FRANCIS BACON, EARLY MODERN BACONIANS, AND THE IDOLS OF BACONIAN SCHOLARSHIP
Abstract. The purpose of this introductory essay is to situate some of the major questions relating to Bacon’s legacy and various forms of early modern Baconianism(s) in the wider context of Bacon studies, especially in view of recent developments in this field. I claim that one can see in the troubled historical reception of Francis Bacon interesting historiographical and philosophical problems, as well as a fascinating case-study of intellectual history. I offer a way of dealing with the complexity of the field by identifying four “idols” of Baconian scholarship. I show in what ways such “idols” can be held responsible for the conflicting reception of Bacon’s works and projects and for some related issues in the investigation of Bacon’s legacy and “followers.” I am also using these “idols” to chart a relatively little explored territory and to point towards new and recently developed directions of research. In the last part of this introductory essay I attempt a survey of themes and research questions relating to Bacon’s legacy and early modern Baconianism(s) as seen from the perspective of recent developments in the field. In this way, I aim to place in a wider context the studies contained in this special issue.
Keywords: Francis Bacon, idols of Baconian scholarship, Baconianism(s), Bacon’s legacy