Here is part of the beginning of Bacon's Novum Organon: ...rationem instituit, quam viventibus et posteris notam fieri, ipsorum interesse putavit.

I don't understand NOTAM FIERI. Perhaps it is implied indirect discourse? As I read the sentence, it goes like this: "He established a method (RATIONEM), which (QUAM)..., he thought would benefit them (IPSORUM -- i.e. the present and future generations)."

But, again, I just don't see how to render NOTAM FIERI. The translators of the recent-ish Cambridge edition have something like this: "He established a method, which he thought would benefit them, were it to be known." They make NOTAM FIERI a kind of conditional-thought ("were it to be known"), which seems right to me, but I can't give a good explanation of the grammar that licenses such a translation.

  • interesse putavit "he thought it important", rationem notam fieri "that the reason become known". I think that fieri and its accusatives are the predicate (or are they the subject?) of interesse.
    – Figulus
    Mar 26 at 16:02
  • Thanks, @Figulus. I share your puzzlement about the subject of interesse. To put the matter semantically, I might ask what Bacon thinks is "of great importance"? (1) The method or (2) That the method be known. I recognize that these two thoughts are hard to distinguish, but, again, my question is pretty strictly grammatical. Mar 26 at 17:03
  • It worth adding the full sentence: FRANCISCUS de Verulamio sic cogitavit: talemque apud se rationem instituit, quam Viventibus et Posteris notam fieri ipsorum interesse putavit. . I don't see it, but In theory quam could be a correlative of talem or even something like a correlative to oppose "apud se": [tam] apud se quam viventibus.
    – d_e
    Mar 26 at 17:16
  • Thanks for your comment and for including the full sentence. I am pretty certain quam is correlative with talem, but I still don't see how that helps account for fieri (unless, as @Figulus suggested in the first comment, it -- fieri, I mean -- is governed by interesse). Mar 26 at 17:36
  • @BrendanBoyle This usage of interesse is impersonal, so quam alone cannot be the subject, because it has none. But it can stand, among other things, with an AcI, which grammars irritatingly call a "subject clause." So – semantically speaking – he must have thought it of importance that the method become known. I wouldn't know what notam fieri would be doing in the sentence otherwise. Mar 26 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


Not the most straightforward English, but...

... such that he thought that it becoming known to the living and to posterity would benefit them.

Putavit governs the infinitive interesse, which is constructed with the genitive of the interested party, ipsorum; (quam = rationem) notam fieri acts as the subject of interesse.

Bacon thought that the fact that the method be known was of great importance for the present and future human kind.

Note that interesse requires strange forms for first and second person pronouns (meā, tuā, etc...) but with ipsi a regular genitive plural is OK. I am sure this has been discussed before in LSE...

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