Sunday, 14 July 2013

Bacon: A Political and Moral Thinker


Bacon's most important moral work is the Essays on counsels – civil and moral. These were published in the three editions during Bacon’s life time. The first edition appears in 1597 containing ten essays. The third edition appears in 1625 in which the number of essays went up to 58. The moral tone of these essays is at times 


Bacon: A Political and Moral Thinker

questionable. Quite often Bacon appears to be an opportunist. In his morals he is absolutely of this world. There are places where there is shallow worldliness which is highly disturbing and does no credit to this great man. For example even “such a noble and powerful sentiment as love
appears to him to be a child of folly”. Sometimes, even some of his conclusions are ordinary and common place. They do not show a very sharp mind behind them. But these essays are extremely widely read because of their worldly practical wisdom. They come home to men’s business and bosoms. He is not preaching things of the spirit and the soul; his only concern is to show to men how to succeed in this life and world. Human nature and how to manage it would be good title for these Essays. As the French critic Legouis points out: “It is the art of success among men which is the subject to his Essays. He points men to the part he should play on the stage of special life, as is indicated in the sub-title of this Book: “Counsels-Civil and Morals.” As morals of this world, his sayings have great force and weight. Many of them have become proverbs. Besides these essays there is a collection of ancient and modern sayings which Bacon did during the autumn of 1624 entitled “Apothegms New and Old”. He dictated from memory and they were published in 1625. There are about 300 of them, and some are very striking and some are dull. He also brought out a collection of arguments on moral matters with answers to them. It was entitled “Of the Colors of Good and Evil”.


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