Machiavelli (1469-1527): Realpolitik


Francis Bacon (1561-1626): Scientific Method

Out of the 
"Dark Ages": 
Medieval 
Background: 
Supernatural Teleological 
Conception of the World: 
Knowledge comes 
from revelation
and knowledge 
claims backed by
appeals to authorities.

  1. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)
  2. [F]or all things that have a function the good and the "well" are supposed to reside in that function, so too it would seem for man, if he has a function.  Have the carpenter, then, and the tanner certain functions or activities, and has man none?  Is he born without a function?  Or as eye and hand, foot, and in general each of the parts evidently has a function, may one lay it down that man similarly has a function apart from all these?  What then can this be?  Life seems to be common even to plants, but we are seeking what is peculiar to man.  Let us exclude, therefore, the life of nutrition and growth.  Next there would seem to be the life of perception, but it seems common even to the horse, the ox, and every animal.  There remains, then an active life of the element that has a rational principle . . . (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, Bk.I:Ch.7)
  3. The evil of drunkenness and of excessive drink consists in a falling away from the order of reason. (Thomas Aquinas: in Jones, vol. 2, p.267n16)

Machiavelli: Political 
"Naturalism": Realpolitik
"politics based on practical
and material factors rather 
than on ethical and 
theoretical objectives"

  1. Those who have been present at any deliberative assemblies of men will have observed how erroneous their opinions often are; and in fact unless they are directed by superior men, they are apt to be contrary to all reason. (p.27)
  2. [Ambition is] so powerful in the hearts of men that it never leaves them, no matter to what height they may rise.  The reason of this is that nature has created men so that they desire everything, but are unable to attain it; desire being thus always greater than the faculty of acquiring, discontent with what they have and dissatisfaction with themselves result from it.(p.27)
  3. Our religion, moreover, places the supreme happiness in humility, lowliness, and a contempt for worldly objects, whilst [pagan religion], on the contrary, places the supreme good in grandeur of soul, strength of body, and all such other qualities as render men formidable; and if our religion claims of us fortitude of soul it it more to enable us to suffer than to achieve great deeds. (p.28)
  4. These [Christian] principles seem to me to have made men feeble, and caused them to become an easy prey to evil-minded men. (p.28)
  5. The only way to establish any kind of order . . . is to establish some superior power which, with a royal hand, and with full and absolute powers, may put a curb upon the excessive ambition and corruption of the powerful. (p.28)
  6. For injuries should be done all together, so that being less tasted they will give less offence.  Benefits should be granted little by little, so that they may be better enjoyed.(p.29)
  7. Still, the experience of our times shows these princes to have done great things who have had little regard for good faith, and have been able by astuteness to confuse men's brains . . .  (p.30)
  8. In truth, there never was any remarkable lawgiver amongst any people who did not resort to divine authority, as otherwise his laws would not have been accepted by the people . . . (p.31)
  9. And therefore everything that tends to favour religion (even though it were believed to be false) should be received and availed of to strengthen it . . . (p.31)

Francis Bacon: 
the Search for an
Inductive Scientific
Method

  1. But if a man should succeed, not in striking out some particular invention, however useful, but in kindling a light in nature . . . that man (I thought) would be the benefactor indeed of the human race -- the propagator of man's empire over the universe, the champion of liberty, the conqueror and subduer of necessities. (pp.74-75).
  2. [T]he human intellect makes its own difficulties [but can be] restored to its perfect and original condition [which is] like a fair sheet of paper with no writing on it [or] like a mirror with a true and even surface fit to reflect the genuine way of things. (pp.75-76)
  3.  Therefore if the notions themselves (which is the root of the matter) are confused and over-hastily abstracted from the facts, there can be no firmness in the superstructure.  (p. 77)
  4. The human understanding is of its own nature prone to suppose the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it finds.  . . .  Hence the fiction that all celestial bodies move in perfect circles.  (p.79)
  5. The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion . . . draws all things else to support and agree with it. (p.79)
  6. What a man had rather were true he more readily believes. (p.79)
  7. [T]he spirit of a man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation. (p.79)
  8. For men believe that their reason governs words; but it is also true that words react on the understanding; and thus it is that has rendered philosophy and the sciences sophistical and inactive.  Now words, being commonly framed and applied according to the capacity of the vulgar, follow those lines of division which are most obvious to the vulgar understanding.  And whenever an understanding of greater acuteness or a more diligent observation would alter those lines to suit the true divisions of nature, words stand in the way and resist the change.  (pp.79-80)
  9. It shows itself likewise in the . . . in the introduction of abstract forms and final causes and first causes, with the omission in most cases of causes intermediate, and the like.  Upon this point the greatest caution should be used. (p.81)
  10. We must lead men to the particulars themselves, and their series and order; while men on their side must force themselves for awhile to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with the facts. (p.81)
  11. I contrive that the office of sense shall only be to judge of the experiment, and that the experiment itself shall judge of the thing. {p.81}
  12. From a survey of the instances, all and each, the nature of which Heat is a particular case appears to be Motion.  This is displayed most conspicuously in flame, which is always in motion, and in boiling or simmering liquids, which also are in perpetual motion. (p.84)
  13. [I have]] established forever a true and lawful marriage between the empirical and rational faculty, the unkind and ill-starred divorce and separation of which has thrown into confusion all the affairs of the human family." (p.91)

Scientific Revolution:
Copernicus, Kepler,
Galileo, Newton

  1. We find, therefore, under this orderly [heliocentric] arrangement, a wonderful symmetry in the universe, and a definite relation of harmony in the motion and magnitude of the orbs. (p.94)

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