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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Sir Francis Bacon Quotes

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Sir Francis Bacon
(22 Jan 1561 - 9 Apr 1626)

English philosopher remembered for his influence promoting a scientific method.


Science Quotes by Sir Francis Bacon (119 quotes)

'...no pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage ground of truth … and to see the errors … in the vale below:' so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or pride.
Quoting an unnamed poet and adding a comment.
— Sir Francis Bacon
I. Of Truth,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 11
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...neither is it possible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the level of the same science, and ascend not to a higher science.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, Basil Montagu (Ed.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1852), Vol. 1, 173.
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...those experiments be not only esteemed which have an immediate and present use, but those principally which are of most universal consequence for invention of other experiments, and those which give more light to the invention of causes; for the invention of the mariner's needle, which giveth the direction, is of no less benefit for navigation than the invention of the sails, which give the motion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Second Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 200
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...to invent is to discover that we know not, and not to recover or resummon that which we already know.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Second Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 209
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...truth will sooner come out of error than from confusion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 149.
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Demonstratio longe optima est experientia.
By far the best proof is experience.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum, I., 70. In Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906), 42.
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Ipsa Scientia potestas est.
For also knowledge itself is power.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Meditationes Sacrae' (1597), in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 7, 253.
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Prudens interrogatio quasi dimidium sapientiae.
A prudent question is, as it were, one half of wisdom.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In Henry Thomas Riley, Dictionary of Latin Quotations, Proverbs, Maxims, and Mottos (1866), 349.
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Prudens quaestio dimidium scientiae.
Half of science is putting forth the right questions.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In Jon R. Stone, The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations (2005), 92.
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Scientia nihil aliud est quam veritatis imago
Science is but an image of the truth.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In James Wood, Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources (1893), 383:3.
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A man that is young in years may be old in hours, if he has lost no time.
— Sir Francis Bacon
‘Of Youth and Age’, Essays.
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Above all things, good policy is to be used that the treasure and moneys in a state be not gathered into few hands. For otherwise a state may have a great stock, and yet starve. And money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Seditions and Troubles' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 410.
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Again there is another great and powerful cause why the sciences have made but little progress; which is this. It is not possible to run a course aright when the goal itself has not been rightly placed.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation of Novum Organum, LXXXI. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 113.
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All good moral philosophy is ... but the handmaid to religion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In The Advancement of Learning, book 2, xxii, 14. In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon (1825), 252.
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And yet surely to alchemy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman whereof Ζsop makes the fable, that when he died he told his sons that he had left unto them gold buried under the ground in his vineyard: and they digged over the ground, gold they found none, but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of their vines, they had a great vintage the year following: so assuredly the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature as for the use of man's life.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605, 1712), Vol. 1, 15.
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Another argument of hope may be drawn from this–that some of the inventions already known are such as before they were discovered it could hardly have entered any man's head to think of; they would have been simply set aside as impossible. For in conjecturing what may be men set before them the example of what has been, and divine of the new with an imagination preoccupied and colored by the old; which way of forming opinions is very fallacious, for streams that are drawn from the springheads of nature do not always run in the old channels.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation of Novum Organum, XCII. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 128.
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Another diversity of Methods is according to the subject or matter which is handled; for there is a great difference in delivery of the Mathematics, which are the most abstracted of knowledges, and Policy, which is the most immersed ... , yet we see how that opinion, besides the weakness of it, hath been of ill desert towards learning, as that which taketh the way to reduce learning to certain empty and barren generalities; being but the very husks and shells of sciences, all the kernel being forced out and expulsed with the torture and press of the method.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Advancement of Learning, Book 2. In James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1863), Vol. 6, 292-293 . Peter Pešić, explains that 'By Mathematics, he had in mind a sterile and rigid scheme of logical classifications, called dichotomies in his time,' inLabyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science (2001), 73.
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Another error is a conceit that . . . the best has still prevailed and suppressed the rest: so as, if a man should begin the labor of a new search, he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion; as if the multitude, or the wisest for the multitude's sake, were not ready to give passage rather to that which is popular and superficial, than to that which is substantial and profound: for the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Advancement of Learning, Book 1. Collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1826), Vol 1, 36.
