The Positivist Attack on Baconian Science and Religious Knowledge in the 1870s

Edited by Eva Marie Garroutte

in The Secular Revolution

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780520230002
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936706 | DOI:
The Positivist Attack on Baconian Science and Religious Knowledge in the 1870s

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This chapter examines how a group of science activists advanced a religiously hostile positivist discourse to supersede the dominant Baconian scientific practice. The primary goal of Baconian science was to accumulate facts through refined observation. Baconian philosophy set up a permeable boundary between discourses. Science was an activity of worship, and religion the product of reasoning and verification. Users of religious symbols discussed nature, while scientific speakers were prevented from securing authority in those discussions. The chapter focuses on the discursive struggles recorded in the scientific journals most responsible for the advance of positivism. Furthermore, it reveals that the secularization of science was a strategic achievement of interested activists, not an automatic, natural process of differentiation or rationalization. Finally, the chapter examines the assumptions underpinning the Baconian model of science, and considers the discursive assaults upon it by positivist activists, which eventually led to its collapse.

Keywords: Baconian science; religion; secularization; rationalization; positivists

Chapter.  8163 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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