Friday, January 12, 2018

4 Idols of the human miind -Francis Bacon

-John Taylor portrait of Shakespeare, 1588, at left; Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, ~1610; Hilliard portrait of Fr. Bacon, 1578, at right.  There are many similarities.
  Bene vixit qui bene latuit - "He lives well who conceals himself well.”  -Ovid’s Tristia. 
  Certainly, it is heaven upon earth, to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in providence, and turn upon the poles of truth.     -Fr. Bacon:  Of Truth, in Essays, 1597
  --Idols of the tribe, or defects common to the whole human race, idols of the cave, of the marketplace, and of the theater--

XLI.  There are certain predispositions which beset the mind of man:  certain idols which are constantly operating upon the mind and warping it from the truth; for the mind of man, drawn over and clouded with the sable pavilion of the body, is so far from being like a smooth, equal and clear glass which might sincerely take and reflect the beams of things according to their true incidence, nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced.     -Francis Bacon:  Novum Organum, 1--his major philosophy he wrote in Latin, so there are varying translations into one or other languages, revised editions.
From Francis Bacon:  Novum Organum, 1, 1620:

XXIII.  There is a great difference between the idols of the human mind and the ideas of the divine.  That is to say, between certain empty dogmas, and the true signatures and marks set upon the works of creation as they are found in nature.
XLI.  The idols of the tribe are inherent in human nature and the very tribe or race of man; for man’s sense is falsely asserted to be the standard of things; on the contrary, all the perceptions both of the senses and the mind bear reference to man and not to the universe, and the human mind resembles those uneven mirrors which impart their own  properties to different objects, from which rays are emitted and distort and disfigure them.
XLII.  The idols of the den are those of each individual; for everybody (in addition to the errors common to the race of man) has his own individual den or cavern, which intercepts and corrupts the light of nature, either from his own peculiar and singular disposition, or from his education and intercourse with others, or from his reading, and the authority acquired by those whom he reverences and admires, or from the different impressions produced on the mind, as it happens to be preoccupied and predisposed, or equable and tranquil, and the like; so that the spirit of man (according to its several dispositions), is variable, confused, and as it were actuated by chance; and Heraclitus said well that men search for knowledge in lesser worlds, and not in the greater or common world.

XLIII.  There are also idols formed by the reciprocal intercourse and society of man with man, which we call idols of the market, from the commerce and association of men with each other; for men converse by means of language, but words are formed at the will of the generality, and there arises from a bad and unapt formation of words a wonderful obstruction to the mind.  Nor can the definitions and explanations with which learned men are wont to guard and protect themselves in some instances afford a complete remedy—words still manifestly force the understanding, throw everything into confusion, and lead mankind into vain and innumerable controversies and fallacies.
XLIV.  Lastly, there are idols which have crept into men’s minds from the various dogmas of peculiar systems of philosophy... Such are the idols of the tribe, which arise either from the uniformity of the constitution of man’s spirit, or its prejudices, or its limited faculties or restless agitation, or from the interference of the passions, or the incompetence of the senses, or the mode of their impressions.
LIII.  The idols of the den derive their origin from the peculiar nature of each individual’s mind and body, and also from education, habit, and accident; and although they be various and manifold, yet we will treat of some that require the greatest caution, and exert the greatest power in polluting the understanding.

