Francis Bacon`s Philosophy of Science: machina intellectus and forma indita

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Muntersbjorn, Madeline M.
preprint description
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote that good scientists are not like ants (mindlessly gathering data) or spiders (spinning empty theories). Instead, they are like bees, transforming nature into a nourishing product. This essay examines Bacon`s "middle way" by elucidating the means he proposes to turn experience and insight into understanding. The human intellect relies on "machines" to extend perceptual limits, check impulsive imaginations, and reveal nature`s latent causal structure, or "forms." This constructivist interpretation is not intended to supplant inductivist or experimentalist interpretations, but is designed to explicate Bacon`s account of science as a collaborative project with several interdependent methodological goals.