|Born||c. 1219/20 |
near Ilchester, Somerset, England
|Died||c. 1292 (age about 72)|
near Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
| Theology |
Roger Bacon OFM ( // ; Latin : Rogerus or Rogerius Baconus, Baconis, also Frater Rogerus; c. 1219/20 – c. 1292), also known by the scholastic accolade Doctor Mirabilis , was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empiricism. In the early modern era, he was regarded as a wizard and particularly famed for the story of his mechanical or necromantic brazen head. He is sometimes credited (mainly since the 19th century) as one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method inspired by Aristotle and by the Arab scientist Alhazen.
The Order of Friars Minor is a mendicant Catholic religious order, founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi. The order adheres to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others. The Order of Friars Minor is considered to the successor to the original Franciscan Order within the Catholic Church, and is the largest of the contemporary First Orders within the Franciscan movement.
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded since the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
His linguistic work has been heralded for its early exposition of a universal grammar. However, more recent re-evaluations emphasise that Bacon was essentially a medieval thinker, with much of his "experimental" knowledge obtained from books in the scholastic tradition.He was, however, partially responsible for a revision of the medieval university curriculum, which saw the addition of optics to the traditional quadrivium . A survey of how Bacon's work was received over the centuries found that it often reflected the concerns and controversies that were central to his readers.
Universal grammar (UG) in linguistics, is the theory of the genetic component of the language faculty, usually credited to Noam Chomsky. The basic postulate of UG is that a certain set of structural rules are innate to humans, independent of sensory experience. With more linguistic stimuli received in the course of psychological development, children then adopt specific syntactic rules that conform to UG. It is sometimes known as "mental grammar", and stands contrasted with other "grammars", e.g. prescriptive, descriptive and pedagogical. The advocates of this theory emphasize and partially rely on the poverty of the stimulus (POS) argument and the existence of some universal properties of natural human languages. However, the latter has not been firmly established, as some linguists have argued languages are so diverse that such universality is rare. It is a matter of empirical investigation to determine precisely what properties are universal and what linguistic capacities are innate.
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.
A medieval university is a corporation organized during the Middle Ages for the purposes of higher education. The first Western European institutions generally considered universities were established in the Kingdom of Italy, the Kingdom of England, the Kingdom of France, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Kingdom of Portugal between the 11th and 15th centuries for the study of the Arts and the higher disciplines of Theology, Law, and Medicine. During the 14th century there was an increase in growth of universities and colleges around Europe. These universities evolved from much older Christian cathedral schools and monastic schools, and it is difficult to define the exact date when they became true universities, though the lists of studia generalia for higher education in Europe held by the Vatican are a useful guide.
Bacon's major work, the Opus Majus , was sent to Pope Clement IV in Rome in 1267 upon the pope's request. Although gunpowder was first invented and described in China, Bacon was the first in Europe to record its formula.
The Opus Majus is the most important work of Roger Bacon. It was written in Medieval Latin, at the request of Pope Clement IV, to explain the work that Bacon had undertaken. The 840-page treatise ranges over all aspects of natural science, from grammar and logic to mathematics, physics, and philosophy. Bacon sent his work to the Pope in 1267, accompanied by a letter of dedication which was found by F. A. Gasquet in the Vatican Library and published in 1897. It was followed later the same year by a smaller second work, his Opus Minus, which was intended as an abstract or summary of the longer work, followed shortly by a third work, Opus Tertium, as a preliminary introduction to the other two.
Pope Clement IV, born Gui Foucois and also known as Guy le Gros, was bishop of Le Puy (1257–1260), archbishop of Narbonne (1259–1261), cardinal of Sabina (1261–1265), and Pope from 5 February 1265 until his death. His election as pope occurred at a conclave held at Perugia that lasted four months while cardinals argued over whether to call in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of Louis IX of France, to carry on the papal war against the Hohenstaufens. Pope Clement was a patron of Thomas Aquinas and of Roger Bacon, encouraging Bacon in the writing of his Opus Majus, which included important treatises on optics and the scientific method.
Gunpowder, also known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), charcoal (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Because of its incendiary properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generates, gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms, artillery, rockets, and fireworks, and as a blasting powder in quarrying, mining, and road building.
