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Roger Bacon

Roger Bacon




Roger Bacon, an English philosopher and Franciscan friar, was born around 1219/20 and died in 1292. Known as Doctor Mirabilis, meaning "Wonderful Teacher," Bacon was a medieval scholar whose work is considered a precursor to the modern scientific method. His most notable contributions are in the fields of science, alchemy, and the reform of the medieval university curriculum.

Bacon was born in Ilchester, Somerset, England, to wealthy parents who supported his education. He began his studies at Oxford University, where he was influenced by scholars such as Robert Grosseteste and Adam Marsh. Bacon later moved to the University of Paris, the leading center of academic life in Europe at the time, where he earned a master’s degree and lectured on Aristotle.

In 1247, Bacon returned to England and joined the Franciscan Order, adopting a more ascetic lifestyle. During his time with the Franciscans, Bacon conducted experimental research, which was quite revolutionary for the period. His work focused on the empirical method, which emphasized observation and experimentation over pure speculation. He studied optics, alchemy, and the natural sciences, and advocated for the reform of the scholastic curriculum to include more empirical science.

Bacon’s major works include the "Opus Majus," "Opus Minus," and "Opus Tertium," written in the 1260s at the request of Pope Clement IV. These texts covered a wide range of topics, including mathematics, physics, linguistics, and philosophy. The "Opus Majus" is particularly notable for its detailed treatment of the science of optics, a field in which Bacon made significant contributions. He was one of the first Europeans to study the works of the Islamic scientists, which greatly influenced his thinking.

Bacon was critical of the prevailing educational practices and the lack of empirical approach in the study of nature. He believed that the study of languages, mathematics, and science was essential for understanding the world. His insistence on the importance of experimental science led to tensions with his contemporaries and superiors in the Franciscan Order. In 1277, he was condemned for unspecified "suspected novelties" and placed under house arrest.

Despite these challenges, Bacon's legacy lived on through his writings, which were rediscovered during the Renaissance and contributed to the development of modern scientific thought. His advocacy for empirical methods laid the groundwork for future scientists like Galileo and Newton.

Bacon's work remains influential, illustrating the transitional period in Western thought from the medieval to the modern world. His life and work exemplify the struggle between traditional scholasticism and the emerging empirical science that would come to dominate the later centuries.


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Place of Birth: Ilchester, United Kingdom



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Date of Birth: 1220

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