Francis Bacon and the philosophic method of the Americans
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The philosophy of Francis Bacon has an important and often overlooked place in the development of American political thought. John Dewey cites Bacon as the forefather of his own highly influential philosophical school, American pragmatism. I argue that, though Dewey is in many ways correct to look to Bacon as his predecessor, he overlooks or collapses certain crucial tensions in Bacon’s philosophical project. This causes Dewey to misinterpret the political implications of the philosophic project to which he himself is an heir. By exploring the tensions that Bacon maintains, and Dewey collapses, between human knowledge and human power, science and democracy, and progress in the sciences and progress within states, I hope to shed light on the true implications of Bacon’s philosophical project for American political thought.