Roger Bacon was born in Ilchester in Somerset, England, in the early 13th century, although his date of birth is sometimes narrowed down to c. 1210, "1213 or 1214", or "1215". However, modern scholars tend to argue for the date of c. 1220, but there are disagreements on this. The only source for his birth date is a statement from his 1267 Opus Tertium that "forty years have passed since I first learned the Alphabetum". The latest dates assume this referred to the alphabet itself, but elsewhere in the Opus Tertium it is clear that Bacon uses the term to refer to rudimentary studies, the trivium or quadrivium that formed the medieval curriculum. His family appears to have been well off.
Ilchester is a village and civil parish, situated on the River Yeo or Ivel, five miles north of Yeovil, in the English county of Somerset. Originally a Roman town, and later a market town, Ilchester has a rich medieval history and was a notable settlement in the county; around the 12th and 13th centuries it was effectively the county town. It had, however, declined in size and importance by the beginning of the 18th century, and the last markets were held in 1833. In 1889 the historic corporation that had governed the town was dissolved.
An alphabet is a standard set of letters that represent the phonemes of any spoken language it is used to write. This is in contrast to other types of writing systems, such as syllabaries and logographic systems.
The trivium is the lower division of the seven liberal arts and comprises grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.
Bacon studied at Oxford.While Robert Grosseteste had probably left shortly before Bacon's arrival, his work and legacy almost certainly influenced the young scholar and it is possible Bacon subsequently visited him and William of Sherwood in Lincoln. Bacon became a master at Oxford, lecturing on Aristotle. There is no evidence he was ever awarded a doctorate. (The title Doctor Mirabilis was posthumous and figurative.) A caustic cleric named Roger Bacon is recorded speaking before the king at Oxford in 1233.
Robert Grosseteste was an English statesman, scholastic philosopher, theologian, scientist and Bishop of Lincoln. He was born of humble parents at Stradbroke in Suffolk. Upon his death, he was almost universally revered as a saint in England, but attempts to procure a formal canonization failed. A. C. Crombie calls him "the real founder of the tradition of scientific thought in medieval Oxford, and in some ways, of the modern English intellectual tradition".
William of Sherwood or William Sherwood, with numerous variant spellings, was a medieval English scholastic philosopher, logician, and teacher. Little is known of his life, but he is thought to have studied in Paris, was a master at Oxford in 1252, treasurer of Lincoln from 1254/1258 onwards, and a rector of Aylesbury.
Lincoln is a cathedral city and the county town of Lincolnshire in the East Midlands of England. The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln had a 2012 population of 94,600. The 2011 census gave the urban area of Lincoln, which includes North Hykeham and Waddington, a population of 130,200. The Roman town of Lindum Colonia developed from an Iron Age settlement on the River Witham. Lincoln's major landmarks are Lincoln Cathedral, an example of English Gothic architecture and the tallest building in the world for over 200 years, as well as Lincoln Castle, an 11th-century Norman castle. The city is home to the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University, and to Lincoln City Football Club.
In 1237 or at some point in the following decade, he accepted an invitation to teach at the University of Paris.While there, he lectured on Latin grammar, Aristotelian logic, arithmetic, geometry, and the mathematical aspects of astronomy and music. His faculty colleagues included Robert Kilwardby, Albertus Magnus, and Peter of Spain, the future Pope John XXI. The Cornishman Richard Rufus was a scholarly opponent. In 1247 or soon after, he left his position in Paris.
The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.
Latin is a heavily inflected language with largely free word order. Nouns are inflected for number and case; pronouns and adjectives are inflected for number, case, and gender; and verbs are inflected for person, number, tense, aspect, voice, and mood. The inflections are often changes in the ending of a word, but can be more complicated, especially with verbs.
The history of arithmetic includes the period from the emergence of counting before the formal definition of numbers and arithmetic operations over them by means of a system of axioms. Arithmetic — the science of numbers, their properties and their relations — is one of the main mathematical sciences. It is closely connected with algebra and the theory of numbers.
As a private scholar, his whereabouts for the next decade are uncertain c. 1248–1251, where he met Adam Marsh, and in Paris in 1251. He seems to have studied most of the known Greek and Arabic works on optics (then known as "perspective", perspectiva). A passage in the Opus Tertium states that at some point he took a two-year break from his studies.but he was likely in Oxford
By the late 1250s, resentment against the king's preferential treatment of his émigré Poitevin relatives led to a coup and the imposition of the Provisions of Oxford and Westminster, instituting a baronial council and more frequent parliaments. Pope Urban IV absolved the king of his oath in 1261 and, after initial abortive resistance, Simon de Montfort led a force, enlarged due to recent crop failures, that prosecuted the Second Barons' War. Bacon's own family were considered royal partisans:De Montfort's men seized their property and drove several members into exile.