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Aristippus said: That those that studied particular sciences, and neglected philosophy, were like Penelope's wooers, that made love to the waiting women.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Apophthegms: New and Old (1625), no. 189 in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 7, 151.
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Aristotle... a mere bond-servant to his logic, thereby rendering it contentious and well nigh useless.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Rerum Novarum (1605)
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As the births of living creatures are ill-shapen, so are all innovations, which are the births of time.
— Sir Francis Bacon
XXIV. On Innovation,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 32
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Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
— Sir Francis Bacon
A Proposition Touching the Compiling and Amendment of the Laws of England (written 1616).
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Brutes by their natural instinct have produced many discoveries, whereas men by discussion and the conclusions of reason have given birth to few or none.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum, LXXIII
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But by far the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dullness, incompetency, and deceptions of the senses; in that things which strike the sense outweigh things which do not immediately strike it, though they be more important. Hence it is that speculation commonly ceases where sight ceases; insomuch that of things invisible there is little or no observation.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 50,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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But by far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science and to the undertaking of new tasks and provinces therein is found in this—that men despair and think things impossible.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation of Novum Organum, CIX. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 140-141.
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But the best demonstration by far is experience, if it go not beyond the actual experiment.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 70,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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But the greatest error of all the rest is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge: for men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of men...
— Sir Francis Bacon
The First Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 174
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Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Essays or Counsels: Civil and Moral. I. Of Truth'. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 6, 378.
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Cure the disease and kill the patient.
— Sir Francis Bacon
‘Of Friendship’, Essays.
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Deformed persons commonly take revenge on nature.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning, Bk VI, Ch. 3.
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For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an impression of pleasure in itself.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The First Book of Francis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 163
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For many parts of Nature can neither be invented with sufficient subtlety, nor demonstrated with sufficient perspicuity, nor accommodated unto use with sufficient dexterity, without the aid and intervening of the mathematics, of which sort are perspective, music, astronomy, cosmography, architecture, engineery, and divers others.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605), Book 2. Reprinted in The Two Books of Francis Bacon: Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human (2009), 97.
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For myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of things (which is the chief point) , and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their subtler differences; as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to reconsider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture. So I thought my nature had a kind of familiarity and relationship with Truth.
— Sir Francis Bacon
From 'Progress of philosophical speculations. Preface to intended treatise De Interpretatione Naturæ (1603), in Francis Bacon and James Spedding (ed.), Works of Francis Bacon (1868), Vol. 3, 85.
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Further, it will not be amiss to distinguish the three kinds and, as it were, grades of ambition in mankind. The first is of those who desire to extend their own power in their native country, a vulgar and degenerate kind. The second is of those who labor to extend the power and dominion of their country among men. This certainly has more dignity, though not less covetousness. But if a man endeavor to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called) is without doubt both a more wholesome and a more noble thing than the other two. Now the empire of man over things depends wholly on the arts and sciences. For we cannot command nature except by obeying her.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 28,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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Heat is a motion; expansive, restrained, and acting in its strife upon the smaller particles of bodies. But the expansion is thus modified; while it expands all ways, it has at the same time an inclination upward. And the struggle in the particles is modified also; it is not sluggish, but hurried and with violence.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 154-5.
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Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'L. Of Studies,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 55.
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Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Apophthegms From the Resuscitatio' (1661). In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1860), Vol. 13, 391.
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Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as the cause is in operation as the rule.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 3,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends, as I have moderate civil ends: for I have taken all knowledge to be my province.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Letter (age 31) to his uncle Lord Burleigh. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Works of Francis Bacon (1862) Vol. 6, 109.
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I had rather believe all the Fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, then that this universall Frame, is without a Minde. And therefore, God never wrought Miracle, to convince Atheisme, because his Ordinary Works Convince it. It is true, that a little Philosophy inclineth Mans Minde to Atheisme; But depth in Philosophy, bringeth Mens Mindes about to Religion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Atheisme' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 413.
