- Of The Renaissance Spirit
- As An Opportunist
- As A Pragmatic Essayist
- As A Utilitarian Philosopher
Roughly Bacon's essays can be grouped in three categories-- essays in relation to the world and society, essays in relation to individualism and essays in relation to his makers i.e. God or Nature. The first group that evaluates the relationship of mankind to the physical world and their mutual relations includes Of Seditions and Troubles, Of Great Place, Of Discourse, Of Judicature, Of Suitors, Of Gardens etc.
The second group describing man in his intellectual and moral relations with others covers essays like: Of Parents and Children, Of Marriage , Of Envy, Of Love, Of Travel, Of Friendship, Of Health, Of Custom and Education, Of Followers and Friends, Of Studies, Of Ceremonies and Respects, Of Honor and Reputation, Of Fame etc.
Nonetheless, I can not resist myself from quoting Bacon's famous two essays,Of Studies and Of Discourse . Here Bacon is a champion of learning . In Of Studies Bacon means not mere act of studying but the results that follow systematic and long practiced habits of study viz. education and culture. Bacon points out the utility and method of study, and enumerates the practical benefits to be derived from the study of different subjects. With an astonishing freshness of illustration Bacon points out the key use of studies – a) delight in privacy b) ornament in society, and c) ability in practical business. Bacon puts cautions on the disadvantages of studies. Spending too much time in them, says Bacon is sloth whereas the superfluous display of learning is affectations. Being too much guided by them and thus separating studies from practical use is the humour of a scholar. Bacon the guide provides certain rules for study. Firstly books are to be weighed and considered. Again books are to be read according to its importance – in parts, without much care, wholly with careful attention, through summaries prepared by deputies. Bacon includes reading, conference and writing in his studies to acquire knowledge, to gain wit and readiness, to learn exactness and accuracy respectively. Bacon values different modes of studies according to make wise use of them. He prefers history to foster wisdom, poetry to foster wit, mathematics to foster subtlety, natural philosophy to foster depth, moral philosophy to foster gravity, logic and Rhetoric to foster the capacity of debate and argument. His pragmatic attitude is also evident in his final observation that specific studies should be pursued in order to cure specific inefficiencies of mind, just as medicines are taken to cure certain diseases of the body.
Of Bacon as Renaissance scholar and philosopher we can only say that he is one of founders of modern systematic as well as didactic thought. Studies encourage rationality and sound discourse assimilates culture as well as political base. Naturally his essays primarily serve a utilitarian purpose. They become the treasure of wisdom arising from the universal insight into the affairs of the world.