100 Heroes of Western Culture
These individuals have most contributed to replacing
ignorance with knowledge, savagery with civilization,
disease with health, tyranny with liberty, poverty
with abundance, and despair with happiness.
#26: Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
Francis Bacon was an English philosopher and scientist who made
important contributions to the development of the scientific
method and the establishing of a scientific worldview.
Bacon's main contribution was his emphasis on and application of
induction, or knowledge that begins from empirical sense
experience. Bacon argued that valid knowledge must be empirically
rooted in the natural world. While this is ultimately true, Bacon
failed to give importance to the role that deduction and hypothesis
play in the scientific method.
Nevertheless, his emphasis on induction helped to solidify a more
fact- and reality-based method and worldview in the culture, and
this was a vast improvement over the scholasticism and otherworldliness
which had been culturally dominant.
In addition, Bacon emphasized the benevolence of scientific understanding
in that science could give man substantial control over nature,
and consequently improve the human condition. Or in his famous words,
"Knowledge is power." (The Industrial Revolution
would later prove Bacon entirely correct on this issue.)
Bacon helped to make possible the Scientific Revolution and, consequently,
the unprecedented benefits it has bestowed and continues to bestow
Go to #27: Thucydides
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