You are on page 1of 19

An Excerpt from Francis Bacon and Modernity

Charles Whitney Freedom, reason, discovery, progress: Francis Bacon focuses these ideals in a distinctively modern call to search for knowledge as power over nature, knowledge for the benefit and use of life. Bacon's work has often been a focus for discussion about the what and why and how of modern ideas and institutions. is astonishingly diverse reception over the past !"# years brings out tensions or discontinuities that are basic to modern culture and that his own work also suggests$$those between faith and reason, authority and freedom, participation and dominion, feeling and intellect, rhetoric and logic, and, perhaps above all, tradition and innovation. %onson praises Bacon's learning, &wift censures Baconian philistinism. But then 'ousseau praises Bacon's courageous iconoclasm( )ant, *acaulay, and writers of the left and of the moderate right praise his progressivism and humanitarianism, yet many condemn his godlessly narrow +uest for power. &eventeenth$century scientists find inspiration in Bacon's specifically Christian science$$although later freethinking ones also hail Bacon as an ancestor. ,ver the ob-ections of others, some literary scholars in our century have ignored &helley's discovery of Bacon the prophetic poet by their assessments of Bacon's reptilian style, while some communications e.perts find important answers through analy/ing how Bacon functioned as *aster 'hetorician. 0f Bacon has occasionally been sei/ed upon merely to provide a setting for his readers' conceptions or criti+ues of secular society, this is nevertheless because of his provocativeness: interest in him has originated in +uestions about the nature, validity, and direction of modern culture that his work still prompts us to ask. 1his paradigmatic character of Bacon has been illuminated in inevitable. ans Blumenberg's subtle work The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. Blumenberg, a leading philosopher and intellectual historian of 2ermany, does not simply try to -ustify the e wishes to understand, defend, and help successfully carry forward certain Western values of the modern epoch that began in the 'enaissance. 1hus Bacon becomes one of his book's many 3unfashionable heroes3 of intellectual history. 4pp. 5$67 1he modern age is a specific historical epoch beginning in the 'enaissance, but the word modern itself is relative. 0t suggests, however, a fruitful way to begin understanding Bacon and the modern epoch. Modernus simply designates 3now3 as distinct from 3then,3 that is, marks a recognition of the difference between conditions in the present and those in the past: 8ot surprisingly, it first appeared in a period when such differences were e.treme: that following the dissolution of the 'oman 9mpire. 1he word tends to denote the historical self$consciousness of a particular person or era. 1he relativity of the word also e.tends to the value set upon the present era. :n innovator can be said to assert his modernity, denying the relevance of the past to his life( the e.perience of many *odernist writers, such as 1.&. 9liot, author of The Wasteland, has been, on the contrary, to discover an inescapable condition of modern belatedness. But innovating moderns are often restorers, re-ecting only the recent past( in 5""# the new age was called 3modern3 by 2iorgio ;asari in his Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects because it

revived the 3anti+ue3 style( by Bacon's time the element of revival was not nearly so strong a connotation of the word, and today it is lost completely. 4pp. <$=7 0ndeed, it was in the 'enaissance that, once the discontinuity between present and past was established, the interpenetration of tradition and innovation was most e.uberantly and consciously fostered( in comparison our traditions often seem burdensome and our originality trivial. >awyer, teacher, divine, courtier all made daily and pragmatic application of the content and style of >atin classics. : *ichelangelo, *ontaigne, or &penser could seem most strongly original when most subtly imitating or emulating others( for such artists, to reali/e oneself was also to reali/e the past in oneself. *odern science began when ancient scientific te.ts were collected and edited: the spirit of e.ploration that brought the 8ew World was first directed toward anti+uity. 1he printing press made the past much more available, yet it also made the communal meanings and values of tradition less important and the private -udgment of the solitary reader more important. 4pp. =$5#7 Bacon's work grows out of this fertile e.change of old and new in the 'enaissance. With his assertion of independence from the past he begins to pull apart the elements of what had usually been a dynamic, if parado.ical, tension( therefore in him the tension becomes unusually intense, though often covert. Bacon was one of the most learned men of his age. e did not really master scientific lore, but rather the classics that could provide the best models for the shape of his own thought. ?artly because of his courtroom e.perience, Bacon the writer kept his learning ready( he never approached it as an amorphous pile of research needing e.tensive reworking before presentation. is often repeated aphorism, 31ime is like a river, which has brought down to us things light and puffed up, while those which are weighty and solid have sunk,3 suggests that he approached learning as a vast salvage operation or, as he says, 3like a general who means to take possession.3 @et there is, beyond the apparent limits he sets on the past's influence, a deep, pervasive coloration of tradition to his prose and thought, an interte.tuality suggesting both unspoken commitment and unspoken bondage. 3 e was a great reader of books,3 reports his chaplain and biographer William 'awley, 3yet he had not his knowledge from books, but from some grounds and notions from within himself.3 Between the act of reading and the birth of these 3grounds and notions3 a comple. process of transformation and e.change occurs. 4p. 5#7 :s if resisting his commitment to the past, Bacon centers his philosophy on discovery. ?erhaps only certain philosophes responded appropriately to Bacon's inspiring call to intellectual revolution, a call comprising his claims to originality( his demands for new beginnings, knowledge by direct e.perience, original invention, and discovery, and even pervading his scientific method. 1his call does not -ibe with the moderate rationality celebrated by many recent historians of science( it is radical and uncompromising. Certainly there has been no wide recognition of the cumulative effect of Bacon's different emphases on discovery and the degree to which these emphases anticipate the more single and e.plicit declarations of Aescartes over a generation later. )nowledge$as$power means humanity's freedom from the authority of the past so that it can invent new principles and works, thereby fulfilling its destiny.

