A treatise by F. Bacon, published 1605, systematizing his ideas for the reform and renewal of knowledge. Book I has a dual task: to defend knowledge in general from all its enemies, ecclesiastical and secular, and to argue for its dignity and value. Here, Bacon writes brilliantly satirical accounts of medieval scholasticism, which restricted intellectual enquiry to the text of Aristotle and Renaissance Ciceronianism, with its slavish imitation of Cicero's style. These and other ‘diseases’ have deflected knowledge from its true goal, ‘the benefit and use of man’.
Book II then undertakes a ‘general and faithful perambulation of learning’. Bacon surveys the whole of knowledge, human and divine, under three headings, history, poetry, and philosophy, corresponding to the three faculties of memory, imagination, and reason.