This volume contains articles addressing relevant issues belonging to the a relatively unexplored territory at the intersection between natural history and early modern natural magic. They move from Giovanni Battista della Porta’s complex and still little explored experimental practices, through issues concerning Francis Bacon’s Latin histories and English Sylva, concluding with a noteworthy example of usage and reading of Baconian natural historical material by one the seventeenth-century novatores, Isaac Beckman.
Weighing of experience was a central concern of what Bacon called the “literate” stage of experimentation. As early as 1608, Bacon devised precise tenets for standard, quantitative reporting of experiments. These ideas were later integrated into his experimental histories proper. Bacon’s enquiry of dense and rare is the best example of experientia literata developed in a quantitative fashion. I suggest that Bacon’s ideas on this issue can be tied to experiments for the determination of specific gravities born in a monetary (...) context: Bacon’s investigation was very likely a generalization of Jean Bodin’s experiments in Universae naturae theatrum. Overall, Bacon’s program of quantification calls for a revision of established historiographical notions, especially Thomas Kuhn’s sharp dichotomy between a mathematical and a Baconian experimental tradition in seventeenth-century science. (shrink)
"Notwithstanding Francis Bacon’s praise for the philosophical role of the mechanical arts, historians have often downplayed Bacon’s connections with actual artisans and entrepreneurs. Addressing the specific context of mining culture, this study proposes a rather different picture. The analysis of a famous mining metaphor in _The Advancement of Learning_ shows us how Bacon’s project of reform of knowledge could find an apt correspondence in civic and entrepreneurial values of his time. Also, Bacon had interesting and so far unexplored links with (...) the early modern English mining enterprises, like the Company of Mineral and Battery Works, of which he was a shareholder. Moreover, Bacon’s notes in a private notebook, _Commentarius Solutus_, and records of patents of invention, allow us to start grasping Bacon’s connections with the metallurgist and entrepreneur Thomas Russell. Lastly, this paper argues that, to fully understand Bacon’s links with the world of Stuart technicians and entrepreneurs, it is necessary to consider a different and insufficiently studied aspect of Bacon’s interests, namely his work as patents referee while a Commissioner of Suits.". (shrink)