Novum Organum 'New Method'

Novum Organum 'New Method' - Francis Bacon In his zeal to challenge the Aristotelian teaching of his youth, Bacon swung to other extreme. Aristotle’s deductive reasoning had dominated for centuries before Bacon. Natural science was explored through the use of syllogisms based off premises arrived at by generalized observation. Once the premises were established, the inductive method was cast aside in favor of deduction. Science was solely an intellectual exercise which sought theoretical causation for effects that were observed. Hypotheses determined to be truth without experimentation.

Bacon was among those in the forefront (in Western culture) to reject that approach. He and others during the Renaissance were harshly critical of Aristotle’s incorrect conclusions and the process which led him. Maybe even more so against the countless thinkers who followed and failed to build upon Aristotle.
But if any one turn from the manufactories to libraries, and be inclined to admire the immense variety of books offered to our view, let him but examine and diligently inspect the matter and contents of these books, and his astonishment will certainly change its object: for when he finds no end of repetitions, and how much men do and speak the same thing over again, he will pass from admiration of this variety to astonishment at the poverty and scarcity of matter, which has hitherto possessed and filled men’s minds. pg. 64.
Bacon placed emphasis on the value of empirical evidence. What could be observed and documented. Unlike Aristotle, he embraced inductive reasoning. Bacon thought the first step of critical thinking in natural science was to document every instance in which a particular event occurs. He uses the example of heat. Then to document cases in which it does not occur and then to document when it occurs occasionally. From all this documentation, a hypothesis is supposed to generate organically. It’s probably no coincidence that Bacon did not contribute any new theories regarding heat or other area of natural science. The documentation could be endless if someone was diligent enough.

The current scientific method is a little more imaginative. Hypotheses are generated various ways and induction is then used to give validity. In some ways, it’s a mix of Aristotle and Bacon. Everything is better with bacon.

I can’t say it’s the most enjoyable reading, but it is significant. Bacon challenges established authority and makes an intellectually honest attempt to add to our collective knowledge. Unlike most of his Essays, Bacon contributes to the conversation more than simply recycles adages of old.