Essays on Francis Bacon Of Ambition Summary - Essay …

Francis Bacon was born January, 22, 1561, the second child of SirNicholas Bacon (Lord Keeper of the Seal) and his second wife Lady AnneCooke Bacon, daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, tutor to Edward VI and oneof the leading humanists of the age. Lady Anne was highly erudite: shenot only had a perfect command of Greek and Latin, but was alsocompetent in Italian and French. Together with his older brotherAnthony, Francis grew up in a context determined by political power,humanist learning, and Calvinist zeal. His father had built a new housein Gorhambury in the 1560s, and Bacon was educated there for some sevenyears; later, along with Anthony, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge(1573–5), where he sharply criticized the scholastic methods ofacademic training. Their tutor was John Whitgift, in later lifeArchbishop of Canterbury. Whitgift provided the brothers with classicaltexts for their studies: Cicero, Demosthenes, Hermogenes, Livy,Sallust, and Xenophon (Peltonen 2007). Bacon began his studiesat Gray's Inn in London in 1576; but from 1577 to 1578 heaccompanied Sir Amias Paulet, the English ambassador, on his mission inParis. According to Peltonen (2007):

Francis Bacon (1561—1626) Sir Francis Bacon (later Lord Verulam and the Viscount St

This essay contends that it is a misunderstanding and distortion to view Bacon’s use of religious language and concepts as disingenuous and manipulative. It demonstrates that Bacon’s program of utopian reform, as presented in “New Atlantis,” is grounded in genuinely and deeply felt religious convictions, which serve as the foundation for his program of political and social prosperity through the advancement of learning.

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The purpose of the Platonic accounts of the fate of Atlantis and of a golden age virtually lost from memory is made clear in the opening dialogue of the Timaeus. The participants in the dialogue are discussing the best form of society. Their intent is to limit the discussion to actually existing societies, not unattainable ideal states. But the dialogue makes it clear that the historical horizon has to be expanded beyond the immediate past. The present age is not one in which humanity has realized its full potential. It is a period of iron, not gold. In the Platonic dialogues, it is evident that the primary difference between the primordial golden age and the current state of degeneration lies in the eclipse of knowledge of the divine and in the loss of the skills of divination, medicine, engineering, agriculture, and navigation. In the Platonic context, then, it is clear that an essential requirement for recovering the capacity for human excellence lies in re-attaining the original, pure forms of knowledge. The two Platonic myths, taken together, give an account of the creation of the cosmos and the primordial age before man’s hubris led to corruption and degeneration. After the cosmos is created, the gods amicably divide the territories. Athena, for example, becomes the patroness of Athens, and Poseidon becomes the patron of Atlantis. The human race that the gods create is a combination of divine spirit and matter. The gods’ gifts to the human race include an idyllic world, and human beings have dominion over all terrestrial things. Using their god-given abilities, they are able to accomplish great feats of engineering and navigation. The Atlantans, as the children of Poseidon, were especially accomplished navigators. But the idyllic age is destroyed when the material aspect of human nature gained prominence. The predominance of the material leads to avarice and to the will to dominate and control, and Atlantis uses its navigational skills to subjugate other civilizations. According to the Critias, the hubris of Atlantis is brought to an end by the gods. Zeus, the god of justice, calls a council of the gods to decide on a proper punishment. This punishment must be severe enough to end Atlantis’s marauding, but it is not to be so severe as to annihilate Atlantis. The text states that Atlantis can be brought back again at some future date. White has incorrectly characterized this ending speech by Zeus as being about destruction. In fact, Zeus is the minister of justice and is responsible for the restoration of order. The Atlantans have violated their place in the order of things and that order has to be restored by the gods. The emphasis is not on destruction; it is on the restoration of order. And the punishment is not to be a total destruction. While order must be restored in the present, Atlantis will have an opportunity to rise again in the future. This promise of restoration perhaps explains why Bacon chooses to call his text “New Atlantis.”