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Instances of the Fingerpost by Francis Bacon and a Scientific Method

The Novum Organum is one of the most known philosophical works by Francis Bacon. This book was published in 1620 in Latin for the first time. With time, this work has been translated into several languages in order to spread the offered theory all over the world and provide other scientists with the opportunity to develop Bacon’s ideas. From Latin into English, the title of that manuscript is translated as ‘a new instrument’. In the 17th century, society was waiting for something new and extraordinary in many spheres of life. Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, and scientist wanted to create something significant for both science and philosophy. The Novum Organum presented a new system of logic that could easily replace the already known methods by Aristotle’s Organon; later that system was known as the Baconian method. It is necessary to admit that The Novum Organum also presented one of the earlier predecessors of the known scientific method. Bacon’s “instances of the fingerpost” could show the true way with the help of which any question may be decided; nowadays, scientific methods play the same role and take into consideration modern innovations and techniques.

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The Idea of The Novum Organum

Francis Bacon was one of the first scientists, after Aristotle, who made considerable contributions to the development of the scientific method. He chose the idea of symbolism to interpret the main idea of investigation and its analysis. In The Novum Organum, he used a symbol of a sailing ship to present the way of his discovery. “The sailing of ships, the movements of animals, the transmission of missiles, are all performed likewise in times which admit (in the aggregate) of measurement.” (The Novum Organum). He was eager to create a method in order to find out the nature. He did not try to use some broad or hacking theories. The only right way he saw was to unity theory and practice in order to check the reliability of the answer and provide several unassailable facts.

“Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fourteenth place Instances of the Fingerpost, borrowing the term from the fingerposts which are set up where roads part, to indicate the several directions.” (The Novum Organum).

With the help of these words, Bacon wanted to underline that any problem or answer could be interpreted in several ways. According to the way a person comprehends the problem/ or answer, he/she may present different answers and prove their reliability.

The Essence of the Baconian Method and a Scientific Method

Nowadays, the idea of the “instances of the fingerpost” is almost forgotten. However, it is necessary to underline that the term “a scientific method”, which lots of people know and use today, is based on Bacon’s idea of the “instances of the fingerpost”. Bacon specified that there could not be any other thing that was crucially important for the explanation of the phenomenon as a proof or a disproof.

The scientific method is usually based on the idea that any action is rather fundamental and repeatable. This action should be generalized on the logical development in order to make the idea incontestable.

The idea of a scientific method lies in the fact that the method chosen for the discovery should be more objective than subjective. The objectivity helps to avoid any biased interpretations of the matter and make clear conclusions. The very essence of the scientific method is the use of obtained knowledge or a deep analysis of new information in order to investigate the event from different perspectives.

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The idea of the “instances of the fingerposts” is almost the same. In order to solve the existed problem, the casual hypothesis should be used. Such kind of hypothesis needs to be checked by the analysis of the evident consequences. In fact, it is not that easy to carry out such a process without a certain and even simple guide. According to Francis Bacon, the “instances of the fingerposts” were considered to be at the head of this process. “Instances of the fingerpost show the union of one of the natures with the nature in question to be sure and indissoluble, of the other to be varied and separable; and thus the question is decided.” (The Novum Organum) According to such a system, the former nature will serve as the necessary cause, and the latter will be simply rejected.

Connection of the Scientific Method to the “Instances of the Fingerpost”

The scientific method, that many scientists use nowadays, has lots in common with the idea of Francis Bacon concerning the “instances of the fingerpost”.

A scientific method consists of two major steps: developing a hypothesis and analyzing several experimental studies in order to check the reliability of the hypothesis. Such kind of checking is all about the retrospective analysis of the ideas connecting to the hypothesis. In Bacon’s “instances of the fingerpost”, the idea of checking the reliability of the facts is also one the major ones. These instances of the fingerpost help to find just the right way to check and not to make a single mistake. According to Bacon, it is crucially important to make several exclusions to comprehend the truth of the matter; this is why the scientific method should consist of three different methods: agreement, difference, and concomitant variate. This is what modern scientific methods consist of. Of course, the major idea is interpreted in other words, however, its essence remains the same.

Conclusion

The ideas offered by Francis Bacon in 1620 turn out to be rather appropriate in modern science and philosophy. Bacon’s works have been translated into several languages – these translations helped many other philosophers and scientists to work on his theories and develop them taking into account new technologies and circumstances. The Novum Organum, also known as The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature, is one of the most known works by Francis Bacon. He offered the idea of the “instances of the fingerpost” that became the basis of the scientific methods. The scientific method consists of several techniques used in order to investigate the problem with the help of background knowledge or some new ideas, which are perfectly analyzed. One of the bases of any scientific method lies in Bacon’s idea of the “instances of the fingerpost”. His idea implies the use of experiments in order to prove the chosen hypothesis. Several hypotheses may be chosen; in such a case, the methods of agreement and difference should be taken into consideration. Bacon was one of the first philosophers, who analyzed these methods and presented their essence in The Novum Organum.

References

Bacon, Francis. “The New Organon or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature.” The Constitution Society. 2005.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Instances of the Fingerpost by Francis Bacon and a Scientific Method." April 5, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/instances-of-the-fingerpost-by-francis-bacon-and-a-scientific-method/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Instances of the Fingerpost by Francis Bacon and a Scientific Method'. 5 April.

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