Butter and Beer

Rossi writes (in Francis Bacon: From Magic to Science ), “Though Bacon had violently attacked Paracelsus for such notions, he proposed to test the powers of imagination by trying to arrest the fermentation of beer and prevent churned milk from turning into butter. Indeed he exalts the occult . . . . Continue Reading »

Bacon, Hobbes, Rousseau

Howard White traces out a bit of Bacon’s lineage as a political philosopher: “Young Hobbes had accompanied Bacon on some of his walks, and Bacon delighted in his company. And Hobbes was to establish a system of political philosophy on principles of motion, precisely as Bacon ahd urged, . . . . Continue Reading »

Ingratitude and Invention

Bacon offers this explanation of the myth of Prometheus: “The next is a remarkable part of the fable, which represents that men, instead of gratitude and thanks, fell into indignation and expostulation, accusing both Prometheus and his fire to Jupiter, - and yet the accusation proved highly . . . . Continue Reading »

God’s Two Books

Paolo Rossi says of Bacon: “The distinction between the will and power of God, so fully and subtly present in Baconian texts, is very important. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handworks’: this very from the Psalms . . . is quoted by Bacon . . . . Continue Reading »

Bacon’s Induction

Stanley Fish, in a renowned essay on Bacon’s Essays , concludes that the essays are “unfinished with a purposefulness that makes the bestowing of the adjective less a criticism than a compliment.” He insists on the provisionality of knowledge, and “communicates that . . . . Continue Reading »

Lamarck Redux?

In a fascinating review of a recent book on evolution (TNR, Sept 4), Oren Harman suggests that reports of the death of Lamarck, proclaimed in every middle school science classroom for well over a century, may be somewhat exaggerated: Lamarckism “is and isn’t” dead. Insofar as . . . . Continue Reading »

Trinity and Self-Gift

One of Barth’s main contentions that only a Triune God can give Himself. A monadic God might give, but would give something less than Himself. Only if God is both Himself and another, and only if that other is fully God, can God give Himself . . . . . Continue Reading »

Complex reprobation

Bavinck writes: “It is wrong to conceive the decree as if it determined only a person’s end and coerced him or her in that direction regardless of what they did. The decree is as inconceivably rich as reality itself. It is, in fact, the fountainhead of all reality. It encompasses in a . . . . Continue Reading »

Epistemology of ingratitude

Blumenberg writes ( Legitimacy of the Modern Age ) that with Bacon, Kepler, and particularly Leibniz, the Augustinian suspicion of curiosity is overcome, and knowledge thereafter “justifies itself; it does not owe thanks for itself to God; it no longer has any tinge of illumination or . . . . Continue Reading »

Physics and Metaphysics

Blumenberg says that Bacon drew a distinction between metaphysics and physics in terms of human control: “The former has as its object the unalterable law beyond man’s influence; the latter comprises all knowledge of the operative and material causes that man can transpose in order to . . . . Continue Reading »