LIX.  The idols of the market are the most troublesome of all, those namely which have entwined themselves round the understanding from the associations of words and names. For men imagine that their reason governs words, while, in fact, words react upon the understanding; and this has rendered philosophy and the sciences sophistical and inactive.  Words are generally formed in a popular sense, and define things by those broad lines which are most obvious to the vulgar mind; but when a more acute understanding or more diligent observation is anxious to vary those lines, and to adapt them more accurately to nature, words oppose it.  Hence the great and solemn disputes of learned men often terminate in controversies about words and names, in regard to which it would be better (imitating the caution of mathematicians) to proceed more advisedly in the first instance, and to bring such disputes to a regular issue by definitions.  Such definitions, however, cannot remedy the evil in natural and material objects, because they consist themselves of words, and these words produce others; so that we must necessarily have recourse to particular instances, and their regular series and arrangement, as we shall mention when we come to the mode and scheme of determining notions and axioms.
LXI. The idols of the theatre are not innate, nor do they introduce themselves secretly into the understanding, but they are manifestly instilled and cherished by the fictions of theories and depraved rules of demonstration.  To attempt, however, or undertake their confutation would not be consistent with our declarations.  For since we neither agree in our principles nor our demonstrations, all argument is out of the question.  And it is fortunate that the ancients are left in possession of their honors.  We detract nothing from them, seeing our whole doctrine relates only to the path to be pursued.  The lame (as they say) in the path outstrip the swift who wander from it, and it is clear that the very skill and swiftness of him who runs not in the right direction must increase his aberration.
LXII. The idols of the theatre, or of theories, are numerous, and may, and perhaps will, be still more so.  For unless men’s minds had been now occupied for many ages in religious and theological considerations, and civil governments (especially monarchies), had been averse to novelties of that nature even in theory (so that men must apply to them with some risk and injury to their own fortunes, and not only without reward, but subject to contumely and envy), there is no doubt that many other sects of philosophers and theorists would have been introduced, like those which formerly flourished in such diversified abundance among the Greeks.  For as many imaginary theories of the heavens can be deduced from the phenomena of the sky, so it is even more easy to found many dogmas upon the phenomena of philosophy—and the plot of this our theatre resembles those of the poetical, where the plots which are invented for the stage are more consistent, elegant, and pleasurable than those taken from real history.

LXVIII.  We have now treated of each kind of idols, and their qualities, all of which must be abjured and renounced with firm and solemn resolution, and the understanding must be completely freed and cleared of them, so that the access to the kingdom of man, which is founded on the sciences, may resemble that to the kingdom of heaven, where no admission is conceded except to children.
LXXXVIII.  Want of energy, and the littleness and futility of the tasks that human industry has undertaken, have produced much greater injury to the sciences: and yet (to make it still worse) that very want of energy manifests itself in conjunction with arrogance and disdain.
XCII.  But by far the greatest obstacle to the advancement of the sciences, and the undertaking of any new attempt or department, is to be found in men’s despair and the idea of impossibility; for men of a prudent and exact turn of thought are altogether diffident in matters of this nature, considering the obscurity of nature, the shortness of life, the deception of the senses, and weakness of the judgment. They think, therefore, that in the revolutions of ages and of the world there are certain floods and ebbs of the sciences, and that they grow and flourish at one time, and wither and fall off at another, that when they have attained a certain degree and condition they can proceed no further.
  Next to the irrational following of authority, the great defect of the mediƦval philosophy was the extreme prominence it gave to the deductive method.  That method, as Lord Bacon observes, is no match for the subtilty of nature; it therefore forces our assent, but has no power over the fact.  The weakness here pointed out was as keenly apprehended by Roger Bacon (13th century) as by the author of the Novum Organon.  Says the former:  "There are two modes by which we know, namely, argument and experiment....
  Argument, then, according to Roger Bacon, merely terminates the discussion, but does not prove the fact—"Concludit quƦstionem sed non certificat;" according to Lord Bacon, it binds our assent, but does not coerce things—"Assensum itaque astringit non res." To this faulty instrument of investigation Bacon opposes experience.  He does not confine himself to vague praises of the advantages of the experimental method, but lays down a scientific doctrine on the subject, and distinguishes with perfect correctness direct and indirect experience,—experiment and observation.
-G. Ross:  Roger Bacon, 1941

-S. Rachmaninov

-mandala of 8 religions; 8 rays (or eightfold way of self-mastery)--  blue at west, yellow at n., pink at e., white at nw, green at sw, purple and gold at s., violet at se, ruby at ne.    

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