Sir Francis Bacon: Wikis

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Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St Alban
Born 22 January 1561(1561-01-22)
London, England
Died 9 April 1626 (aged 65)
Highgate, England
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Empiricism
Signature

Francis Bacon, 1st and Only Viscount of St. Alban, KC (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. Although his political career ended in disgrace, he remained extremely influential through his works, especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific revolution. His dedication brought him into a rare historical group of scientists who were killed by their own experiments.

His works established and popularized an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method or simply, the scientific method. His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today.

Bacon was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and Viscount St Alban in 1621; as he died without heirs both peerages became extinct upon his death.

Contents

Biography

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Early life

The Italianate York Water Gate, built about 1626

Bacon was born on 22 January at York House near the Strand in London, the son of Nicholas Bacon by his second wife Anne (Cooke) Bacon. Biographers believe that Bacon was educated at home in his early years owing to poor health (which plagued him throughout his life), receiving tuition from John Walsall, a graduate of Oxford with a strong leaning towards Puritanism. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, on 5 April 1573 at the age of twelve,[1] living for three years there together with his older brother Anthony under the personal tutelage of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury. Bacon's education was conducted largely in Latin and followed the medieval curriculum. He was also educated at the University of Poitiers. It was at Cambridge that he first met Queen Elizabeth, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him "the young Lord Keeper". [2]

His studies brought him to the belief that the methods and results of science as then practiced were erroneous. His reverence for Aristotle conflicted with his loathing of Aristotelian philosophy, which seemed to him barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives.

On 27 June 1576 he and Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at Gray's Inn. A few months later, Francis went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris, while Anthony continued his studies at home. The state of government and society in France under Henry III afforded him valuable political instruction. For the next three years he visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy, and Spain. During his travels, Bacon studied language, statecraft, and civil law while performing routine diplomatic tasks. On at least one occasion he delivered diplomatic letters to England for Walsingham, Burghley, and Leicester, as well as for the queen.

The sudden death of his father in February 1579 prompted Bacon to return to England. Sir Nicholas had laid up a considerable sum of money to purchase an estate for his youngest son, but he died before doing so, and Francis was left with only a fifth of that money. Having borrowed money, Bacon got into debt. To support himself, he took up his residence in law at Gray's Inn in 1579.

Parliamentarian

Bacon's threefold goals were to uncover truth, to serve his country, and to serve his church. Seeking a prestigious post would aid him toward these ends. In 1580, through his uncle, Lord Burghley, he applied for a post at court, which might enable him to pursue a life of learning. His application failed. For two years he worked quietly at Gray's Inn, until admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.

The Hall, Gray’s Inn, 1892, by Herbert Railton

In 1584, he took his seat in parliament for Melcombe in Dorset, and subsequently for Taunton (1586). At this time, he began to write on the condition of parties in the church, as well as philosophical reform in the lost tract, Temporis Partus Maximus. Yet, he failed to gain a position he thought would lead him to success. He showed signs of sympathy to Puritanism, attending the sermons of the Puritan chaplain of Gray's Inn and accompanying his mother to the Temple chapel to hear Walter Travers. This led to the publication of his earliest surviving tract, which criticised the English church's suppression of the Puritan clergy. In the Parliament of 1586, openly, he urged execution for Mary, Queen of Scots.

About this time, he again approached his powerful uncle for help, the result of which may be traced in his rapid progress at the bar. He became Bencher in 1586, and he was elected a reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year. In 1589, he received the valuable appointment of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber, although he did not formally take office until 1608 - a post which was worth £16,000 per annum.[3]

Attorney General

Memorial to Francis Bacon, in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge

Bacon soon became acquainted with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth's favourite. By 1591, he acted as the earl's confidential adviser.

In 1592, he was commissioned to write a tract response to the Jesuit Robert Parson's anti-government polemic, which he entitled Certain observations made upon a libel identifying England with the ideals of Republican Athens against the belligerence of Spain.

Bacon took his third parliamentary seat for Middlesex when in February 1593 Elizabeth summoned Parliament to investigate a Roman Catholic plot against her. Bacon's opposition to a bill that would levy triple subsidies in half the usual time offended many people. Opponents accused him of seeking popularity. For a time, the royal court excluded him.

When the Attorney-Generalship fell vacant in 1594, Lord Essex's influence was not enough to secure Bacon's candidacy into the office. Likewise, Bacon failed to secure the lesser office of Solicitor-General in 1595.[3] To console him for these disappointments, Essex presented him with a property at Twickenham, which he sold subsequently for £1,800.

In 1596, Bacon became Queen's Counsel, but missed the appointment of Master of the Rolls. During the next few years, his financial situation remained bad. His friends could find no public office for him, and a scheme for retrieving his position by a marriage with the wealthy and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed after she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man (see Personal Relationships below). In 1598 Bacon was arrested because of his debts. Afterwards however, his standing in the queen's eyes improved. Gradually, Bacon earned the standing of one of the learned counsels, though he had no commission or warrant and received no salary. His relationship with the queen further improved when he severed ties with Essex, a shrewd move because Essex was executed for treason in 1601.

With others, Bacon was appointed to investigate the charges against Essex, his former friend and benefactor. Bacon pressed the case hard against Essex. To justify himself, Bacon wrote A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons, etc., of ... the Earl of Essex. He received a gift of a fine of £1200 on one of Essex's accomplices.

James I comes to the throne

The accession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote Apologie in defence of his proceedings in the case of Essex, as Essex had favoured James to ascend to throne.

The following year, during the course of the uneventful first parliament session, Bacon married Alice Barnham. In June 1607 he was at last rewarded with the office of Solicitor-General.[3] The following year, he began working as the Clerkship of the Star Chamber. In spite of a generous income, old debts and spendthrift ways kept him indebted. He sought further promotion and wealth by supporting King James and his arbitrary policies.

In 1610 the famous fourth parliament of James met. Despite Bacon's advice to him, James and the Commons found themselves at odds over royal prerogatives and the king's embarrassing extravagance. The House dissolved in February 1611. Throughout this period Bacon managed to stay in the favour of the king while retaining the confidence of the Commons.

In 1613, Bacon was appointed attorney general, after advising the king to shuffle judicial appointments. As attorney general, Bacon prosecuted Somerset in 1616. The parliament of April 1614 objected to Bacon's presence in the seat for Cambridge and to the various royal plans which Bacon had supported. Although he was allowed to stay, parliament passed a law that forbade the attorney-general to sit in parliament. His influence over the king inspired resentment or apprehension in many of his peers. Bacon continued to receive the King's favour. In 1618, King James appointed Bacon to the position of Lord Chancellor.

