•  698
    This paper investigates some examples of Baconian experimentation, coming from Bacon’s ‘scientific’ works, i.e. his Latin natural histories and the posthumous Sylva Sylvarum. I show that these experiments fulfill a variety of epistemic functions. They have a classificatory function, being explicitly used to delimitate and define new fields of investigation. They also play an important role in concept formation. Some of the examples discussed in this paper show how Francis Bacon developed instrum…Read more
  •  64
    At various stages in his career, Francis Bacon claimed to have reformed and changed traditional natural history in such a way that his new “natural and experimental history” was unlike any of its ancient or humanist predecessors. Surprisingly, such claims have gone largely unquestioned in Baconian scholarship. Contextual readings of Bacon's natural history have compared it, so far, only with Plinian or humanist natural history. This paper investigates a different form of natural history, very po…Read more
  •  56
    Francis Bacon’s main contribution to the emergence of experimental philosophy was a new way of thinking about the serial character of experimental practices. His natural and experimental histories document his constant attempts to order experimental inquiries. They consist of large collections of lists and series of items, most of which are called “experiments.” For Bacon, “experiment” is a generic term; it is used for tests and trials, recipes, ideas of experimental investigations, theoretical …Read more
  •  56
    In this paper we argue that the primary issue in Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy, Part II, articles 1-40, is the problem of individuating bodies. We demonstrate that Descartes departs from the traditional quest for a principle of individuation, moving to a different strategy with the more modest aim of constructing bodies adequate to the needs of his cosmology. In doing this he meets with a series of difficulties, and this is precisely the challenge that Newton took up. We show that Descarte…Read more
  •  26
    This volume explores the themes of vanishing matter, matter and the laws of nature, the qualities of matter, and the diversity of the debates about matter in the early modern period. Chapters are unified by a number of interlocking themes which together enable some of the broader contours of the philosophy of matter to be charted in new ways. Part I concerns Cartesian Matter; Part II covers Matter, Mechanism and Medicine; Part III covers Matter and the Laws of Motion; and Part IV covers Leibniz …Read more
  •  23
    The nature of body
    In Peter R. Anstey (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Seventeenth Century, Oxford University Press. pp. 213. 2013.
    This chapter examines how the problem of the nature of body had become the central debate in the field of natural philosophy in England by the middle of the seventeenth century. It explains that the nature of the physical body is one of the major problems of seventeenth-century natural philosophy and that it began, at least in part, as a byproduct of a change in the philosophical vocabulary. The chapter also evaluates solutions proposed to address the problem concerning the nature of body, inclu…Read more
  •  14
  •  13
    The early modern era produced the Scientific Revolution, which originated our present understanding of the natural world. Concurrently, philosophers established the conceptual foundations of modernity. This rich and comprehensive volume surveys and illuminates the numerous and complicated interconnections between philosophical and scientific thought as both were radically transformed from the late sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth century. The chapters explore reciprocal influences between philoso…Read more
  •  13
    Scholars often saw 'Sidereus nuncius' as inaugurating a novel genre of scientific writing; one that mixes elements of astronomy and natural philosophy, mixed-mathematics and travel reports, cosmography and the conventions of baroque drawing, elements of humanist pedagogy and elements of natural history. Although some of these influences were subject of extensive treatment, the natural historical elements of 'Sidereus nuncius' were, comparatively, less carefully investigated. And yet, as I will s…Read more
  •  7
    This paper investigates the emergence, in the second part of the 17th century, of a new body of experimental knowledge dealing with the chemical transformations of water taking place in plants. We call this body of experimental knowledge a “chemical history of vegetation.” We show that this chemical natural history originated, in terms of recipes and methods of investigation, in the works of Francis Bacon and that it was constructed in accordance with Bacon's precepts for putting together natura…Read more
  •  7
    Constructing natural historical facts: Baconian natural history in Newton's first paper on light and colors
    In Zvi Biener & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Newton and Empiricism, Oxford University Press. pp. 39-65. 2014.
  •  6
    Francis Bacon on Motion and Power (edited book)
    with Guido Giglioni, James A. T. Lancaster, and Sorana Corneanu
    Springer International Publishing. 2016.