Bacon's philosophical works all set out to practice innovation: whether like The Advancement of Learning by surveying each area of knowledge and suggesting how it can progress, like the Instauratio Magna by presenting a philosophy and a method of scientific discovery as well as a refutation of established schools of thought, or like the Essays where, as in much of Bacon's work, traditional allusions suggest intriguing dissonances with the asserted meaning. 0n the Instauratio Magna and many other writings Bacon insists that he himself is launching a totally new enterprise( at the same time the re+uirement of his scientific method is that nature must be seen anew, as if for the first time, 3with minds washed clean from opinions ... becoming again as little children.3 Bacon's program would thus appear to be absolutely modern: Bacon e.presses his historical self$consciousness by insisting on his own and his age's independence from the past, and by calling for the invention of novelties that will further distinguish present from past, and the future from both. Certain characteristic difficulties of modernity stem from this assertion of discontinuity. What e.istence can new and original things have apart from the resources that compose them, and how can truly novel ideas be presented to uninitiated readers without heavy, distorting dependence on all$too$familiar languageB :fter he finally got there, Columbus immediately had to make the strange familiar by declaring that he had found only a new route to an old place, the 9ast 0ndies. :t the most general level, Bacon's opposite, more difficult problem of definition parallels that of anyone seeking, in life or in art, to 3make it new,3 as ?ound says( Bacon and Columbus represent two e.tremes of an almost e.istential level of modernity. :s aspects of historical consciousness, problems of modernity had been latent, of course, in the 'enaissance e.ploration of the past from the perspective of a newly established present( they were bound to become more acute and multifarious in an advanced capitalist society like ours, where the ideal of individualism, the constraints of mass society, and the ideology of advertising together impel many to find and assert their uni+ue ever$freshness through the frantic pursuit of novel artifacts and e.periences. Blumenberg defines the parado. well when he speaks of the problem of legitimacy. 0t 3is bound up with the very concept of an epoch. ... C0tD is latent in the modern age's claim to carry out a radical break with tradition, and in the incongruity between this claim and the reality of history, which can never begin entirely anew.3 1his problem of modernity is perfectly illustrated by -u.taposing Bacon's presentation of his ideas in the Instauratio Magna as 3+uite new, totally new in their kind3 with the contradictory conclusions about him offered by the distinguished scholar ?aolo 'ossi Cin Francis acon! From Magic to Science, 5=E<D: Bacon was voicing the general opinion of his age, defining some of its essential demands, when he strove to rehabilitate the mechanical arts, denounced the sterility of &cholastic logic, and planned a history of arts and sciences to serve as a foundation for the reform of knowledge and of the very e.istence of mankind. :t issue here is not the e.istence of this modern discontinuity, but rather its nature, depth, and implications. Bacon, as we have -ust seen, reflects the nature and problems of the modern not only because he claims novelty but because he claims it for inventing a philosophy of invention. 1he

ma-or discontinuity in this new philosophy of the new thus actually lies between two ideals of innovation: between an emerging philosophy of discovery and its traditional matri.. 0 shall call the matri. change as reform( the emergence, change as revolution. 1hough Bacon does not use either of these terms significantly, they are the most appropriate for designating the two implicit but distinct perspectives yoked together in the title of Bacon's pro-ect of discovery, 31he 2reat 0nstauration.3 Bacon's modern discontinuity 4oversimplifying for now7 results from this circumstance: in places Bacon calls clearly for a revolution in thinking that will lead to radical changes in culture, but in the process of definition and elaboration the call comes to be opposed by the recalcitrant older ideas of change as reform that are used to grasp at it. 0n part because Bacon left it deliberately ine.plicit, the importance of his key concept of instauration in the history of modern ideas of change, especially of revolution, has been entirely overlooked. But because he builds meaning powerfully from traditional conte.ts and because his power had such a lasting influence, e.ploring the nature of the modern discontinuity e.pressed in Bacon's instauration becomes e.ploration of the dynamic tension of past and present that has formed Western ideologies of change. 1he 2reat 0nstauration encompasses Christian ideas of reform related to biblical prophecy 4to which classical ideas of recurrence have become assimilated7 as it gropes toward a secular idea of revolution and as it drafts a discourse of secular prophecy. ,n the one hand biblical prophecy and e.egesis, and the visionary tradition of literature springing from them, are profoundly recuperative. 9ach prophecy validates a tradition of prophecies, applying a series of general e.pectations to specific historical situations. But in its call to commitment and action prophecy can be subversive and revolutionary. 1he Book of 'evelation, for instance, which was so intensely studied and discussed in the 9nglish 'enaissance, carries an idea of revolution implicit in its prophecy of an apocalypse that fulfills history, synthesi/es a broad range of genres, and at the same time makes all things new. %ames 0 appealed to it and so did the revolutionaries who beheaded his son. Bacon's Instauratio Magna e.emplifies the doubleness of prophecy. 'eform, for which :ugustine provides a classic definition and e.ample, is a purposefully evolving change, one that, at least as much as it revises and discards, builds upon the past toward fulfillment, toward redemption or mending of the fallen world. 1he discontinuity upon which historical self$consciousness rests is less e.treme here than with revolution. 1raditional models offer rich possibilities for imitation and emulation: reform is a process by which something 4or someone7 progresses toward fulfillment through better likenesses of itself. 1he idea of intellectual revolution e.emplified in the seventeenth and consolidated in the eighteenth century more une+uivocally suggests a new beginning and reliance on individual or collective powers of -udgment. 9ven though this revolutionary stance appeals to ancient or 2od$given rights, it tends to uphold spontaneity, originality, or human reason's autonomous powers. 1o alter or create anything, of course, is also to assert some form of power. 0deologies of change supply frameworks within which innovators, a category including artists, scientists, businesspeople, and in one way or another all members of society, assert humanity's present dominion over itself and nature as well as over tradition. Bacon's appeals to %ames for leadership

and financial backing show his reali/ation that even discovering new knowledge re+uires not only a new learning establishment but also a new relationship between learning and political power. 0ndeed ideologies of change supply legitimation for whatever group holds political power, guiding but also obscuring its e.ercise, transfer, and succession. 0f, as *ar. says, the prevailing concepts of revolution that developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries represent bourgeois ideologies in that they tended to further the interests of this rising class, the Instauratio Magna represents the conflicting class interests involved in both old and new ideologies of change. Bacon's relationship to %ames underscores the identities of both 9nglish absolutism and the Instauratio Magna as representations of and responses to class conflict. Bacon's discourse on change encompasses two contradictory views of truth and its representation in language, and it is as functions of his dominant philosophy of change that these two epistemologies can best be understood. 'eform invites analogy and multiple levels of meaning as it variously connects old and new( it e.poses the poverty of brute facts by, for one thing, knowledge in a hierarchy of literary kinds or genres. 'eformative visions of history grow in part out of biblical e.egesis, which distinguishes literal and figurative meanings, and out of classical conte.ts in which the word mimesis signifies at once imitation of traditional models and imitation of reality. With Bacon, revolution reduces and unmasks( it is not dialectical but, like many other 3bourgeois3 concepts of revolution, seeks direct encounter with 3things as they are3 and plain, denotative language for this encounter. Bacon the reformer masters the subtleties of metaphor and allegory in The Wisdom of the Ancients, the iconography of the "e# Atlantis, his rich legal and philosophical rhetoric, and in his views of nature's laws, which clearly depend on mechanical metaphors or models( in many ways his scientific method itself is a kind of reform or fulfillment of rhetorical ideals and practices, while his ideal of discovery is modeled on prophetic revelation. :t the same time, however, Baconian discovery is revolutionary in that it aims to grasp a fully present reality unmediated by models. Bacon's metaphorical discourse of reform draws much from the older ideas of the world united by a chain of correspondences and similitudes that make all things potentially symbols or likenesses of all other things. But his aspirations toward what he conceives to be the precise language of revolution help formulate emerging views that dissolve, as do those of Aescartes and the ?ort$'oyal logicians, likeness into identity and difference. Aividing the presentation of Bacon's though according to reform and revolution reflects my conclusions not only that ideas of change are central to his thought but also that discontinuity runs to its core. Whether or not Bacon was aware of the fissure in his writing$$and he could hardly have measured it fully$$it seems unmendable. 0n >atin instauratio means both fulfillment and new beginning( with his new sense of revolution Bacon strains this wonderful ambiguity to the breaking point. 1o be self$consistently original, Bacon has to conceal the connections of revolution to revelation. 1his denial is his response to the problem of modernity, to the dilemma of tradition and innovation with which his aims and his historical moment present him. Bacon's case, then, does not seem to add up to a pragmatic modernity any more than it adds up to the triumph of ob-ective reason over the forces of superstition. :nd with Aescartes an idea of

