Roger Bacon


Roger bacon
Roger Bacon was a very brilliant scholar of the thirteenth century who advocated the learning of Greek, in order to understand the original works of authors such as Aristotle, and the ancient philosophers, and also promoted the idea of scientific experiments, which at the time, was rather novel.

Although Bacon is best known as an early pioneer of science, much of his fame during his lifetime concerned his classical scholarship. He went to study in Paris as a young man and there learned Greek. This enabled him to read many of the great classical others who most of his contemporaries knew only by incomplete translations. He was critical of the academics over emphasis on minor points of doctrine and advocated a return to the learning of original sources. It was not for another century however, that the Greek classics became widely known among western scholars. Criticism of the status quo in any large established organization is always dangerous, so naturally, his ideas were regarded with suspicion, and at one point he was placed under confinement. He always had supporters as well as detractors however, and when Clement IV, a supporter of his became pope, he was allowed to continue publishing.

Bacon's contribution to scientific inquiry is hard to separate from his general philosophical commentaries. By modern standard, many of his scientific ideas appear rather silly, including a belief in astrology and also alchemy. However, his great contribution had to do with the idea of testing commonly held notions against objective observations. His reputation in after years for attempting "scientific" experiments using various chemicals caused numerous legends to form around him, hence stories such as Roger Bacon and the Brazen Head and others are associated with him in the popular imagination.

Key events during the life of Roger Bacon:

Birth of Roger Bacon
Took holy orders at Oxford
  Studied at the University of Paris
Returned to Oxford and became a Franciscan.
Place under restriction in Paris for suspicion of Black Arts.
Returned to Oxford
Wrote First book of Compendium Studii Philosophiae
Wrote final book in philosophy series.
Death of Roger Bacon

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Friar Bacon and the Brazen Head  in  Thirty More Famous Stories Retold  by  James Baldwin
Roger Bacon  in  Stories of the Great Scientists  by  Charles R. Gibson
The Brazen Head  in  The Book of Legends  by  Horace E. Scudder

Image Links

Roger Bacon
 in Thirty More Famous Stories Retold

Bacon and the Brazen Head
 in Thirty More Famous Stories Retold

Friar Bacon's House
 in With the King at Oxford

Short Biography
Pope Clement IV Supporter of Roger Bacon's theological work.