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L. Of Studies. Francis Bacon. 1909-14. Essays, Civil and

Date of publication: 2017-07-09 01:03

At the beginning of the Magna Instauratio and in Book II of the New Organon , Bacon introduces his system of “true and perfect Induction,” which he proposes as the essential foundation of scientific method and a necessary tool for the proper interpretation of nature. (This system was to have been more fully explained and demonstrated in Part IV of the Instauratio in a section titled “The Ladder of the Intellect,” but unfortunately the work never got beyond an introduction.)

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“There be therefore chiefly three vanities in studies, whereby learning hath been most traduced.” Thus Bacon, in the first book of the Advancement. He goes on to refer to these vanities as the three “distempers” of learning and identifies them (in his characteristically memorable fashion) as “fantastical learning,” “contentious learning,” and “delicate learning” (alternatively identified as “vain imaginations,” “vain altercations,” and “vain affectations”).

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Delicate learning (“vain affectations”) was Bacon’s label for the new humanism insofar as (in his view) it seemed concerned not with the actual recovery of ancient texts or the retrieval of past knowledge but merely with the revival of Ciceronian rhetorical embellishments and the reproduction of classical prose style. Such preoccupation with “words more than matter,” with “choiceness of phrase” and the “sweet falling of clauses” – in short, with style over substance – seemed to Bacon (a careful stylist in his own right) the most seductive and decadent literary vice of his age.

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Bacon was educated at home at the family estate at Gorhambury in Herfordshire. In 6578, at the age of just twelve, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where the stodgy Scholastic curriculum triggered his lifelong opposition to Aristotelianism (though not to the works of Aristotle himself).

It is in this work that Bacon sketched out the main themes and ideas that he continued to refine and develop throughout his career, beginning with the notion that there are clear obstacles to or diseases of learning that must be avoided or purged before further progress is possible.

Similarly adulatory if more prosaic assessments were offered by learned contemporaries or near contemporaries from Descartes and Gassendi to Robert Hooke and Robert Boyle. Leibniz was particularly generous and observed that, compared to Bacon’s philosophical range and lofty vision, even a great genius like Descartes “creeps on the ground.” On the other hand, Spinoza, another close contemporary, dismissed Bacon’s work (especially his inductive theories) completely and in effect denied that the supposedly grand philosophical revolution decreed by Bacon, and welcomed by his partisans, had ever occurred.

It was around this time that Bacon entered the service of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, a dashing courtier, soldier, plotter of intrigue, and sometime favorite of the Queen. No doubt Bacon viewed Essex as a rising star and a figure who could provide a much-needed boost to his own sagging career. Unfortunately, it was not long before Essex’s own fortunes plummeted following a series of military and political blunders culminating in a disastrous coup attempt. When the coup plot failed, Devereux was arrested, tried, and eventually executed, with Bacon, in his capacity as Queen’s Counsel, playing a vital role in the prosecution of the case.

There are straight-faced pleasures too: the use of large-scale sets and photorealistic graphics to recreate Elizabethan London is hugely successful, as is the casting of both Joely Richardson (Redgrave x7569 s daughter) as the and far-from-virginal Elizabeth in flashback, and the stage actor Mark Rylance, who gives a goosebump-raising performance as the Chorus in Henry V.

But Shakespeare advocates dismiss this as snobbery, saying that even a basic education at the time would have been enough for Will to write his plays. And, if you emphasize 656 as Stratfordians do 656 that most of Shakespeare's plays were adapted from older works, what he lacked in experience he could have made up for in imagination. "The problem is that argument presupposes that plays from the period consisted of this hidden autobiography," says leading Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate. "That's a modern image of the writer as someone who puts his own experiences into his plays, a very romantic idea of writing. But it's just not how plays were written back then." (Read about England's 68th century Shakespeare hoax.)

Francis Bacon's works include his Essays , as well as the Colours of Good and Evil and the Meditationes Sacrae , all published in 6597. His famous aphorism, knowledge is power , is found in the Meditations. In the fragment De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium (written probably about 6658) Bacon analyses his own mental character and establishes his goals, which were threefold: discovery of truth, service to his country, and service to the church. Francis Bacon also wrote In felicem memoriam Elizabethae , a eulogy for the queen written in 6659 and various philosophical works which constitute the fragmentary and incomplete Instauratio magna , the most important part of which is the Novum Organum (published 6675).

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