secular revolution similar to Bacon's swam through terrible swamps of radical doubt, breathlessly seeking a new foundation as firm as that prophetic conviction. But more fundamentally, Bacon's case suggests that even to look for identifiable +ualities of modernity can be misleading, for his modernity lies not so much in his vision of revolution as in the very discontinuity between new and old ways of conceiving visions. *odernity becomes not so much a condition or a stance as the incomplete or deferred attempt to fi. a stance. 0n this view, the subversiveness implicit in Bacon's demand for total novelty acts first on the vision of novelty itself, for that must find articulation in the cultural matri. that is the target of subversion. 1he vision thus releases tradition's still powerfully daemonic, unpredictable forces, which in the play of differences between new and old can disarm and translate meaning as well as amplify and empower it. 1radition means handing on, but by that handing on it threatens the recipient's sovereignty over sense. By what criteria can one -udge such a modernityB 0t certainly possesses an inherent weakness, but what if some of the peculiar strengths of the modern condition emerge from such contraditionsB ?aul de *an, who has dealt usefully with the inherent contradictions of modernity, is most interested in the sense of modern not as designating a particular period of history or as historical selfconsciousness per se, but as designating part of the 3specificity of literature3 of any period, though more intensely part of literature since the 'enaissance. e points to an impulse within literature to break out of the confines of language and form in order to achieve 3immediacy3$$to present, rather than merely to represent, its sub-ect. 1his goal of immediacy, 0 take it, can range from :rchibald *ac>eish's *odernist credo that the poem should not mean but be, to the common desire of writers to burst the confines of their media and speak and act directly. 1he modern frustration is that in order to envision what is uni+ue, immediate, and original one must depend on, that is, be envisioned by, e.isting styles, ideas, and language. 4pp. 5#$5E7 Bacon's works gain a kind of sputtering power precisely because Bacon the revolutionary pits his strongly referential vision of novel truth in Bacon the reformer's rich matri. of language and tradition. Bacon's call is displaced and enlarged by its rich conte.ts. is assertion of modernity hides a predicament of modernity( his romance of reason suffers a kind of hermeneutic tragedy in its te.tual career, reflecting Bacon's own deeply ambivalent relationship to his training and talents. 0f modernity suggests a standard of evaluation in its discontinuity, the most modern writer would be not the one who achieves the greatest independence and originality, but the one whose work offers the most breathtaking strain between vision and matri., who, like certain hommes d$avant%garde , meets the greatest risks of incoherence. :bsolute monarchs cannot be well disposed to such e.ercises, if only because they can hint at the contradictions of absolutism. )ing %ames was impatient with the Instauratio Magna , but perhaps he saw the impossibility of -oining Bacon's revolutionary stance to the Christian ideology of change while feeling the impossibility of construing the work's meaning apart from that conte.t. ,f Bacon's work he -ested, 30t is like the peace of 2od, which passeth understanding.3 'ightly understood, Bacon becomes one of history's most modern figures, more so, perhaps, than a speeding 'imbaud or locomotive Aescartes, the latter having both consolidated the revolutionary stance and repressed its conte.ts more fully than Bacon.

&uch consolidation and repression has helped produce the partial readings that make it difficult for us to understand Bacon. For the reformer and literary artist is clearly the literary historian's sub-ect, while the call to a triumphant modernity of knowledge and power comprise the sub-ect of a historian of ideas or science. 1hough Bacon inveighed against overspeciali/ation, his influential distinction between disciplines that cultivate knowledge 4that is, what we call the humanities7 and those that discover it 4the sciences7 plays a role here. Bacon's own modern blindness has thus led to the blindness of his readers. Further, our perspective on the Instauratio Magna is so contaminated by a formula for boredom, a Whig reading that too easily finds Bacon's prophecies everywhere fulfilled in modern science and technology, that we see only with difficulty how uncanny the work is. Ae *an's delight in finding discontinuity and contradiction can be a kind of *idas touch which, as some have complained, tends to render any te.t an absurdist, +uivering mass of canceled signifiers that finally discourages both the search for meaning and the will to action. 1his need not be so. Ae *an's approach to literary modernity provides useful suggestions for analysis, but need not be pursued with the fine enthusiasm that ends in resignation to the frustrations of modernity, to confinement in literature as an institution and, therefore, implicitly, to writer's and reader's confinement in the institutions of society, however un-ust. Bacon continues to be read 4unfashionably7 partly because his utopian, refreshingly antiliterary prophecies are not fully contained by the frustrations of literary institutionali/ation. Bacon suggests, in fact, a +ualifying and enriching conte.t for the most subversive of contemporary modernities. ere 0 can best e.plain the insight Bacon affords in this respect by briefly considering his relationship to 8iet/sche, a ma-or factor in contemporary views of modernity, including de *an's. 0n &n the 'enealogy of Morals, delivering the broadest possible criti+ue of modern culture as mere seculari/ation, 8iet/sche argues that philosophy, modern science, scholarship, and much of art and literature represent covert manifestations of the 3ascetic ideal3 invented by ancient priests in order to ruin the wonderful meaninglessness of life and introduce 3spiritual3 values. By becoming interpreters of meaning priests gained power over others and the e.+uisite sadomasochistic pleasures the administration of spiritual suffering can afford. 0n the modern age the ideal of truth, 8iet/sche argues, is the ascetic illusion that has grown with, evolved from, and finally replaced 2od( modern science, art, and scholarship have only intensified this reverent asceticism or 3will to truth3 actually underlying Western culture from the beginning. 0deal truth, further, has come to be defined by priestly philosophers like ?lato as the knowledge of Being, that is, knowledge of a 3real3 world or self beyond the apparent world or self( the realm of Being has been defined as timeless, always present to itself, and therefore different from the constant whirl of appearances. Calling it the 3metaphysics of presence,3 others have elaborated and updated 8iet/sche's diagnosis, asserting that an oppressive metaphysics continues to define the fundamental Western orientation toward the world and to complement society's authoritarian and patriarchal mechanisms of control. Bacon displays not -ust a will to truth but a kind of spontaneous lust for reality 40 call it 3visionary realism3 to distinguish it from its &cottish cousin and to emphasi/e its genealogy7 that

