Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/20

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17
BACON

vancement in culture which was to be brought about by the mastery of the forces of nature through the aid of natural science, a study which ancient and mediæval thinkers had contemned. The aim and purpose of science is the enrichment of human life by means of new discoveries. Bacon nevertheless bestows high praise on the love of contemplation (contemplatio rerum): the vision of light is far more glorious than all the various uses of light. These sublime hopes furnish an insight into Bacon’s personal character and his method of doing things. He justified the use of every available means in acquiring the conditions without which he thought his scientific plans impossible, on the plea of their necessity to the realization of his great purposes.

Francis Bacon of Verulam was born of an excellent family in 1561. In order to acquire the influence and the wealth which he regarded as necessary to his purposes, he threw himself into politics and gradually rose to prominent positions; finally attaining to the office of Lord Chancellor. But he gained this promotion by dishonorable compromises with the despotic caprice of Elizabeth and James the First. Under the charge of bribery and the violation of the law, parliament deposed him in 1621. His last years were spent in retirement engaged in scientific pursuits. He died in 1626. His political activities had not prevented him from continuing his studies and the production of important works. The tragedy of his life consisted in the fact that ulterior demands claimed his attention to so great an extent that not only his real purpose but even his personal character had to suffer under it.

Bacon describes himself as a herald (buccinator) who announces the approach of the new era without par-