Chapter

Francis Bacon

Anthony Quinton

in Of Men and Manners

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199694556
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731938 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199694556.003.0001
Francis Bacon

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As a figure in the history of philosophy Francis Bacon is doubly problematic. In the first place, he seems in most accounts to emerge from nowhere, to be without intellectual ancestors and intellectual debts. Secondly, although a recognized member of the general empirical tradition in British philosophy, and not without a long series of admirers for whom he fills an essentially symbolic role, he has no true followers and disciples. This chapter argues that the appearance of absolute originality in Bacon is an illusion. It results from confining attention to purely British sources for his ideas. But, despite his own practice, at least in his earlier years, Latin was the universal language of learning and Bacon, of course, could read and write it. If the net is cast a little wider in the sea of European thought than the small and somewhat stagnant creek occupied by Bacon's immediate British predecessors, a large array of lines of thinking can be hauled up which correspond to nearly all the main themes of Bacon's philosophy.

Keywords: history of philosophy; British philosophy; originality; Latin

Chapter.  7325 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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