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I hold every man a debtor to his profession; from the which as men of course do seek to receive countenance and profit, so ought they of duty to endeavour themselves, by way of amends, to be a help and ornament thereunto. This is performed, in some degree, by the honest and liberal practice of a profession; where men shall carry a respect not to descend into any course that is corrupt and unworthy thereof, and preserve themselves free from the abuses wherewith the same profession is noted to be infected: but much more is this performed, if a man be able to visit and strengthen the roots and foundation of the science itself; thereby not only gracing it in reputation and dignity, but also amplifying it in profession and substance.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Opening sentences of Preface, Maxims of Law (1596), in The Works of Francis Bacon: Law tracts. Maxims of the Law (1803), Vol. 4, 10.
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I would by all means have men beware, lest Æsop's pretty fable of the fly that sate [sic] on the pole of a chariot at the Olympic races and said, 'What a dust do I raise,' be verified in them. For so it is that some small observation, and that disturbed sometimes by the instrument, sometimes by the eye, sometimes by the calculation, and which may be owing to some real change in the heaven, raises new heavens and new spheres and circles.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Vain Glory' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 503.
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If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 293.
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If a man's wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Works of Francis Bacon (1858) Vol. 6, 498.
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If any human being earnestly desire to push on to new discoveries instead of just retaining and using the old; to win victories over Nature as a worker rather than over hostile critics as a disputant; to attain, in fact, clear and demonstrative knowlegde instead of attractive and probable theory; we invite him as a true son of Science to join our ranks.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum (1620), 34, Preface.
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If [a man's] wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen; for they are cymini sectores, [splitters of hairs,]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Works of Francis Bacon (1858) Vol. 6, 498. (Note: The translation of cymini sectores, 'splitters of hairs,' is provided in the translated work cited. 'If [a man's]' has been added to clarify context of this quote from that work.)
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In nature things move violently to their place, and calmly in their place.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Works of Francis Bacon (1858) Vol. 6, 401.
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In the mathematics I can report no deficience, except it be that men do not sufficiently understand this excellent use of the pure mathematics, in that they do remedy and cure many defects in the wit and faculties intellectual. For if the wit be too dull, they sharpen it; if too wandering, they fix it; if too inherent in the sense, they abstract it. So that as tennis is a game of no use in itself, but of great use in respect it maketh a quick eye and a body ready to put itself into all postures, so in the mathematics that use which is collateral and intervenient is no less worthy than that which is principal and intended.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605), Book 2. Reprinted in The Two Books of Francis Bacon: Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human (2009), 97.
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It cannot be that axioms established by argumentation should avail for the discovery of new works, since the subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of argument. But axioms duly and orderly formed from particulars easily discover the way to new particulars, and thus render sciences active.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 24,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
— Sir Francis Bacon
‘Of Death’, Essays.
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It is as natural to man to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Of Death. In Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain (1986), 206.
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It is idle to expect any great advancement in science from the superinducing and engrafting of new things upon old. We must begin anew from the very foundations, unless we would revolve for ever in a circle with mean and contemptible progress.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 52.
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It is madness and a contradiction to expect that things which were never yet performed should be effected, except by means hitherto untried.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum (1620), Part 1, Sec. 1, Aphorism 6. In The Works of Franics Bacon (1815), Vol. 4, 4.
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It is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Essays or Counsels: Civil and Moral. I. Of Truth'. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 6, 378.
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It is well to observe the force and virtue and consequence of discoveries, and these are to be seen nowhere more conspicuously than in those three which were unknown to the ancients, and of which the origins, although recent, are obscure and inglorious; namely, printing, gunpowder, and the magnet. For these three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world; the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes, insomuch that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries ... .
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 114.
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It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 6. Translation of Novum Organum, LXXXI. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 68.
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Knowledge is power.
[Editors' summary of Bacon's idea, not Bacon's wording.]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Bacon's original text is in Latin, so any quote seen in English is an interpretation by the translator. The dictum, expressed in three words as 'Knowledge is Power,' is only seen in notes to the texts made by translators or editors, and is not a direct translation of Bacon's written words. See, for example, the commentary by F. G. Selby (ed.) in The Advancement of Learning, Book 1, by Francis Bacon (1905), 140; or, the introductory notes by E. A. Abbott (ed.) in Bacon's Essays (1876), cxxxvii. For the best match in Bacon's original words, see Novum Organum Aphorism 3: Scientia et potentia humana in idem coincidunt,... or 'Human knowledge and human power meet in one;...'. The Latin form is in Thomas Fowler (ed.), Bacon's Novum Organum (2nd Ed., 1878), 188; and this translated form is in Francis Bacon and James Spedding (trans.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 67.
