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Read the article below and in your own words, (1-2 sentences) what is the "true direction"...

Read the article below and in your own words, (1-2 sentences) what is the "true direction" or right way to interpret nature, according to Bacon?

True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature (1620) Francis Bacon

Those who have taken it on themselves to lay down the law of nature as something that has already been discovered and understood, whether they have spoken in simple confidence or in a spirit of professional posturing, have done great harm to philosophy and the sciences. As well as succeeding in •producing beliefs in people, they have been effective in •squashing and stopping inquiry; and the harm they have done by spoiling and putting an end to other men’s efforts outweighs any good their own efforts have brought. Some people on the other hand have gone the opposite way, asserting that absolutely nothing can be known—having reached this opinion through dislike of the ancient sophists, or through uncertainty and fluctuation of mind, or even through being crammed with some doctrine or other. They have certainly advanced respectable reasons for their view; but zeal and posturing have carried them much too far: they haven’t •started from true premises or •ended at the right conclusion. The earlier of the ancient Greeks (whose writings are lost) showed better judgment in taking a position between •one extreme: presuming to pronounce on everything, and •the opposite extreme: despairing of coming to understand anything. Often they complained bitterly about how hard investigation is and how dark everything is, and were like impatient horses champing at the bit; but they did pursue their objective and came to grips with nature, apparently thinking that the way to settle this question of whether anything can be known was not by arguing but by trying—·testing, experimenting·. Yet they too, trusting entirely to the power of their intellect, didn’t bring any rules to bear and staked everything on hard thinking and continuous mental effort. My method is hard to practice but easy to explain. I propose to •establish degrees of certainty, to •retain ·the evidence of· the senses subject to certain constraints, but mostly to •reject ways of thinking that track along after sensation. In place of that ·rejected procedure·, I open up a new and certain path for the mind to follow, starting from sense-perception. The need for this ·switch· was felt, no doubt, by those who gave such importance to dialectics; their emphasis on dialectics showed that they were looking for aids to the intellect, and had no confidence in the innate and spontaneous process of the mind. [Bacon’s dialectica, sometimes translated as ‘logic’, refers more narrowly to the formalized and rulegoverned use of logic, especially in debates.] But this remedy did no good, coming as it did after the processes of everyday life had filled the mind with hearsay and debased doctrines and infested it with utterly empty idols. (·I shall explain ‘idols’ in 39–45 below·.) The upshot was that the art of dialectics, coming (I repeat) too late to the rescue and having no power to set matters right, was only good for fixing errors rather than for revealing truth. [Throughout this work, ‘art’ will refer to any human activity that involves techniques and requires skills.] We are left with only one way to health—namely to start the work of the mind all over again. In this, the mind shouldn’t be left to its own devices, but right from the outset should be guided at every step, as though a machine were in control. Certainly if in mechanical projects men had set to work with their naked hands, without the help and power of tools, just as in intellectual matters they have set to work with little but the naked forces of the intellect, even with their best collaborating efforts they wouldn’t have achieved—or even attempted—much. . . . Suppose that some enormous stone column had to be moved from its place (wanted elsewhere for some ceremonial purpose), and that men started trying to move it with their naked hands, wouldn’t any sober spectator think them mad? If they then brought in more people, thinking that that might do it, wouldn’t he think them even madder? If they then weeded out the weaker labourers, and used only the strong and vigorous ones, wouldn’t he think them madder than ever? Finally, if they resolved to get help from the art of athletics, and required all their workers to come with hands, arms, and sinews properly oiled and medicated according to good athletic practice, wouldn’t the onlooker think ‘My God, they are trying to show method in their madness!’? Yet that is exactly how men proceed in intellectual matters—with just the same kind of mad effort and useless combining of forces—when they hope to achieve great things either through their individual brilliance or through the sheer number of them who will co-operate in the work, and when they try through dialectics (which we can see as a kind of athletic art) to strengthen the sinews of the intellect. With all this study and effort, as anyone with sound judgment can see, they are merely applying the naked intellect; whereas in any great work to be done by the hand of man the only way to increase the force exerted by each and to co-ordinate the efforts of all is through instruments and machinery... ...Most men are in too much of a hurry, or too preoccupied with business affairs, to engage with my way of doing philosophy—or they don’t have the mental powers needed to understand it. If for any of those reasons you prefer the other way—·prefer cultivation to discovery·—I wish you all success in your choice, and I hope you’ll get what you are after. But if you aren’t content to stick with the knowledge we already have, and want •to penetrate further, •to conquer nature by works, not conquer an adversary by argument, •to look not for nice probable opinions but for sure proven knowledge, I invite you to join with me, if you see fit to do so. [In this context, ‘works’ are experiments.] Countless people have stamped around in nature’s outer courts; let us get across those and try to find a way into the inner rooms. For ease of communication and to make my approach more familiar by giving it a name, I have chosen to call one of these approaches ‘the mind’s anticipation ·of nature·’, the other ‘the interpretation of nature’. 2 [Throughout this work, ‘anticipation’ means something like ‘second-guessing, getting ahead of the data, jumping the gun’. Bacon means it to sound rash and risky; no one current English word does the job.] I have one request to make, ·namely that my courtesies towards you, the reader, shall be matched by your courtesies to me·. I have put much thought and care into ensuring that the things I say will be not only true but smoothly and comfortably accepted by •your mind, however clogged •it is by previous opinions. It is only fair—especially in such a great restoration of learning and knowledge—for me to ask a favour in return, namely this: If you are led •by the evidence of your senses, or •by the jostling crowd of ‘authorities’, or •by arguments in strict logical form (which these days are respected as though they were the law of the land), to want to pass judgment on these speculations of mine, don’t think you can do this casually, while you are mainly busy with something else. Examine the matter thoroughly; go a little distance yourself along the road that I describe and lay out; make yourself familiar with the subtlety of things that our experience indicates; give your deeply-rooted bad mental habits a reasonable amount of time to correct themselves; and then, when you have started to be in control of yourself, use your own judgment—if you want to. [Bacon doesn’t ever in this work address the reader at length. This version sometimes replaces ‘If anybody...’ by ‘If you...’, ‘Men should...’ by ‘You should...’ and so on, to make the thought easier to follow.]

