The Life and Works of Francis BaconJune 27, 2021
Born on January 22, 1561, Francis Bacon is the son of Queen Elizabeth I’s justice minister, Nicholas Bacon. Although Francis Bacon’s reputation eclipsed that of his father, his father, Nicholas Bacon, was more than just an ordinary man, but one of the famous names of his time.
Francis Bacon met scholastic philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, which he entered at the age of twelve, and the seeds of his opposition to scholastic philosophy were planted here. After starting to study Law in 1576, he received an offer to work for the English ambassador in France. Accepting the offer, he interrupted his studies and went to France. In these years, when Bacon’s love for philosophy was beginning to germinate, he suddenly received the news of his father’s death in 1579. When he returned to England with his pockets empty, all he could do was continue his law studies. After completing his education, he started working as a lawyer. He yearned for the luxurious life he was accustomed to since childhood, so he worked for a political career while working as a lawyer. As a matter of fact, he was elected to the Parliament in 1584.
He had a close friendship with the Earl of Essex. But their friendship was disrupted by the earl of Essex’s plans to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I. Stating that his devotion to the Queen was great, Bacon tried for a long time to turn his friend away from his ideas. After a failed assassination attempt on the Queen, the Earl of Essex was arrested. Released by Bacon’s efforts, the count later made a new attempt to overthrow the Queen. This time when he was arrested, he was found guilty and executed. Meanwhile, Bacon’s star was on the rise, and although he had made life-threatening enemies as a result of his relationships with the Earl of Essex, his devotion to the Queen had undoubtedly given him great career opportunities.
He quickly rose to prominence when James I ascended the throne as the Queen’s heir apparent in 1603. He first received the title of “Sir”, then became Attorney General in 1606 and Chief Justice of England in 1618. When he was at the peak of his career, his collapse knocked on the door. He was arrested and tried for bribery in 1621. He was found guilty and sentenced to prison. He did not stay long in prison and was released, but it was then impossible for him to occupy either Parliament or any political position. Breaking from politics, Bacon devoted the remaining years of his life to his philosophical thoughts. He died of an illness presumed to be pneumonia in 1626.
The work that brought Bacon a great reputation and importance in the field of literature as well as in the fields of philosophy and politics is undoubtedly his famous Essays. This work, first published in 1597, was later reprinted in an expanded form in 1612 and 1625. This work, which includes complex forms as well as its plain and clear expression, has made Bacon one of the famous figures in the history of English literature. Essays is an important work that allows us to navigate Bacon’s ideas on many different subjects, allows us to understand him and his way of thinking, and also has valuable advice and thoughts for our daily life.
If we have to dwell on a few points on the Essays, the most important of these is the moral philosophy in the Essays. Far from the Christian moral structure, a more Machiavellian view of morality prevails. However, more than a purely Machiavellian attitude, a more conciliatory and mediocre moral structure stands out in the middle of traditional Christian morality and Machiavellian attitude.
As we understand more from the Essays, Bacon’s ideal system of government is autocracy. But his understanding of autocracy is slightly different from the medieval one, perhaps closer to the philosopher-king.
Bacon presented many different views in Essays, from youth to friendship, from friendship to politics, from politics to psychology.
“Man, as the ruler and interpreter of nature, can act as much as his observations on the natural order allow, and understand the causes. He neither knows nor knows more.” Undoubtedly, these sentences from Novum Organum beautifully sum up Bacon’s views, his empiricism, his observation, and his view of man and nature. As can be seen from the title of the work, we are faced with a new Organon, a new method, a new science and logic system against Aristotle and the old methods.
According to Bacon, the “idols” of the mind had to be demolished so that philosophy, the guide of science, could reach its required position, and man could rise in the light of science. By “Idol” Bacon means false and erroneous, irrational methods and ideas that are substituted for facts. These wrong methods and thoughts only lead to the emergence of new falsehoods, thus obscuring the true path and facts of science. We encounter four kinds of idols in the work: Tribe (Oymak) idols, Cave idols, Bazaar idols, and Stage (Theater) idols.
Tribal (Oymak) idols are the most important and most harmful of all idols. We accept, without research, the views that come from tradition or our natural nature.