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Let every student of nature take this as his rule, that whatever the mind seizes upon with particular satisfaction is to be held in suspicion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum (1620). In Jerome Kagan, Three Seductive Ideas (1998).
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Man, as the minister and interpreter of nature, is limited in act and understanding by his observation of the order of nature; neither his understanding nor his power extends further.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum, Aphor I. Quoted in Robert Routledge, Discoveries and Inventions of the 19th Century (1890), 696
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Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or thought of the course of nature; beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 47.
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Medical men do not know the drugs they use, nor their prices.
— Sir Francis Bacon
De Erroribus Medicorum.
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Medicine is a science which hath been (as we have said) more professed than laboured, and yet more laboured than advanced: the labour having been, in my judgment, rather in circle than in progression. For I find much iteration, but small addition. It considereth causes of diseases, with the occasions or impulsions; the diseases themselves, with the accidents; and the cures, with the preservation.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 373.
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Men are rather beholden ... generally to chance or anything else, than to logic, for the invention of arts and sciences.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 386.
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Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Death' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 379.
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Men fear Death, as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Essays.
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Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'L. Of Studies,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 55.
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Nature is often hidden, sometimes overcome, seldom extinguished.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Nature in Men' (1625) In James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-190I), Vol. 6, 469.
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Never any knowledge was delivered in the same order it was invented.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of the Interpretation of Nature' (c.1603) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 248.
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Nevertheless if any skillful Servant of Nature shall bring force to bear on matter, and shall vex it and drive it to extremities as if with the purpose of reducing it to nothing, then will matter (since annihilation or true destruction is not possible except by the omnipotence of God) finding itself in these straits, turn and transform itself into strange shapes, passing from one change to another till it has gone through the whole circle and finished the period.
— Sir Francis Bacon
De Sapientio Veterum (1609) XIII 'Proteus; or matter' in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), TheWorks of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 726.
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No one has yet been found so firm of mind and purpose as resolutely to compel himself to sweep away all theories and common notions, and to apply the understanding, thus made fair and even, to a fresh examination of particulars. Thus it happens that human knowledge, as we have it, is a mere medley and ill-digested mass, made up of much credulity and much accident, and also of the childish notions which we at first imbibed.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 20,' Novum Organum, Book II (1620)
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Observation and experiment for gathering material, induction and deduction for elaborating it: these are are only good intellectual tools.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In Claude Bernard, Henry C. Greene and L. J. Henderson, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine (1957), 6.
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Physic is of little use to a temperate person, for a man's own observation on what he finds does him good or what hurts him, is the best physic to preserve health.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In James Wood, Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources (1893), 348:17.
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Physicians are some of them so pleasing and conformable to the humour of the patient, as they press not the true cure of the disease : and some other are so regular in proceeding according to art for the disease, as they respect not sufficiently the condition of the patient.
— Sir Francis Bacon
XXX. Of Regimen of Health,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 39.
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Read not to contradict and confute, not to believe and take for granted, not to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Studies.' Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Works of Francis Bacon (1858) Vol. 6, 497.
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Since my logic aims to teach and instruct the understanding, not that it may with the slender tendrils of the mind snatch at and lay hold of abstract notions (as the common logic does), but that it may in very truth dissect nature, and discover the virtues and actions of bodies, with their laws as determined in matter; so that this science flows not merely from the nature of the mind, but also from the nature of things.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 42,' Novum Organum, Book II (1620)
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Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; other to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important arguments, and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled waters, flashy things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores. [The studies pass into the manners.]
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Studies' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 498.
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Such philosophy as shall not vanish in the fume of subtile, sublime, or delectable speculation but shall be operative to the endowment and betterment of man’s life.
— Sir Francis Bacon
As quoted on title page of Lancelot Hogben, Science for the Citizen (1938).
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Surely every medicine is an innovation, and he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils for time is the greatest innovator.
