Bacon's essays reflect his grasp of Latin and draw on old Roman wisdom via axioms and proverbs. Furthermore, Bacon used wit to convey his message to his audience, which compels the reader to think on his or her own views and ideals. Finally, by writing essays that challenge conventional thinking, Bacon aimed to open up new avenues for discovery.
Bacon was born into a wealthy family in London in 1561. He was educated at Cambridge University, where he studied science and philosophy under Isaac Newton. After graduating in mathematics, physics, and astronomy, Bacon took a position with the court of Queen Elizabeth I. There, he developed interests in anatomy and medicine that led him to write several books on these subjects.
In addition to his writings on science, Bacon also produced three major works of literary fiction: "The New Atlantis," "The Essays," and "The Advancement of Learning." The stories in these books explore various themes such as human nature, knowledge, and virtue. They serve as demonstrations of how science can be applied to improve living conditions and address social issues through inventions such as guns, ships, and antibiotics.
Bacon died in 1626 at the age of 44. However, his ideas live on today in many fields of study including biology, chemistry, physics, and technology.
Francis Bacon's Prose Style:
Bacon writes in an aphoristic style, making broad claims throughout his articles. Bacon's writing employs an aphoristic approach that allows the reader to make his or her own interpretations. Bacon used the aphoristic style to encourage active engagement from the reader, allowing him to interpret and expand on the meaning of his sentences. This style is common among writers such as Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway.
Bacon employed this style because he wanted readers to come to their own conclusions about life and society. By not providing a definitive answer to complex issues, he allowed readers to draw their own conclusions and engage with the content accordingly. This kind of open-ended discussion helps readers understand different perspectives on life while also keeping them interested in the topic at hand.
Additionally, the aphoristic style allows Bacon to make sweeping generalizations about life and society without being limited by fact-checking procedures. For example, he could write about "the innocence of youth" or "the cruelty of men" without presenting any evidence to support his claims. Or he could discuss "the impossibility of crossing bridges" by merely mentioning that some painter had once claimed to have done so. Without getting into detail, Bacon uses these examples to show that most opinions are based on personal experience and that one must exercise caution when interpreting other people's actions.
Finally, the aphoristic style allows Bacon to express himself clearly and concisely.
Bacon's writing is clear and to the point, the type of plain English that his essay writing role model, Montaigne, excelled at. For example, in his essay "On Truth," Bacon argues directly, "A mixing of a lie doeth ever bring pleasure," implying that untruths will soften our truths. He also uses common words and short sentences that are easy to read.
Bacon was not a poet like Milton or Johnson, but he did enjoy writing about science, which requires a great deal of logic and reasoning. Thus, his essays are perfect examples of well-written arguments using language that appeals to readers' senses rather than their brains. This is why his work is still popular today; even though his ideas were over 300 years ago, they still apply today as much as they ever have.
Bacon used history as his guide when formulating many of his ideas, so it is no surprise that his writings are often very accurate. He was a scholar who traveled around Europe conducting research at universities, so he had access to lots of information. Plus, since he wanted to persuade others of the truth of his ideas, it was important for him to be correct.
Finally, Bacon needed to write effectively if he was going to promote his views. As we have seen, his essays are very rational and logical, two traits that can be difficult to pull off in writing.
Bacon is most known today for his empiricist natural philosophy treatises (The Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum Scientiarum) and his thesis of the idols, which he advanced in his early writings, as well as the notion of a contemporary research center, which he detailed in Nova Atlantis. He also played an important role in the English Renaissance debate over religion and science.
In addition to his scientific works, Bacon published two books of essays: The New Atlantis and The Essays. The New Atlantis was written when Bacon was 21 years old and published under his father's name because Bacon was still living at home. It consists of 16 chapters that describe various inventions and technologies that would be useful to any society. The Essays was written several years later when Bacon was 30 years old and published under his own name. It consists of 57 short essays on a wide range of topics from the art of memory to government. Many historians consider The New Atlantis to be more important than The Essays because it provided the framework for much of what would be developed in The Essays.
Bacon used his ideas in both books to discuss how knowledge can be used to improve human life. He believed that technology could be used for good or evil depending on how it is applied.