The Shaky Foundations of Science

The Mistaken Epistemologies of Francis Bacon & Rene Descartes

John Driggs


Photo by Jorge Franganillo on Unsplash

Today we’re going to continue down our epistemological path, to strengthen our core beliefs, the very foundation of the relative world. We’re going to move past what we believe and instead continue to explore the why and how that sit behind our entire collection of beliefs. We’re going to deepen our roots to give us strength and stability in our understanding and in our lives.

And, in addition to the motivations and intentions I have already stated in previous episodes, let me add one more. I wish to shed light on the history of epistemology to also help combat the spread of misinformation and any other assertions that claim to be backed by “Science.”

Science has unfortunately become almost entirely void of meaning. We often throw it around, in large part unconsciously, when we wish to put some authority behind a claim. I see advertisements claim that their goods or services are backed by science. Internet blogs, supplements, health and diet forums, self-improvement books, this-that-and-the-other-thing each claim to stand on the authority of ‘science’.

But, what’d ya’ll mean by ‘science’? What is its nature or quality? And what, if anything, gives it authority? Many of us, when pressed to explain science, quickly realize that we’re not entirely sure what it is. Let’s take a close look at the so-called “Scientific Revolution,” then, to see if we can’t sharpen our understanding and make ourselves more resilient against those empty claims disguised as ‘science’.

Okay, well, in the last episode, we explored the rebirth of the Ionian tradition in Europe, through the lens of Copernicus, Bruno, Galileo, and Kepler. I finished out the episode with the claim that though it was Kepler who seemed to have best understood how knowledge is created and evolves, it was actually his mistaken contemporaries Francis Bacon and René Descartes who received all the hype for their epistemologies. In this episode, then, we’ll explore Bacon and Descartes’ epistemologies in depth.

The Scientific Revolution

The scientific revolution was largely inspired by the optimistic belief that each person has the power to acquire…