Thoughts of Bacon

Published: 2021-06-29 07:07:23
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III. THOUGHTS of Bacon
A. Metaphysics
Bacon seems to have made little original contribution to metaphysical thinking. His metaphysical works are influenced by his reading of the works of Aristotle, Avicenna, and William of Auvergne.
1. On Essence and Existence
He accepted the identity of essence and existence -- that what makes a thing what it is cannot be distinguished from what makes it that thing. For him essence and existence, although distinct, are inseparable; whatever is 'real' exists.
A thing may be said to 'be' in a variety of ways, but its primary sense is the 'what' -- which indicates the substance (ousia) of the thing -- rather than the 'that' it is. Essences, however, are what they are regardless of their mode of existence. He supposed existence in individual things to be an accidental property of their essence. He meant by this that while in itself an individual, say, Socrates exists as a possible thing, its existence is necessitated by the essence 'humanity' of which it is but one realization or embodiment; there are no essences without any existent instances.
2. On Matter
Bacon gives six meanings for the concept of matter. (1) Matter is the subject of action as when we say that wood is the matter for the action of the carpenter. (2) In the proper sense of the term, matter is that which with form constitutes the composite as in the case of every created substance. (3) Matter is the subject of generation and corruption and has the property of being an incomplete and imperfect thing in potency to a complete thing. (4) Matter is the subject of alteration since it receives contrary accidents. (5) Matter can be considered as an individual in relation to the universal, the latter being founded in its individual as in a material principle. (6) Matter is the name for that which is gross, as when we say that earth has more matter than fire.

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