is simply not sophisticated enough for any twentieth$century philosophy. ,n top of what is sometimes seen as his crude or naive realism Bacon holds a crudely referential view that language is meant to mirror reality, and that it can be made to do so without distortion. ere then is a macho philosophy clearly e.emplifying the metaphysics of presence, a philosophy e.pressed with the help of little sacred innuendos that bespeak the hidden, ascetic impotence of 8iet/sche's priest$ philosopher. Fnderstanding the literary politics of affiliation and genealogy in Bacon will make clear some of the ways the ideal of truth can mask the assertion of power. But this is an insight that Bacon's work also leads us to. 8iet/sche admires &hakespeare tremendously because the dramatist has 3the strength re+uired for the vision of the most powerful reality3$$reality far different, obviously, from the scholar's priestly ideal. But 8iet/sche was never a great reader of the 9nglish. 8othing reveals this more clearly than that this sensitive critic could apparently believe 4if the sublime posturing of Ecce (omo signifies7 that Bacon wrote &hakespeare's plays. 8iet/sche concludes this, he tells us, because of Bacon's own pursuit of reality: 3We are very far from knowing enough about >ord Bacon, the first realist in every great sense of that word.3 %ust as Bacon's authorship remains secret, so, 8iet/sche remarks, might his own if he had published under Wagner's name. 'ather than membership in a line of profound and devious priests of reason, 8iet/sche seems to suggest that Bacon and the are members of a line of skeptical visionaries, those open to the play of differences beyond the myth of Being. is distant admiration of Bacon the realist leads us to the only apparently odd conclusion that Bacon's will to truth is at once that part of him most vulnerable to deconstruction and most robustly liberating. Bacon's instauration of learning calls our attention to an essential discontinuity of modernity. 1hat instauration embraces polarities of faith and secular reason, hegemony and subversion. 0n its light, twentieth$century modernism, avant$garde, and postmodernism become a bit more movements grounded in Western history, and a bit less hori/ons of absolute novelty: these movements find precedent as symptoms of our alienation and isolation e.pressed in successive cults of the new, or as 4coopted7 gestures of revolution. But Bacon also affirms the possibility of an instauration that, even though it has an aspect of blindness, fuses writing and action, tradition and discovery. 4pp. 5E$5=7 *uch of the force of Bacon's aphorisms, natural histories, and essays depends on their prospective +uality as beginnings or representations of beginnings. But Bacon's philosophical work, and much of his other work as well, seems always to be -ust getting started. 0ts revolutionary character is manifested mainly in claims, statements of intention, and in e.hortation. ,ne assumes that Bacon would have liked to finish more than he did, but works that inade+uately reali/e their pro-ected plans are in such a ma-ority that they must be viewed as fulfilling some unstated 4and perhaps unconscious7 pattern$$one that reveals the modernity of his pro-ect. Bacon's written contributions to the instauration of learning are syntheses of earlier, incomplete works, and yet the 0nstauration itself is decisively incomplete. 1he portion of the 0nstauration published in 5E6# could be called a reformation of earlier, mostly unfinished works, although the 5E6# volume e.ploits them piecemeal for apt phrases as much as it builds and

elaborates their patterns. 1he )alerius Terminus is Bacon's earliest mapping of e.isting knowledge and its deficiencies, and includes sweeping suggestions for improvement. 0t is fragmentary, and part of it gets e.panded in The Advancement of Learning and taken up again in the fragmentary *escriptio 'lo+us Intellectualis of 5E56. 1he *e *ignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum is the >atin revision of the Advancement meant to fulfill part one of the si.$part Instauration$$and remains its only complete part. ?art 6, the "ovum &rganum, also has origins in the )alerius Terminus, and echoes some of the early work's passages. ?ortions of many earlier works are included in the te.ture of the "ovum &rganum and in the Instauratio Magna prefaces. ?art ! of the 0nstauration, the natural histories, finds representation in the 5E6# volume in an introduction 4the Parasceve7, which is again distilled from past work, and a list of sub-ects for histories. 0t was to collect data for this part that Bacon abandoned both his studies on method and, if we can believe his chaplain and biographer William 'awley, the unfinished "e# Atlantis. ?arts G, ", and E are only mentioned in the 5E6# volume( G and " are elsewhere represented by brief introductory fragments, Scala Intellectualis and Prodromi sive Anticipationes Philosophiae Secundae , respectively, each of which finds a few echoes in 5E6#. 0n the whole body of Bacon's work, part ! is represented by fragments, sketches, or beginnings of collections of facts on motion, heat and cold, minerals, compounding of metals, light, weight, sound, and magnetic attraction( and more formidable but still incomplete histories of density and of winds, the latter published together with prefaces to five other natural histories never undertaken. 1he fragmentary A+ecedarium "aturae attempts to define simple natures, a basic problem in trying to conceptuali/e or narrate scientific observations. 'obert 9llis pronounces the (istoria )itae et Mortis 3more or less complete3( he cannot mean, of course, that Bacon considers himself to have given the last word on this sub-ect: it is far less faithful to e.perience than others of Bacon's natural histories. 1he posthumous, popular Sylva Sylvarum stands complete. But since it derives its structure not from nature but from the preconceived plan of providing ten general headings with e.actly one hundred observations each, it conforms least of all Bacon's histories to the ideal of the scientific te.t. 1he Essays, which have an obli+ue but important relationship to part !, are incomplete by their very nature and went through two processes of revision and e.pansion. ,ther works cannot be precisely assigned to a stage in the 0nstauration, and most of Bacon's other works were not intended as contributions. But the si.$part scheme includes all knowledge, and many of these other works have some relevance to it( many of them are also incomplete. Bacon proposed a vast 3 istory of 9ngland from the Fnion of the 'oses to the Fnion of the Crowns.3 1he first book, the (istory of (enry )II is complete( the second, on enry ;000, is an introductory fragment( the other books are none.istent. : 3 istory of 2reat Britain3 e.ists in an introductory fragment. 1he Ma,ims of the La#, Bacon's most important legal work, is complete, but only a remnant of the general review and recompilation of 9nglish law that he proposed. ,f the two myths concerned with natural philosophy to be discussed in the *e Principiis at-ue &rigini+us only one is studied, and not fully( the Temporis Partus Masculus is one chapter of a

pro-ected work of three books( the 3>etter and Aiscourse to 0ntellectual ?owers3 is not finished.

