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Home » , » Consider Bacon as a moralist with reference to his essay, "Of Studies".

Bacon as a moralist

Didactic or moral note is a constant and characteristic feature of Bacon's essays. He wrote for the young men of ambition who wanted self-realisation in public life and Bacon as a moralist His essays are moral reflections and are a series of counsels to these young men. in the essay "Of Studies" he discusses the method, nature and purpose of study. His treatment of the theme of the essay under consideration is completely based on his moral vision and didactic attitude to life. An analysis of the essay will bear testimony to the statement stated  above.
Bacon as a moralist

In the essay "Of Studies" the author discusses the different uses of studies. The very opening of the essay is coloured by his moral vision of life. Bacon is a pragmatic when he states that "Studies serve for delight, for omament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight, is in privateness and rearing; for ornaments, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgement and disposition of business." The great essayist is of the opinion that studies render delight in private life, in isolation; they are ornaments in discussion and ability in the the  judgement and disposition of business.

Bacon stops by not only mentioning the different uses of studies; he goes even further when he wams the young men against the show of one's learning. Bacon's didactic attitude is evident in the sentences like "To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgement wholly by their rules is the humour of a scholar." Bacon warns against spending too much time in studies.

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. He also points out that reading must be accompanied by discussion and writing. He underlines the importance of discussion and writing and he is right when he puts forward his view that - "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." Again he suggests that the study of separate subjects has a distinctive power and influence over the mind. 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. So Bacon advises the study of all subjects. But he cautions that books should be judiciously chosen and all books do not demand the same industry and attention. "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's pragmatic attitude is quite evident when he states "Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse: but to weigh and consider." Bacon is against the idea that one should read to acquire learning with the help of which one's opponent may be contradicted and defeated in controversy. In his assessment that is a very superficial kind of things. Its purpose should not be to borrow opinions from people and accept them as unquestionably true. That is the sign of an uncritical mind. Again, a man should not aspire to shine in conversation with the help of his learning. That should be a shallow display of one's reading. The real purpose of learning is to develop the capacity of independent and critical thinking. A learned man in the true sense of the term should have the capacity to think rationally and critically about the complicated affairs of human life. 

Bacon gives a series of counsels to the young men to make their properly educated and cultured. He is a Renaissance scholar and philosopher and brings to his reflections a catholic and practical attitude of mind. Studies encourage rational thinking and practical management of human affairs. Bacon's essays are counsels of a shrewd man of the world. He is an empiricist and emphasises the practical values of studies in his essay "Of Studies".


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