Lord Chancellor and public disgrace

The Tower of London

Bacon's public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After he fell into debt, a Parliamentary Committee on the administration of the law charged him with twenty-three separate counts of corruption. To the lords, who sent a committee to inquire whether a confession was really his, he replied, "My lords, it is my act, my hand, and my heart; I beseech your lordships to be merciful to a broken reed." He was sentenced to a fine of £40,000, remitted by King James, to be committed to the Tower of London during the king's pleasure (his imprisonment lasted only a few days). More seriously, parliament declared Bacon incapable of holding future office or sitting in parliament. Narrowly, he escaped being deprived of his titles. Subsequently the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing.

Historians such as Nieves Mathews believe Bacon may have been innocent of the bribery charges; Bacon himself said that he pleaded guilty by force deliberately[citation needed] so to save the king from a worse political scandal, stating:

"I was the justest judge that was in England these last fifty years. When the book of all hearts is opened, I trust I shall not be found to have the troubled fountain of a corrupt heart. I know I have clean hands and a clean heart. I am as innocent of bribes as any born on St Innocents Day."

Personal relationships

Francis Bacon

Though the well-connected antiquary John Aubrey noted among his private memoranda concerning Bacon, "He was a Pederast. His Ganimeds and Favourites tooke Bribes",[4] biographers continue to debate about Bacon's sexual inclinations and the precise nature of his personal relationships.[5]

When he was 36, Bacon engaged in the courtship of Elizabeth Hatton, a young widow of 20. Reportedly, she broke off their relationship upon accepting marriage to a wealthier man—Edward Coke. Years later, Bacon still wrote of his regret that the marriage to Elizabeth had never taken place.[6]

At the age of forty-five, Bacon married Alice Barnham, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a well-connected London alderman and M.P. Bacon wrote two sonnets proclaiming his love for Alice. The first sonnet was written during his courtship and the second sonnet on his wedding day, 10 May 1606. When Bacon was appointed Regent of the Kingdom, "by special Warrant of the King, Lady Bacon was given precedence over all other Court ladies".

Engraving of Alice Barnham

Reports of increasing friction in his marriage to Alice appeared, with speculation that some of this may have been due to financial resources not being as readily available to her as she was accustomed to having in the past. Alice was reportedly interested in fame and fortune, and when reserves of money were no longer available, there were complaints about where all the money was going. Alice Chambers Bunten wrote in her Life of Alice Barnham[7] that, upon their descent into debt, she actually went on trips to ask for financial favours and assistance from their circle of friends. Bacon disinherited her upon discovering her secret romantic relationship with John Underhill. He rewrote his will, which had previously been very generous to her (leaving her lands, goods, and income), revoking it all.

Several authors, such as A .L. Rowse, Alan Stewart, and Lisa Jardine,[8][9] believe that despite his marriage Bacon was primarily attracted to the same sex. Professor Forker[10] for example has explored the "historically documentable sexual preferences" of both King James and Bacon in addition to those of dramatist Christopher Marlowe and of Bacon's brother Anthony - and concluded they were all oriented to "masculine love", a contemporary term that "seems to have been used exclusively to refer to the sexual preference of men for members of their own gender."[11] The Jacobean antiquarian, Sir Simonds D'Ewes implied there had been a question of bringing him to trial for buggery[12]. This conclusion has been disputed by other authors, such as Nieves Mathews,[13][14] who consider the sources to be more open to interpretation.

Death

Monument to Bacon at his burial place, St Michael's Church in St Albans

In April 1626, Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate near London, and died at the empty (except for the caretaker) Arundel mansion. A famous and influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey in his Brief Lives. Aubrey has been criticized for his evident credulousness in this and other works; on the other hand, he knew Thomas Hobbes, the fellow-philosopher and friend of Bacon. Aubrey's vivid account, which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method, has him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King's physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat. "They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. They alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman's house at the bottom of Highgate hill, and bought a fowl, and made the woman exenterate it". After stuffing the fowl with snow, he happened to contract a fatal case of pneumonia. Some people, including Aubrey, consider these two contiguous, possibly coincidental events as related and causative of his death: "The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill, that he could not return to his Lodging ... but went to the Earle of Arundel's house at Highgate, where they put him into ... a damp bed that had not been layn-in ... which gave him such a cold that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me, he died of Suffocation."

Being unwittingly on his deathbed, the philosopher wrote his last letter to his absent host and friend Lord Arundel:

"My very good Lord,—I was likely to have had the fortune of Caius Plinius the elder, who lost his life by trying an experiment about the burning of Mount Vesuvius; for I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and induration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well; but in the journey between London and Highgate, I was taken with such a fit of casting as I know not whether it were the Stone, or some surfeit or cold, or indeed a touch of them all three. But when I came to your Lordship's House, I was not able to go back, and therefore was forced to take up my lodging here, where your housekeeper is very careful and diligent about me, which I assure myself your Lordship will not only pardon towards him, but think the better of him for it. For indeed your Lordship's House was happy to me, and I kiss your noble hands for the welcome which I am sure you give me to it. I know how unfit it is for me to write with any other hand than mine own, but by my troth my fingers are so disjointed with sickness that I cannot steadily hold a pen."[15]

He died at Lord Arundel's home[16] on 9 April 1626, leaving personal assets of about £7,000 and lands that realised £6,000 when sold.[17] His debts amounted to more than £23,000, an equivalent to over £3m at today's prices.[17][18]

This account appears in a biography by William Rawley, Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain:

"He died on the ninth day of April in the year 1626, in the early morning of the day then celebrated for our Saviour's resurrection, in the sixty-sixth year of his age, at the Earl of Arundel's house in Highgate, near London, to which place he casually repaired about a week before; God so ordaining that he should die there of a gentle fever, accidentally accompanied with a great cold, whereby the defluxion of rheum fell so plentifully upon his breast, that he died by suffocation."[19]

At his April 1626 funeral, over thirty great minds collected together their eulogies of him. It appears from these that he was not only loved deeply, but that there was something about his character which led men even of the stature of Ben Jonson to hold him in reverence and awe. A volume of the 32 eulogies was published in Latin in 1730.[20]

Philosophy and works

Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy. He argued that although philosophy at the time used the deductive syllogism to interpret nature, the philosopher should instead proceed through inductive reasoning from fact to axiom to law. Before beginning this induction, the inquirer is to free his or her mind from certain false notions or tendencies which distort the truth. These are called "Idols" (idola)[21], and are of four kinds:

  • "Idols of the Tribe" (idola tribus), which are common to the race;
  • "Idols of the Den" (idola specus), which are peculiar to the individual;
  • "Idols of the Marketplace" (idola fori), coming from the misuse of language; and
  • "Idols of the Theatre" (idola theatri), which result from an abuse of authority.

The end of induction is the discovery of forms, the ways in which natural phenomena occur, the causes from which they proceed.