enry &avill 1ouching

elps for the

Whatever all this incompleteness may suggest about Bacon's temperament, it also suggests that Bacon finds e.isting knowledge and forms of discourse inade+uate to grasp his revolutionary goals. Further, that his approach to a problem is open$ended( what he cannot determine he comes back to later or leaves for others, since discovery to him is a collective enterprise. Brian ;ickers says Cin his acon and .enaissance ProseD, 3Bacon's constant drive to revise and improve was not a fussy e.pression of indecisiveness, rather the sign of an intellectual hori/on which was always e.panding, of a reach which invariably e.ceeded the grasp and left not over$written books but unfinished ones.3 Bacon is impulsive, not indecisive. But 0 suggest that his typical incompleteness also conceals a protective turning away, a conscious or unconscious recognition that elaborating the plan will compromise its freshness and originality, and e.pose it as a function of knowledge already institutionali/ed. 0ncompleteness shows the vulnerability as well as the robustness of Bacon's modernity. *any of Bacon's writings are only beginnings, a preface here, a few chapters there. ?assages are often repeated in these fragments. 1he Instauratio Magna of 5E6# distills some of this material, though that work went through 3at least twelve3 revisions of its own, according to 'awley. 1his idiosyncratic genre of beginnings includes the following: Phaenomena /niversi 3Filum >abyrinthi sive Formula 0n+uisitionis3 Prodromi sive Anticipationes Philosophiae Secundae Partes Instauratio Secundae *elineatio et Argumentum Temporis Partus Masculus 3Ae 0nterpretatione 8aturae ?roemium3 Scala Intellectualis sive Filum La+yrinthi *e Interpretatione "aturae Sententiae 0II Aphorismi et 1onsilia, de Au,iliis Mentis, et Accensione Luminis "aturalis 3>etter and Aiscourse to enry &avill 1ouching elps for the 0ntellectual ?owers3 1hese works are in a sense all the same work. 1hey comprise a gesture of beginning, a deliberate moment of selfassertion that defines the central theme of Bacon's work. ,ther works not necessarily incomplete but essentially fragmentary in thought and form could be added here: )alerius Terminus .edargutio Philosophiarum 1ogitationes de "atura .erum 1ogitationes de Scientia (umana

1hey center on an arresting and sweeping declaration of independence. For instance: 3Francis Bacon thought in this manner. 1he knowledge where of the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, e.tendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works3 43Filum >abyrinthi37. :long with this challenger's stance comes the hope for progress through emancipation from the past. 1hese works in sum e.plore the nature of the fresh beginning, yet forever repeat the frustration of finding a truly fresh beginning. 1hey again and again the will behind the choice of vocation in one of their most distinguished e.amples, the three$page 3Ae 0nterpretatione 8aturae3: 3Believing that 0 was born for the service of mankind, and regarding the care of the commonwealth as a kind of common property which like the air and the water belongs to everybody, 0 set myself to consider in what ways mankind might be best served, and what service 0 myself best fitted by nature to perform3 4Letters and Life7. Bacon's abandonment of the "ovum &rganum, from this point of view, must indicate more than openness to development. Book 0 begins with some of the finest e.amples of aphorisms ever written. By the end of this book, the units have lengthened and have become more like paragraphs. Book 00 begins with shorter paragraphs composed of a high proportion of aphoristic sentences. :t the point where book 00 is abandoned, the organi/ational unit is the length of a short chapter, several pages long. Book 00 gives an e.ample of induction and begins what promises to be a long and detailed account of ways in which the observer can discern more significant facts from the limitless breach of natural perceptions 4the ?rerogative 0nstances7. 1hen Bacon stops writing, embarks on a program of e.periment and observation, and never goes on again to the eight other 3helps to the understanding3 besides the ?rerogatives. 1wo ironies present themselves here. 1he prerogative instances, not to mention the other 3helps,3 seem to be becoming too comple. and unmanageable themselves, and they are +ualifying the ideal of pure induction. 1he opening vision must be salvaged by incompleteness. 0n general there seems to be a regulated cycle in Bacon's philosophical works producing a kind of contentious balance of new and old. ?erhaps an unconscious awareness of his almost total dependence upon tradition and rhetoric helped produce the e.tremity of Bacon's re-ection of cultivated knowledge. ow remarkable, especially in view of arvey's remark that Bacon's was the philosophy of a >ord Chancellor, that an attempt to set aside 3speech and argument3 should form the basis of a >ord Chancellor's philosophy. @et the contradictory impulses go together, for the dependence upon rhetoric as appropriate ornament and manipulative tool re+uired by lawyer, politician, and diplomat can produce both the mastery and the devaluation of rhetoric and erudite tradition that Bacon the scientist shows. Bacon declares 30 have taken all knowledge to be my province3 4Letters and Life 7( he did so at a time when such a goal had substantial meaning. is erudition could not have produced writing that is more than commentary without a tremendous effort to control and define the meaning of that erudition from an independent vantage in the present. ?erhaps his -ealously guarded independent vantage is at once a bold assertion and a retreat, a defensive attempt to cope with engulfment. ,n the other hand, the very strictness of Bacon's definition of truth demands a parado.ical proliferation of device. 1he elo+uence of old for

