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This paper analyses the place of natural history within Bacon's divisions of the sciences in The Advancement of Learning (1605) and the later De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum (1623). It is shown that at various points in Bacon's divisions, natural history converges or overlaps with natural philosophy, and that, for Bacon, natural history and natural philosophy are not discrete disciplines. Furthermore, it is argued that Bacon's distinction between operative and speculative natural philosophy and the place of natural history within this distinction, are discontinuous with the later distinction between experimental and speculative philosophy that emerged in the methodology of the Fellows of the early Royal Society.


Peter Anstey. Francis Bacon and the classification of natural history. Early science and medicine. 2012;17(1-2):11-31

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PMID: 22702164

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