— Sir Francis Bacon
XXIV. On Innovation,' Essays (1597). In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England (1852), 32
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Take an arrow, and hold it in flame for the space of ten pulses, and when it cometh forth you shall find those parts of the arrow which were on the outsides of the flame more burned, blacked, and turned almost to coal, whereas the midst of the flame will be as if the fire had scarce touched it. This is an instance of great consequence for the discovery of the nature of flame; and sheweth manifestly, that flame burneth more violently towards the sides than in the midst.
[Observing, but not with the knowledge, that a flame burns at its outside in contact with air, and there is no combustion within the flame which is not mixed with air.]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Sylva Sylvarum; or a Natural History in Ten Centuries (1627), Century 1, Experiment 32. Collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1826), Vol 1, 254.
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The cause and root of nearly all evils in the sciences is this—that while we falsely admire and extol the powers of the human mind we neglect to seek for its true helps.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 9,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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The dignity of this end of endowment of man's life with new commodity appeareth by the estimation that antiquity made of such as guided thereunto ; for whereas founders of states, lawgivers, extirpators of tyrants, fathers of the people, were honoured but with the titles of demigods, inventors ere ever consecrated among the gods themselves.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Bacon and Basil Montagu (Ed.), 'Fragments of Valerius Terminus, on the Interpretation of Nature', Works of Bacon (1825), vol. 1., 266. Quoted in The Origin and Progress of the Mechanical Inventions of James Watt (1854), Vol.1, 2.
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The divisions of science are not like different lines that meet in one angle, but rather like the branches of trees that join in one trunk.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Works of Francis Bacon (1815), Vol. 6, 68.
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The End of our Foundation is the knowledge of Causes; and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'New Atlantis' (1626) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 156.
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The end of our foundation [Salomon's House in the New Atlantis] is the knowledge of Causes and the secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of Human Empire, to the effecting of all things possible.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In Francis Bacon and William Rawle (ed.), The Works of Francis Bacon: Philosophical Works (1887), 156.
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The general root of superstition [is that] men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In The Works of Francis Bacon (1819), Vol. 2, 73.
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The human understanding is moved by those things most which strike and enter the mind simultaneously and suddenly, and so fill the imagination; and then it feigns and supposes all other things to be somehow, though it cannot see how, similar to those few things by which it is surrounded.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation of Novum Organum, XLVII. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 80.
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The human understanding is of its own nature prone to suppose the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it finds. And though there be many things in nature which are singular and unmatched, yet it devises for them parallels and conjugates and relatives which do not exist. Hence the fiction that all celestial bodies move in perfect circles, spirals and dragons being (except in name) utterly rejected.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 45,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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The human understanding is unquiet; it cannot stop or rest, and still presses onward, but in vain. Therefore it is that we cannot conceive of any end or limit to the world, but always as of necessity it occurs to us that there is something beyond... But he is no less an unskilled and shallow philosopher who seeks causes of that which is most general, than he who in things subordinate and subaltern omits to do so
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 48,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 46,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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The logic now in use serves rather to fix and give stability to the errors which have their foundation in commonly received notions than to help the search for truth. So it does more harm than good.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 7,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Works of Francis Bacon (1824), Vol. 6, 24.
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The nature of things betrays itself more readily under the vexations of art than in its natural freedom.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Great Instauration. In James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon: Translations of the Philosophical Works (1869), 48.
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The only hope [of science] ... is in genuine induction.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 14. In Francis Bacon and Basil Montagu, The Works of Francis Bacon (1831), Vol. 14, 32.
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The partitions of knowledge are not like several lines that meet in one angle, and so touch not in a point; but are like branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon, Basil Montagu (Ed.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1852), Vol. 1, 193.
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The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, in Apollo, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man's body and reduce it to harmony.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605), Book 2. Reprinted in The Two Books of Francis Bacon: Of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Human (2009), 106.
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The remedy is worse than the disease.
— Sir Francis Bacon
‘Of Seditions and Troubles’, Essays.
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The strength of all sciences is, as the strength of the old man's faggot, in the bond. For the harmony of a science, supporting each part the other, is and ought to be the true and brief confutation and suppression of all the smaller sort of objections; but, on the other side, if you take out every axiom, as the sticks of the faggot, one by one, you may quarrel with them and bend them and break them at your pleasure: so that, as was said of Seneca, Verborum minutiis rerum frangit pondera [that he broke up the weight and mass of the matter by verbal points and niceties], so a man may truly say of the schoolmen, Quaestionum minutiis scientiarum frangunt soliditatem [they broke up the solidarity and coherency of the sciences by the minuteness and nicety of their questions]. For were it not better for a man in fair room to set up one great light, or branching candlestick of lights, than to go about with a small watch-candle into every corner?
