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Description - Francis Bacon by Perez Zagorin

Francis Bacon (1561-1626), commonly regarded as one of the founders of the Scientific Revolution, exerted a powerful influence on the intellectual development of the modern world. He also led a remarkably varied and dramatic life as a philosopher, writer, lawyer, courtier, and statesman. Although there has been much recent scholarship on individual aspects of Bacon's career, Perez Zagorin's is the first work in many years to present a comprehensive account of the entire sweep of his thought and its enduring influence. Combining keen scholarly and psychological insights, Zagorin reveals Bacon as a man of genius, deep paradoxes, and pronounced flaws. The book begins by sketching Bacon's complex personality and troubled public career. Zagorin shows that, despite his idealistic philosophy and rare intellectual gifts, Bacon's political life was marked by continual careerism in his efforts to achieve advancement. He follows Bacon's rise at court and describes his removal from his office as England's highest judge for taking bribes. Zagorin then examines Bacon's philosophy and theory of science in connection with his project for the promotion of scientific progress, which he called "The Great Instauration." He shows how Bacon's critical empiricism and attempt to develop a new method of discovery made a seminal contribution to the growth of science. He demonstrates Bacon's historic importance as a prophetic thinker, who, at the edge of the modern era, predicted that science would be used to prolong life, cure diseases, invent new materials, and create new weapons of destruction. Finally, the book examines Bacon's writings on such subjects as morals, politics, language, rhetoric, law, and history. Zagorin shows that Bacon was one of the great legal theorists of his day, an influential philosopher of language, and a penetrating historian. Clearly and beautifully written, the book brings out the richness, scope, and greatness of Bacon's work and draws together the many, colorful threads of an extraordinarily brilliant and many-sided mind.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691009667
ISBN-10: 069100966X
Format: Paperback
(248mm x 171mm x 16mm)
Pages: 80
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 15-Nov-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Francis Bacon by Perez Zagorin

Book Reviews - Francis Bacon by Perez Zagorin

US Kirkus Review » An erudite investigation into the work of the man regarded as the founder of the Scientific Revolution, this volume attempts to tie together Bacon's many writings, not only on science, but also on language, morals, politics, rhetoric, law, and history. From the outset, Zagorin, a professor of history emeritus at the University of Rochester, clearly states that it is not his intention to write a biography of Bacon, who has been the subject of numerous and recent biographies. However, he does provide a tantalizing glimpse of Bacon's personal life, as well as his flawed character. Much to his credit, Zagorin demythologizes Bacon by detailing his political ambitions and ruthless opportunism. Yet the glimpse is all too brief, and while this biographical introduction informs the rest of the book, Zagorin's later readings of Bacon would have benefited from a more integrated approach toward his life and his work. The bulk of the book is a thorough interpretation of that work and its impact. Zagorin illustrates in a sound and convincing manner how Bacon's philosophy and theory of science had a far-reaching effect on the growth of science. While Bacon made no scientific discoveries of his own, he did believe that science provided humankind with the instrument to master nature. Finally, at the end of the book, the author delves into Bacon's less known works in the humanities, proving that in these fields, too, Bacon was an original and often brilliant thinker. As a legal scholar, for instance, Bacon sought to devise a universal system that went beyond English common law. Though lucidly written, this book still requires a knowledge of Bacon's work as formidable as Zagorin's. A valuable work for the serious Bacon scholar, but not for the layperson. (Kirkus Reviews)


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