent with atomist doctrines. In fact, Bacon never at any time accepted the principal atomist tenets. It is therefore necessary to explain why he was interested in atomism at all. Of the several reasons for his interest one (hitherto unrecognised) is especially important—namely, his belief that the speculative and atomic philosophies had affinities. In particular, he believed that of all the ancient philosophies atomism alone approached the ideals associated with the key notion of ‘subtlety’—ideals represented in their highest form (as he imagined) in the speculative philosophy. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annals of Science Taylor & Francis

Atomism and ‘subtlety’ in Francis Bacon's philosophy

Annals of Science , Volume 37 (5): 23 – Sep 1, 1980

Atomism and ‘subtlety’ in Francis Bacon's philosophy

Annals of Science , Volume 37 (5): 23 – Sep 1, 1980

Abstract

Summary Francis Bacon's reflections on atomism have generally been misunderstood because they have never been systematically studied in relation to the speculative chemical philosophy which he developed in the interval between about 1592 and his death in 1626. This philosophy, in many respects unknown to historians until quite recently, was the only body of positive science which Bacon ever accepted. The speculative philosophy was, on the whole, chemical and non-mechanical, and consequently not consistent with atomist doctrines. In fact, Bacon never at any time accepted the principal atomist tenets. It is therefore necessary to explain why he was interested in atomism at all. Of the several reasons for his interest one (hitherto unrecognised) is especially important—namely, his belief that the speculative and atomic philosophies had affinities. In particular, he believed that of all the ancient philosophies atomism alone approached the ideals associated with the key notion of ‘subtlety’—ideals represented in their highest form (as he imagined) in the speculative philosophy.

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References (8)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1464-505X
eISSN
0003-3790
DOI
10.1080/00033798000200391
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Summary Francis Bacon's reflections on atomism have generally been misunderstood because they have never been systematically studied in relation to the speculative chemical philosophy which he developed in the interval between about 1592 and his death in 1626. This philosophy, in many respects unknown to historians until quite recently, was the only body of positive science which Bacon ever accepted. The speculative philosophy was, on the whole, chemical and non-mechanical, and consequently not consistent with atomist doctrines. In fact, Bacon never at any time accepted the principal atomist tenets. It is therefore necessary to explain why he was interested in atomism at all. Of the several reasons for his interest one (hitherto unrecognised) is especially important—namely, his belief that the speculative and atomic philosophies had affinities. In particular, he believed that of all the ancient philosophies atomism alone approached the ideals associated with the key notion of ‘subtlety’—ideals represented in their highest form (as he imagined) in the speculative philosophy.

Journal

Annals of ScienceTaylor & Francis

Published: Sep 1, 1980

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