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Towards a Theory of Objective Ideas: Bacons Idols - Essay Example

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The search for objectivity is an old quest. The difficulty has been in the methods used to both define and determine objectivity. In "The Idols", Francis Bacon attempted to create a methodology for best determining objectivity. This essay will argue that Bacon's approach, the starting from scratch through the elimination of false notions, was a necessary contribution in the pursuit of objective ideas…
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Towards a Theory of Objective Ideas: Bacons Idols
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Download file to see previous pages In sum, Bacon's method of developing a philosophy continues to aid in the pursuit of objective ideas to the extant that it forces scholars to confront logically the existence of false notions. Objective ideas are more possible, in large part, because of Bacon's contributions to intellectual thought and purposeful inquiry.
A man of many talents, Sir Francis Bacon was best known for his contributions to the scientific method. He lived in an era when science was determined deductively; more specifically, he advocated a scientific method in which facts and ideas were derived from an inductive approach to reasoning which relied on an observation of natural phenomena. Bacon incorporated this observational approach in a larger analytical framework in which hypothesis were formulated and tested. Though intuitive to modern scholars, the approach was novel, and at times blasphemous, in Bacon's age. The most significant contribution, as a beginning philosophical premise, was the assertion that true science required constant reevaluation. To this end, Bacon proposed that any scientific inquiry begin with an analysis of false notions or false tendencies. The main idea was that previously accepted notions and practices prejudiced the search for true or objective facts and explanations. These false notions, in Bacon's terminology, were termed idols and he set forth a four-part framework of idols with which to assess objectivity and falsehoods.
The first type of false notion was described by Bacon as the idols of the tribe. This type of falsehood was related to race; more particularly, a person was guilty of ascribing facts true of his trace to other natural phenomena. There was no testing or inquiry; instead, a logical jump was made on the basis that what is true of my race must also be true in other natural settings. Bacon rejected this jump in logic. He rejected it because there was no independent analysis, no separation of natural phenomena, and no
rational basis to make these untested linkages. Indeed, bacon stated his rejection of this type of logic rather directly, "For man's sense is falsely asserted to be the standard of things" (Bacon/The Idols: 497). There are numerous examples to support this particular point. Fish, for instance, do not breathe in the same manner as do humans. Ascribing human characteristics or facts which are true of the tribe, to non-human things may be useful as a test but it is not useful as a conclusion. Bacon's point is fundamental to the pursuit of objective knowledge.
A second type of false notion was referred to as the idols of the den. This type of falsehood was related to the extension of norms and beliefs held by a social or cultural group to another setting. The logical error, therefore, derived from an individual's extension of assumed norms and truths to different situations and settings. Bacon characterized the individual as being highly variable, the product of many influences, and apt to extend his personal prejudices uncritically. This is a fundamental aspect of bacon's approach to inductive reasoning; it is fundamental because individuals may very well be inclined to reason in ways which benefit them personally. Heterosexuals and homosexuals, to illustrate, may attempt to apply very different assumptions to different problems ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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