Derived through use of his methods, Bacon explicated his somewhat fragmentary ethical system in the seventh and eighth books of his De augmentis scientiarum (1623) - where he distinguished between duty to the community, an ethical matter, and duty to God, a religious matter. Bacon claimed that:

  • Any moral action is the action of the human will, which is governed by belief and spurred on by the passions;
  • Good habit is what aids men in directing their will toward the good; and
  • No universal rules can be made, as both situations and men's characters differ.
Francis Bacon

Regarding faith, in De augmentis, he wrote that "the more discordant, therefore, and incredible, the divine mystery is, the more honour is shown to God in believing it, and the nobler is the victory of faith." He wrote in "The Essays: Of Atheism" that "a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion."

Bacon contrasted the new approach of the development of science with that of the Middle Ages:

"Men have sought to make a world from their own conception and to draw from their own minds all the material which they employed, but if, instead of doing so, they had consulted experience and observation, they would have the facts and not opinions to reason about, and might have ultimately arrived at the knowledge of the laws which govern the material world."

Bacon's works include his Essays, as well as the Colours of Good and Evil and the Meditationes Sacrae, all published in 1597. His famous aphorism, "knowledge is power", is found in the Meditations. He published The Proficience and Advancement of Learning in 1605. Bacon also wrote In felicem memoriam Elizabethae, a eulogy for the queen written in 1609; and various philosophical works which constitute the fragmentary and incomplete Instauratio magna (Great Renewal), the most important part of which is the Novum Organum (New Instrument, published 1620); in this work he cites three world-changing inventions:

"Printing, gunpowder and the compass: These three have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world; the first in literature, the second in warfare, the third in navigation; whence have followed innumerable changes, in so much that no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence in human affairs than these mechanical discoveries."[22]

Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker have argued that Bacon was not as idealistic as his utopian works suggest, rather that he was what might today be considered an advocate of genocidal eugenics. A year prior to the release of New Atlantis, Bacon published an essay that reveals a version of himself not often seen in history. This essay, a lesser-known work entitled, An Advertisement Touching an Holy War, advocated the elimination of detrimental societal elements by the English and compared this to the endeavors of Hercules while establishing civilized society in ancient Greece. He saw the "extirpation and debellating of giants, monsters, and foreign tyrants, not only as lawful, but as meritorious, even divine honour..."[23]

Laurence Lampert has interpreted Bacon's treatise An Advertisement Touching a Holy War as advocating "spiritual warfare against the spiritual rulers of European civilization."[24]

Bacon's Utopia

In 1623 Bacon expressed his aspirations and ideals in New Atlantis. Released in 1627, this was his creation of an ideal land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit" were the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of Bensalem. In this work, he portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge. The plan and organization of his ideal college, "Solomon's House", envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure science.

Baconian method

The Novum Organum is a philosophical work by Francis Bacon published in 1620. The title is a reference to Aristotle's work Organon, which was his treatise on logic and syllogism. In Novum Organum, Bacon detailed a new system of logic he believed to be superior to the old ways of syllogism. In this work, we see the development of the Baconian method, consisting of procedures for isolating the form, nature or cause of a phenomenon, employing the method of agreement, method of difference, and method of concomitant variation devised by Avicenna in 1025.

List of published works

Many of Bacon's writings were only published after his death in 1626.

  • Essays (1597)
  • The Elements of the Common Law of England (1597)
  • A Declaration of the Practises & Treasons Attempted and Committed by Robert, late Earl of Essex and his Complices (1601)
  • Temporis Partus Masculus (The Masculine Birth of Time; 1603, unfinished)
  • De Interpretatione Naturae Prooemium (1603, unfinished)
  • Valerius Terminus of the Interpretation of Nature, with Annotations of Hermes Stella (1603, unfinished—published 1734)
  • Cogitationes de Natura Rerum (Thoughts on the Nature of Things; 1604, unfinished)
  • Cogitationes de Scientia Humana (Thoughts on Human Knowledge; 1604, unfinished)
  • Francis Bacon His Apology, in Certain Imputations Concerning the late Earl of Essex (1604)
  • Certain Considerations Touching the Better Pacification and Edification of the Church of England (1604)
  • The Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605)
  • Cogitata et Visa (Thoughts and Conclusions; 1607)
  • Redargutio Philosphiarum (The Refutation of Philosophies; 1608, published posthumously)
  • Inquisitio Legitima de Motu (1608?, published 1653)
  • De sapientia veterum liber (1609)
  • Descriptio Globi Intellectus (1612)
  • Thema Coeli (1612, published 1653)
  • The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon, Knight, the King's Attorney-General, Touching Duels (1614)
  • The Wisdom of the Ancients (1619)
  • De Principiis atque Originibus (1620, published 1653)
  • Novum Organum (1620)
  • The History of the Reign of King Henry the Seventh (1622)
  • Historia Naturalis et Experimentalis (1622)
  • Apophthegms, New and Old (1625)
  • The Translation of Certain Psalms (1625)
  • New Atlantis (1626)
  • De Augmentis Scientiarium (1623)
  • Sylva Sylvarum (1623, published 1627)
  • Scripta in naturali et universli philisophia (pub. 1653)
  • Baconiana, Or Certain Genuine Remains Of Sr. Francis Bacon (pub. 1679)

Influence

Bacon's ideas about the improvement of the human lot were influential in the 1630s and 1650s among a number of Parliamentarian scholars. During the Restoration, Bacon was commonly invoked as a guiding spirit of the Royal Society founded under Charles II in 1660.[25][26] In the nineteenth century his emphasis on induction was revived and developed by William Whewell, among others.[27]

North America

There are some scholars who believe that Bacon's vision for a Utopian New World in North America was laid out in his novel New Atlantis, which depicts a mythical island, Bensalem, in the Pacific Ocean west of Peru. He envisioned a land where there would be greater rights for women, the abolition of slavery, elimination of debtors' prisons, separation of church and state, and freedom of religious and political expression.[28][29][30][31] Francis Bacon played a leading role in creating the British colonies, especially in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Newfoundland. His government report on “The Virginia Colony” was submitted in 1609. Bacon and his associates formed the Newfoundland Colonization Company and in 1610 sent John Guy to found a colony in Newfoundland. In 1910 Newfoundland issued a postage stamp to commemorate Bacon's role in establishing Newfoundland. The stamp describes Bacon as, "the guiding spirit in Colonization Schemes in 1610."[6] The third US president Thomas Jefferson wrote; "Bacon, Locke and Newton. I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences".[32][33][34]

Religious influence

Francis Bacon's influence can also be seen on a variety of religious and spiritual authors, and on groups that have utilized his writings in their own belief systems.[35][36][37][38][39]

Historical debates and fringe theories

Bacon and Shakespeare

The Baconian theory of Shakespearean authorship holds that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays conventionally attributed to William Shakespeare.

The mainstream view is that William Shakespeare of Stratford, an actor in the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later the King's Men), wrote the poems and plays that bear his name. The Baconians, however, hold that scholars are so focused on the details of Shakespeare's life that they neglect to investigate the many facts that they see as connecting Bacon to the Shakespearean work.

Sir Francis Bacon's letter to John Davies, "so desiring you to be good to concealed poets."

