Critical Analysis of Francis Bacon’s Essay Of Studies

Francis Bacon can be regarded as the first English Philosopher, a pioneer of modern philosophy which is all pervading. Though as a philosopher he touches modernity; his language gives the impression of the middle ages. He had much pre-occupation for the Latin language. “In no other writer are found such pity aphorism, so pregnat with thought and practical wisdom. Many of his sayings have passed into proverbs. Indeed in all Bacon’s works- Latin as well English-sentences abound as memorable for their concentrated wisdom as for their brilliance. The ‘Essays’ are the first true English prose- classic. His chief works are the following:

Essays (1597-1612-1625), Advancement of learning (1605). History of the Reign of Henry VII (1622). It is in his essays….that Bacon proves his mastery over the mother tongue.

This piece is a fine example of terse writing. Baconian style is well known for precision and compactness. Each sentence of this piece is pregnat with deep meaning.

(1) Study serves three-fold purposes. It becomes a source of pleasure in retirement, provides power of eloquence and gives ability to make quick decisions in business affairs.

(2) Devoting too much time in study is nothing but becoming idle. It makes one’s speech completely artificial if entirely depends on knowledge and language of books. It is foolish to judge everything by the knowledge gained from books.

(3) Knowledge gained by study must be combined by practical experience.

(4) We should not read only with a view to prove other people wrong. We should gain understanding to find out the real value of things.

(5) All books are not of equal importance and hence equal labour and attention need not be devoted to all books alike.

(6) By reading a man gets knowledge, by discussion he gets wit to act sharply and by writing he gets perfection in knowledge.

(7) Different subjects cultivate different qualities, For example, history makes us wise, poetry imaginative and mathematics sharp..

(8) Study is exercise for mind. Hence every mental defect can be remedied by appropriate reading.

There are three main uses of studies. They are sometimes used for decoration, sometimes for pleasure and sometimes for ability. But studies without experience are imperfect. Books are of three types. Some of the books require light reading. Some books are to be read hastily. But there are some books which require intensive reading, Reading, writing, and conference have their different utility. For information and knowledge, reading is essential. In order to be quick witted conference is essential. But for exactitude in life writing is quite essential. History, Poetry and Mathematics too have their different use. History gives wisdom. Poetry makes a man witty, Mathematics gives subtlety and Philosophy gives depth.

Just as every bodily disease can be cured by exercises, in the same way mental defect can be removed by appropriate study.

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Bacon gives the impression of the masterpiece. His sentences are full of thought and they have a profundity of meaning. Expressed in terse language each thought is based upon the truth of life. His each sentence reads like a saying. One has to memories the whole piece in order to get the whole truth of it. Only a master hand could instill so much of meaning in so few words. Bacon could not taste advanced English, but he has unsurpassable success within limit.

Bacon says that the first purpose of studies is to make up the deficiency of human nature. By education a man comes in a position to get rid of many of the shortcomings of his life. In the second place studies give ability to an individual. It is such an ability which stands in good stead in all the walks of life. A learned man possesses such an ability that he can perform a thing well. He can chalk out the plot of a thing. He can also give a systematic form to a thing. Not only that studies also do away with certain mental and physical deficiencies. By proper sort of education one can achieve mental concentration. One can have the power of distinction. Studies also give gift of the gab which is very essential for success in human life. Thus studies do a lot of good in an individual’s life.

Bacon was a versatile genius. He is renowned for terse writing. The present piece, ‘Of Studies’ is one of his best essays. It is brief and spontaneous. It is master-piece of condensed writing. It is full of practical wisdom.

Bacon gives logical argument which appeals to the intellect.

Bacon has pointed out as to what should be the approach of readers to studies. And for what purpose he points out certain uses and abuses of studies. He points out purpose, method and limitation of studies.

Books give entertainment to person who are in retirement. By study man gets materials to make his speech and discussion effective. And the knowledge, which a man derives from, helps a man to give quick and proper decision. Reading is incomplete without the art of writing. So if reading makes a full man, writing makes an exact man. Different kinds of books gives different result. History makes a man wise, poetry imaginative, mathematics exact, science inquisitive and moral philosophy sober. Although study has immense advantages, it gives adverse effect if some limitation are not observed. To depend entirely on books makes an unpractical. One should not read only to make him able for refusing others. Some books, should be read in parts only some wholly but not thoroughly and some very carefully. A mental defects may be removed by appropriate reading just as some physical defect may be removed by suitable exercises.

So far the length is concerned it is a very small essay. But it contains a treasure of good advices regarding study. Everything has been said about study. The essay is remarkable for its economy of words. Bacon has made frequent use of metaphors. He compares natural abilities to natural plant, books to food, and reading to physical exercises. In this small essay he has given several off quoted lines which has passed into proverbs now.



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