new is more insistently demanded the more insistent the demand for novelty beyond elo+uence becomes. 1he psychology of Freud and the aesthetics of tragedy revel in such vicious and virtuous circles and supply ready 3e.planations3 for Bacon's condition, although we were better to treat such interpretations simply as illuminating analogies. Fnder the influence of what Freud diagnoses as the 3repetition compulsion,3 for instance, a person performs acts that seem spontaneous and original but that, if e.amined in the light of past actions and e.periences, fall into a pattern of unconsciously determined behavior that keeps acting out in different terms some devastating trauma of the past. Continual failure, while in every case attended by circumstances that appear to be beyond the individual's control, can add up to a pattern that finally must be ascribed to an unconscious will to repeat some overwhelming frustration. 'epetition occurs in order to harden the nervous system against the shock of the traumatic e.perience and its possible recurrence. Fnderstanding the forces behind such repetition$$if that can be done$$obviously becomes the first step toward ending the chain. But it is -ust such understanding that Bacon the revolutionary denies to himself or cannot achieve. 'ather, his slogans and repeated beginnings aim at the perfected sharpness of the departure from tradition. is claims of originality protect his fragile independence from the profound and giddy literary universe of similitudes in which he was educated. 1his paideia imposed a repressive set of power relationships over his will and imagination. @et his self$consciously revolutionary position further isolates him and renders him more vulnerable. 1hus while the 3purpose3 of the repetition compulsion is to protect the psyche from the possible recurrence of some traumatic e.perience, it also works against the wishes and needs of the individual. 8o progress of understanding is made through repetition, nor is any made through Bacon's repeated beginnings. Freud's myth of the revolt against the 3primal father3 also e.plains a kind of compulsive act involving ritual repetition and attitudes toward tradition and authority that plausibly represents the antithetical forces operating in Bacon's work. Freud's primal horde story is in fact a powerful symbolic representation of the characteristic limitations facing e.plicit moderns like Bacon. 1he ritual of the sacrifice, in Freud's hypothesis, is a symbolic repetition of the killing of the primal father, who controlled all the women of his tribe and denied se.ual access to the sons. 1he attitude of the sons after their acts of murder and incest is ambivalent: they are glad to be free from the oppression of the father but are guilty about what they have done, revere the father because they believe he wields power from the beyond, and recogni/e the practical need for incest prohibitions. 1he ritual sacrifice of an animal, as a repetition of the murder, affirms the sons' own independence and power to act but also provides a means of both propitiating the ancestral father and securing benefit from him in return for sacrificial meat. 0n the sacrifice the revolt is affirmed$$but so is the dependency. 1hus at each sacrifice the father is again killed but buried respectfully. &o also Bacon lays to rest the figures of the past not by attacking but by attempting to define the limits of their power and hence preserving his reverence for them at the same time. %ust as the sacrificial killing is symbolic, so Bacon's continual beginnings seldom get beyond generalities and intentions, and never overcome the presence of the 3fathers3 in the te.t. Bacon's burials of the

fathers in his manifestos actually provide rituali/ed memorials that keep the memory of tradition alive, pointing to an as yet undisplaced adversary. 0t is not -ust Bacon the writer who displays the fertile agonies of modernity: his image of the heroic scientist also embodies this condition. 0n discussing Bacon's concept of the scientist as hero, %ohn &teadman concludes that Bacon's view of heroism is traditional. Fnlike most 3contemplative3 philosophic and poetic heroes, such as >ucretius's 9picurus, Bacon's hero fits into the 3mi.ed3 category. >ike the *oses to whom Cowley compares Bacon in his 3 ymn to the 'oyal &ociety,3 this hero combines action and contemplation. But Bacon's method of science reflects his radical stance of originality achieved through humility. 1he scientist emulates his stance by opening himself to revelation of natural truth. 0f one considers this reflection of stance in method, it becomes clear that Bacon's image of the scientist is as parado.ical as his claims to originality. 1he hero battles against fortune and fate as the representative of human will and accomplishment. 1he opposition of heroic virtus with fortune, mutability, or destiny is common in 'enaissance thought and art, as it is in classical epic and tragedy. But with his particular assertion of modernity Bacon proposes a solution to the opposition of virtus and mutability that is e.treme, if not uni+ue. By making his ideas the product of time rather than wit, and by claiming that he is not really controverting any other natural philosophy, the speaker in the Instauratio Magna himself achieves heroic stature by a peculiar reconciling, or rather collapsing, of heroic passion into mutability. Bacon e.tends his stance of priority to the strict method that limits the scientist$ hero's virtus 4as intellectual and emotional richness7 radically by substituting for it the mechanical process of induction by negation. disciplined denial of self. &uch Freudian processes are pertinent to Bacon's "e# Atlantis , where modern consciousness is symboli/ed by the island of Bensalem, 3a land unknown.3 1he "e# Atlantis is different. &urprisingly, because it is a fable, this utopia's relationship to reality is easier to grasp than that of any of the nonfiction works of Bacon we have considered in this chapter. For since Bacon's special problem is the relation of te.t$bound to te.t$free truth, an e.plicitly fictional story offers a relief. 1he "e# Atlantis$s fictionality and representational simplicity center on the proposition that one civili/ation in the world never needed cultural and social instauration, because it discovered the secret of scientific instauration long ago. 1his civili/ation aims not to match itself to its true identity using a series of figurations and surmises that are inaccurate in as yet indeterminate ways( rather, it becomes for its readers such a surmise. 1he island of Bensalem is isolated from the rest of the world, but in striking contrast to *ore's Ftopia, Bensalem has a history that relates it to the rest of the world, indeed makes it the flower and reali/ation of human history. For while the world e.perienced catastrophic wars and natural disasters that ruined the high level of civili/ation that prevailed three thousand years ago 4and that has yet to be matched even in the 9uropean 'enaissance7, Bensalem escaped through luck, compassion toward enemies, and wisdom. 1he wise )ing &olamona established a program of scientific discovery based in the laboratory comple. e presents himself as a parado.ically ascetic hero, and recommends asceticism to his readers: for Bacon, humanity reali/es itself through the scientist's


ouse, and controlled and limited the contact between Bensalem and the rest of the

world 4which in its reduced state could probably offer only corruption anyway7. 1he "e# Atlantis represents an end run around the originary utopias of Western political philosophy, ?lato's .epu+lic and 1ritias, back to the greater time of which ?lato and the readers of the "e# Atlantis are remnants. 1he problem that preoccupied or limited so many political theorists from ?lato to *achiavelli to Bodin$$how to overcome the flu. of historical change and achieve stability, or how to achieve development in the face of historical degeneration$$is answered in the fictional portrait of a society that has achieved its strength partly by ignoring the ages of civil and moral philosophy, instead preserving continuity with the ages before that, when natural philosophy dominated. For all its conservatism, Bensalem's success is far from being the fulfillment and reali/ation of 9urope's long history. 0ts goals of preservation, isolation, and discovery come from a 3revolutionary3 urge 4in the sense defined here7 to achieve liberation from the compromising tension between tradition and innovation in the timeless presence of the moment of discovery ever repeated. Central planning buffers peaceful Bensalem from the shock of the new that must be constantly generated from the research, and turns innovation to uses at once constructive and conservative( the continual production of new knowledge, Bacon asserts in the "e# Atlantis -ust as he asserts in his interpretation of the ,rpheus myth, can neutrali/e history and so overcome its natural cycles of florescence and decline. &uccessful resistance to historical process through continuous discovery is thus really triumph over the necessity of having an historical consciousness, which must struggle with the fact that present conditions are different from past ones, and yet in a living relationship with them. 1his modern goal of narrowing and intensifying consciousness finds reflection also in Bensalem's curious international relations. :s Bacon attempts to manipulate the traditional and familiar from an autonomous vantage point in the present, and as he attempts to make the scientist's encounter with nature supremely disinterested, so the researchers of Bensalem send out spies to the rest of the world to gather information for their scientific programs. 3We know, and are ourselves unknown3 could be their motto, for the Bensalemites have become the world's intellectual imperialists. :s Bacon aims to dominate and control the past for present use, so conditions for 9urope's economic and political e.ploitation of the world find precedent in Bensalem's relationship to its intellectual 3colonies3$$the rest of the world. 1he dangers to the mother country of such a relationship are suggested by the ominous echo of 3We know, and are ourselves unknown3 in the Aelphic oracle's ancient premise for civil and moral wisdom, 3)now thyself.3 &uch knowledge re+uires the introspection that is invigorated by a sense of ourselves in others' eyes. But Bacon's stance prevents such insights. 0f a measure of a classic is that it continues to be timely, Bensalem's modernity, its resistance to historical process partly through its one$way commerce in ideas, also offers parallel, if not precedent, for neo$colonial industrial development today, that is, the kind of 3moderni/ation3 programs that benefit a tiny segment of third$world populations and preserve a one$way flow of profit and the sovereignty of transnational capital over nations. :nd as we can imagine the horror

