Philosophy – the medicine for body and mind



Francis Bacon and the Medicine of the Mind Late Renaissance Context, Perspectives on Science, Volume 20, Issue 2-Summer 2012, MIT, ISSN 1063-6145, E-ISSN 1530-9274, pp. 144


The edition of this summer’s number of Perspectives on Science is dedicated to a close-up of a particular intellectual context which favored the emergence of Francis Bacon’s works on natural philosophy in general and his epistemological account in particular. In the era of great upheavals and general reform Bacon assumed an important part: that of Reformer and Curer of the human mind. He aimed at freeing the faculties of the mind-imagination, memory, judgment, reason, from the false and perilous bridles of vain speculations, rash generalizations and idolatrous tendencies. The wide-spread acknowledgment of Bacon’s theory of error is taken up and elaborated in the edition dedicated to Francis Bacon and his “medicine of the mind” in an attempt to answer some challenging questions about the tradition which informs Bacon’s entire oeuvre. There is a prevalent use of the medicina mentis in Bacon’s work that not only gives cohesiveness to his project – be it civil, moral or natural-philosophical, but also reflects the various sixteenth-century intellectual traditions taken up and reinforced by Bacon like neo-stoicism,  Augustinianism and it’s Calvinistic revival.  Some answers are given, thus, in the papers that constitute this summer’s edition of Perspective on Science and which deal with a particular and highly influential sixteenth-century philosophical heritage of the “de anima” tradition.  Many important thinkers of the 16th and 17th centuries were convinced that the health of man’s body and soul could be treated by the same type of medicine. Moreover, it implied that man could be raised above his condition of cognitively and morally flawed being and brought nearer to the understanding his creator’s power and will. In the Age of early modern millenarism, Francis Bacon finds the instruments he needs to sanction his reform in a protestant-humanistic tradition that had freshly emerged out of the critical questioning that addresses nature, God and the position of man in the world.

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