“Knowledge is power”.
The phrase of Francis Bacon that laid the foundation of science and fought for Europe to emerge from the spiritual age of the Middle Ages.
In the century between Copernicus and Galileo, science had overturned the view that prevailed for the world. Earth was no longer at the center of the Universe, and new discoveries in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and physics reminded people that eventually the ancient thinkers were not omniscient. There were a lot more out there waiting to be discovered. People have also begun to think of science as such.
What was the best way to practice science?
How could we be sure about the accuracy of the new discoveries?
And how could we use science to improve our well-being, health and happiness?
Two people were particularly and deeply involved in the concept of science: one was an English lawyer and a politician, Francis Bacon. The other was the French philosopher, Rene Decare or Cartesius.
His father, Nicholas Bacon, was humble in origin and evolved into a powerful official of Queen Elizabeth I.
Nicholas knew how important education was, so he had to send his son to Cambridge University. Francis also served Elizabeth as well as King Iacov I, after her death.
He had specialized in English law, took part in several important trials and, after his term as Minister of Justice, he became one of the most important legal personalities of his time. He was also a member of parliament.
“Knowledge is power”
Bacon was excited about science. He devoted a lot of time to performing chemistry experiments, while at the same time he dealt with various strange natural phenomena ranging from the world of plants and animals to magnetism.
More important, however, from any discovery was his intelligent and convincing arguments about why it was worthwhile to practice science and how it should be practiced. Bacon sought to highlight the value of science.
“Knowledge is power,” he said, and science is the best way to conquer knowledge.
With these incentives, he pressed Elizabeth and Iacovo to spend public money on building workshops and creating jobs for scientists. He believed that scientists would have to create companies, or academies, so that they could meet and exchange ideas and information. Science, he maintained, offers people the means by which they can understand nature and, through their understanding, control it.
“The rules of the right scientist”
Bacon has clearly written about the best ways to practice science. Scientists must use words and terms precisely certain and easily understood.
“They must approach their research with an open mind and not try to prove what they think they know in advance.”
Above all, they should repeat their experiments and observations, so that they can be sure of their results. This is the method of induction. For example, the chemist by counting, weighing and mixing chemicals over and over again can say for sure about the chemical phenomena he is studying.
“The more observations or inductions a scientist makes, the more certainty he gets about what will happen.”
Based on these inducements, he can proceed to generalizations, which in turn reveal the laws governing nature’s functions. Bacon’s ideas inspired many generations of scientists. And they continue to inspire to this day.
SOURCE: “Little History of Science”, William Bynum, PATAKI PUBLICATIONS