Saturday, January 28, 2006
Francis Bacon (1561-1626 A.D.)
by Richard E. Noble
“If one must study logic, let him begin with this book.”
This is the advice of Will Durant in his “The Story of Philosophy” with regards to the work of Francis Bacon entitled “The New Organon”.
Well, I have always been a person concerned with the art of correct and reasonable thinking. Even the word “Logic” has always appealed to me. So I decided to send for the book. But first ... who is this dude Francis Bacon anyway?
Frank goes all the way back to the fifteen hundreds. He was around during the time of Queen Elizabeth, and Queen, I mean, King James I. Frank was from a very prominent family. His father and some uncles were big shots in the government, and his mother was an educator or something. But for some unexplained reason little Frannie gets left out of the will, and ends up going to law school and becoming Attorney General and Lord Chancellor all on his own. How he found the money to do all of this isn’t really explained, but it seems that Frannie had his ways.
He had a rich buddy named Essex who really, really liked him. Essex gave Frannie a home and a pile of acreage, and a monthly check just because he was cute, it seems. In any case, Frannie was so grateful for all of this that when the lord Essex got into a little trouble with the Queen, Frank, the now great orator and barrister, ran to his good buddy’s aid.
By the time he finished speaking, without being asked, mind you, his good buddy and lifetime benefactor who was in store for a slap on the wrist from the Queen, got his head put in a bucket. Frank wrote a lengthy explanation of why he spoke so about his good buddy - which also sold out at the news stands.
His next stepping stone to success came with his defense of King James’ attitude towards people accused of a crime, volunteering information. King James felt that an hour or two on the rack or a couple of twists on the thumb screws was within the realm of reasonable friendly persuasion. Frank agreed with the King, and they became good buddies. And their friendship had nothing at all to do with the fact that they were both inclined to wear pink panties under their blue boxer shorts. Unfortunately, Frank looses his fame and fortune when he gets caught taking bribes. Frank defends himself by saying that he wasn’t doing anything that everybody else wasn’t doing. (He was obviously counseled by Richard Nixon.) Frank tops off this glowing career of logical reasonable thinking by going out horseback riding in a blizzard one afternoon. While out riding Frank gets the notion to kill a chicken and stuff it with snow to see how long a chicken stuffed with snow would stay dead, I presume. Well, while watching the chicken to see just how long a chicken stuffed with snow will stay dead, Frank catches cold and dies. The scientific question here is who stayed dead longer - Frank or the snow-stuffed chicken?
And Will Durant tells me that if I want to learn the art of logical, reasonable thinking, I should read Francis Bacon. I don’t think so! And not only that, I am beginning to have my doubts about continuing to read Will.