In 1256 or 1257, he became a friar in the Franciscan Order in either Paris or Oxford, following the example of scholarly English Franciscans such as Grosseteste and Marsh.After 1260, Bacon's activities were restricted by a statute prohibiting the friars of his order from publishing books or pamphlets without prior approval. He was likely kept at constant menial tasks to limit his time for contemplation and came to view his treatment as an enforced absence from scholarly life.
By the mid-1260s, he was undertaking a search for patrons who could secure permission and funding for his return to Oxford.For a time, Bacon was finally able to get around his superiors' interference through his acquaintance with Guy de Foulques, bishop of Narbonne, cardinal of Sabina, and the papal legate who negotiated between England's royal and baronial factions.
In 1263 or 1264, a message garbled by Bacon's messenger, Raymond of Laon, led Guy to believe that Bacon had already completed a summary of the sciences. In fact, he had no money to research, let alone copy, such a work and attempts to secure financing from his family were thwarted by the Second Barons' War. However, in 1265, Guy was summoned to a conclave at Perugia that elected him Pope Clement IV . William Benecor, who had previously been the courier between Henry III and the pope, now carried the correspondence between Bacon and Clement. Clement's reply of 22 June 1266 commissioned "writings and remedies for current conditions", instructing Bacon not to violate any standing "prohibitions" of his order but to carry out his task in utmost secrecy.
While faculties of the time were largely limited to addressing disputes on the known texts of Aristotle, Clement's patronage permitted Bacon to engage in a wide-ranging consideration of the state of knowledge in his era.In 1267 or '68, Bacon sent the Pope his Opus Majus , which presented his views on how to incorporate Aristotelian logic and science into a new theology, supporting Grosseteste's text-based approach against the "sentence method" then fashionable.
Bacon also sent his Opus Minus, De Multiplicatione Specierum,De Speculis Comburentibus, an optical lens, and possibly other works on alchemy and astrology. The entire process has been called "one of the most remarkable single efforts of literary productivity", with Bacon composing referenced works of around a million words in about a year.
Pope Clement died in 1268 and Bacon lost his protector. The Condemnations of 1277 banned the teaching of certain philosophical doctrines, including deterministic astrology. Some time within the next two years, Bacon was apparently imprisoned or placed under house arrest. This was traditionally ascribed to Franciscan Minister-General Jerome of Ascoli, probably acting on behalf of the many clergy, monks, and educators attacked by Bacon's 1271 Compendium Studii Philosophiae.
Modern scholarship, however, notes that the first reference to Bacon's "imprisonment" dates from eighty years after his death on the charge of unspecified "suspected novelties"and finds it less than credible. Contemporary scholars who do accept Bacon's imprisonment typically associate it with Bacon's "attraction to contemporary prophesies", his sympathies for "the radical 'poverty' wing of the Franciscans", interest in certain astrological doctrines, or generally combative personality rather than from "any scientific novelties which he may have proposed".
Sometime after 1278, Bacon returned to the Franciscan House at Oxford, where he continued his studiesand is presumed to have spent most of the remainder of his life. His last dateable writing – the Compendium Studii Theologiae – was completed in 1292. He seems to have died shortly afterwards and been buried at Oxford.
Medieval European philosophy often relied on appeals to the authority of Church Fathers such as St Augustine, and on works by Plato and Aristotle only known at second hand or through (sometimes highly inaccurate) Latin translations. By the 13th century, new works and better versions—in Arabic or in new Latin translations from the Arabic—began to trickle north from Muslim Spain. In Roger Bacon's writings, he upholds Aristotle's calls for the collection of facts before deducing scientific truths, against the practices of his contemporaries, arguing that "thence cometh quiet to the mind".
Bacon also called for reform with regard to theology. He argued that, rather than training to debate minor philosophical distinctions, theologians should focus their attention primarily on the Bible itself, learning the languages of its original sources thoroughly. He was fluent in several of these languages and was able to note and bemoan several corruptions of scripture, and of the works of the Greek philosophers that had been mistranslated or misinterpreted by scholars working in Latin. He also argued for the education of theologians in science ("natural philosophy") and its addition to the medieval curriculum.
