Natural Knowledge and Human Nature in Francis Bacon
95 , 2015-03-31 , 東京大学文学部宗教学研究室
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is famous for encouraging hands-on studies of nature when natural philosophy was only a speculative discipline. How did he promote his program in the face of a long tradition that placed a taboo on studying nature? And how did his theological consideration affect his program? Bacon justifies human acquisition of natural knowledge by claiming it as a “natural” part of the gift provided by God to humanity at the time of Creation. Therefore, regaining natural knowledge and its quantitative increase are both deemed providential, historical necessities that accompany human recovery from the Fall. In Bacon’s thought, natural knowledge is not purely materialistic; it is considered to be a derivative of divine wisdom and a key to opening Christian faith. The theological virtue of love also plays a pivotal role in characterizing Bacon’s philosophy. He projects love as the ultimate principle that guides studies of nature and improves human nature in the moral philosophical tradition. Since love demands voluntary service to others, both natural studies and moral philosophy have public characters in that they attempt to benefit all of humanity. Hence, it is only when we consider the religious dimension of nature and natural knowledge that we fully comprehend the public nature of Bacon’s philosophy and its historical ramifications.