The Role of Mathematics in Francis Bacon's Natural Philosophy
In this study, I discuss the role of mathematics in Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy. Bacon was one of the important figures of early modern philosophy and has been accepted as one of the frontier philosophers of modern science. The increasing role of mathematics in natural philosophy was an important development of this period of time, which raises the question of whether Bacon approved of the new role of mathematics in natural philosophy. The new role of mathematics in natural philosophy was mainly developed by astronomers such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler, and can be defined as ‘making natural philosophical claims through mathematics’. I will examine the role of mathematics in Baconian natural philosophy by considering the following questions: Can Bacon’s attitude towards the role of mathematics be accepted as Aristotelian? Were there similarities between Bacon and al–Bitruji in their ideas of how an astronomical model should be established? Is there any difference in Bacon’s attitude towards mathematics between his earlier and later works? Can we use Bacon’s approach to arithmetical quantification to refute the claim that he was against the new role of mathematics? Was there any similarity between the attitude of Bacon and neo-Platonist chemical philosophers towards mathematics? Is there any relation between the non–mechanical character of Bacon’sphilosophy and his attitude towards mathematics? Is there any relation between his matter theory and his attitude towards mathematics? Throughout this thesis, I emphasise that Bacon attached importance to applying mathematics to natural philosophy, however, was against the idea of making natural philosophical claims through mathematics. I argue that he had two fundamental commitments for being distrustful towards mathematics’ ability in making natural philosophical claims; his first being the consistency between the human mind and the course of logic and mathematics, and the second being the inconsistency between the course of nature (matter) and the course of logic and mathematics.
Advisor: LeBuffe, Michael; Anstey, Peter; Musgrave, Alan
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Philosophy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Francis Bacon; Mathematics; Natural Philosophy; Matter Theory; Experimental Method; Rational Method; Astronomy; Saving the Phenomena; Quantification; Mechanical Philosophy; Chemical Philosophy; Natural Magic
Research Type: Thesis