It has been said that man is one of the very few creatures that regularly engages in self-deception. We seem to be able to convince ourselves that the reality of the world around us, (or at least the part we don’t like), can be canceled out by simply convincing ourselves that it isn’t really there, or if it is, we have mistaken it for something else, and if we think so, the unlikeable will go away. Moreover, we often use intuition rather than inquiry to determine the condition of our world.
Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He was extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific method during the scientific revolution.
Bacon has been called the creator of empiricism. His works established and popularized inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.
His own words provide a clear, concise summary of his belief in empiricism. “Men have sought to make a world from their own conception and to draw from their own minds all the material which they employed, but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have the facts and not opinions to reason about, and might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world.”
Later, in this same vein he noted even more concisely: “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.”
Such an echo of sharp observation from 400 years ago!