CULTURAL-HISTORICAL UNDERPINNINGS OF THE RESEARCH PROGRAMS OF F. BACON AND R. DESCARTES

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Transliteration of original Title: 
Kul`turno-istoricheskie osnovaniia issledovatel`skikh programm F. Be`kona i R. Dekarta
Author(s): 
Vladimir Glebkin
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration; Gymnasium 1514
Issue number: 
No. 1 (Vol. 43)
Pages: 
128-148
Abstract: 

Images of the universe, society and creatures as machines are already to be found in the Early Patristics, and then appear with increasing frequency in an increasing number of contexts during the Middle Ages. The emergence and evolution of such images is caused by the radical transformation of the model of the universe from a self-sufficient cosmos moving and changing its state on its own in antiquity to that of God’s creation with no independent status, put another way, a machine, in medieval culture.

The foundation of Descartes’ philosophy seems to be nicely consistent with the medieval model. Reason likens man to God; hence, it is indeed reason that we should rely on in seeking the true basis for understanding reality. The universe is a set of machines; put another way, the purport of its existence and changes to its state are carried out by its Creator. The human mind can comprehend this purport because it is of the same substance as God. Thus, introspection and deduction are the basic principles of Descartes’ research programme.

Bacon’s research programme is based on radically different underpinnings. An important feature of the hermetic corpus is the idea of the universe as an animated being. Importantly, this is not an exception from Renaissance thought. By addressing Ancient Greek culture, the culture of the Renaissance revives its view of the universe as a living entity performing on its own.

The two paradigms described – medieval (universe as a machine) and Ancient Greek (universe as a self-sufficient entity) – could be seen as originating in two branches in the culture of early Modernity. The former is connected with the treatises of Galileo and Hobbes, and then influences the culture of the Enlightenment; the latter – with the treatises of Spinoza, Copernicus and Bruno, then being later the cause of some important traits of the culture of Romanticism.

Keywords: 
machine, Renaissance culture, Reformation culture, Bacon, Descartes
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DOI: 
10.5840/eps201543136
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