Aristotle's papers, by this time badly disorganized and deteriorated, now came into the hands of librarians and scholars in Rome, who edited them in a rather haphazard fashion, occasionally filling in gaps with their own words. A hastily copied and error-laden pirated edition of the text quickly went into circulation.
A more authoritative edition was prepared a few years later and published around 70 B. Since even the Lyceum had no definitive version of Aristotle's teachings and he had been most widely known until then for Platonist dialogues and general works written on a semi-popular level, these newly published texts had a tremendous intellectual impact and led to a revival of interest in Aristotelian philosophy.
His works were widely studied and carefully preserved from then on. In ancient times Aristotle was said to have written several hundred books and treatises on a wide variety of subjects. The titles of slightly more than of these are still known, but some seem to have been duplications. Others were probably not genuine and may have been written by his successors at the Lyceum.
The present corpus of Aristotelian works, most of which derive from the manuscripts brought to Rome in 86 B. The following descriptive list, which includes most of the works considered to be genuine, illustrates the broad scope of Aristotle's interests and shows how he laid the groundwork for later research and speculation in many different fields.
Works on Logic known collectively as the Organon or "tool" because they deal with methodology, the tool of research. The Categories, a treatise on the fundamental classification of ideas, particularly isolated and uncombined terms. On Interpretation, a treatise on philosophical terminology in general, with emphasis on the theory and analysis of propositions used to show relations between concepts.
Prior Analytics, 2 books on the laws of syllogistic reasoning and the proper use of the syllogism. Posterior Analytics, 2 books on methods of demonstration and definition. The Topics, 8 books on dialectical inferences, probability, and the use of the syllogism. On Sophistical Refutations, a treatise on the solution of Sophist fallacies and the refutation of false syllogisms.
Physics, 8 books on the general bases and relations of nature as a whole, containing discussions of movement and change, place, time, motion, the transformation of potentiality into actuality, etc. On Generation and Decay, 2 books on the cyclical sequence of transformations. On Meteorology, 4 books on the phenomena of the air, with some discussion of chemistry and physics.
History of Animals, 10 books containing a classified collection of facts pertaining to the anatomy of organisms, with particular emphasis on morphology the branch of biological science concerning form and structure without regard for function. On the Progression of Animals, 1 book on the mechanical aspects of physiology. Take your time with these.
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One of the greatest challenges facing biographers of Bacon is to reconcile his political and philosophical careers. Francis Bacon was a skillful political operator who fell from grace and who was ultimately charged with corruption. He was also a serious philosophical and scientific writer. Many early biographers preferred to gloss over his unsavory reputation, or rigorously separate the two parts of his life.
The truth is perhaps not so simple; Bacon's two lives were always linked. Francis Bacon was born in in London. He had many important family connections amongst the upper strata of Elizabethan society. At his father's death in , Bacon was penniless and he decided to follow a legal career. He became an MP in , in , and ; the next decades of his life were a constant search for patronage and position.
His patron the Earl of Essex unsuccessfully campaigned to have him made Solicitor General in After Essex's rebellion in , Bacon escaped prosecution. He was knighted by James I in , and began to gain favor with the new King; he became a Privy Councillor in Bacon acquired James's favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, as a patron. Albans in Later that year he was impeached by the House of Commons for accepting bribes. Disgraced, Bacon retired to the country.
He died in A persistent rumor claims that he died after catching cold from stuffing a chicken with snow to investigate the effects of freezing. Many of Bacon's major works were written whilst he held public office, but his most productive period came after his fall from power. His Essays appeared in , and in later enlarged editions in and The Advancement of Learning was published in ; Bacon intended to gain favor with James by dedicating the work to him.
It appeared in Latin translation in De Sapientia Veterum Wisdom of the Ancients appeared in The New Organon was first published in Bacon's chaplain William Rawley published many of his papers posthumously. Bacon's most immediate philosophical context is that of Aristotelian philosophy, which was still one of the prevalent intellectual currents of Bacon's day.
Aristotle's Physics, which emphasized the role of a complex system of causes, form and matter, offered a theoretical rather than experimental picture of the natural world. Medieval Aristotelian philosophers, collectively known as the scholastics, sought to interpret and update Aristotle's system. However, absolute consensus around Aristotle clearly did not exist, even in the universities.
When Bacon was at Cambridge, attacks on Aristotle's logic by the French thinker Ramus were being debated. Recent scholarship emphasizes the wide range of opinions that can be classed as Aristotelian. Bacon was by no means the first thinker to react against Aristotle, but to understand his reaction one must recognize the importance of Aristotle in early modern intellectual life.
This reaction was indeed a severe one; Bacon's key aim throughout The New Organon was to replace what he believed to be Aristotle's universal truths with the idea that truth had to be discovered. Bacon's involvement with contemporary experimental philosophy is also important. From comments in The New Organon itself, and from his letters, we know that Bacon took a keen interest in scientific developments and discoveries, despite his criticism of purely empirical philosophy.
His discussions of Galileo's theory of tides, Gilbert's concept of magnetism, and of the use of the recently-developed microscope, show a philosopher in touch with contemporary developments. Bacon also performed and directed his own experiments, some of which were more successful than the chicken-freezing enterprise that hastened his demise. The modern view of Bacon emphasizes the.
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