Francis Bacon’s 4 Idols, The Doctrine of Idols

Francis Bacon’s 4 Idols, The Doctrine of Idols

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Francis Bacon’s “Four Idols” or “The Doctrine of Ideas” or “The Doctrine of Idols” is a philosophical understanding that explains the typical errors, natural tendencies and flaws that surround the human mind and thus prevent people from fully and correctly understanding and making sense of nature.

Man is a social creature. The sociality of man is based on his being formed and existing in an environment that directly affects his life consciously or unconsciously. In this existence, human life is shaped by certain patterns.

These patterns block the mind’s field of vision, like a stain that prevents a person from reaching the truth. In order to reach the truth, one must first get rid of these stains, namely idols or idols.

Bacon’s Four Idols

Bacon introduces this famous doctrine of “Idols” in the 1st book of his great work “New Organon”. These idols can be listed as follows:

Pedigree idols (Idola tribus)
Cave idols (Idola specus)
Bazaar-Sunday idols (Idola fori)
Theater idols (Idola theatri)

Now, we will try to explain these idols one by one, one by one.

Pedigree Idols

Genealogical idols mainly appear as a critique of Aristotelian logic. Genealogical idols allow human beings to perceive nature as more orderly and more orderly than it actually is; It refers to seeing things according to certain patterns or principles and preconceptions and not caring about how well these things are compatible with our judgments.

Genealogical idols are natural weaknesses and tendencies inherent in human beings. Since they are brought from birth, it is not possible to get rid of them completely. Lineage idols can only be rearranged or compensated.

One of Bacon’s examples is the tendency of people to trust their senses, which are, in fact, easily deceptive by nature. Another idol of the lineage is the tendency of people to perceive (or even give such a meaning to) more order in natural events and phenomena than what actually exists.

In this context, Bacon pointed out that people tend to find similarity where there is singularity, and regularity where there is actually coincidence. For example, you might think that just because someone won the lottery in a particular city, other people in that city would have a similar chance, whereas in reality there is no such link between events.

People also have a tendency to wishful thinking. According to Bacon, people have a tendency to believe what they want to be true, to accept them as true, and even to prove that they exist. As a result, people tend to jump straight to conclusions and make premature judgments (rather than gradually, slowly and painstakingly accumulating evidence).

Imagine you are watching a football match on TV. The presenter notices that Semih, who is going to take the penalty kick, has scored twice from the penalty spot in the previous two away games, and says, “Semih uses successful penalty kicks in away games.” Then, implying that the player will take a good penalty shot again, he said, “You are watching an away game today as well.” he continues. Bacon would probably say that the MC saw a link here that didn’t exist, and that’s one of the lineage idols.

These are prejudices arising from the common characteristics of the human race. People’s view of nature and the world is mostly formed not from the nature of nature, but from the structure of man: For example, people try to humanize the forces of nature like themselves; accordingly, nature sometimes treats people well, sometimes badly; Sometimes it rewards them, sometimes it punishes them. However, nature is not a human being; it operates according to its own laws. Behind these prejudices of people, there are factors coming from their common nature such as emotional and emotional structures, limited sensory and mental powers, structure of perception. Bacon’s metaphor explains this phenomenon very well:

“The human mind is similar to concave and convex mirrors, which impart their properties to different objects in terms of radiating, distorting and distorting the rays” (Bacon, 1999: 16).

So we must be like normal mirrors reflecting nature in its usual dimensions. Especially the scientist has a much greater necessity for this.

Cave Idols

Unlike genealogical idols, which apply to all human beings, cave idols differ from person to person. These reflect the personal impairments, afflictions, prejudices and beliefs that individuals are exposed to depending on their family background, childhood experiences, education, upbringing, gender, religion, social class and similar characteristics.

Accordingly, an American born in a certain time and place—for example, in the United States after September 11, 2001—may take a more aggressive stance on war than someone not from this time. Or the person has developed a “stereotypical” mindset.