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A Report by Andrew Collins
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Author Topic: THE RENAISSANCE  (Read 5099 times)
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« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2008, 10:33:36 am »

"Abraham, Planter of Mathematics":

                          Histories of Mathematics and Astrology in Early Modern Europe

Nicholas Popper

Princeton University

Francis Bacon's 1605 Advancement of Learning proposed to dedicatee James I a massive reorganization of the institutions, goals, and methods of generating and transmitting knowledge. The numerous defects crippling the contemporary educational regime, Bacon claimed, should be addressed by strengthening emphasis on philosophy and natural knowledge. To that end, university positions were to be created devoted to "Artes and Sciences at large," rather than to the professions. High salaries would render lecturers "able and sufficient," undistracted from their task. Most famously, he argued that teaching of the "operatiue studie of many Scyences" should involve sophisticated technical education. The study of natural philosophy demanded not only books, but globes, astrolabes, and other "instrumentals." Most significantly, yielding reliable and meaningful knowledge from experiential gleanings required a rigorous system of deductive reasoning.

The legacy of this colossal proposal has earned Bacon honored status as devisor of the scientific method.1 But Bacon's educational reform extended [End Page 87] beyond the methods of producing and transmitting knowledge. To facilitate more efficient "vse and administration" of the knowledge produced by his system, he also demanded a searching examination of the history of learning. This history would provide a mirror enabling his contemporaries to deploy the fruits of his method, by considering how learning in the past had been used successfully or ill-advisedly. Producing this history was the ambition of the Advancement, for he explained: "no man hath propounded to himselfe the generall state of learning to bee described and represented from age to age, as many have done the works of Nature, & the State civile and Ecclesiastical."

He continued:
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Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.
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