On this day…
Sir Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, statesman, and scientist, was born January 22, 1561. Bacon’s work established and made popular the inductive methods for scientific inquiry, referred to as the scientific method (the foundation of modern scientific inquiry). He also served as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England.
Bacon began attending Trinity College in Cambridge in April 1573, at the age of 11. He completed his studies in December of 1575 and enrolled in a law program the following year. However, Bacon found the curriculum at the law school old fashioned and left school to take a position as an assistant to the ambassador in France. Bacon’s father died in 1579. As Francis was the second son in his father’s second marriage (and the youngest of all 6 heirs), he was left virtually unsupported. As a result, Bacon returned to England to resume his studies.
Bacon’s career as a government official took a big leap in 1584, when he wrote A Letter of Advice to Queen Elizabeth, which was his very first political memorandum. However, Bacon’s career truly soared with James I’s ascension to the British throne. Upon James I’s ascension in 1603, Francis Bacon was knighted. His place in Parliament went on for nearly four decades, culminating with his promotion to Lord Chancellor, one of the highest political offices in England.
After Bacon’s political career (ended by claims of accepting bribes), he focused on his passion of the philosophy of science. He strove to alter the way science was approached. Bacon believed in a focus on empirical scientific methods; methods that involved actual tangible proof. As opposed to the ideas of Aristotle and Plato, Bacon placed a great level of importance on experimentation and “the commerce of the mind with things.” He believed that through the use of gathering data, experimentation, and analysis, science could be approached from an organized manner and used to better mankind.