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Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

弗兰西斯·培根(Francis Bacon,1561-1626)是与莎士比亚同时代的人,生于伦敦一个贵族家庭,父亲曾先后在亨利八世、伊丽莎白一世宫廷供职。培根天赋极高,12岁便进入剑桥大学三一学院读书,23岁当上了下议院议员。1620年培根晋封子爵,57岁时任大法官,三年后因受贿被捕入狱,褫夺一切公职,晚年致力于哲学著述和科学研究。培根是现代科学的奠基人,马克思称他为“英国唯物主义及现代实验科学之父”。《学术的推进》(Advancement of Learning, 1605)总结了前人的一切知识,并进行归类。拉丁文著作《新工具》(New Instrument , 1620)阐述了归纳法。培根学识渊博,阅历丰富,对社会人生和周围事物悉心观察,周密思考,写了很多短小隽永的随笔,题材涉及政治、人情、处世、经营、修身。1597年他将10篇文章结集出版《论说文集》(Essays),1612年扩展为38篇,1625年增至58篇。培根论说文中许多言简意赅、充满哲理的精辟语句已成为格言名句。

培根1561年出生于伦敦,是伊丽莎白女王手下一位高级政府官员的次子。他十二岁进入剑桥大学三一学院,但是三年后中途辍学,未获得学位。他从十六岁开始给英国驻巴黎大使当一个时期的官员。但是当培根十八岁时,他的父亲猝死,未能给他留下什么钱财。因此他开始攻读法律,二十一岁时找到一个律师的职业。

他的政治生涯就是在此后不久开始的。二十三岁时他被选为下议院议员。虽然他有高朋贵亲和显赫的才华,但是伊丽莎白女王拒绝委任他任何要职,或有利可图之职。其理由之一是他在议会中果敢地反对女王坚决支持的某项税务法案。他生活奢侈,挥霍无度,“借”债累累,无所顾忌。(实际上他曾一次因欠债而被捕)。

伊丽莎白女王于1603年去世,培根成为她的继承人詹姆斯一世国王的顾问。虽然詹姆斯拒不采纳培根的劝告,但是他却赏识培根,在詹姆斯统治期间,培根在政府步步高升。1607年培根成为法务次长,1618年被任为英国大法官,一个与美国法院院长大体相等的职务;同年被封为男爵;1621年被封为子爵。

但是乐极生悲,培根随后便大难临头。作为一个法官,培根当面接受诉讼当事人的“礼物”,虽然此事非常普遍,但是却显然违反法律。他在议会中的政敌正想抓住这个机会把他赶下台去。培根招供了,被判了徒刑,关押在伦敦塔,终身不得担任任何公职,同时,还被罚了一笔巨款。国王不久就将培根从狱中释放出来,免除了对他的罚款,但是他的政治生涯已告终结。

●读史使人明智,读诗使人灵秀,数学使人周密,科学使人深刻,伦理学使人庄重,逻辑修辞使人

善辩,凡有所学,皆成性格。

●青年人更适之发明而非为判断,更适之实干而非为商议,更适之创新之举而非为既定之业……老

年人否定之多,磋商之久,冒险之少……若青老两结合,必将受益匪浅,……因为彼此可以取长补短……

●爱情的报偿要么是回报,要么是内心秘而不宣的轻蔑。

●知识就是力量

《论读书》详细讨论了读书的目的和功用,分析了世人对读书的不同态度,介绍了读书的各种方法。文章写于17世纪,行文简约,略带古风而又明白畅达。培根采用排比修辞手法,文中警句叠出,如“读书足以怡情,足以博采,足以长才,”“读史使人明智,读诗使人灵秀,数学使人周密,科学使人深刻,伦理使人庄重,逻辑修辞之学使人善辩,凡有所学,皆成性格,”已成为家喻户晓的名言。作为一名熟谙世故、饶有见识、讲究实用的哲人和政治家,培根强调读书方法要得当,不能死读书。他告戒我们:“用书之智不在书中,而在书外,全凭观察得之。”文章充分体现了培根的风格,有一种正襟危坐、谈经论道之势。他文笔简练,说理准确,不论以小喻大或以大喻小,都能鞭辟入里,字里行间闪烁着智慧的光芒。《论读书》文风古雅,紧凑庄重,不失为英语精品之作,值得读者仔细玩味。

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the founder of English materialist philosophy and the pioneer of modern science, was the younger son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Seal, and of the learned Ann Cook, sister-in-law to Lord Burleigh, greatest of Queen Elizabeth’s statesmen. From these connections, as well as from native gifts, he was attracted to the court, and as a child was called by Elizabeth her “Little Lord Keeper”. At twelve he went to Cambridge, but left the university after two years, declaring the whole plan of education to be radically wrong, and the system of Aristotle to be a childish delusion, since in the course of centuries it had “produced no fruit, but only a jungle of dry and useless branches.” Next year, he accompanied the English ambassador to France, where he is said to have busied himself chiefly with the practical studies of statistics and diplomacy. Two years later he was recalled to London by the death of his father. Bacon then took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1582. As a lawyer he became immediately successful, and his knowledge

and power of pleading became widely known. But Bacon was not content and his head was buzzing with a huge scheme –the establishment of a new philosophy. Meanwhile, he played the game of politics for his personal advantage. During Elizabeth’s reign Bacon had sought repeatedly for high office, but had been blocked by Burleigh, who misjudged him as a dreamer, and perhaps also by the qu een’s shrewdness in judging men. He made the acquaintance of the earl of Essex, who treated him with generosity and endeavored to advance him in his career. Nevertheless, having been appointed to investigate the causes of Essex’s revolt in 1601, he was largely responsible for the earl’s conviction. With the advent of James I. Bacon devoted himself to the new ruler and rose rapidly in favour. He was knighted and obtained one important office after another until he became Lord Chancellor. But Bacon did not long enjoy his political honours. In 1621 he was charged with bribery and was deprived of his office, fined and banished from London. The remaining years of his life were spent in literary and philosophical work. One day in the spring of 1626, he did an experiment in a snowstorm, which chilled him, and died soon after from the effects of his exposure. As Macaulay wrote, “the great apostle of experimental philosophy was destined to be its martyr.”

Bacon’s works may be divided into three classes, the philosophi cal, the literary and the professional works. The best known philosophical works are: the Advancement of Learning, a summary of all human knowledge, and the New Instrument, a statement of what is called the Inductive Method of reasoning. Of Bacon’s literary works, the most important ate the Essays, which covers a wide variety of subjects suggested by the life of men. The largest and most important of his professional works are the treatises entitled Maxims of the Law and Reading on the Statute of Use. Bacon wrote much in Latin but he was capable of varied and beautiful style in English. There is a peculiar magnificence and picturesqueness in much of his writing and his English is terse, pithy, packed with thought, but he is sometimes obscure.

?Francis Bacon, a representative of the English renaissance, is a well-known philosopher, scientist and essayist.

?He began his professional life as a lawyer, but he has become best known as a philosophical advocate and defender of the scientific revolution.

?Ba con’s works establish and popularize an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method. Induction implies drawing knowledge from the natural world through experimentation, observation, and testing of hypotheses. In the context of his time, such methods were connected with the occult trends of hermeticism and alchemy

?Bacon’s Importance to Literature

?

?1st, he was the first English writer to pay attention to the audience to whom he was writing.

?2nd, he wrote the greatest tracts on education in the English language, Advancement of Learning.

?3rd, he and Newton represent the advancement of science during the 17th century. In fact, Bacon devised the inductive method of doing research.

?4th, he introduced the essay as a literary form into the English language.