Francis Bacon's Forms and the Logic of Ramist Conversion

Despite the historical importance of Francis Bacon's grand vision of science, the doctrine of Form that supports his program of works is now generally agreed to be incoherent. This paper will argue, however, that Bacon's belief in the convertibility of matter gains a previously unacknowledged coherence when approached through the treatment of axiom conversion expressed in Ramus' 1574 Dialectica. Ultimately this will lead to the conclusion that Bacon did not--like most twentieth-century philosophers--see the universe as a collection of matter understood by humans in terms of law, but as a collection of laws understood in terms of matter.