Bacon's Greater Work, the Opus Maius ,contains treatments of mathematics, optics, alchemy, and astronomy, including theories on the positions and sizes of the celestial bodies. It is divided into seven sections: "The Four General Causes of Human Ignorance" (Causae Erroris), "The Affinity of Philosophy with Theology" (Philosophiae cum Theologia Affinitas), "On the Usefulness of Grammar" (De Utilitate Grammaticae), "The Usefulness of Mathematics in Physics" (Mathematicae in Physicis Utilitas), "On the Science of Perspective" (De Scientia Perspectivae), "On Experimental Knowledge" (De Scientia Experimentali), and "A Philosophy of Morality" (Moralis Philosophia).
It was not intended as a complete work but as a "persuasive preamble" (persuasio praeambula), an enormous proposal for a reform of the medieval university curriculum and the establishment of a kind of library or encyclopedia, bringing in experts to compose a collection of definitive texts on these subjects.The new subjects were to be "perspective" (i.e., optics), "astronomy" (inclusive of astronomy proper, astrology, and the geography necessary in order to use them), "weights" (likely some treatment of mechanics but this section of the Opus Majus has been lost), alchemy, agriculture (inclusive of botany and zoology), medicine, and "experimental science", a philosophy of science that would guide the others. The section on geography was allegedly originally ornamented with a map based on ancient and Arabic computations of longitude and latitude, but has since been lost. His (mistaken) arguments supporting the idea that dry land formed the larger proportion of the globe were apparently similar to those which later guided Columbus.
In this work Bacon criticises his contemporaries Alexander of Hales and Albertus Magnus, who were held in high repute despite having only acquired their knowledge of Aristotle at second hand during their preaching careers.Albert was received at Paris as an authority equal to Aristotle, Avicenna, and Averroës, a situation Bacon decried: "never in the world [had] such monstrosity occurred before."
In Part I of the Opus Majus Bacon recognizes some philosophers as the Sapientes, or gifted few, and saw their knowledge in philosophy and theology as superior to the vulgus philosophantium, or common herd of philosophers. He held Islamic thinkers between 1210 and 1265 in especially high regard calling them "both philosophers and sacred writers" and defended the integration of Islamic philosophy into Christian learning.
In Part IV of the Opus Majus, Bacon proposed a calendrical reform similar to the later system introduced in 1582 under Pope Gregory XIII.Drawing on ancient Greek and medieval Islamic astronomy recently introduced to western Europe via Spain, Bacon continued the work of Robert Grosseteste and criticized the then-current Julian calendar as "intolerable, horrible, and laughable".
It had become apparent that Eudoxus and Sosigenes's assumption of a year of 365¼ days was, over the course of centuries, too inexact. Bacon charged that this meant the computation of Easter had shifted forward by 9 days since the First Council of Nicaea in 325.His proposal to drop one day every 125 years and to cease the observance of fixed equinoxes and solstices was not acted upon following the death of Pope Clement IV in 1268. The eventual Gregorian calendar drops one day from the first three centuries in each set of 400 years.
In Part V of the Opus Majus , Bacon discusses physiology of eyesight and the anatomy of the eye and the brain, considering light, distance, position, and size, direct and reflected vision, refraction, mirrors, and lenses.His treatment was primarily oriented by the Latin translation of Alhazen's Book of Optics . He also draws heavily on Eugene of Palermo's Latin translation of the Arabic translation of Ptolemy's Optics ; on Robert Grosseteste's work based on Al-Kindi's Optics ; and, through Alhazen (Ibn al-Haytham), on Ibn Sahl's work on dioptrics.
A passage in the Opus Majus and another in the Opus Tertium are usually taken as the first European descriptions of a mixture containing the essential ingredients of gunpowder. Partington and others have come to the conclusion that Bacon most likely witnessed at least one demonstration of Chinese firecrackers, possibly obtained by Franciscans—including Bacon's friend William of Rubruck—who visited the Mongol Empire during this period.The most telling passage reads:
We have an example of these things (that act on the senses) in [the sound and fire of] that children's toy which is made in many [diverse] parts of the world; i.e. a device no bigger than one's thumb. From the violence of that salt called saltpetre [together with sulphur and willow charcoal, combined into a powder] so horrible a sound is made by the bursting of a thing so small, no more than a bit of parchment [containing it], that we find [the ear assaulted by a noise] exceeding the roar of strong thunder, and a flash brighter than the most brilliant lightning.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry William Lovett Hime of the Royal Artillery published the theory that Bacon's Epistola contained a cryptogram giving a recipe for the gunpowder he witnessed.The theory was criticized by Thorndike in a 1915 letter to Science and several books, a position joined by Muir, Stillman, Steele, and Sarton. Needham et al. concurred with these earlier critics that the additional passage did not originate with Bacon and further showed that the proportions supposedly deciphered (a 7:5:5 ratio of saltpetre to charcoal to sulphur) as not even useful for firecrackers, burning slowly with a great deal of smoke and failing to ignite inside a gun barrel. The ~41% nitrate content is too low to have explosive properties.