The main Baconian evidence is founded on the presentation of a motive for concealment, the circumstances surrounding the first known performance of The Comedy of Errors, the proximity of Bacon to the William Strachey letter upon which many scholars think The Tempest was based, perceived allusions in the plays to Bacon's legal acquaintances, the many supposed parallels with the plays of Bacon's published work and entries in the Promus (his private wastebook), Bacon's interest in civil histories, and ostensible autobiographical allusions in the plays. Because Bacon had first-hand knowledge of government cipher methods, most Baconians see it as feasible that he left his signature somewhere in the Shakespearean work.

Supporters of the standard view, often referred to as "Stratfordian" or "Mainstream", dispute all contentions in favour of Bacon, and criticize Bacon's poetry as not being comparable in quality with that of Shakespeare.

Secret societies

Francis Bacon often gathered with the men at Gray's Inn to discuss politics and philosophy, and to try out various theatrical scenes that he admitted writing.[40] Bacon's alleged connection to the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons has been widely discussed by authors and scholars in many books.[41]. However others, including Daphne du Maurier (in her biography of Bacon), have argued there is no substantive evidence to support claims of involvement with the Rosicrucians.[42] Frances Yates[43] does not make the claim that Bacon was a Rosicrucian, but presents evidence that he was nevertheless involved in some of the more closed intellectual movements of his day. She argues that Bacon's movement for the advancement of learning was closely connected with the German Rosicrucian movement, while Bacon's New Atlantis portrays a land ruled by Rosicrucians. He apparently saw his own movement for the advancement of learning to be in conformity with Rosicrucian ideals.[44]

Parentage theories

A small number of authors have theorized that Francis Bacon could have been the unacknowledged son of Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester[45]

Noteworthy relative

It has been claimed[46] that Bacon is a distant relative of the English painter Francis Bacon, who was named in honor of the original. The artist's father claimed descent from Bacon's elder half-brother, Nicholas. The homosexual painter "made little of his family's traditional claim" but was more "amused by his namesake's well-known prodigality and homosexuality" and excited by the "notion that the philosopher-statesman might also have been 'Shakespeare', whose work he revered."

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bacon, Francis in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  2. ^ Collins, Arthur (1741). The English Baronetage: Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of All the English Baronets, Now Existing: Their Descents, Marriages, and Issues; Memorable Actions, Both in War, and Peace; Religious and Charitable Donations; Deaths, Places of Burial and Monumental Iiscriptions [sic]. Printed for Tho. Wotton at the Three Daggers and Queen's Head. p. 5. 
  3. ^ a b c Peltonen, Markku (October 2007). "Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. 
  4. ^ Oliver Lawson Dick, ed. Aubrey's Brief Lives. Edited from the Original Manuscripts, 1949, s.v. "Francis Bacon, Viscount of St. Albans" p. 11.
  5. ^ See opposing opinions of: A. L. Rowse, Homosexuals in History, New York: Carroll & Garf, 1977. page 44; Jardine, Lisa; Stewart, Alan Hostage To Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon Hill & Wang, 1999. page 148; Nieves Mathews, Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination, Yale University Press, 1996; Ross Jackson, The Companion to Shaker of the Speare: The Francis Bacon Story, England: Book Guild Publishing, 2005. pages 45 - 46
  6. ^ a b Alfred Dodd, Francis Bacon's Personal Life Story', Volume 2 - The Age of James, England: Rider & Co., 1949, 1986. pages 157 - 158, 425, 502 - 503, 518 - 532
  7. ^ Alice Chambers Bunten, Life of Alice Barnham, Wife of Sir Francis Bacon, London: Oliphants Ltd. 1928.
  8. ^ A. L. Rowse, Homosexuals in History, New York: Carroll & Garf, 1977. page 44
  9. ^ Jardine, Lisa; Stewart, Alan Hostage To Fortune: The Troubled Life of Francis Bacon Hill & Wang, 1999. page 148
  10. ^ Charles R. Forker, Masculine Love, Renaissance Writing, and the New Invention of Homosexuality: An Addendum in the Journal of Homosexuality (1996), Indiana University
  11. ^ Journal of Homosexuality, Volume: 31 Issue: 3, 1996, pages 85-93, ISSN: 0091-8369
  12. ^ Fulton Anderson, Francis Bacon:His career and his thought, Los Angeles, 1962
  13. ^ Nieves Mathews, Francis Bacon: The History of a Character Assassination, Yale University Press, 1996
  14. ^ Ross Jackson, The Companion to Shaker of the Speare: The Francis Bacon Story, England: Book Guild Publishing, 2005. pages 45 - 46
  15. ^ Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England. A new Edition, ed.Basil Montagu, London: 1825-1834
  16. ^ Bryant, Mark: Private Lives, 2001, p.22.
  17. ^ a b Lovejoy, Benjamin (1888). Francis Bacon: A Critical Review. London: Unwin. p. 171. OCLC 79886184. 
  18. ^ Officer, Lawrence; Williamson, Samuel. "Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to Present". Measuring Worth.com. http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  19. ^ William Rawley (Bacon's personal secretary and chaplain) Resuscitatio, or, Bringing into Publick Light Several Pieces of the Works, Civil, Historical, Philosophical, & Theological, Hitherto Sleeping; of the Right Honourable Francis Bacon....Together with his Lordship's Life 1657. "Francis Bacon, the glory of his age and nation, the adorner and ornament of learning, was born in York House, or York Place, in the Strand, on the two and twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord 1560."
  20. ^ W.G.C. Gundry, ed. Manes Verulamani. This important volume consists of 32 eulogies originally published in Latin shortly after Bacon's funeral in 1626. Bacon's peers refer to him as "a supreme poet" and "a concealed poet," and also link him with the theatre.
  21. ^ "Idols" is the usual translation of idola, but 'illusion' is perhaps a more accurate translation to modern English. See footnote, The New Organon, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Pr., 2000), p.18.
  22. ^ Novum Organum, Liber I, CXXIX - Adapted from the 1863 translation
  23. ^ Linebaugh, Peter, and Marcus Rediker. The Many Headed Hydra. Boston: Beacon P, 2000. 36-70. Argues for an alternative point of view towards Bacon
  24. ^ An Advertisement Touching a Holy War by Francis Bacon, Laurence Lampert (Editor). Waveland Press 2000 ISBN 978-1577661283
  25. ^ Julian Martin, Francis Bacon: The State and the Reform of Natural Philosophy, 1992
  26. ^ Byron Steel, Sir Francis Bacon: The First Modern Mind, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., 1930
  27. ^ Peter Urbach, Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Science, Open Court Publishing Co., 1987. A study which argues from a close consideration of Bacon's actual words in context, that he was immensely more sophisticated and modern than is generally allowed. Bacon's reputation as a philosopher of science has sunk since the 17th and early 18th centuries, when he was accorded the title "Father of Experimental Philosophy".
  28. ^ Harvey Wheeler, Francis Bacon’s Case of the Post-Nati:(1608); Foundations of Anglo-American Constitutionalism; An Application of Critical Constitutional Theory, Ward, 1998
  29. ^ Howard B. White, Peace Among the Willows: The Political Philosophy of Francis Bacon, The Hague Martinus Nijhoff, 1968
  30. ^ Harvey Wheeler, Francis Bacon’s "Verulamium": the Common Law Template of The Modern in English Science and Culture, 1999
  31. ^ Frances Yates, (essay) Bacon's Magic, in Frances Yates, Ideas and Ideals in the North European Renaissance, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984
  32. ^ "The Three Greatest Men". http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm033.html. Retrieved 2009-08-29. "Jefferson identified Bacon, Locke, and Newton as "the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception". Their works in the physical and moral sciences were instrumental in Jefferson's education and world view." 
  33. ^ "The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826 Bacon, Locke, and Newton". http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl74.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-13. "Bacon, Locke and Newton, whose pictures I will trouble you to have copied for me: and as I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical & Moral sciences." 
  34. ^ http://explorer.monticello.org/text/index.php?id=82&type=4 Jefferson called Bacon, Newton, and Locke, who had so indelibly shaped his ideas, "my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced"
  35. ^ Saint Germain Foundation. The History of the "I AM" Activity and Saint Germain Foundation. Schaumburg, Illinois: Saint Germain Press 2003
  36. ^ Luk, A.D.K.. Law of Life — Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications 1989, pages 254 - 267
  37. ^ White Paper - Wesak World Congress 2002. Acropolis Sophia Books & Works 2003.
  38. ^ Partridge, Christopher ed. New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities Oxford University Press, USA 2004.
  39. ^ Schroeder, Werner Ascended Masters and Their Retreats Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004, pages 250 - 255
  40. ^ Frances Yates, Theatre of the World, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969
  41. ^ Bryan Bevan, The Real Francis Bacon, England: Centaur Press, 1960
  42. ^ Daphne du Maurier, The Winding Stair, Biography of Bacon 1976.
  43. ^ Frances Yates, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, pages 61 - 68, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979
  44. ^ Frances Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972
  45. ^ Comyns Beaumont, The Private Life of the Virgin Queen, London England, 1947
  46. ^ [Peppiatt, Michael (1996) Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson]

