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Baconian Science

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 02 April 2009

Patricia Fara, Stephen Pumfrey and Rhodri Lewis join Melvyn Bragg to discuss the Jacobean lawyer, political fixer and alleged founder of modern science Francis Bacon.In the introduction to Thomas Spratt's History of the Royal Society, there is a poem about man called Francis Bacon which declares 'Bacon, like Moses, led us forth at last, The barren wilderness he past, Did on the very border stand Of the blest promis'd land, And from the mountain's top of his exalted wit, Saw it himself, and shew'd us it'.Francis Bacon was a lawyer and political schemer who climbed the greasy pole of Jacobean politics and then fell down it again. But he is most famous for developing an idea of how science should be done - a method that he hoped would slough off the husk of ancient thinking and usher in a new age. It is called Baconian Method and it has influenced and inspired scientists from Bacon's own time to the present day.

  • Further Reading

    The Works of Francis Bacon, 7 vols, ed. James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath (London, 1857-61)

    Francis Bacon: The Major Works, Brian Vickers (Oxford, 2002)

    Cambridge Companionto Bacon, Markku Peltonen (Cambridge, 2008)

    Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early Modern Philosophy, Stephen Gaukroger (Cambridge, 2001)

    Francis Bacon: Discovery and the Art of Discourse, Lisa Jardine (Cambridge, 1974)

    Francis Bacon: From Magic to Science, Paolo Rossi (London, 1968)

    Francis Bacon, Perez Zagorin (Princeton, 1998)

    Science and Society in Restoration England, Michael Hunter (Cambridge, 1991; repr. 1992)

    Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination, Nieves Matthews (New Haven, 1996)

    Fact and Feeling: Baconian Science and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, Jonathan Smith (London, 1994)

    The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626-1660, Charles Webster (London, 1975; 2nd ed. 2002)

    Science: A Four Thousand Year History, Patricia Fara (Oxford University Press, 2009)

    The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon (Kessinger Publishing Co, 2004)

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