Bacon attributed the Secret of Secrets (Secretum Secretorum), the Islamic "Mirror of Princes" (Arabic : Sirr al-ʿasrar), to Aristotle, thinking that he had composed it for Alexander the Great. Bacon produced an edited edition complete with his own introduction and notes and his writings of the 1260s and 1270s cite it far more than his contemporaries did. This led Easton and others including Robert Steele to argue that the text spurred Bacon's own transformation into an experimentalist. (Bacon never described such a decisive impact himself.) The dating of Bacon's edition of the Secret of Secrets is a key piece of evidence in the debate, with those arguing for a greater impact giving it an earlier date, but it certainly influenced the elder Bacon's conception of the political aspects of his work in the sciences.
Bacon has been credited with a number of alchemical texts.
The Letter on the Secret Workings of Art and Nature and on the Vanity of Magic (Epistola de Secretis Operibus Artis et Naturae et de Nullitate Magiae),also known as On the Wonderful Powers of Art and Nature (De Mirabili Potestate Artis et Naturae), a likely-forged letter to an unknown "William of Paris," dismisses practices such as necromancy but contains most of the alchemical formulae attributed to Bacon, including one for a philosopher's stone and another possibly for gunpowder. It also includes several passages about hypothetical flying machines and submarines, attributing their first use to Alexander the Great. On the Vanity of Magic or The Nullity of Magic is a debunking of esoteric claims in Bacon's time, showing that they could be explained by natural phenomena.
Bacon's early linguistic and logical works are the Overview of Grammar (Summa Grammatica), Summa de Sophismatibus et Distinctionibus, and the Summulae Dialectices or Summulae super Totam Logicam.These are mature but essentially conventional presentations of Oxford and Paris's terminist and pre-modist logic and grammar. His later work in linguistics is much more idiosyncratic, using terminology and addressing questions unique in his era.
In his Greek and Hebrew Grammars (Grammatica Graeca and Hebraica), in his work "On the Usefulness of Grammar" (Book III of the Opus Majus ), and in his Compendium of the Study of Philosophy,Bacon stresses the need for scholars to know several languages. Europe's vernacular languages are not ignored—he considers them useful for practical purposes such as trade, proselytism, and administration—but Bacon is mostly interested in his era's languages of science and religion: Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.
Bacon is less interested in a full practical mastery of the other languages than on a theoretical understanding of their grammatical rules, ensuring that a Latin reader will not misunderstand passages' original meaning.For this reason, his treatments of Greek and Hebrew grammar are not isolated works on their topic but contrastive grammars treating the aspects which influenced Latin or which were required for properly understanding Latin texts. He pointedly states, "I want to describe Greek grammar for the benefit of Latin speakers". It is likely only this limited sense which was intended by Bacon's boast that he could teach an interested pupil a new language within three days.
Passages in the Overview and the Greek grammar have been taken as an early exposition of a universal grammar underlying all human languages.The Greek grammar contains the tersest and most famous exposition:
Grammar is one and the same in all languages, substantially, though it may vary, accidentally, in each of them.
However, Bacon's lack of interest in studying a literal grammar underlying the languages known to him and his numerous works on linguistics and comparative linguistics has prompted Hovdhaugen to question the usual literal translation of Bacon's grammatica in such passages.She notes the ambiguity in the Latin term, which could refer variously to the structure of language, to its description, and to the science underlying such descriptions: i.e., linguistics.
Bacon states that his Lesser Work (Opus Minus) and Third Work (Opus Tertium) were originally intended as summaries of the Opus Majus in case it was lost in transit.Easton's review of the texts suggests that they became separate works over the course of the laborious process of creating a fair copy of the Opus Majus, whose half-million words were copied by hand and apparently greatly revised at least once.
