The Critical Philosophy of Roger Bacon (Rogerus Baco)

The Critical Philosophy of Roger Bacon (Rogerus Baco)

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Rogerus Baco had a world of criticism.

Not only did he criticize his contemporaries; At the same time, he did not mind criticizing the great philosophers of the past. Right at the beginning of his work called Opus Majus, he claims that the mistakes of both ancient thinkers and thinkers of his own age are based on four main reasons: 1) Surrender to valueless authority, 2) The influence of tradition, 3) Common prejudices 4) Concealment of ignorance with the ostentatious display of knowledge (Maurer, 1982:128).

Baco’s criticism based on this determination should be evaluated within the conditions of his own age. Otherwise, there may be those who put themselves in the same category as Kant, who is also a critical philosopher; this produces an error. However, his criticism mainly aims to draw attention to the drawbacks of old-style theological education. In fact, Rogerus Baco was trying to bridge the gap between the Aristotelian doctrine, which was accused of not conforming to the Arab scientists and the Christian faith, and the rationalized Aristotelian doctrine, as Thomas Aquinas later did (Hackett, 1983: 618).

In his late periods in Paris, Baco was particularly critical of young theologians who had just entered the Franciscan and Dominican orders and had achieved brilliant success in a short time. One of these young names, Aleksander Haliensis (Alexander of Hales), writes as if he was one of the great philosophers of the past; however, he made many mistakes, unaware of language, optics, and experimental science. However, according to Rogerus Baco, it was necessary to be aware of the sciences in order to write on philosophical subjects (Maurer, 1982: 128).

In fact, making such mistakes was not only seen in philosophers of his time. According to him, both Aristotle and Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, who were his important commentators, had mistakes that could be considered serious. However, Aristotle’s mistakes, especially in physics, were grave and these mistakes were revealed by his students. Theophrastos, who became the head of the Lykeion after Aristotle, and Strato, who was the administrator after him, carefully identified and expressed the errors in Aristotle’s work called Physics. Underlying their efforts was the belief that philosophy must be based on a science.

According to Rogerus Baco, some fundamental differences must become clear in order to construct a thought suitable for scientific experimentation. These differences show themselves in some preferences: Scientists should first of all investigate whether the source from which they derive their thoughts is a solid one. While doing this research, it is not what the tradition has accumulated; but the rules of the mind must be obeyed. We can only find what we need to understand from the rules of the mind with wisdom and wise thought; not with the ossified prejudices of society. According to Rogerus Baco, “if the majority of people believe something is true, it is probably false; for communities (mass) are the worst guides on the way to wisdom” (Maurer, 1982: 129).

According to Rogerus Baco, the most basic science to be known in the world is mathematics, which acts as both a door and a lock for all other sciences. Mathematics was discovered at the beginning of history by people of high virtue. It is not possible for people who do not know mathematics to know the language properly. According to Rogerus Baco, there was a close relationship between Latin, the language of that period, and mathematics. The ignorance of those who were interested in language about mathematics caused Latin to deteriorate as well. Those who do not have any knowledge of mathematics can neither have proper communication with other sciences (language is also a science) nor with the relations that make up the world. Above all, according to Rogerus Baco, those who do not know mathematics will not realize their own ignorance, and will not make any attempt to overcome this situation.

One of the qualities attributed to Aristotle in the history of philosophy is that he is an “essentialist” philosopher. According to him, knowledge about something is obtained after owning its essence. According to Aristotle, once you have the knowledge of the essence of an object, there is no need to experiment with it. This understanding was seen as an obstacle to science for a thousand years in the Middle Ages.

This science, then, prepares the mind for the learning of other sciences and the understanding of the world, and raises it to a certain knowledge of all existing things. For Rogerus Baco, who follows the Aristotelian approach here, once one has grasped mathematics and applied it properly in other sciences, one can easily and effectively know everything without making any mistakes or mistakes. He also evaluates the above-mentioned authority and reason in this sense.