APHORISMS CONCERNING THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE: BOOK 1 [In 86 below, Bacon explains ‘aphorisms’ as meaning ‘short unconnected sentences, not linked by any method’. His ‘aphorisms’ vary from three lines to sixteen pages, but his label ‘aphorism’ will be allowed to stand.] 1. Man, being nature’s servant and interpreter, is limited in what he can do and understand by what he has observed of the course of nature—directly observing it or inferring things ·from what he has observed·. Beyond that he doesn’t know anything and can’t do anything. 2. Not much can be achieved by the naked hand or by the unaided intellect. Tasks are carried through by tools and helps, and the intellect needs them as much as the hand does. And just as the hand’s tools either •give motion or •guide it, so ·in a comparable way· the mind’s tools either •point the intellect in the direction it should go or • offer warnings. 3. Human knowledge and human power meet at a point; for where the cause isn’t known the effect can’t be produced. The only way to command nature is to obey it; and something that functions as the •cause in thinking about a process functions as the •rule in the process itself. 4. All that man can do to bring something about is to put natural bodies together or to pull them away from one another. The rest is done by nature working within. 5. The mechanic, the mathematician, the physician, the alchemist and the magician have all rubbed up against nature in their activities; but so far they haven’t tried hard and haven’t achieved much. 6. If something has never yet been done, it would be absurd and self-contradictory to expect to achieve it other than through means that have never yet been tried. 7. If we go by the contents of •books and by •manufactured products, the mind and the hand seem to have had an enormous number of offspring. But all that variety consists in 3 very fine-grained special cases of, and derivatives from, a few things that were already known; not in a large number of fundamental propositions. 8. Moreover, the works that have already been achieved owe more to chance and experiment than to disciplined sciences; for the sciences we have now are merely pretty arrangements of things already discovered, not ways of making discoveries or pointers to new achievements. 9. Nearly all the things that go wrong in the sciences have a single cause and root, namely: while wrongly admiring and praising the powers of the human mind, we don’t look for true helps for it. 10. Nature is much subtler than are our senses and intellect; so that all those elegant meditations, theorizings and defensive moves that men indulge in are crazy—except that no-one pays attention to them. [Bacon often uses a word meaning ‘subtle’ in the sense of ‘finegrained, delicately complex’; no one current English word will serve.] 11. Just as the sciences that we now have are useless for devising new inventions, the logic that we now have is useless for discovering new sciences. [Bacon here uses inventio in two of its senses, as = ‘invent’ and as = ‘discover’.] 12. The logic now in use serves to •fix and stabilize errors based on the ideas of the vulgar, rather than to •search for truth. So it does more harm than good. 13. The syllogism isn’t brought to bear on the •basic principles of the sciences; it is applied to •intermediate axioms, but nothing comes of this because the syllogism is no match for nature’s subtlety. It constrains what you can assent to, but not what can happen. 14. A •syllogism consists of •propositions, which consist of •words, which are stand-ins [tesserae, literally = ‘tickets’] for •notions. So the root of the trouble is this: If the notions are confused, having been sloppily abstracted from the facts, nothing that is built on them can be firm. So our only hope lies in true induction... 19. There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. (1) One of them starts with the senses and particular events and swoops straight up from them to the most general axioms; on the basis of these, taken as unshakably true principles, it proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of intermediate axioms. This is the way that people follow now. (2) The other derives axioms from the senses and particular events in a gradual and unbroken ascent, ·going through the intermediate axioms and· arriving finally at the most general axioms. This is the true way, but no-one has tried it. 20. When the intellect is left to itself it takes the same way—namely (1)—that it does when following the rules of dialectics. For the mind loves to leap up to generalities and come to rest with them; so it doesn’t take long for it to become sick of experiment. But this evil, ·though it is present both in natural science and in dialectics·, is worse in dialectics because of the ordered solemnity of its disputations...

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Answer #1

According to Bacon, true direction for interpret nature is

  • It is the orderly way of existence to find the relationship of nature in the world.
  • The true understanding of adopting, aggregating and supporting of natural things through the senses.
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