Other works by Bacon include his "Tract on the Multiplication of Species" (Tractatus de Multiplicatione Specierum),"On Burning Lenses" (De Speculis Comburentibus), the Communia Naturalium and Mathematica, the "Compendium of the Study of Philosophy" and "of Theology" (Compendium Studii Philosophiae and Theologiae), and his Computus. The "Compendium of the Study of Theology", presumably written in the last years of his life, was an anticlimax: adding nothing new, it is principally devoted to the concerns of the 1260s.
The Mirror of Alchimy (Speculum Alchemiae), a short treatise on the origin and composition of metals, is traditionally credited to Bacon.It espouses the Arabian theory of mercury and sulphur forming the other metals, with vague allusions to transmutation. Stillman opined that "there is nothing in it that is characteristic of Roger Bacon's style or ideas, nor that distinguishes it from many unimportant alchemical lucubrations of anonymous writers of the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries", and Muir and Lippmann also considered it a pseudepigraph.
The cryptic Voynich manuscript has been attributed to Bacon by various sources, including by its first recorded owner,but historians of science Lynn Thorndike and George Sarton dismissed these claims as unsupported. and the vellum of the manuscript has since been dated to the 15th century.
Bacon was largely ignored by his contemporaries in favor of other scholars such as Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas,although his works were studied by Bonaventure, John Pecham, and Peter of Limoges, through whom he may have influenced Raymond Lull. He was also partially responsible for the addition of optics (perspectiva) to the medieval university curriculum.
By the early modern period, the English considered him the epitome of a wise and subtle possessor of forbidden knowledge, a Faust-like magician who had tricked the devil and so was able to go to heaven. Of these legends, one of the most prominent was that he created a talking brazen head which could answer any question. The story appears in the anonymous 16th-century account of The Famous Historie of Fryer Bacon,in which Bacon speaks with a demon but causes the head to speak by "the continuall fume of the six hottest Simples", testing his theory that speech is caused by "an effusion of vapors".
Around 1589, Robert Greene adapted the story for the stage as The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay ,one of the most successful Elizabethan comedies. As late as the 1640s, Thomas Browne was still complaining that "Every ear is filled with the story of Frier Bacon, that made a brazen head to speak these words, Time is". Greene's Bacon spent seven years creating a brass head that would speak "strange and uncouth aphorisms" to enable him to encircle Britain with a wall of brass that would make it impossible to conquer.
Unlike his source material, Greene does not cause his head to operate by natural forces but by "nigromantic charms" and "the enchanting forces of the devil":i.e., by entrapping a dead spirit or hobgoblin. Bacon collapses, exhausted, just before his device comes to life and announces "Time is", "Time was", and "Time is Past" before being destroyed in spectacular fashion: the stage direction instructs that "a lightening flasheth forth, and a hand appears that breaketh down the Head with a hammer".
A necromantic head was ascribed to Pope Sylvester II as early as the 1120s, c. 1335 Precious Pearl where the negligent alchemist misses the birth of his creation and loses it forever. The story may also preserve the work by Bacon and his contemporaries to construct clockwork armillary spheres. Bacon had praised a "self-activated working model of the heavens" as "the greatest of all things which have been devised".but Browne considered the legend to be a misunderstanding of a passage in Peter the Good's
As early as the 16th century, natural philosophers like Bruno, Dee,and Francis Bacon were attempting to rehabilitate Bacon's reputation and to portray him as a scientific pioneer who had avoided the petty bickering of his contemporaries to attempt a rational understanding of nature. By the 19th century, commenters following Whewell considered that "Bacon... was not appreciated in his age because he was so completely in advance of it; he is a 16th or 17th century philosopher, whose lot has been by some accident cast in the 13th century". His assertions in the Opus Majus that "theories supplied by reason should be verified by sensory data, aided by instruments, and corroborated by trustworthy witnesses" were (and still are) considered "one of the first important formulations of the scientific method on record".
This idea that Bacon was a modern experimental scientist reflected two views of the period: that the principal form of scientific activity is experimentation and that 13th-century Europe still represented the "Dark Ages".This view, which is still reflected in some 21st-century popular science books, portrays Bacon as an advocate of modern experimental science who emerged as a solitary genius in an age hostile to his ideas. Based on Bacon's apocrypha, he is also portrayed as a visionary who predicted the invention of the submarine, aircraft, and automobile.
However, in the course of the 20th century, Husserl, Heidegger, and others emphasized the importance to modern science of Cartesian and Galilean projections of mathematics over sensory perceptions of nature; Heidegger in particular noted the lack of such an understanding in Bacon's works.Although Crombie, Kuhn, and Schramm continued to argue for Bacon's importance to the development of "qualitative" areas of modern science, Duhem, Thorndike, Carton, and Koyré emphasized the essentially medieval nature of Bacon's scientia experimentalis.