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 6, 123
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The Syllogism consists of propositions, propositions consist of words, words are symbols of notions. Therefore if the notions themselves (which is the root of the matter) are confused and over-hastily abstracted from the facts, there can be no firmness in the superstructure. Our only hope therefore lies in a true induction.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 49.
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The understanding must not ... be allowed to jump and fly from particulars to axioms remote and of almost the highest generality (such as the first principles, as they are called, of arts and things), and taking stand upon them as truths that cannot be shaken, proceed to prove and frame the middle axioms by reference to them; which has been the practice hitherto, the understanding being not only carried that way by a natural impulse, but also by the use of syllogistic demonstration trained and inured to it. But then, and then only, may we hope well of the sciences when in a just scale of ascent, and by successive steps not interrupted or broken, we rise from particulars to lesser axioms; and then to middle axioms, one above the other; and last of all to the most general. For the lowest axioms differ but slightly from bare experience, while the highest and most general (which we now have) are notional and abstract and without solidity. But the middle are the true and solid and living axioms, on which depend the affairs and fortunes of men; and above them again, last of all, those which are indeed the most general; such, I mean, as are not abstract, but of which those intermediate axioms are really limitations.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 97.
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The world hath been much abused by the opinion of making gold; the work itself I judge to be possible; but the means (hitherto propounded) to effect it are, in the practice, full of error and imposture.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Sylva Sylvarum (1627), Century IV 'Experiment Solitary Touching the Making of Gold' in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 2, 448.
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There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Aphorism 3,' Novum Organum, Book I (1620)
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There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names,—calling the first class Idols of the Tribe; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theatre …
The Idols of the Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolours the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.
The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For every one (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolours the light of nature; owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature; or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a mind indifferent and settled; or the like.
There are also Idols formed by the intercourse and association of men with each other, which I call Idols of the Market-place, on account of the commerce and consort of men there. For it is by discourse that men associate; and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar, and therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations where with in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies.
Lastly, there are Idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theatre; because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage-plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 53-55.
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There is another ground of hope that must not be omitted. Let men but think over their infinite expenditure of understanding, time, and means on matters and pursuits of far less use and value; whereof, if but a small part were directed to sound and solid studies, there is no difficulty that might not be overcome.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Translation of Novum Organum, CXI. In Francis Bacon, James Spedding, The Works of Francis Bacon (1864), Vol. 8, 144.
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There is no consumption, unless that which is lost by one body passes into another. Explanation. In nature there is no annihilation; and therefore the thing which is consumed either passes into the air, or is received into some adjacent body.
— Sir Francis Bacon
"Provisional Rules. Concerning the Duration of Life and the Form of Death. Rule 1.' Historia Vitæ et Mortis. Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon (1861) Vol. 2, 320."
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There is no doubt but men of genius and leisure may carry our method to greater perfection, but, having had long experience, we have found none equal to it for the commodiousness it affords in working with the Understanding.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Scala Intellectus', The Works of Francis Bacon (1815), Vol. 11, 13.
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There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportions.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Beauty.' Bacon's Essays (1880), Essay 43, 433.
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There is nothing more certain in nature than that it is impossible for any body to be utterly annihilated.
[Stating the conservation of matter.]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Sylva Sylvarum; or a Natural History in Ten Centuries (1627), Century 1, Experiment 100. Collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1826), Vol 1, 285.
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There were taken apples, and … closed up in wax. … After a month's space, the apple inclosed in was was as green and fresh as the first putting in, and the kernals continued white. The cause is, for that all exclusion of open air, which is ever predatory, maintaineth the body in its first freshness and moisture.
[In the U.S., since the 1920s, (to replace the fruit's original wax coating that is lost in the cleaning process after harvesting), natural waxes, such as carnauba wax, are applied in an extremely thin coating, to reduce loss of moisture and maintain crispness and appearance.]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Sylva Sylvarum; or a Natural History in Ten Centuries (1627), Century 4, Experiment 350-317. Collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1826), Vol 1, 350-351.
