Philosophy 203 Notes: Bacon’s Idols 9/9/14

Theoretical Speculation

Bacon thinks philosophy should be useful.

Bacon thinks we see things in a distorted way when we look at them head on. (Like Leonardo’s Eye Painting).

Bacon thinks the way people go about science is all wrong.

Bacon tries to get us to see things as they are.

Bacon’s goals seem to be scientific.

Bacon makes many theological assumptions.

Bacon believe’s God exists.



  • “Worshiping the gold calf, as in Exodus 32:1-35

It is not the image itself that’s the problem. Its our way of treating it. Our attitude toward it. The way we look at it.

So the idols, the way we treat the idols distorts the war we see the world.

Divine ideas make objects what they are in some sense. The way we look at a cow is stamped onto what a cow really is. Nature of the calf. (Like half of it is perception.)

Installation: Renew: Restoration: Repair

So what we want to do is look at the idols by pulling them up from the roots.

The roots of crabgrass are tangled in with the other roots. (We were using gardening imagery)

The notions of good, tangled in with the notions of bad.

Imaging human understanding as the garden.

We want it to produce something nourishing. But Weeds. Idols are like weeds in the human understanding and they prevent us from advancing our ideas.


Idols of the Tribe: Who’s inflicted: Everyone – the entire human race. What does Bacon think we have: 1.) Perception of senses 2.) Perception of Intellect (Mind) Does Bacon think we have anything else besides our senses and our mind? No.

How to correct these distortions from within- that is his aim here. Maybe if we find how these distortions come about we can catch a glimpse into true reality.

Idols of the Den:

  1. My education & Intercourse with others.
  2. My Reading (Engaged in some kind of communication w/ whoever wrote it.)
  3. People I look up to or admire. (built in bias.)

Different impressions impressed in my mind depending on my different feelings. So I have emotions, how is this going to make me see the world. My emotions…switch… a lot. We need to be careful of that if we are going to ge a truth. Impressions differ, depending on my disposition. There is a difference from day to day. That is what Bacon noted.

  • Like you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everyone that day is rude to you. We make different judgements. Its like a string of good luck when one thing elevations your mood suddenly more good things happen because you perceive the good yes yes. It works in the opposite direction too. Perception.

Idols of Market:  Any kinds of associations you have with other people.

This is a problem with language itself. What could possibly be wrong with language itself.

“The British Prime Minister is 47 years old, 6’1” and have 4 children. (What questions do we ask next, what is his name? Childrens names?)

“The average Englishman is 38 years old, 5’10” and has 1.9 children” (I was too dim to understand this, who cares about an average Englishman?)

They are structured the same. Be aware of the pitfalls that are built into the structure of the language. If we were smart enough we could come up with a language that was not deceptive. That was perfectly true.

Idols of the Theatre: Fictitious world we just made up. Facts or things we think are facts.

Im just inventing a world, out of my own imagination. (Bacon is attacking certain philosophers here.) We make up stuff without letting world present itself to us as it really.

So what is the solution to this?

Bacon’s positive theory; true induction. Bacon’s solution is to get closer to the divine mind rather than the idols. (at this point in time there is no difference between philosophy and empirical science.)

Extreme Theatre Example:

  • We found a red bird.
  • We said all birds are red.
  • Then we created a story about how birds were created, and involved God.
  • Then we created DNA theories, as to why all birds were red.


  • And everyone believed it.
  • The End.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s