Sources

  • Material originally from the 1911 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion.
  • Material originally from the 1912 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religion.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg "Bacon, Francis". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911. 
  • Wikisource-logo.svg John William Cousin, “Bacon, Francis, Lord Verulam, And Viscount St. Alban,” in A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1910.
  • John Farrell, "The Science of Suspicion." Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Cornell UP, 2006), chapter six.
  • "Our Western Heritage" Roselle / Young: Chapter five "The 'Scientific Revolution' and the 'Intellectual Revolution'".
  • Mary Heese, "Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Science," Essential Articles for the Study of Francis Bacon, ed. Brian Vickers (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1968), pp. 114-139.
  • Benjamin Farrington, The Philosophy of Francis Bacon (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1964). Contains English translations of
    • Temporis Partus Masculus
    • Cogitata et Visa
    • Redargutio Philosphiarum
  • James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, Douglas Denon Heath, The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St Albans and Lord High Chancellor of England 15 vols (London, 1857-74).

External links

About Bacon

Collected Works

Individual Works

Quotations

Related Organizations

Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Egerton
Lord High Chancellor
1617–1621
Succeeded by
In Commission
Preceded by
Henry Hobart
Attorney General of England and Wales
1613–1617
Succeeded by
Henry Yelverton
Parliament of England
Preceded by
Miles Sandys
Member of Parliament for Taunton
1586–1588
Succeeded by
William Aubrey
Preceded by
Arthur Atye
Member of Parliament for Liverpool
1588–1594
Succeeded by
Thomas Gerard
Preceded by
William Fleetwood
Member of Parliament for Middlesex
1594–1598
Succeeded by
Sir John Peyton
Peerage of England
Preceded by
New Creation
Viscount St Alban
1621–1626
Succeeded by
Extinct
Baron Verulam
1618–1626

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Francis Bacon article)

From Wikiquote

I have taken all knowledge to be my province.

Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC (22 January 15619 April 1626) was an English philosopher, statesman and essayist.

Contents

Sourced

  • The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power.
    • Essex's Device (1595)
  • Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est.
    • Knowledge is power.
    • Meditationes Sacræ [Sacred Meditations] (1597) "De Hæresibus" [Of Heresies]
  • I confess that I have as vast contemplative ends, as I have moderate civil ends: for I have taken all knowledge to be my province; and if I could purge it of two sorts of rovers, whereof the one with frivolous disputations, confutations, and verbosities, the other with blind experiments and auricular traditions and impostures, hath committed so many spoils, I hope I should bring in industrious observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable inventions and discoveries; the best state of that province. This, whether it be curiosity, or vain glory, or nature, or (if one take it favourably) philanthropia, is so fixed in my mind as it cannot be removed. And I do easily see, that place of any reasonable countenance doth bring commandment of more wits than of a man's own; which is the thing I greatly affect.
    • Letter to William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, published in The Works of Francis Bacon: Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England 14 Vols. (1870) James Spedding, Robert L. Ellis, Douglas D. Heath, editors, Vol. XIII p. 109
  • Aristotle... a mere bond-servant to his logic, thereby rendering it contentious and well nigh useless.
    • Rerum Novarum (1605)
  • I do plainly and ingenuously confess that I am guilty of corruption, and do renounce all defense. I beseech your Lordships to be merciful to a broken reed.
    • On being charged by Parliament with corruption in office (1621)
  • Lucid intervals and happy pauses.
    • History of King Henry VII, III (1622)
Nothing is terrible except fear itself.
  • Nil terribile nisi ipse timor.
    • Nothing is terrible except fear itself.
    • De Augmentis Scientiarum, Book II, Fortitudo (1623)
  • Riches are a good handmaid, but the worst mistress.
    • De Augmentis Scientiarum, Book II, Antitheta (1623)
  • Audacter calumniare, semper aliquid haeret.
    • Translated: "Hurl your calumnies boldly; something is sure to stick".
    • De Augmentis Scientiarum (1623)
  • I bequeath my soul to God... My body to be buried obscurely. For my name and memory, I leave it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and the next age.
    • From his will (1626)
  • We have also sound houses, where we practice and demonstrate all sounds and their generation. We have harmonies which you have not, of quarter sounds and lesser slides of sounds. Divers instruments of music likewise to you unknown, some sweeter than any you have; together with bells and rings that are dainty and sweet. We represent small sounds as great and deep; likewise divers trembling and warblings of sounds, which in their original are entire. We represent and imitate all articulate sounds and letters, and the voices of beasts and birds. We have certain helps which set to the ear to do further the hearing greatly. We have also divers strange and artificial echoes, reflecting the voice many times, and as if it were tossing it; and some that give back the voice louder than it came, some shriller and some deeper; yea, some rendering the voice, differing in the letters or articulate sound from that they receive. We have also means to convey sounds in tubes and pipes, in strange lines and distances...
  • It is true that that may hold in these things, which is the general root of superstition; namely, that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss; and commit to memory the one, and forget and pass over the other.
    • Sylva Sylvarum century x (1627)
  • …death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him is not at home.
    • An Essay on Death published in The Remaines of the Right Honourable Francis Lord Verulam (1648) but may not have been written by Bacon