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They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 355.
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They are the best physicians, who being great in learning most incline to the traditions of experience, or being distinguished in practice do not reflect the methods and generalities of art.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning, Bk IV, Ch. II.
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Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course; it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it; but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The New Organon (1620) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 4, 92-3.
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Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own. Those on the other hand who have taken a contrary course, and asserted that absolutely nothing can be known — whether it were from hatred of the ancient sophists, or from uncertainty and fluctuation of mind, or even from a kind of fullness of learning, that they fell upon this opinion — have certainly advanced reasons for it that are not to be despised; but yet they have neither started from true principles nor rested in the just conclusion, zeal and affectation having carried them much too far...
Now my method, though hard to practice, is easy to explain; and it is this. I propose to establish progressive stages of certainty. The evidence of the sense, helped and guarded by a certain process of correction, I retain. But the mental operation which follows the act of sense I for the most part reject; and instead of it I open and lay out a new and certain path for the mind to proceed in, starting directly from the simple sensuous perception.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Novum Organum (1620)
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Time is the greatest innovator.
— Sir Francis Bacon
'Of Innovations' (1625) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 6, 433.
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To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-apply'd moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both.
— Sir Francis Bacon
In Of Proficience and Advancement of Learning Divine and Human (1605), collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1711), Vol. 2, 417. Charles Darwin placed this quote on the title page of his On the Origin of Species.
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Truth is a naked and open daylight, that doth not shew the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candlelights.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Essays Civil and Moral,' I, 'Of Truth'. In The Works of Francis Bacon (1824), Vol. 2, 253.
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Truth more easily comes out of error than out of confusion.
— Sir Francis Bacon
As quoted by Thomas Huxley, Address delivered to the Working Men's Club and Institute, 'Technical Education' (1 Dec 1877), in Nineteenth Century (1878), 65-85. Collected in Science and Culture, and Other Essays (1881), 66.
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We come therefore now to that knowledge whereunto the ancient oracle directeth us, which is the knowledge of ourselves; which deserveth the more accurate handling, by how much it toucheth us more nearly. This knowledge, as it is the end and term of natural philosophy in the intention of man, so notwithstanding it is but a portion of natural philosophy in the continent of nature. And generally let this be a rule, that all partitions of knowledges be accepted rather for lines and veins, than for sections and separations; and that the continuance and entireness of knowledge be preserved. For the contrary hereof hath made particular sciences to become barren, shallow, and erroneous; while they have not been nourished and maintained from the common fountain. So we see Cicero the orator complained of Socrates and his school, that he was the first that separated philosophy and rhetoric; whereupon rhetoric became an empty and verbal art. So we may see that the opinion of Copernicus touching the rotation of the earth, which astronomy itself cannot correct because it is not repugnant to any of the phenomena, yet natural philosophy may correct. So we see also that the science of medicine, if it be destituted and forsaken by natural philosophy, it is not much better than an empirical practice. With this reservation therefore we proceed to Human Philosophy or Humanity, which hath two parts: the one considereth man segregate, or distributively; the other congregate, or in society. So as Human Philosophy is either Simple and Particular, or Conjugate and Civil. Humanity Particular consisteth of the same parts whereof man consisteth; that is, of knowledges that respect the Body, and of knowledges that respect the Mind. But before we distribute so far, it is good to constitute. For I do take the consideration in general and at large of Human Nature to be fit to be emancipate and made a knowledge by itself; not so much in regard of those delightful and elegant discourses which have been made of the dignity of man, of his miseries, of his state and life, and the like adjuncts of his common and undivided nature; but chiefly in regard of the knowledge concerning the sympathies and concordances between the mind and body, which, being mixed, cannot be properly assigned to the sciences of either.
— Sir Francis Bacon
The Advancement of Learning (1605) in James Spedding, Robert Ellis and Douglas Heath (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon (1887-1901), Vol. 3, 366-7.
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Whence we see spiders, flies, or ants entombed and preserved forever in amber, a more than royal tomb.