with which the good sub-ects of Bensalem contemplate a more balanced commerce in powerful knowledge, so we see the malevolence many good citi/ens of the Fnited &tates today direct at third$world struggles to be free of neo$colonialism. ?ossibly our sophisticated coloni/ers have yet to en-oy the kind of introspection Bacon's Bensalem also denies to itself. ,n the personal level Bacon, whom one historian has called 3the one solitary figure of the %acobean world,3 admits to this kind of blindness: 3*y soul hath been a stranger to me in the course of my pilgrimage3 4Letters and Life7. ?oignant, but Bacon kept this line from the ?salms handy, using it at appropriate moments over years. &uch self$fashioning makes him vulnerable to Walter &avage >andor's stereotyping in an imaginary conversation between Bacon and 'ichard ooker. acon. But we who care nothing for chants and cadences, and have no time to catch at pleasures, push forward over stones and sands straightway to our ob-ects. 0 have persuaded men, and shall persuade them for ages, that 0 possess a wide range of thought une.plored by others, and first thrown open by me. ... Few Csub-ectsD that occurred to me have 0 myself left untouched or untried: one however hath almost escaped me, and surely one worth the trouble. (oo2er. ?ray my >ord, if 0 am guilty of no indiscretion, what may it beB acon. Francis Bacon. 1he "e# Atlantis is much less a narration of events than it is a narration of procedures, culminating in that of &olomon's ouse's scientific procedures. Before that culmination comes the detailed description of the ritual called the Feast of the Family, which epitomi/es the society of Bensalem and itself is full of symbols celebrating nature and scientific discovery. :t its worst the Baconian search for truth is a furious, compulsive, and ascetic 3ritual3 4as )arl ?opper calls induction by negation7 of life$negation. Bacon's utopia and the community of truth$seeking intellectuals at its core thus represent the blind or the secret will to domination and control that ideologies of both reform and revolution can harbor. :t its best, Bacon's utopia represents an affirmative and healing ritual of life that attempts to encompass both reformative and revolutionary possibilities for human reali/ation. 0f a utopia governed by reason is like a family of many generations gathered lovingly to share their abundance and do honor to their progenitors in a ritual celebration at once magnificent and intimate, the attainment of knowledge as power, Bacon says in the Instauratio Magna, is like the bridal song or epithalamium sung at that marriage of the mind and the universe. 1he e.planation ... of the true relation between the nature of things and the nature of the mind is as the strewing and decorating of the bridal chamber of the mind and the universe, the divine goodness assisting, out of which marriage let us hope 4and be this the prayer of the bridal song CepithalamiumD7 there may spring helps to

man, and a line and race of inventions that may in some degree subdue and overcome the necessities and miseries of humanity. 1he metaphor of marriage is used elsewhere by Bacon to describe the goal of his science: he wishes to correct 3an unkind and ill$starred divorce3: he hopes that 3knowledge may not be as a courtesan, for pleasure and vanity only, or as a bond$woman, to ac+uire and gain to her master's use( but as a spouse, for generation, fruit, and comfort.3 *ind is groom, universe bride, but the ob-ectification of the feminine implied by these metaphors does not necessarily invalidate the use of the marriage ritual as a metaphor for discovery or promise of fulfillment. With its allegory of a 4male7 deity's marriage to his congregation of worshippers, the Bible's epithalamium, the &ong of &olomon, provides the reformative background for Bacon's ideal of redemptive intellectual marriage 4with erotic anticipation in the &ong of &olomon being divided about evenly7. &penser's poem Epithalamion assimilates this biblical background and displays a comple. orderliness that parallels the kind of systematic knowledge Bacon hopes for. 1he twenty$three stan/as plus one envoy and the !EE long lines suggest that Epithalamion is a microcosm of all time, a metaphorical attempt to enclose time in a human ritual lasting twenty$four hours and representing a harmonious cosmos. ,f the ritual element of poetry in general, 8orthrop Frye says, ?oetry imitates human action as total ritual, and so imitates the action of an omnipotent human society that contains all the powers of nature within itself. ... 1he impetus of the magical element in ritual is clearly toward a universe in which a stupid and indifferent nature is no longer the container of a human society, but is contained by that society, and must rain or shine at the pleasure of man. Bacon's 4and perhaps Frye's7 rituals are orderly rather than carnivales+ue. 1he "e# Atlantis solemnly celebrates the knowledge that may be all people's power, but this popular power unfortunately finds inade+uate correlatives in the narrative. For the general population of Bensalem is not part of the economy of knowledge production, nor do the fragments of ethnography in the "e# Atlantis show how the dissemination and application of knowledge has sustained the utopia. &ince humanity's earthly goal is laboring to produce and then en-oying the knowledge that is power, most of the people in Bensalem must be working and living in varying degrees of alienation. :nd they represent the scientific ideology of their rulers in their allegorical feast. 1he wife of the patriarch, for instance, must sit alone, concealed in a special loft. &he represents, probably, 8ature, the feminine ob-ect of scientific study 4whose 3summary law3 can never be disclosed7, cheerfully validating the benevolent system that alienates her. Clearly Bacon understands how custom and belief can make authority seem legitimate, like his ancient 2reek mythmakers grasping intuitively and e.perientially what 2ramsci and :lthusser have studied more systematically.