Research also established that Bacon was not as isolated—and probably not as persecuted—as was once thought. Many medieval sources of and influences on Bacon's scientific activity have been identified.In particular, Bacon often mentioned his debt to the work of Robert Grosseteste: his work on optics and the calendar followed Grosseteste's lead, as did his idea that inductively-derived conclusions should be submitted for verification through experimental testing.
Bacon noted of William of Sherwood that "nobody was greater in philosophy than he";praised Peter of Maricourt (the author of "A Letter on Magnetism") and John of London as "perfect" mathematicians; Campanus of Novara (the author of works on astronomy, astrology, and the calendar) and a Master Nicholas as "good"; and acknowledged the influence of Adam Marsh and lesser figures. He was clearly not an isolated genius. The medieval church was also not generally opposed to scientific investigation and medieval science was both varied and extensive.
As a result, the picture of Bacon has changed. Bacon is now seen as part of his age: a leading figure in the beginnings of the medieval universities at Paris and Oxford but one joined in the development of the philosophy of science by Robert Grosseteste, William of Auvergne, Henry of Ghent, Albert Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.Lindberg summarised:
Bacon was not a modern, out of step with his age, or a harbinger of things to come, but a brilliant, combative, and somewhat eccentric schoolman of the thirteenth century, endeavoring to take advantage of the new learning just becoming available while remaining true to traditional notions... of the importance to be attached to philosophical knowledge".
A recent review of the many visions of Bacon across the ages says contemporary scholarship still neglects one of the most important aspects of his life and thought: his commitment to the Franciscan order.
His Opus maius was a plea for reform addressed to the supreme spiritual head of the Christian faith, written against a background of apocalyptic expectation and informed by the driving concerns of the friars. It was designed to improve training for missionaries and to provide new skills to be employed in the defence of the Christian world against the enmity of non-Christians and of the Antichrist. It cannot usefully be read solely in the context of the history of science and philosophy.
With regard to religion's influence on Bacon's philosophy, Charles Sanders Peirce noted, "To Roger Bacon,... the schoolmen's conception of reasoning appeared only an obstacle to truth... [but] Of all kinds of experience, the best, he thought, was interior illumination, which teaches many things about Nature which the external senses could never discover, such as the transubstantiation of bread."
In Oxford lore, Bacon is credited as the namesake of Folly Bridge for having gotten himself placed under house arrest nearby.Although this is probably untrue, it had formerly been known as "Friar Bacon's Bridge". Bacon is also honoured at Oxford by a plaque affixed to the wall of the new Westgate shopping centre.
To commemorate the 700th anniversary of Bacon's approximate year of birth, Prof. J. Erskine wrote the biographical play A Pageant of the Thirteenth Century, which was performed and published by Columbia University in 1914.A fictionalized account of Bacon's life and times also appears in the second book of James Blish's After Such Knowledge trilogy, the 1964 Doctor Mirabilis . Bacon serves as a mentor to the protagonists of Thomas Costain's 1945 The Black Rose , and Umberto Eco's 1980 The Name of the Rose . Greene's play prompted a less successful sequel John of Bordeaux and was recast as a children's story for James Baldwin's 1905 Thirty More Famous Stories Retold. "The Brazen Head of Friar Bacon" also appears in Daniel Defoe's 1722 Journal of the Plague Year , Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1843 "The Birth-Mark" and 1844 "The Artist of the Beautiful", William Douglas O'Connor's 1891 "The Brazen Android" (where Bacon devises it to terrify King Henry into accepting Simon de Montfort's demands for greater democracy), John Cowper Powys's 1956 The Brazen Head, and Robertson Davies's 1970 Fifth Business .
The minute is a unit of time or angle. As a unit of time, the minute is most of times equal to 1⁄60 of an hour, or 60 seconds. In the UTC time standard, a minute on rare occasions has 61 seconds, a consequence of leap seconds. As a unit of angle, the minute of arc is equal to 1⁄60 of a degree, or 60 seconds. Although not an SI unit for either time or angle, the minute is accepted for use with SI units for both. The SI symbols for minute or minutes are min for time measurement, and the prime symbol after a number, e.g. 5′, for angle measurement. The prime is also sometimes used informally to denote minutes of time.
Year 1267 (MCCLXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar.
