The Status of Bacon in Gassendi’s Syntagma Philosophicum History of Logic

Elodie CASSAN*

Abstract. One trademark of the early-modern period is the tendency to base logic on theory of mind, but so far, this topic has not received close attention. The aim of this paper is to bring some attention to this neglected topic by examining the reference to Bacon in the first part of Gassendi’s Syntagma Philosophicum. The summary of the Novum Organum Gassendi gives in the Syntagma shows that he is acquainted with
Bacon’s perspective on science and that he intends to make use of it to emphasize the epistemic necessity of logic. Not only does he use Bacon’s theory of idols to reveal the lack of consistency in Descartes’ approach to prejudice in the Meditationes, but Gassendi also uses materials from Bacon to define logic in terms of the shaping of intellectual materials which are naturally in disorder. This investigation helps show that building a
logic in the 17th century meant setting up a technique which is distinctive because it is applied to an internal, rather than an external, object. Prior to gaining power over
external nature, man needs to be able to make use of his intellectual capacities, that is, to have a control over his own nature.
Keywords: History of Logic, Bacon, Novum Organum, Gassendi, Syntagma Philosophicum, Descartes, Meditationes de Prima Philosophia.

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