The Advancement of Learning (1605)

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.
  • For all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge) is an impression of pleasure in itself.
    • Book I, i, 3
  • Time, which is the author of authors.
    • Book I, iv, 12
  • If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.
    • Book I, v, 8
  • Antiquitas saeculi juventus mundi. [The age of antiquity is the youth of the world.] These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation backward from ourselves.
    • Book I, v, 8
  • The greatest error of all the rest is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge: for men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of men: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a tarrasse, for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife and contention; or a shop, for profit or sale; and not a rich storehouse, for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate.
    • Book I, v, 11
In this theater of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.
  • The use of this feigned history hath been to give some shadow of satisfaction to the mind of man in those points wherein the nature of things doth deny it, the world being in proportion inferior to the soul; by reason whereof there is, agreeable to the spirit of man, a more ample greatness, a more exact goodness, and a more absolute variety, than can be found in the nature of things. Therefore, because the acts or events of true history have not that magnitude which satisfieth the mind of man, poesy feigneth acts and events greater and more heroical: because true history propoundeth the successes and issues of actions not so agreeable to the merits of virtue and vice, therefore poesy feigns them more just in retribution, and more according to revealed providence: because true history representeth actions and events more ordinary, and less interchanged, therefore poesy endueth them with more rareness, and more unexpected and alternative variations: so as it appeareth that poesy serveth and conferreth to magnanimity, morality, and to delectation. And therefore it was ever thought to have some participation of divineness, because it doth raise and erect the mind, by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind; whereas reason doth buckle and bow the mind into the nature of things.
    • Book II, iv, 2
  • They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    • Book II, vii, 5
  • But men must know that in this theater of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on.
    • Book II, xx, 8
  • We are much beholden to Machiavel and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do.
    • Book II, xxi, 9
  • All good moral philosophy is but the handmaid to religion.
    • Book II, xxii, 14
  • For man seeketh in society comfort, use, and protection: and they be three wisdoms of divers natures, which do often sever: wisdom of the behaviour, wisdom of business, and wisdom of state.
    • Book II, xxiii
  • Primum quaerite bona animi; caetera aut aderunt, aut non oberunt
    • seek first the virtues of the mind; and other things either will come, or will not be wanted
    • Book II, xxxi
  • Silence is the virtue of a fool.
    • Book VI, xxxi

Descriptio Globi Intellectus (1612)

  • Art is man added to Nature Descriptio Globi Intellectus (1612)

Novum Organum (The New Organon) (1620)

Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
  • Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own. Those on the other hand who have taken a contrary course, and asserted that absolutely nothing can be known — whether it were from hatred of the ancient sophists, or from uncertainty and fluctuation of mind, or even from a kind of fullness of learning, that they fell upon this opinion — have certainly advanced reasons for it that are not to be despised; but yet they have neither started from true principles nor rested in the just conclusion, zeal and affectation having carried them much too far....
    Now my method, though hard to practice, is easy to explain; and it is this. I propose to establish progressive stages of certainty. The evidence of the sense, helped and guarded by a certain process of correction, I retain. But the mental operation which follows the act of sense I for the most part reject; and instead of it I open and lay out a new and certain path for the mind to proceed in, starting directly from the simple sensuous perception.

Book I

  • Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
    • Aphorism 1
Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed...
  • Human knowledge and human power meet in one; for where the cause is not known the effect cannot be produced. Nature to be commanded must be obeyed; and that which in contemplation is as the cause is in operation as the rule.
    • Aphorism 3
  • It would be an unsound fancy and self-contradictory to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by means which have never yet been tried.
    • Aphorism 6
  • The logic now in use serves rather to fix and give stability to the errors which have their foundation in commonly received notions than to help the search for truth. So it does more harm than good.
    • Aphorism 7
  • The cause and root of nearly all evils in the sciences is this — that while we falsely admire and extol the powers of the human mind we neglect to seek for its true helps.
    • Aphorism 9
The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of argument.
  • There are and can be only two ways of searching into and discovering truth. The one flies from the senses and particulars to the most general axioms, and from these principles, the truth of which it takes for settled and immovable, proceeds to judgment and to the discovery of middle axioms. And this way is now in fashion. The other derives axioms from the senses and particulars, rising by a gradual and unbroken ascent, so that it arrives at the most general axioms last of all. This is the true way, but as yet untried.
    • Aphorism 19
  • It cannot be that axioms established by argumentation should avail for the discovery of new works, since the subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of argument. But axioms duly and orderly formed from particulars easily discover the way to new particulars, and thus render sciences active.
    • Aphorism 24
We cannot command nature except by obeying her.
  • Further, it will not be amiss to distinguish the three kinds and, as it were, grades of ambition in mankind. The first is of those who desire to extend their own power in their native country, a vulgar and degenerate kind. The second is of those who labor to extend the power and dominion of their country among men. This certainly has more dignity, though not less covetousness. But if a man endeavor to establish and extend the power and dominion of the human race itself over the universe, his ambition (if ambition it can be called) is without doubt both a more wholesome and a more noble thing than the other two. Now the empire of man over things depends wholly on the arts and sciences. For we cannot command nature except by obeying her.
    • Aphorism 28
  • There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names — calling the first class, Idols of the Tribe ; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market-Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theater.
    • Aphorism 39
  • The Idols of Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it.
    • Aphorism 41
The spirit of man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance...
  • The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For everyone (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature, owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature; or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a mind indifferent and settled; or the like. So that the spirit of man (according as it is meted out to different individuals) is in fact a thing variable and full of perturbation, and governed as it were by chance. Whence it was well observed by Heraclitus that men look for sciences in their own lesser worlds, and not in the greater or common world.
    • Aphorism 42
  • There are also Idols formed by the intercourse and association of men with each other, which I call Idols of the Market Place, on account of the commerce and consort of men there. For it is by discourse that men associate, and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar. And therefore the ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding. Nor do the definitions or explanations wherewith in some things learned men are wont to guard and defend themselves, by any means set the matter right. But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies.
    • Aphorism 43
In my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.
  • Lastly, there are Idols which have immigrated into men's minds from the various dogmas of philosophies, and also from wrong laws of demonstration. These I call Idols of the Theater, because in my judgment all the received systems are but so many stage plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion.
    • Aphorism 44
  • The human understanding is of its own nature prone to suppose the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it finds. And though there be many things in nature which are singular and unmatched, yet it devises for them parallels and conjugates and relatives which do not exist. Hence the fiction that all celestial bodies move in perfect circles, spirals and dragons being (except in name) utterly rejected.
    • Aphorism 45
  • The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects, in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.
    • Aphorism 46
  • …it is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives…
    • Aphorism 46
  • The human understanding is moved by those things most which strike and enter the mind simultaneously and suddenly, and so fill the imagination; and then it feigns and supposes all other things to be somehow, though it cannot see how, similar to those few things by which it is surrounded.
    • Aphorism 47
  • The human understanding is unquiet; it cannot stop or rest, and still presses onward, but in vain. Therefore it is that we cannot conceive of any end or limit to the world, but always as of necessity it occurs to us that there is something beyond... But he is no less an unskilled and shallow philosopher who seeks causes of that which is most general, than he who in things subordinate and subaltern omits to do so.
    • Aphorism 48
  • But by far the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dullness, incompetency, and deceptions of the senses; in that things which strike the sense outweigh things which do not immediately strike it, though they be more important. Hence it is that speculation commonly ceases where sight ceases; insomuch that of things invisible there is little or no observation.
    • Aphorism 50
  • But the best demonstration by far is experience, if it go not beyond the actual experiment.
    • Aphorism 70
  • It is not possible to run a course aright when the goal itself has not been rightly placed.
    • Aphorism 81
By far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science and to the undertaking of new tasks and provinces therein is found in this — that men despair and think things impossible.
  • But by far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science and to the undertaking of new tasks and provinces therein is found in this — that men despair and think things impossible.
    • Aphorism 92
  • Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.
    • Aphorism 95
Let men but think over their infinite expenditure of understanding, time, and means on matters and pursuits of far less use and value; whereof, if but a small part were directed to sound and solid studies, there is no difficulty that might not be overcome.
  • No one has yet been found so firm of mind and purpose as resolutely to compel himself to sweep away all theories and common notions, and to apply the understanding, thus made fair and even, to a fresh examination of particulars. Thus it happens that human knowledge, as we have it, is a mere medley and ill-digested mass, made up of much credulity and much accident, and also of the childish notions which we at first imbibed.
    • Aphorism 97
  • Another argument of hope may be drawn from this — that some of the inventions already known are such as before they were discovered it could hardly have entered any man's head to think of; they would have been simply set aside as impossible. For in conjecturing what may be men set before them the example of what has been, and divine of the new with an imagination preoccupied and colored by the old; which way of forming opinions is very fallacious, for streams that are drawn from the springheads of nature do not always run in the old channels.
    • Aphorism 109
  • There is another ground of hope that must not be omitted. Let men but think over their infinite expenditure of understanding, time, and means on matters and pursuits of far less use and value; whereof, if but a small part were directed to sound and solid studies, there is no difficulty that might not be overcome.
    • Aphorism 111
  • Truth therefore and utility are here the very same thing…
    • Aphorism 124