    This book offers a comprehensive and unitary study of the philosophy of Francis Bacon, with special emphasis on the medical, ethical and political aspects of his thought. It presents an original interpretation focused on the material conditions of nature and human life. In particular, coverage in the book is organized around the unifying theme of Bacon’s notion of appetite, which is considered in its natural, ethical, medical and political meanings. The book redefines the notions of experience a…Read more
  •  5
    Francis Bacon’s natural philosophy contains a whole series of interconnected concepts related to extension, such as “borders,” “leaps” and “orbs of virtue”. These Baconian concepts are still not fully understood and are in need of a detailed analysis. They do not derive from a general conception of physical or mathematical space, and are not explainable in terms of parts of matter and aggregates. Instead, they are somewhat mysteriously defined in terms of limits and boundaries of action. This ar…Read more
  •  4
    The relationship between Francis Bacon's Sylva sylvarum and Giovan Battista Della Porta's Magia naturalis has previously been discussed in terms of sources and borrowings in the literature. More recently, it has been suggested that one can read these two works as belonging to a common genre: as collections of recipes or books of secrets. Taking this as a framework, in this paper I address another type of similarity between these two works, one that can be detected by looking at the methods of re…Read more
  •  4
    Bacon’s Apples: A Case Study in Baconian Experimentation
    In G. Giglioni, J. A. T. Lancaster, S. Corneanu & Dana Jalobeanu (eds.), Francis Bacon on Motion and Power, Springer International Publishing. pp. 83-113. 2016.
    This chapter investigates a specific case of Baconian experimentation, that is, a series of controlled experimental trials Bacon undertook in order to study the processes of maturation and putrefaction. The results of these trials were repeatedly used by Francis Bacon in his writings to illustrate the motions of spirits enclosed in matter. In this chapter, I reconstruct some of Bacon’s experiments with apples placed under different circumstances and conditions, as recorded in Historia vitae et mo…Read more
  •  4
    Instruments and Arts of Inquiry: (edited book)
    with Cesare Pastorino
    Zeta Books. 2014.
    This volume contains articles addressing relevant issues belonging to the a relatively unexplored territory at the intersection between natural history and early modern natural magic. They move from Giovanni Battista della Porta’s complex and still little explored experimental practices, through issues concerning Francis Bacon’s Latin histories and English Sylva, concluding with a noteworthy example of usage and reading of Baconian natural historical material by one the seventeenth-century novat…Read more
  •  3
    Francis Bacon’s “Perceptive” Instruments
    Early Science and Medicine 25 (6): 594-617. 2021.
    This paper claims that one way to bridge the gap between Francis Bacon’s speculative philosophy and his natural historical and experimental investigations is by looking at his peculiar top-down strategy of measuring Nature. Key to this strategy is the construction of perceptive instruments, i.e., devices “subtle enough” to detect and map natural limits, powers and virtues. In this paper, I discuss some of Bacon’s ideas for the development of perceptive instruments, and I show how his particular …Read more
  •  2
    Big Books, Small Books, Readers, Riddles and Contexts: The Story of English Mythography
    Journal of Early Modern Studies 10 (1): 95-104. 2021.
  •  2
    On Metaphysics and Method, Or How to Read Francis Bacon’s Novum organum
    Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 58 (3): 98-118. 2021.
    The purpose of this paper is to offer a preliminary survey of one of the most widely discussed problems in Bacon’s studies: the problem of the interplay between the speculative and operative layers of Bacon’s works. I propose to classify the various answers in three categories. In the first category I place attempts claiming that Bacon’s inquiries display his appetitive metaphysics. In the second category are those seeing Bacon’s more “scientific” works as disclosing some of the inner metaphysic…Read more
  •  1
    Giovan B attista D ella P orta and F rancis B acon on the creative power of experimentation
    with Doina-Cristina Rusu
    Centaurus 62 (3): 381-392. 2020.
    This special issue brings to the attention of the scholarly community some of the common features and some of the subtle, but important, differences between Francis Bacon's and Giovan Battista Della Porta's ways of dealing with the reading, selecting, enacting, and recording of recipes. Focusing on questions of genre, intellectual and material context, strategies of research, and strategies of performing recipes, the four papers of this special issue address two major issues. First, they shed ne…Read more
  • Unlike Descartes, Francis Bacon never wanted to cast aside traditional philosophy in order to mark new beginnings for the intellectual enterprise. He was as much a historian as an inquirer into nature. But he had a peculiar and idiosyncratic understanding of the scope, purpose and uses of the history of philosophy. As Jalobeanu shows in this chapter, Bacon envisaged a theoretically informed, highly engaged and polemical history of philosophy whose major purpose was to diagnose and classify error…Read more
  • One of the main problems of Descartes’s natural philosophy is the reconstruction of bodies in interactions and of the forces associated with them. It is a problem bearing on various important philosophical issues, from the interaction between God and matter, to the famous problem of secondary causation. The main problem of such attempt is that in Descartes’ system, bodies are no more than extended geometrical shapes. There have been several recent debates in the literature bearing on various int…Read more