Handwriting of Sir Francis Bacon
Sir Francis Bacon’s letter to John Davies
“so desiring you to be good to concealed poets”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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; no universal rules can be made, as both situations and men’s characters differ.
Bacon also listed what he called the Idols of The Mind. He described these as things which obstructed the path of correct scientific reasoning.
Idols of the Tribe: This is humans’ tendency to perceive more order and regularity in systems than truly exists, and is due to people following their preconceived ideas about things.
Idols of the Cave: This is due to individuals’ personal weaknesses in reasoning due to particular personalities, likes and dislikes.
Idols of the Marketplace: This is due to confusions in the use of language and taking some words in science to have a different meaning than their common usage.
Idols of the Theatre: This is due to using philosophical systems which have incorporated mistaken methods. Here Bacon is referring to the influence of major philosophers (Aristotle) and major religions on science.
The Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge
From right to left, the King’s Gate, Chapel, Fountain and Grate Gate
The court features in the story Chariots of Fire
Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 8 September 2004
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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, 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 the Queen, who was impressed by his precocious intellect, and was accustomed to calling him “the young Lord Keeper”.
On June 27, 1576 he and Anthony entered de societate magistrorum at Gray’s Inn. A few months later, they went abroad with Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador at Paris. 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. He made rapid progress. He was admitted to the bar in 1582, he became Bencher in 1586, and he was elected a reader in 1587, delivering his first set of lectures in Lent the following year.
The accession of James I brought Bacon into greater favour. He was knighted in 1603. In another shrewd move, Bacon wrote Apologie (defence) about 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 1608, Bacon 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 policy.
In 1613, Bacon became 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.
Bacon’s public career ended in disgrace in 1621. After having fallen 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. Thenceforth the disgraced viscount devoted himself to study and writing.
In April 1626, Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate near London, and died at the empty (except for the caretaker) Arundel mansion. He died at Lord Arundel’s home on 9 April 1626, leaving assets of about £7,000 and debts to the amount of £22,000.
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.”
At his April 1626 funeral, over thirty great minds collected together their eulogies of him. It is clear from all these eulogies 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.
Bacon did not propose an actual philosophy, but rather a method of developing philosophy. He wrote 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), 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.
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. In the nineteenth century his emphasis on induction was revived and developed by William Whewell, among others.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)