Sir Francis Bacon was one of the most notable figures of the English Renaissance. He lived from 1561 to 1626 and served at many important positions under the English crown towards the later part of his life. Bacon embodied the scholastic soul of the Renaissance, being an avid statesman, philosopher, author of numerous works, frequently busy with investigations of new scientific facts and in retrospect, instrumental in formulating the basis of modern scientific method.
His works laid the basis for empirical investigations and determination of facts through observation and inquiry. Although known by Queen Elizabeth, Bacon received recognition in the court only after the ascension of King James I in 1603.
Francis Bacon was born in 1561 and attained education at a number of leading institutions of the period. Early in his life, he was able to travel to a number of areas in Continental Europe, learning about diverse disciplines such as civil law and language on his journeys.
In 1581, he was elected Member of Parliament for Bossiney and next year he became a barrister at the Gray’s Inn. Through most of his subsequent life, he would remain a member of the Parliament from different regions.
Disagreements with Queen Elizabeth played a part in keeping him out of many prestigious court positions for which he applied. It was during James I’s reign that he rapidly ascended in courtly positions, being knighted in 1603 and becoming the attorney general in 1613. In 1618, he reached the zenith of his public career by becoming the Lord Chancellor.
Francis Bacon wrote on a wide variety of subjects, deeply informed as a scholar and refreshingly new as a thinker. His most eminent works were related to philosophy and science. During his lifetime, England was undergoing Renaissance and Bacon become one of the foremost exponents of the Renaissance ideals through his works.
His scientific works laid the foundations for the standard scientific method, placing empiricism at its foundations. Using his experience as a barrister and a statesman, Bacon also penned down a body of works on jurisprudence, proposing several reforms in English law.
A sizable body of Bacon’s works also concerned philosophy and theology. His works consequently influenced physicists, philosophers and scientists of English Reformation, French Enlightenment as well as of the modern period.
The work for which Francis Bacon is best known is his ‘Novum Organum’. Being inspired by Aristotle, the work is titled after Aristotle’s ‘Organon’ and Bacon aimed it to be a new instrument of science and philosophy of his age.
In Novum Organum, Bacon proposed a new system of logic and popularized the use of inductive reasoning. It was this work which earned Bacon the title of the ‘father of scientific method’ in the subsequent centuries.
Bacon encouraged the use of experimentation, observation and their coherence through logic to reach facts. Novum Organum became especially influential in the philosophers and scientists of England in the second half of the 17th century and the Royal Society, established around this time, regarded Bacon as one of the beacons in its intellectual pursuits.