Roger Bacon

Roger Bacon ( * 1214 near Ilchester in Somerset, † 1292 or 1294 in Oxford), known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: " wonderful teacher " ), was an English philosopher and Franciscan and is regarded as one of the first advocates of empirical methods.

The dates are uncertain; the sources differ considerably.


Roger Bacon 's family was upper middle class, however, was during the reign of Henry III. seized the assets, and numerous members of the family were driven into exile.

Roger Bacon studied at Oxford University, then lectured on Aristotle and pseudo- Aristotelian writings. It was probably 1233 Baccalaureus and went to France to work at the University of Paris, which was then the center of intellectual life in Europe. At the Faculty of Arts he held much attended lectures. Around 1245 he returned to Oxford. He became friends with influential people such as Adam de Marisco and Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, (who advocated the study of Greek language, to study Aristotle and the Bible in the "original "). He studied mathematics (which also included astronomy and astrology ), alchemy and optics and was dedicated to the learning of languages ​​and experimental research. For his studies - which meant a significant departure from the usual activity among his colleagues - he put a considerable funding from the family fortune.

After he had around ten years working intensively on his research, he joined - both physically and mentally exhausted - the Franciscan order at. There, however, he was soon suspected of spreading "dangerous" doctrines, and was placed under strict supervision. Back in the Paris Convention, he came into conflict with the law of the Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, which was obtained prior publications, the approval of Major Superiors. As well as the family could no longer financially support him, he was looking for a sponsor and believed to have been found in this Cardinal Guy le Gros de Fulk, who was very interested in his ideas. 1266/1267, he wrote for this (bypassing the ban of his superiors ) in rapid succession three headings: the Opus majus, the Opus minus and Opus tertium be. The hoped-for success was, however, as his patron - the 1265 to the Pope ( Clement IV ) had been elected - died in 1268. In the following years he wrote more writings: the Communia naturalium that philosophiae Communia mathematica and the Compendium.

Around 1278 he was placed under arrest; the reasons were probably his unbridled attacks against the scholastics and his tendency to mysticism (especially the prophecies of Joachim de Fiore ). In 1292 he was released from arrest and grabbed his theories again in a Compendium Theologiae studii together, in which he criticized the contemporary theologians sharp. In June 1292 (or 1294 ) he died. Although he was called by his contemporaries doctor mirabilis ( admirable teacher), he had no students and was soon forgotten.


Overcoming scholasticism

The scientific training which Bacon had enjoyed, resulted from the study of Arabic writers of the Middle Ages, who viewed Aristotle (or this ascribed writings ) as the greatest. They showed the shortcomings of academic training in the West to Aristotle, however, was known only by bad translations, hardly any of the professors dominated the Greek language. The same applied to the Scriptures. The laws of nature were not recognized by knowledge, according to the Aristotelian way, but as God created His everlasting. The two largest orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, had - though still young - quickly taken the lead in theological discussion.

Bacon had acquired an unusual knowledge of the sciences of Arabic and Greek writings and by personal observation, trying to build on these foundations a system of experiential philosophy, which he opposed scholasticism. He called four offendicula ( obstacles ) that block our path to true nature recognition: 1 respect for authority, 2nd habit, 3 depending on the amount of marketable opinions and 4th unteachability our natural sense ( insofar as it was a predecessor of his namesake Sir Francis Bacon).

He eventually rejected scholasticism from completely. The only lecturer, he was acknowledged, " Petrus de Maharncuria Picardus " or " Peter of Picardy " ( probably identical with the mathematician Peter Peregrinus of Picardy ). In Bacon's Opus minus and Opus tertium which pours a mighty torrent of invective about Alexander of Hales ( whom he had admired in Paris ) and another lecturer who " only learned by teaching others." His dogmatic writings he opened in Paris on an equal footing with Aristotle, Avicenna and Averroes. They show that he was Aristotle trailer, albeit with significant borrowings from Neoplatonism.

Already in his writings of Clement IV called Bacon on a reform of theological study. Philosophical hairsplitting should be stressed less than it was the case in scholasticism. Instead, the Bible should move itself back into the center. The study of the Holy Scriptures should be done in the original language. Therefore ( The mistranslations and misinterpretations were legion. ) In addition, he urged theologians to study the entire sciences, to add to the university education.

Insights as a researcher

Bacon rejected the blind following of earlier authorities of himself, not only in theology but also in scientific terms. His opus majus contained chapters on mathematics and optics, alchemy and the manufacture of gunpowder and the position and size of celestial bodies. He described correctly the laws of reflection and refraction of light, examined the emergence of the rainbow as well as the relationship of the tides with the moon position.

The glasses he should - have invented - on previous work of Alhazen based. At the same time he is said to have foretold inventions like the microscope, the telescope, flying machines and steam ships.

On the efficacy of magical practices, however, Bacon doubted any more than his contemporaries; but it was difficult, he said, to distinguish between magic and science ( empirical ). He believed that the heavenly bodies were affecting the fate and mind of humans.

Bacon criticized the Julian calendar, which was still being used.


In the Epistle From the praise of the Holy Scriptures Bacon wrote:

" There is only one perfect wisdom, and that is completely contained in the Holy Scriptures. "

In his major work Opus majus it says about the role of mathematics:

" All things of heaven (including, for Bacon the angels ) can be detected only by quantities, as obviously in astronomy. About quantities but is the math. And the power of all the logical operations depends on the mathematics. [ ... ] The knowledge of mathematical objects is to some extent innate. So go all knowledge and science advance, [ ... ] it is the first of all sciences. It only allows us to work scientifically. "[ ... ] Only in mathematics we arrive at the full, inerrant truth, to a certainty without error. [ ... ] Only with the help of mathematics one can really know and all verify other statements, because in every science is just so much to contain truth as it is capable of mathematics. [ ... ] After I have thus shown that one can only know in philosophy something if you knows in mathematics, and theology can not be understood without philosophy, it follows that every theologian must master mathematics., the theologian must be awarded based on the created things, but that he can not without mathematics. mathematics comes the divine thinking the next. "

About the importance of experience and experiment Bacon said:

" In science, you can not know anything Zureichendes without experience and experiment. The argument from authority brings neither safety nor it eliminates doubt. [ ... ] By means of three methods we may know something: by authority, reason and experience. Benefits Authority nothing if it is not based on reason: We believe an authority, but do not see anything because of them a. But the reasoning does not lead to knowledge if we do not check their conclusions by the practice ( of the experiment). [ ...] About all sciences is the most perfect of them, who verified all the others: it is the empirical science which neglects the reasoning, because it verifies nothing if not the experiment you stand to side. Only the experiment verified, but not the argument. "


With his call to turn from the authorities and from the real things, Roger Bacon was undoubtedly an - anachronistic - precursor of the cis -related thought of the Renaissance. But although he wanted to bring the experience into the science that was shaped his thinking still strong alchemical and mystical. Some four centuries later, the reconnaissance remembered in Oxford at its " predecessor" and raised him to the "courageous champion of empiricism " against medieval scholasticism.

Bacon was, and is sometimes regarded as (co - ) author of the so-called Voynich manuscript.

The lunar crater Baco was named after him.