— Sir Francis Bacon
Historia Vitæ et Mortis. Translation in Francis Bacon, James Spedding (ed.) et al., Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon (1861) Vol. 2, 320.
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… for it is very probable, that the motion of gravity worketh weakly, both far from the earth, and also within the earth: the former because the appetite of union of dense bodies with the earth, in respect of the distance, is more dull: the latter, because the body hath in part attained its nature when it is some depth in the earth.
[Foreshadowing Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation (1687)]
— Sir Francis Bacon
Sylva Sylvarum; or a Natural History in Ten Centuries (1627), Century 1, Experiment 33. Collected in The Works of Francis Bacon (1826), Vol 1, 255.
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Quotes by others about Sir Francis Bacon (8)

But, as Bacon has well pointed out, truth is more likely to come out of error, if this is clear and definite, than out of confusion, and my experience teaches me that it is better to hold a well-understood and intelligible opinion, even if it should turn out to be wrong, than to be content with a muddle-headed mixture of conflicting views, sometimes miscalled impartiality, and often no better than no opinion at all.
Principles of General Physiology (1915), x.
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I worked on true Baconian principles, and without any theory collected facts.
cit. Gavin de Beer in Autobiographies: Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, 1974
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I have said that science is impossible without faith. … Inductive logic, the logic of Bacon, is rather something on which we can act than something which we can prove, and to act on it is a supreme assertion of faith … Science is a way of life which can only fluorish when men are free to have faith.
In Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, Statistics and Truth (1997), 31.
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Mr. Hobbes told me that the cause of his Lordship's [Francis Bacon's] death was trying an Experiment: viz. as he was taking the aire in a Coach with Dr. Witherborne (a Scotchman, Physitian to the King) towards High-gate, snow lay on the ground, and it came into my Lord's thoughts, why flesh might not be preserved in snow, as in Salt. They were resolved they would try the Experiment presently. They alighted out of the Coach and went into a poore woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a Hen, and made the woman exenterate it, and then stuffed the body with Snow, and my Lord did help to doe it himselfe. The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his Lodging.
John Aubrey, Brief Lives (1680), edited by Oliver Lawson Dick (1949), 16.
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To this day, we see all around us the Promethean drive to omnipotence through technology and to omniscience through science. The effecting of all things possible and the knowledge of all causes are the respective primary imperatives of technology and of science. But the motivating imperative of society continues to be the very different one of its physical and spiritual survival. It is now far less obvious than it was in Francis Bacon's world how to bring the three imperatives into harmony, and how to bring all three together to bear on problems where they superpose.
'Science, Technology and the Fourth Discontinuity' (1982). Reprinted in The Advancement of Science, and its Burdens (1986), 183.
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Bacon first taught the world the true method of the study of nature, and rescued science from that barbarism in which the followers of Aristotle, by a too servile imitation of their master.
A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts (1845), 5.
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Ask a follower of Bacon what [science] the new philosophy, as it was called in the time of Charles the Second, has effected for mankind, and his answer is ready; “It has lengthened life; it has mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendour of the day; it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied the power of the human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it has annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse, correspondence, all friendly offices, all dispatch of business; it has enabled man to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of the earth, to traverse the land in cars which whirl along without horses, to cross the ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour against the wind. These are but a part of its fruits, and of its first-fruits; for it is a philosophy which never rests, which has never attained, which is never perfect. Its law is progress. A point which yesterday was invisible is its goal to-day, and will be its starting-point to-morrow.”
From essay (Jul 1837) on 'Francis Bacon' in Edinburgh Review. In Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay and Lady Trevelyan (ed.) The Works of Lord Macaulay Complete (1871), Vol. 6, 222.
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This boulder seemed like a curious volume, regularly paged, with a few extracts from older works. Bacon tells us that “some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” Of the last honour I think the boulder fully worthy.
In The Story of a Boulder: or, Gleanings from the Note-book of a Field Geologist (1858), 4.
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See also:
  • todayinsci icon 22 Jan - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Bacon's birth.
  • book icon Novum Organum: With Other Parts of the Great Instauration by Francis Bacon, by Peter Urbach (Ed.) and John Gibson (Ed.). - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
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Euclid
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- 80 -
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
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- 40 -
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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Francis Bacon
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- 10 -
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