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IN'l'RODUC'I'ION COMPARATIVELY little is known of the life of Roger Bacon. Even the exact year and place of his birth are in doubt. From a statement made by Bacon in the Opus Tertium we infer that he was born between 1210 and 1215. From the same source we learn that his family was one of considerable wealth, but had been reduced to utter poverty by its adherence to Henry in his dispute with his barons. He received his collegiate training at Oxford and, as he states in the Opus Tertium, devoted more than twenty years to the study of languages and science. "I sought," he writes, "the friendship of all wise men among the Latins; and I caused young men to be trained in languages, in geometrical figures, in numbers, in the construction of tables, in the use of instruments, and in many other necessary things.... During this time I spent more than two thousand pounds in those things and in the purchase of books and instruments." About 1240 Bacon left Oxford and went to the University of Paris, where he received the degree of doctor of theology. It was during his sojourn in Paris that he entered the Franciscan Order about 1247. He subsequently returned to England, but incurring the suspicion of his superiors in the Franciscan Order he was exiled to Paris and placed under restraint in the Paris house. Guy Fulcodi, who practiced law in Paris for a number of years with great distinction and also served as private secretary to Louis IX, entered the Church after the death of his wife and was elevated to the Papacy in 1265 as Clement IV. While in Paris he had every opportunity to hear of Bacon and his work, and was evidently so favorably impressed that after his elevation to the Papacy he wrote a letter in 1266 to Bacon directing him to transmit copies of all his writings without delay. As a matter of fact up to this time Bacon had written but little with the exception of a formal treatise De Multiplicatione Specierum. Bacon began work at once and composed rapidly the Opus Majus, Opus Minus, and Opus Tertium and dispatched them together with a copy of the De Multiplicatione Specierum to the Pope by the hand of a poor lad named John, [xi] Introduction whom he had been training for several years. We have no means of determining whether the Pope, who died a few months later, ever received Bacon's works. In 1271 Bacon published his Compendium Studii Philosophiae , in which he vigorously assailed the vice and corruption of his day and in particular the pedantry and false conceit of knowledge rife in the schools. Because of the antagonism thus aroused and the daring novelty of much of his teaching he was finally brought to trial in 1278, condemned, and thrown into prison, where he remained for fourteen years. He was released in 1292, but died shortly afterwards and was buried in the Franciscan Church at Oxford. The Opus Majus, on which Bacon's fame chiefly rests, was written with the purpose of correlating the learning of the thirteenth century and making it available to the Church in its work of elevating and saving mankind. Whewell, in his Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, says: "The Opus Majus is a work equally wonderful with regard to its general scheme and to the special treatises with which the outlines of the plan are filled up." Dr. Bridges, in his admirable introduction to the Opus Majus, remarks: "The Opus Majus remains the one work in which the central thought of Bacon is dominant from first to last: the unity of science and its subordination to the highest ethical purpose conceivable by man." After several years of study of the 0 pus Majus the translator ventured in a recent article to express his opinion of Bacon's great work in the following words: "In its unity of purpose, in its encyclopaedic range of subjects, in its clarity of statement, in its orderly arrangement of material, in its prophetic scientific vision, in its profound moral earnestness the Opus Majus must ever remain one of the few truly great works of human genius." It is certainly within the limits of truth to say that no other great scientific work has ever been inspired by so lofty a purpose as that which ennobled the Opus Majus of Roger Bacon. The Opus Majus is divided into seven parts. Part...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781512814064
Related ISBN
9781512809992
MARC Record
OCLC
966762620
Pages
878
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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