Roger Bacon (1214–92) was a member of the Franciscan order in Oxford and became known as England’s ‘Doctor Mirabilis’. Building on the teachings of Robert Grosseteste, Bacon led the way towards the emergence of science as an inductive study of nature, based on and tested by experiment. This reconceptualisation of science as an observational discipline set the foundation upon which other scholars, such as John of Gaddesden, were to further develop scientific thought in subsequent centuries. Bacon’s Opus majus of 1266 gives the most accurate description of his aims and labours. Part VI, on Experimental Science, contains the sentence upon which his scientific status rests: ‘Sine experientia nihil sufficienter sciri potes’ – nothing can be sufficiently known without experiment.
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