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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52766
Doc. No:TL22720
Call number:‭3219336‬
Main Entry:John P. McCaskey
Title & Author:Regula Socratis: The rediscovery of ancient induction in early modern EnglandJohn P. McCaskey
College:Stanford University
Date:2006
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2006
Page No:392
Abstract:The influence of Sir Francis Bacon on early modern science is widely recognized. His ideas regarding the utility of knowledge, value of observation, and benefits of cooperative research were widely adopted in the seventeenth century. But Bacon believed his chief contribution to the reform of knowledge was not these, but rather his proposal for a new kind of inductive reasoning. His theory of induction, however, is generally not thought to have had significant direct influence on subsequent developments in science. I argue in this dissertation, based on close reading of the relevant texts, that the conventional assessment is hampered by an inadequate understanding of Baconian induction, and that this misunderstanding can be corrected by considering Bacon's proposal in the historical context in which it was presented. Bacon's treatise on induction, the Novum Organum, was meant as an alternative to Aristotle's Organon. The dissertation therefore begins by examining Aristotle's views on induction. I propose a significant revision to the received interpretation of Aristotle's position. I then argue that my interpretation was conventional until late antiquity when it was altered by Neoplatonic writers. The dissertation traces the transmission of the Neoplatonic interpretation through the major Islamic and Latin commentators. During the Renaissance, some humanist scholars realized that the scholastic interpretation of induction differed from that common in antiquity, and a debate ensued about its nature. One chapter here examines the contributions to that debate by four late sixteenth-century thinkers, Jacopo Zabarella, Everard Digby, William Temple, and John Case. Bacon's proposal for a new kind of induction is then examined in the context of the contemporary and historical background. I argue that although Bacon's theory of induction is more systematic than any that had gone before, it was in a sense a return to induction as it was understood in antiquity. In the final chapter, I argue that the work of William Harvey and Robert Boyle were good examples of Baconian induction in practice. I conclude that Bacon's induction, and not only his general vision for reform, was well understood and in fact used by important seventeenth-century scientists.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; England; Induction; Socrates; Science history; Philosophy; 0422:Philosophy; 0585:Science history
Added Entry:P. Findlen
Added Entry:Stanford University