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Home » , » Bacon is a pragmatist || In his essay, "Of Studies", does Bacon value study for its own sake or for practical use?

Bacon is a pragmatist

Bacon is a pragmatist and enlightened empiricits.He discussed the nature, function and purpose of studies for young men of his time. He wants that studies should be pursued for the expansion and improvements of the faculties of mind. He warns the young men against random, purposeless studies. He suggests that studies should give elegance in conversations, ability in the management of affairs and delight in private secluded life. Proper way of study yields benefits to the mind. Studies, according to this great essayist, are like a tonic to the mental defects or drawbacks that we possess as human beings. Bacon advocates reading all sorts and conditions of things; he pleads for the study of all subjects and in a judicious mind. Bacon also points his finger to the fact that theoretical studies should be refined and perfected by practical experience. In this respect, he values studies for practical purposes of life.
Bacon is a pragmatist

Bacon attaches too much importance to pragmatism.  essay "Of Studies" is a fine example of his obsession with the practical and pragmatic aspects of life. In the essay 'Of Studies", the author focuses on the method, nature and purposes of studies. He tells us about the diverse utility of studies. They bring delight, mirth and consolation to private and secluded life; they give the discussions an ornamental touch and colour; and study is the ability in the  judgement and disposition of business, Bacon also underlines the intellectual utility of the studies as they contribute greatly to the development of natural human abilities and skills.

Bacon values books for practical outcome and direct utility; he is a true pragmatic in his dealings with different types of book. Bacon, to whom practical aspect of life is of utmost paramount importance, is of the opinion that all books do not deserve same treatment and attention and contemplation. He firmly stands against the opinion that one should study books for study's sake only of the outcome: to him this is mere wastage of . This why Bacon, keeping the practical purpose and studies in mind, rightly suggests that "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly and with diligence and attention." Bacon attaches much importance to writing and he is definitely a realist in this respect. "Reading maketh a full man: conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." That reading must be accompanied by discourse and writing is the view of the author. Reading gives men intelligence; conversation gives one wit and writing renders one memory.

In the essay, "Of Studies" Bacon tells us about the impacts of the different branches of knowledge or different subjects on men. Studies can remove the imperfections of human nature and are perfected by the direct experiences of life. The purpose of reading is to increase one's capacity for rational and critical thinking. In the essay he suggests that the study of separate subjects has a distinctive power and influence over the mind. He states that "Histories make men wise, poets witty, the mathematics subtle, natural philosophy deep, moral grave, logic and rhetoric able to contend." Thus the study of history makes men wise; poetry makes men imaginative; mathematics gives intelligence; the study of natural philosophy prompts men to think seriously; the study of moral philosophy induces a sense of gravity; the study of logic sand law develops the power of argument and memory. The study of rhetoric strengthens man's command over language.

Bacon thus stresses the practical value of studies. The skill for rational and practical management of human affairs must be encouraged by studies. Mere book-learning will not serve the purpose. He never forgets that studies can only add to the native wisdom of a man, which is founded on experience. As he puts it - "but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation."  This is a profoundly thoughtful statement, which can only be expected of a man who has seen much of life with a shrewd but contemplative mind. Bacon's essays come home to men's business because his attention is always fixed on the needs of human life and they appeal to the heart  because they are interspersed with practical and philosophical speculations on the various aspect of life and the world. These generalisations have an element of universality in them and that is why their appeal transcends the limits of time and space. Let us consider the wisdom of the statement: "To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for omament is affectation; to make judgement wholly by their rules is the humour of a scholar." A statement like this contains the distilled wisdom o A statement like this contains the distilled wisdom of a man who values everything in terms of its practicality and who has seen life and its proper aims with perfect clarity of vision.

Bacon is in contrast to Henry Cardinal Newman in his attitude to studies. Unlike, Newman he does not preach that knowledge should be an end in itself. Whereas Newman consolidates his ground against the utilitarian view of knowledge, Bacon seems to be in favour of it. It is the practical aspect of study the really matters to Bacon most. Bacon is a Renaissance scholar, but he does not mean the practical use of study in the modem sense. In the modem industrial age, in the age of information and technological development, scientific and commercial studies are encouraged for vocational and professional purposes and for yielding material goods to the society. Bacon's emphasis is on the promotion of mental faculties in the individual.


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