more from Francis Bacon

Single Idea 12125

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 2. Natural Purpose / c. Purpose denied]

Full Idea

To say 'leaves are for protecting of fruit', or that 'clouds are for watering the earth', is well inquired and collected in metaphysic, but in physic they are impertinent. They are hindrances, and the search of the physical causes hath been neglected.

Gist of Idea

Teleological accounts are fine in metaphysics, but they stop us from searching for the causes


Francis Bacon (The Advancement of Learning [1605], II.VII.7)

Book Reference

Bacon,Francis: 'Advancement of Learning/New Atlantis' [OUP 1966], p.113

A Reaction

This is the standard rebellion against Aristotle which gave rise to the birth of modern science. The story has been complicated by natural selection, which bestows a sort of purpose on living things. Nowadays we pursue both paths.