The Idols: Bacon's General Classes of Errors of the Mind

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The Idols: Bacon's General Classes of Errors of the Mind

Unread postby Brigit Bara » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:41 am

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) developed a description of the main impediments to the advancement of knowledge and the sciences of his day.

I personally read these as a description of the accepted methods and content of the learning of the time.

The originality, usefulness and necessity of his work in warning about these classes of errors has since been underappreciated. Bacon was known as the "father of empirical science" for his urging the use improved tools, measurements, observations and experiments rather than resting on ancient opinions and modern convention.

But it is always possible for any one at any time to fall into one of these classes of errors no matter how wonderful his methods are, and not only to fall into them, but to make of them a great virtue -- or "idol."

The deep fallacies of the mind, or general classes of errors into which the human mind is prone to fall, are arranged in the Novum Organon as the four idola:

The idola tribus, "idols of the tribe," are fallacies incident to humanity or the race in general. Of these, the most prominent are the proneness to suppose in nature greater order and regularity than there actually is; the tendency to support a preconceived opinion by affirmative instances, neglecting all negative or opposed cases; and the tendency to generalize from few observations or to give reality to mere abstractions, figments of the mind.

Manifold errors also result from the weakness of the senses, which affords scope for mere conjecture; from the influence exercised over the understanding by the will and passions; from the restless desire of the mind to penetrate to the ultimate principles of things.
Last edited by Brigit Bara on Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer
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Re: The Idols: Bacon's General Classes of Errors of the Mind

Unread postby Brigit Bara » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:54 am

The idola specus and the idola fori:

The idola specus, "idols of the cave," are idols incident to the peculiar mental or bodily constitution of each individual, because the individual's view of things is based on the state of his mind. Errors of this class are innumerable because there are numberless varieties of disposition; but some very prominent specimens can be indicated. These include the tendency to make all things subservient to or take the colour of some favorite subject; the extreme fondness and reverence for either what is ancient or what is modern; and excess in noting either differences or resemblances among things.


The idola fori, "idols of the market place," are errors arrising from the influence exercised over the mind by mere words. This, according to Bacon, is the most troublesome kind of error and has been especially fatal in philosophy. Words introduce a fallacious way of looking at things in two ways:

first, there are some words that are really merely names for nonexistent things;
secondly, there are names hastily and abstracted from a few objects and applied recklessly to all objects that have the faintest analogy with these objects.
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer
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Re: The Idols: Bacon's General Classes of Errors of the Mind

Unread postby Brigit Bara » Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:03 am

The idola theatri

The idola theatri, "idols of the theater," are fallacious modes of thinking resulting from received modes of philosophy and from erroneous methods of demonstration.


ref: Britannica 1974 Vol 2
K.M.L.
ref: http://www.constitution.org/bacon/nov_org.htm

Now, did he miss anything? (:
“Oh for shame, how these mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they say evils come from us, when it is they rather who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given…”
~Homer
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Brigit Bara
 
Posts: 491
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:37 pm


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