Rhetoric and the Familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne

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  1. Rhetoric and the familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne
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D in English literature and teaches literature and media communication courses at Macquarie University, Sydney. With fast shipping, low prices, friendly service and over 1,, in stock items - you're bound to find what you want, at a price you'll love! Please view eBay estimated delivery times at the top of the listing.

Rhetoric and the familiar in Francis Bacon and John Donne

We are unable to deliver faster than stated. International deliveries will take weeks. NOTE: We are unable to offer combined shipping for multiple items purchased. This is because our items are shipped from different locations. Returns If you wish to return an item, please consult our Returns Policy as below: Please contact Customer Services and request "Return Authorisation" before you send your item back to us. Unauthorised returns will not be accepted. In , at the age of just twelve, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where the stodgy Scholastic curriculum triggered his lifelong opposition to Aristotelianism though not to the works of Aristotle himself.

Yet only a year later he interrupted his studies in order to take a position in the diplomatic service in France as an assistant to the ambassador. In , while he was still in France, his father died, leaving him as the second son of a second marriage and the youngest of six heirs virtually without support. With no position, no land, no income, and no immediate prospects, he returned to England and resumed the study of law.

In the meantime, he was elected to Parliament in as a member for Melcombe in Dorsetshire. He would remain in Parliament as a representative for various constituencies for the next 36 years. In his blunt criticism of a new tax levy resulted in an unfortunate setback to his career expectations, the Queen taking personal offense at his opposition. Any hopes he had of becoming Attorney General or Solicitor General during her reign were dashed, though Elizabeth eventually relented to the extent of appointing Bacon her Extraordinary Counsel in It was around this time that Bacon entered the service of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, a dashing courtier, soldier, plotter of intrigue, and sometime favorite of the Queen.

No doubt Bacon viewed Essex as a rising star and a figure who could provide a much-needed boost to his own sagging career. After being knighted by the king, he swiftly ascended the ladder of state and from filled a succession of high-profile advisory positions:. As Lord Chancellor, Bacon wielded a degree of power and influence that he could only have imagined as a young lawyer seeking preferment.

Yet it was at this point, while he stood at the very pinnacle of success, that he suffered his great Fall. In he was arrested and charged with bribery. After pleading guilty, he was heavily fined and sentenced to a prison term in the Tower of London. Although the fine was later waived and Bacon spent only four days in the Tower, he was never allowed to sit in Parliament or hold political office again. The entire episode was a terrible disgrace for Bacon personally and a stigma that would cling to and injure his reputation for years to come.

Yet the damage was done, and Bacon to his credit accepted the judgment against him without excuse.

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According to his own Essayes, or Counsels , he should have known and done better. In this respect it is worth noting that during his forced retirement, Bacon revised and republished the Essayes , injecting an even greater degree of shrewdness into a collection already notable for its worldliness and keen political sense. Yet whatever his flaws, even his enemies conceded that during his trial he accepted his punishment nobly, and moved on. These late productions represented the capstone of a writing career that spanned more than four decades and encompassed virtually an entire curriculum of literary, scientific, and philosophical studies.

Despite the fanatical claims and very un-Baconian credulity of a few admirers, it is a virtual certainty that Bacon did not write the works traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. Indeed even if Bacon had produced nothing else but his masterful Essayes first published in and then revised and expanded in and , he would still rate among the top echelon of 17th-century English authors.

And so when we take into account his other writings, e. In fact it is actually a fairly complex affair that achieves its air of ease and clarity more through its balanced cadences, natural metaphors, and carefully arranged symmetries than through the use of plain words, commonplace ideas, and straightforward syntax. In this connection it is noteworthy that in the revised versions of the essays Bacon seems to have deliberately disrupted many of his earlier balanced effects to produce a style that is actually more jagged and, in effect, more challenging to the casual reader.

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As Dr. The work thus stands in the great tradition of the utopian-philosophical novel that stretches from Plato and More to Huxley and Skinner. In terms of its sci-fi adventure elements, the New Atlantis is about as exciting as a government or university re-organization plan. But in terms of its historical impact, the novel has proven to be nothing less than revolutionary, having served not only as an effective inspiration and model for the British Royal Society, but also as an early blueprint and prophecy of the modern research center and international scientific community.

It is never easy to summarize the thought of a prolific and wide-ranging philosopher. Yet Bacon somewhat simplifies the task by his own helpful habits of systematic classification and catchy mnemonic labeling. In effect, he dedicated himself to a long-term project of intellectual reform, and the balance of his career can be viewed as a continuing effort to make good on that pledge. In , while he was still at the peak of his political success, he published the preliminary description and plan for an enormous work that would fully answer to his earlier declared ambitions.

Of the intended six parts, only the first two were completed, while the other portions were only partly finished or barely begun. Consequently, the work as we have it is less like the vast but well-sculpted monument that Bacon envisioned than a kind of philosophical miscellany or grab-bag. It is basically an enlarged version of the earlier Proficience and Advancement of Learning , which Bacon had presented to James in It first appeared in Relatively early in his career Bacon judged that, owing mainly to an undue reverence for the past as well as to an excessive absorption in cultural vanities and frivolities , the intellectual life of Europe had reached a kind of impasse or standstill.

Yet he believed there was a way beyond this stagnation if persons of learning, armed with new methods and insights, would simply open their eyes and minds to the world around them. This at any rate was the basic argument of his seminal treatise The Proficience and Advancement of Learning , arguably the first important philosophical work to be published in English. It is in this work that Bacon sketched out the main themes and ideas that he continued to refine and develop throughout his career, beginning with the notion that there are clear obstacles to or diseases of learning that must be avoided or purged before further progress is possible.

