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Bacon, Roger

science knowledge

( c .1214–92) English philosopher and alchemist: supporter of experimental method in science.

Probably a member of a wealthy family, Bacon studied at Oxford under Robert Grosseteste ( c. 1175–1253) and in Paris, and joined the Franciscan Order as a monk about 1247. He was not himself an experimentalist nor a mathematician (although he did some work in optics), but he saw that these two approaches were needed for science to develop; and he foresaw a control of nature by man, as his namesake was also to foresee 350 years later. He made imprecise predictions about mechanical transport – on land, above and below the surface of the sea, and in the air, circumnavigation of the globe and robots. He had a wide knowledge of the science of the time, together with alchemy, and was thought to have magic powers. He knew of gunpowder, but did not invent it. He saw theology as the supreme area of knowledge but his difficult personality led to conflict with his colleagues. Among 13th-c thinkers, his attitude to science is nearest to that of the present day.

Bacquier, Gabriel (-Augustin-Raymond-Théodore-Louis) [next] [back] Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Albans

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