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Saturday, November 27, 2021
CEBU

Lagura: Wise philosopher but crooked politician

Feats, Foibles of the Famous and Wise

NEARLY four centuries after the famous Franciscan philosopher scientist, Fray Roger Bacon, another soon-to-be prominent namesake was born in London in 1561 and was baptized Francis Bacon.

Steeped in philosophy, but skirting Plato and Aristotle, Francis Bacon, like Fray Roger Bacon and the British Empiricists later on, emphasized scientific experiment, observation and the power, as well as the reliability of the senses.

In his book, Novum Organon (“New Organ”), he sharply criticized human knowledge acquired from teachers giving statements, generalizations and deductions from the first principles. This method of learning leads to the “Four Idols,” namely:

1) Idols of the tribe -- errors due to our human nature’s tendency to rely too much on the senses

2) Idols of the cave -- errors resulting from one’s personality, wrong education, reading, relying on mass media and fake news without critical thinking.

3) Idols of the market-place -- errors coming from language, fate, fortune which have no objective foundation

4) Idols of the theatre -- errors arising from reliance on past philosophy which have no empirical or scientific basis

In his New Atlantis, Francis Bacon envisions a dream island where the House of Solomon can be found. Here, one can contemplate not only God’s wonderful but can also plan, even build such much-needed inventions like airplanes and submarines!

Later in life, Francis Bacon figured prominently in politics rising rapidly from one position to another until he became parliamentarian and Lord Chancellor. But as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” Francis Bacon, power-mad, persecuted the English and Irish Catholics, going against Mary, Queen of the Scots and the Jesuit, Fr. Robert Parsons, in a religious vendetta.

Yet, justice prevailed: Sir Francis Bacon was accused and found guilty of accepting bribes then was imprisoned in the Tower of London. When he died on April 1626 of pneumonia while experimenting on ice, the world mourned the passing away of academe’s “Dr. Jekyll” and politics’ “Mr. Hyde.”


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