Sir Francis Bacon's greatest contribution was developing the Baconian method, also known as empiricism and the scientific method. Coupled with his belief that knowledge and science are to be used for the relief of humanity's misery, his influence led to astounding progress of the Industrial Age.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bacon saw the preoccupation with and nostalgia for the past as limiting, causing European intellectual thought to stagnate. To combat this stupor, he proposed that scientists arm themselves with new insights and ideas to explore the present-day world. He expressed the belief that history is progressive, defying the Aristotelian view that it is cyclical or the pessimistic opinion that it is degrading. The way he saw it, enlightenment lay within humanity's grasp, provided mankind was willing enough to study the arts and sciences.
Like da Vinci, Bacon embodied the term "Renaissance man," given his scientific and artistic achievements paired with his political ambitions. He was heralded as a public intellectual and venerated by his peers, but during the late Enlightenment period, accusations of bribery cast a shadow over his achievements and forced him to retire from public life.
Bacon remains a controversial figure. Regardless of public opinion, however, it is impossible to deny that he invented the idea that science is "both a communal enterprise and a practical discipline in the service of humanity."