0t has recently been suggested, however, that the feasting family is a model for 3incorporated families,3 royally chartered family businesses that became important in early 9nglish capitalism. 0n this reading the family #ould play an active part in technical innovation 4the "e# Atlantis, after all, is unfinished7. Bacon may then have been working toward suggesting a closer relationship between the sons of science and the ordinary citi/ens, whether or not he would have envisioned the e.tended families as in some ways free of the patterns of e.ploitation in which incorporated families actually participated. But if scientists are clearly privileged in utopia, scientific language is not necessarily privileged in Bacon's utopian discourse. We have seen how Bacon demotes rhetoric in favor of inductive logic, e.cluding the former from the new science and assigning it to a popular rather than a learned audience. But if isolation of the discourse of science from the rest of discourse creates a new class of elite speakers and writers, this isolation may also have the effect 4everywhere e.cept in utopia7 of separating, and demoting, the producers of knowledge from the institutional processes that maintain them. &ince they lack control of management, the producers cannot really represent an elite. For instance, scientists need not understand the theological nuances of instauratio, but if they need funding from a theologically learned king, they certainly could use an agent who understands these matters. 1he Feast of the Family, which offers an allegorical version of scientific investigation preceding the literal version to follow in the description of &olomon's ouse, would represent an aristocratic, allegorical use of language in comparison with the bourgeois clarity of scientific language: the figured speaking would have a status that the plain speaking does not. 0s the otherness of nature's secrets best preserved by a social other, as in pastoral and georgic, a technocratic group admired for its honest diligenceB 1his +uestion shows the degree to which the of modernity 4here of traditional and innovative language7 can represent social conflict. 0n Bacon the ideologist and the scientist contend. 0n the "e# Atlantis Bacon offers biblical sanctions for his ambivalent ideal of dominion: the wise and devout 4for a time7 rule of the Bible's )ing &olomon. 0ntellectual and technological dominion in the "e# Atlantis appears with biblical sanction: &olomon's 1emple of worship has become &olomon's ouse of truth, which builds a model of the universe in the mind. &olomon ebrews over themselves himself hoped that the dominion of 0srael and the dominion of the

would be achieved through faith in the dominion and omniscience of 2od over all. 1hus his people's penitent recognition of their own sins would make prayerful appeals to &olomon's 1emple effective: 0f there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar( if their enemy besiege them in the land of the cities( whatsoever plague( whatsoever sickness there be( What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all the people 0srael, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: 1hen hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways,

whose heart thou knowest( 4for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men7. >ike that of &olomon's 1emple, the magic of &olomon's competition and ine+uity pride breeds. But it is not really so much the self$knowledge of the righteous that Bacon's new 1emple recapitulates as the omniscience and omnipotence of 2od that &olomon himself so deeply admires in the prayer above, that he emulates as 2od's anointed ruler, and that finally results in his ruin amid strange gods. 1hus the high point of the "e# Atlantis, the description of the wondrous achievements of &olomon's ouse, where hieratic garb and ritual adorn the priestlike members who work secretly to benefit men, hearkens back to its literary original, the CbiblicalD description of &olomon's 1emple. 1here the 1emple is lavishly adorned with the symbols of divine power and dominion and of the wondrous order of the universe conceived, made, understood, and owned e.clusively and totally by 2od. But now te.t threatens to undercut conte.t rather than vice versa: it casts a shadow back on its precursor, and suggests that the Bible's vision of power and order itself remains necessarily blind to its full nature. We know, for instance, as Bacon did not, that the Bible in its glorification of 2od suppresses its enormous debt to prior religions' beliefs, practices, and revelations. ?aul 'icoeur calls this suppression another kind of demythologi/ation, the vast and necessarily covert and unauthori/ed demythologi/ing pro-ect of the Bible in its imagining of an e.clusive god. 1his great %udaic demythologi/ation aims, like that of the classical 2reek philosophers, to free humanity's encounter with transcendence from the glittering veils of polytheism and ritual. Bacon's reliance on &olomon's 1emple thus represents not simply a brilliant and somewhat opportunistic appropriation of a sacred symbol but to some degree a validation and continuation of comple. power relationships between te.t and predecessor. With the Bible as with Bacon, such relationships function in illuminating comple. ideological roles. 1he heterogeneous sample readings above e.plore the possibilities of meaning latent in the conflicting forces of Bacon's work. ,n the one hand Bacon's theme of liberation is pursued by calling into play traditional, compromising authorities and standards of interpretation( on the other this theme comes to be partly contained in a new bourgeois ideology. Bacon's account of how tradition and discovery interact in utopia reveals issues of authority and dominion in Bacon's own cultural and social world and in our own. 1he "e# Atlantis and the other sub-ects. ...$$the frustration of aphoristic assertion by aphoristic implication or allusion, the indeterminate realism of the natural histories, the 3surrealism3 of the Essays , and incompleteness$$all point to struggles between rhetoric and reason, representation and truth, and tradition and innovation. But they may also lead through these to +uestions about authority and legitimation, to an awareness of how struggles between te.t and conte.t in the creation of meaning illuminate the operation of power in society. ?aolo 'ossi's article 3Baconianism3 in the *ictionary of the (istory of Ideas is one of the strongest pieces ever written on Bacon. 1he institutionali/ing dictionary format is significant. ouse can only work if the

3petitioners,3 that is, the scientists, have insight into and control over selfishness and pride, and the

'ossi defines and defends Bacon's place in a canon of modern thinkers.

e views modernity as a

pro-ect and concludes, 31he liberation of man$$and in this too CBaconD is modern$$can be painfully achieved 4by ways far more complicated than he was able to imagine7 only through the labor, the works, the well$being of the whole of humanity.3 1he necessarily abstract form of this conclusion may make it suitable for fervent or apathetic adoption by neoconservatives, liberals, and radicals alike. 1he conclusion is part of 'ossi's response to orkheimer's and :dorno's criticism of Bacon in *ialectic of Enlightenment for his instrumentali/ation of nature and language and for his multifarious will to power. Aespite the one$sidedness of much of this criticism, acknowledging its strengths, learning from it, and continuing to read in a resolutely critical spirit can contribute to the meaningfulness of 'ossi's conclusions. *y reading of Bacon as a modern has attempted to do this. Bacon's two mutually +ualifying discourses on change form a vitally antithetical modern discourse. Combined with Bacon's own critical bent and his concern for the roles learning plays in society, this modernity critici/es from within and points beyond its constituent ideologies, which are in many ways still the ones that inform our life. 4pp. 5<=$6#G7 4&ource: Charles Whitney, in his Francis acon and Modernity, @ale Fniversity ?ress, 5=<E.7