A fact is a thing that is known to be consistent with objective reality and can be proven to be true with evidence. For example, "this sentence contains words" is a linguistic fact, and "the sun is a star" is a cosmological fact. Further, "Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States" and "Abraham Lincoln was assassinated" are also both facts, of the historical type. All of these statements have the epistemic quality of being "ontologically superior" to opinion or interpretation — they are either categorically necessary or supported by adequate historical documentation.
Adelard of Bath was a 12th-century English natural philosopher. He is known both for his original works and for translating many important Arabic and Greek scientific works of astrology, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics into Latin from Arabic versions, which were then introduced to Western Europe. He is known as one of the first to introduce the Arabic numeral system to Europe. He stands at the convergence of three intellectual schools: the traditional learning of French schools, the Greek culture of Southern Italy, and the Arabic science of the East.
Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius was a German orientalist, Lutheran, and Biblical critic. He is credited, among other things, with the reconstructed pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, "Yahweh."
John Sherren Brewer was an English clergyman, historian and scholar. He was a brother of E. Cobham Brewer, compiler of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable.
Honorificabilitudinitatibus is the dative and ablative plural of the medieval Latin word honōrificābilitūdinitās, which can be translated as "the state of being able to achieve honours". It is mentioned by the character Costard in Act V, Scene I of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost.
An ecclesiastical new moon is the first day of a lunar month in an ecclesiastical lunar calendar. Such months have a whole number of days, 29 or 30, whereas true synodic months can vary from about 29.27 to 29.83 days in length. Medieval authors equated the ecclesiastical new moon with a new crescent moon, but it is not a phase of the true moon. If the ecclesiastical lunar calendar is accurate, the ecclesiastical new moon can be any day from the day of the astronomical new moon or dark moon to two days later.
Witelo ; born ca. 1230, probably in Legnica in Lower Silesia; died after 1280, before 1314) was a friar, theologian and scientist: a physicist, natural philosopher, mathematician. He is an important figure in the history of philosophy in Poland. On the Moon there is a crater, Vitello, named after him.
Hugh of Saint Victor, C.R.S.A., was a Saxon canon regular and a leading theologian and writer on mystical theology.
The history of scientific method considers changes in the methodology of scientific inquiry, as distinct from the history of science itself. The development of rules for scientific reasoning has not been straightforward; scientific method has been the subject of intense and recurring debate throughout the history of science, and eminent natural philosophers and scientists have argued for the primacy of one or another approach to establishing scientific knowledge. Despite the disagreements about approaches, scientific method has advanced in definite steps. Rationalist explanations of nature, including atomism, appeared both in ancient Greece in the thought of Leucippus and Democritus, and in ancient India, in the Nyaya, Vaisesika and Buddhist schools, while Charvaka materialism rejected inference as a source of knowledge in favour of an empiricism that was always subject to doubt. Aristotle pioneered scientific method in ancient Greece alongside his empirical biology and his work on logic, rejecting a purely deductive framework in favour of generalisations made from observations of nature.
A moment (momentum) was a medieval unit of time. The movement of a shadow on a sundial covered 40 moments in a solar hour. An hour in this case means one twelfth of the period between sunrise and sunset. The length of a solar hour depended on the length of the day, which in turn varied with the season, so the length of a moment in modern seconds was not fixed, but on average, a moment corresponds to 90 seconds. A day was divided into 24 hours of both equal and unequal lengths, the former being called natural or equinoctial, and the latter artificial. The hour was divided into four puncta (quarter-hours), ten minuta, or 40 momenta.
British philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the British people. "The native characteristics of British philosophy are these: common sense, dislike of complication, a strong preference for the concrete over the abstract and a certain awkward honesty of method in which an occasional pearl of poetry is embedded".
Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas is a Latin phrase, translating to "Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend ." The maxim is often attributed to Aristotle, as a paraphrase of the Nicomachean Ethics 1096a11–15.
Samuel Jebb was an English physician and literary scholar.
Robert Steele (1860–1944) was a British scholar, best known for editing between c. 1905 and 1941 the 16-volume Opera hactenus inedita Rogeri Bacon.
The Summa Grammatica was one of the earlier works on Latin grammar and Aristotelian logic by the medieval English philosopher Roger Bacon. It is primarily noteworthy for its exposition of a kind of universal grammar.
Thomas Bungay, also known as Thomas of Bungay and formerly also known as Friar Bongay, was an English Franciscan friar, scholar, and alchemist.
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