Book II

  • Truth will sooner come out from error than from confusion.
    • Aphorism 20
  • Since my logic aims to teach and instruct the understanding, not that it may with the slender tendrils of the mind snatch at and lay hold of abstract notions (as the common logic does), but that it may in very truth dissect nature, and discover the virtues and actions of bodies, with their laws as determined in matter; so that this science flows not merely from the nature of the mind, but also from the nature of things.
    • Aphorism 42

Apophthegms (1624)

  • Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.
    • No. 36
  • Like strawberry wives, that laid two or three great strawberries at the mouth of their pot, and all the rest were little ones.
    • No. 54
  • Sir Amice Pawlet, when he saw too much haste made in any matter, was wont to say. "Stay a while, that we may make an end the sooner."
    • No. 76
  • Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation of age, that age appears to be best in four things — old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
    • No. 97
  • Cosmus, Duke of Florence, was wont to say of perfidious friends, that "We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends."
    • No. 206
  • Cato said the best way to keep good acts in memory was to refresh them with new.
    • No. 247

Essays (1625)

What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.
  • What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.
    • Of Truth
  • No pleasure is comparable to the standing upon the vantage-ground of truth.
    • Of Truth
  • Truth is a naked and open daylight, that doth not shew the masks and mummeries and triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candlelights.
    • Of Truth
  • It is not the lie that passeth through the mind, but the lie that sinketh in and settleth in it, that doth the hurt.
    • Of Truth
  • Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
    • Of Truth
  • There is no vice that doth so cover a man with shame as to be found false and perfidious.
    • Of Truth
Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.
  • Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other.
    • Of Death
  • It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates, and masters, the fear of death; and therefore, death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear preoccupieth it.
    • Of Death
  • Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
    • Of Revenge
  • Base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark.
    • Of Revenge
Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon.
  • Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince's part to pardon.
    • Of Revenge
  • It is yet a higher speech of his than the other, “It is true greatness to have in one the frailty of a man and the security of a god.”
    • Of Adversity
  • It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that “The good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.”
    • Of Adversity
  • Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.
    • Of Adversity
The joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears. They cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other.
  • Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.
    • Of Adversity
  • Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.
    • Of Adversity
  • Virtue is like precious odors — most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed.
    • Of Adversity
  • The joys of parents are secret; and so are their griefs and fears. They cannot utter the one; nor they will not utter the other.
    • Of Parents and Children
  • He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. Certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men; which both in affection and means, have married and endowed the public.
    • Of Marriage and Single Life
  • Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses.
    • Of Marriage and Single Life
  • A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. For men's minds, will either feed upon their own good, or upon others' evil; and who wanteth the one, will prey upon the other; and whoso is out of hope, to attain to another's virtue, will seek to come at even hand, by depressing another's fortune.
    • Of Envy
  • For there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself, as the lover doth of the person loved; and therefore it was well said, That it is impossible to love, and to be wise.
    • Of Love
  • For it is a true rule, that love is ever rewarded either with the reciproque, or with an inward and secret contempt.
    • Of Love
  • Nuptial love maketh mankind, friendly love perfecteth it, but wonton love corrupteth and embaseth it.
    • Of Love
All rising to great place is by a winding stair...
  • It is an assured sign of a worthy and generous spirit, whom honor amends. For honor is, or should be, the place of virtue and as in nature, things move violently to their place, and calmly in their place, so virtue in ambition is violent, in authority settled and calm. All rising to great place is by a winding stair; and if there be factions, it is good to side a man's self, whilst he is in the rising, and to balance himself when he is placed. Use the memory of thy predecessor, fairly and tenderly; for if thou dost not, it is a debt will sure be paid when thou art gone. If thou have colleagues, respect them, and rather call them, when they look not for it, than exclude them, when they have reason to look to be called. Be not too sensible, or too remembering, of thy place in conversation, and private answers to suitors; but let it rather be said, When he sits in place, he is another man.
    • Of Great Place
In charity there is no excess.
  • There is in human nature generally more of the fool than of the wise.
    • Of Boldness
  • Boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveniences.
    • Of Boldness
  • A good name is like a precious ointment; it filleth all around about, and will not easily away; for the odors of ointments are more durable than those of flowers.
    • Of Praise
  • In charity there is no excess.
    • Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
  • If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.
    • Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
  • The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall.
    • Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature
  • Money is like muck, not good except it be spread.
    • Of Seditions and Troubles
  • I had rather believe all the fables in the legends and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind.
    • Of Atheism
  • A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.
    • Of Atheism
A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion.
  • It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion, as is unworthy of him. For the one is unbelief, the other is contumely; and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity.
    • Of Superstition
  • Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience. He that traveleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.
    • Of Travel
  • Princes are like heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times, and which have much veneration but no rest.
    • Of Empire
  • The greatest trust, between man and man, is the trust of giving counsel. For in other confidences, men commit the parts of life; their lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular affair; but to such as they make their counsellors, they commit the whole: by how much the more, they are obliged to all faith and integrity.
    • Of Counsel
  • Fortune is like the market, where many times, if you can stay a little, the price will fall.
    • Of Delays
  • Nothing doth more hurt in a state than that cunning men pass for wise.
    • Of Cunning
  • Be true to thyself, as thou be not false to others.
