Roger Bacon (c. 1214 – 1294), also known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: "wonderful teacher"), was an English theologian, philosopher and Franciscan friar. An English philosopher who placed considerable emphasis on empiricism, he was one of the earliest European advocates of the modern scientific method. Later studies have emphasized his reliance on occult and alchemical traditions. All his theoretical writings were originally in Latin.
- Prudens quaestio dimidium scientiae.
- Argument is conclusive... but... it does not remove doubt, so that the mind may never rest in the sure knowledge of the truth, unless it finds it by the method of experiment. For if any man who never saw fire proved by satisfactory arguments that fire burns, his hearer's mind would never be satisfied, nor would he avoid the fire until he put his hand in it that he might learn by experiment what argument taught.
- Cited in: Carol A. Dingle (2000) Memorable Quotations: Philosophers of Western Civilization. p. 21
- There are in fact four very significant stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.
- Cited in: John H. Woodburn, Ellsworth Scott Obourn (1965) Teaching the pursuit of science. p. 70
- Many secrets of art and nature are thought by the unlearned to be magical.
- Cited by Peter Nicholls (1979) The Encyclopedia of science fiction: an illustrated A to Z. p. 376
Opus Majus, 1266
- If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics...
- Opus Majus, bk. 1, ch. 4. Translated by Robert B. Burke, in: Edward Grant (1974) Source Book in Medieval Science. Harvard University Press. p.93
- Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences... Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since he who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or the things of this world. And what is worse, men who are thus Ignorant are unable to perceive their own ignorance and so do not seek a remedy.
- Opus Majus, as cited in: Morris Kline (1969) Mathematics and the physical world. p.1
- For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics. For this is an assured fact in regard to celestial things, since two important sciences of mathematics treat of them, namely theoretical astrology and practical astrology. The first ... gives us definite information as to the number of the heavens and of the stars, whose size can be comprehended by means of instruments, and the shapes of all and their magnitudes and distances from the earth, and the thicknesses and number, and greatness and smallness, ... It likewise treats of the size and shape of the habitable earth ... All this information is secured by means of instruments suitable for these purposes, and by tables and by canons .. For everything works through innate forces shown by lines, angles and figures.
- Cited in: Opus majus: A translation by Robert Belle Burke. Vol 1 (1962). p.128
- Reasoning draws a conclusion and makes us grant the conclusion, but does not make the conclusion certain, nor does it remove doubt so that the mind may rest on the intuition of truth, unless the mind discovers it by the path of experience.
- In: Robert Belle Burke (2002) The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon Part 2. p.583
Opus tertium, ca. 1267
- I have labored much in sciences and languages, and I have up to now devoted forty years [to them] after I first learned the Alphabetum; and I was always studious. Apart from two of these forty years I was always [engaged] in study [or at a place of study], and I had many expenses just as others commonly have. Nevertheless, provided I had first composed a compendium, I am certain that within quarter or half a year I could directly teach a solicitous and confident person whatever I know of these sciences and languages. And it is known that no one worked in so many sciences and languages as I did, nor so much as I did. Indeed, when I was living in the other state of life [as a Magister], people marveled that I survived the abundance of my work. And still, I was just as involved in studies afterwards, as I had been before. But I did not work all that much, since in the pursuit of Wisdom this was not required.
- OQHI, 65 as cited in: Jeremiah Hackett (2009) "Roger Bacon" in: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
- The strongest arguments prove nothing so long as the conclusions are not verified by experience. Experimental science is the queen of sciences and the goal of all speculation.
- Opus Tertium M, cited in: James J. Walsch (1911) "Science at the Medieval Universities" in: Popular Science, May 1911, p.449