THE PHILOSOPHY OF FRANCIS BACON’S NATURAL HISTORY: A RESEARCH PROGRAM
FILOSOFIA ISTORIEI NATURALE BACONIENE: UN PROGRAM DE CERCETARE
Department of Theoretical Philosophy
Faculty of Philosophy
University of Bucharest, Romania
My paper proposes a new contextual interpretation of Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis as an exemplar of natural history. The context in question is provided by Bacon’s late writings: his Latin natural histories published under the title Historia naturalis et experimentalis or left in manuscript, together with other fragmentary re-writings of earlier works. I will claim that in the last five years of his life Francis Bacon was actively engaged into a process of re-writing and re-organizing his earlier ideas regarding natural history, natural philosophy and the relation between the two. I attempt to show that in this process, Bacon elaborated a research program for doing natural history and that most of his posthumous works, New Atlantis included, have a place in this research program. My reading provides, I propose, an interesting and fruitful interpretative framework not only for New Atlantis but for a handful of very diverse seventeenth–century writings belonging to authors who claimed to be Baconians and to provide ‘continuations’ and ‘interpretations’ of New Atlantis.
Key words: natural history, experientia literata, natural philosophy, Francis Bacon, New Atlantis.
Cuvinte cheie: istorie naturală, experientia literata, filozofie naturală, Francis Bacon, Noua Atlantidă.