Forum on the philosophy of Secular Humanism of Orange County Message Board › Francis Bacon's 5 Idols - fallacies of thought
Huntington Beach, CA
I was reading about Francis Bacon's Five Idols in B. Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". I lifted the following off an otherwise uninteresting blog:
In his work The Four Idols and in his later writings Bacon specifies five (yes, five in total, though most seem to forget about the 5th ) that he rightly sees as impediments to rational thought. They are as follows:
Idols of the Tribe – Fallacies arisen as a result of human nature. Expecting more order in the world than there really is, looking for evidence to support a claim as apposed to looking at evidence to base a claim, being fooled by our meager tools of perception, inability to perceive infinity, etc.
Idols of the Cave – Fallacies arisen as a result of personal preference. Favoring one theory over another simply because you want to believe it regardless of its rational merits, favoring theories simply because they are “modern” or vice versa, etc.
Idols of the Marketplace – Fallacies arisen as a result of words. The “language-games” of which Wittgenstein was apt to criticize the Analytics for. Examples Wittgenstein, and probably Bacon, would have considered would be the Liar Paradox, Heidegger’s Dasein, and the Logicist Program of Russel, Whitehead, and Frege.
Idols of the Theatre – Fallacies arisen due to dogmatic adherence to a specific school of thought or ideology. Bacon directed this at the veneration of Greek philosophy that dominated his day.
Idols of the Schools – The last idols, brought to my attention by Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, were the fallacies that arise from over-reliance on a “blind rule”, as Russell put it, in place of proper investigation. Solipsism comes to my mind (though equally applicable as an idol of tribe or cave), and Russell felt it pertinent to point out Syllogism.