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Lord Francis Bacon (1561–1626), an English lawyer, statesman, and thinker, is primarily renowned today for his philosophy of science. Writing at the dawn of modernity, he offered a penetrating critique of contemporary sciences, an innovative method for the study of nature, and a revolutionary vision of human progress. While most of Bacon’s practical suggestions were never embraced, his vision, which ties together social, technological, and scientific progress, has become one of the building blocks of Western civilization. Bacon’s influence on the development of education was profound but indirect. Drawing on Bacon’s vision, his adherents played a critical role in shaping education into its present form.

At the basis of Bacon’s philosophy stands a rejection of the then dominant view that the sciences were limited to providing ...

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