    • Of Wisdom for a Man's Self
  • It is the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs.
    • Of Wisdom for a Man's Self
  • As the births of living creatures at first are ill-shapen, so are all Innovations, which are the births of time.
    • Of Innovations
  • He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
    • Of Innovations
  • Affected dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business that can be. It is like that, which the physicians call predigestion, or hasty digestion; which is sure to fill the body full of crudities, and secret seeds of diseases. Therefore measure not dispatch, by the times of sitting, but by the advancement of the business.
    • Of Dispatch
  • Seeming wise men may make shift to get opinion; but let no man choose them for employment; for certainly you were better take for business, a man somewhat absurd, than over-formal.
    • Of Seeming Wise
  • A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.
    • Of Friendship
  • But we may go further, and affirm most truly, that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends; without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this sense also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections, is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
    • Of Friendship
  • Cure the disease and kill the patient.
    • Of Friendship
  • Riches are for spending.
    • Of Expense
  • He that commands the sea is at great liberty, and may take as much and as little of the war as he will.
    • Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates
  • The greatness of an estate, in bulk and territory, doth fall under measure; and the greatness of finances and revenue, doth fall under computation. The population may appear by musters; and the number and greatness of cities and towns by cards and maps. But yet there is not any thing amongst civil affairs more subject to error, than the right valuation and true judgment concerning the power and forces of an estate.
    • Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates
  • There is a wisdom in this beyond the rules of physic. A man's own observation, what he finds good of and what he finds hurt of, is the best physic to preserve health.
    • Of Regimen of Health
  • As for the passions and studies of the mind: avoid envy; anxious fears; anger fretting inwards; subtle and knotty inquisitions; joys and exhilarations in excess; sadness not communicated. Entertain hopes; mirth rather than joy; variety of delights, rather than surfeit of them; wonder and admiration, and therefore novelties; studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature.
    • Of Regimen of Health
  • Suspicions amongst thoughts, are like bats amongst birds, they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or at least well guarded: for they cloud the mind; they leese friends; and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy. They are defects, not in the heart, but in the brain; for they take place in the stoutest natures.
    • Of Suspicion
  • Intermingle...jest with earnest.
    • Of Discourse
  • Discretion of speech, is more than eloquence; and to speak agreeably to him, with whom we deal, is more than to speak in good words, or in good order.
    • Of Discourse
  • So ambitious men, if they find the way open for their rising, and still get forward, they are rather busy than dangerous; but if they be checked in their desires, they become secretly discontent, and look upon men and matters with an evil eye, and are best pleased, when things go backward.
    • Of Ambition
  • Nature is often hidden; sometimes overcome; seldom extinguished.
    • Of Nature in Men
  • Men's thoughts, are much according to their inclination; their discourse and speeches, according to their learning and infused opinions; but their deeds, are after as they have been accustomed.
    • Of Custom and Education
  • If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune; for though she is blind, she is not invisible.
    • Of Fortune
  • Chiefly the mold of a man's fortune is in his own hands.
    • Of Fortune
  • Young men are fitter to invent than to judge, fitter for execution than for counsel, and fitter for new projects than for settled business.
    • Of Youth and Age
  • Virtue is like a rich stone — best plain set.
    • Of Beauty
There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
  • There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.
    • Of Beauty
  • Deformed persons are commonly even with nature; for as nature hath done ill by them, so do they by nature; being for the most part (as the Scripture saith) void of natural affection; and so they have their revenge of nature.
    • Of Deformity
  • Houses are built to live in, not to look on; therefore, let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had.
    • Of Building
  • God Almighty first planted a garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasures.
    • Of Gardens
  • If you would work any man, you must either know his nature and fashions, and so lead him; or his ends, and so persuade him or his weakness and disadvantages, and so awe him or those that have interest in him, and so govern him. In dealing with cunning persons, we must ever consider their ends, to interpret their speeches; and it is good to say little to them, and that which they least look for. In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business, and so ripen it by degrees.
    • Of Negotiating
  • Costly followers are not to be liked; lest while a man maketh his train longer, he make his wings shorter.
    • Of Followers and Friends
  • To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need proyning, by study; and studies themselves, do give forth directions too much at large, except they be bounded in by experience.
    • Of Studies
  • Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.
    • Of Studies
  • Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
    • Of Studies
  • Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
    • Of Studies
  • Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.
    • Of Studies
  • A wise man will make more opportunities, than he finds.
    • Of Ceremonies and Respect
  • Certainly fame is like a river, that beareth up things light and swoln, and drowns things weighty and solid.
    • Of Praise
  • Glorious men are the scorn of wise men, the admiration of fools, the idols of parasites, and the slaves of their own vaunts.
    • Of Vain-Glory
The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men is the vicissitude of sects and religions.
  • The winning of honor, is but the revealing of a man's virtue and worth, without disadvantage.
    • Of Honor and Reputation
  • Judges ought to remember, that their office is jus dicere, and not jus dare; to interpret law, and not to make law, or give law.
    • Of Judicature
  • To seek to extinguish anger utterly, is but a bravery of the Stoics. We have better oracles: Be angry, but sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger. Anger must be limited and confined, both in race and in time.
    • Of Anger
  • The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men is the vicissitude of sects and religions.
    • Of Vicissitude of Things

The World (1629)

  • The world's a bubble, and the life of man
    Less than a span.
  • Who then to frail mortality shall trust
    But limns the water, or but writes in dust.
  • What then remains but that we still should cry
    Not to be born, or, being born, to die?

Resuscitatio (1657)

  • Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
    • Proposition touching Amendment of Laws

Unsourced

  • Imagination was given to man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humor to console him for what he is.

Misattributed

  • Choose the best life; for habit will make it pleasant

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