But the phrase applies to any intellectual endeavor in which the principal aim is not new knowledge or deeper understanding but endless debate cherished for its own sake.


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What is needed — and this is a theme reiterated in all his later writings on learning and human progress — is a program to re-channel that same creative energy into socially useful new discoveries. In many respects this idea was his single greatest invention, and it is all the more remarkable for its having been conceived and promoted at a time when most English and European intellectuals were either reverencing the literary and philosophical achievements of the past or deploring the numerous signs of modern degradation and decline. Indeed, while Bacon was preaching progress and declaring a brave new dawn of scientific advance, many of his colleagues were persuaded that the world was at best creaking along towards a state of senile immobility and eventual darkness.

John Donne - The Good-Morrow - Poetry Lecture and Analysis by Dr. Andrew Barker

That history might in fact be progressive , i. In the Advancement , the idea is offered tentatively, as a kind of hopeful hypothesis.

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But in later works such as the New Organon , it becomes almost a promised destiny: Enlightenment and a better world, Bacon insists, lie within our power; they require only the cooperation of learned citizens and the active development of the arts and sciences. Evidently Bacon believed that in order for a genuine advancement of learning to occur, the prestige of philosophy and particularly natural philosophy had to be elevated, while that of history and literature in a word, humanism needed to be reduced. Meanwhile, poesy the domain of everything that is imaginable or conceivable is set off to the side as a mere illustrative vehicle.

This notion of surpassing ancient authority is aptly illustrated on the frontispiece of the volume containing the New Organon by a ship boldly sailing beyond the mythical pillars of Hercules, which supposedly marked the end of the known world. The New Organon is presented not in the form of a treatise or methodical demonstration but as a series of aphorisms, a technique that Bacon came to favor as less legislative and dogmatic and more in the true spirit of scientific experiment and critical inquiry. Bacon points out that recognizing and counteracting the idols is as important to the study of nature as the recognition and refutation of bad arguments is to logic.

Thus a Baconian idol is a potential deception or source of misunderstanding, especially one that clouds or confuses our knowledge of external reality. Bacon identifies four different classes of idol. Each arises from a different source, and each presents its own special hazards and difficulties. These are the natural weaknesses and tendencies common to human nature.

Because they are innate, they cannot be completely eliminated, but only recognized and compensated for. Unlike the idols of the tribe, which are common to all human beings, those of the cave vary from individual to individual. They arise, that is to say, not from nature but from culture and thus reflect the peculiar distortions, prejudices, and beliefs that we are all subject to owing to our different family backgrounds, childhood experiences, education, training, gender, religion, social class, etc.

Examples include:. Like the idols of the cave, those of the theatre are culturally acquired rather than innate. And although the metaphor of a theatre suggests an artificial imitation of truth, as in drama or fiction, Bacon makes it clear that these idols derive mainly from grand schemes or systems of philosophy — and especially from three particular types of philosophy:. According to Bacon, his system differs not only from the deductive logic and mania for syllogisms of the Schoolmen, but also from the classic induction of Aristotle and other logicians.

As Bacon rightly points out, one problem with this procedure is that if the general axioms prove false, all the intermediate axioms may be false as well. In effect, each confirmed axiom becomes a foothold to a higher truth, with the most general axioms representing the last stage of the process. Thus, in the example described, the Baconian investigator would be obliged to examine a full inventory of new Chevrolets, Lexuses, Jeeps, etc.


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And while Bacon admits that such a method can be laborious, he argues that it eventually produces a stable edifice of knowledge instead of a rickety structure that collapses with the appearance of a single disconfirming instance. Indeed, according to Bacon, when one follows his inductive procedure, a negative instance actually becomes something to be welcomed rather than feared. For instead of threatening an entire assembly, the discovery of a false generalization actually saves the investigator the trouble of having to proceed further in a particular direction or line of inquiry.

Meanwhile the structure of truth that he has already built remains intact. Although he himself firmly believed in the utility and overall superiority of his method, many of his commentators and critics have had doubts. For one thing, it is not clear that the Baconian procedure, taken by itself, leads conclusively to any general propositions, much less to scientific principles or theoretical statements that we can accept as universally true.

For at what point is the Baconian investigator willing to make the leap from observed particulars to abstract generalizations? After a dozen instances? A thousand? One can thus easily imagine a scenario in which the piling up of instances becomes not just the initial stage in a process, but the very essence of the process itself; in effect, a zealous foraging after facts in the New Organon Bacon famously compares the ideal Baconian researcher to a busy bee becomes not only a means to knowledge, but an activity vigorously pursued for its own sake.

Every scientist and academic person knows how tempting it is to put off the hard work of imaginative thinking in order to continue doing some form of rote research. The assessment is just to the extent that Bacon in the New Organon does indeed prescribe a new and extremely rigid procedure for the investigation of nature rather than describe the more or less instinctive and improvisational — and by no means exclusively empirical — method that Kepler, Galileo, Harvey himself, and other working scientists were actually employing.

In fact, other than Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer who, overseeing a team of assistants, faithfully observed and then painstakingly recorded entire volumes of astronomical data in tidy, systematically arranged tables, it is doubtful that there is another major figure in the history of science who can be legitimately termed an authentic, true-blooded Baconian. Science, that is to say, does not, and has probably never advanced according to the strict, gradual, ever-plodding method of Baconian observation and induction. It proceeds instead by unpredictable — and often intuitive and even though Bacon would cringe at the word imaginative — leaps and bounds.

Galileo tossed unequal weights from the Leaning Tower as a mere public demonstration of the fact contrary to Aristotle that they would fall at the same rate.