What were the most important elements of Bacon's prose style?

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As a leading light in the scientific revolution, Bacon wanted language to have the same kind of precision and accuracy as scientific discourse. This meant that language, wherever possible, should be simple, plain, and factual. Bacon believed that language was weighed down by superfluous words and concepts, which could no longer tell us anything meaningful about the world around us.

As an empiricist, he also held that language was only meaningful if it could refer to something out there in the real world that actually existed, something that could be observed and measured. In other words, an object of scientific investigation. To that end, Bacon, in his voluminous writings, often condenses his thoughts into short, snappy statements called aphorisms. Each aphorism, in keeping with the inductive scientific method to which Bacon adhered, purports to derive a general truth from a particular, concrete observation.

So for instance, in the following excerpt from the Novum Organum, Bacon equates knowledge with power, deriving this insight from the practical experience of scientific experiment:

Knowledge and human power are synonymous, since the ignorance of the cause frustrates the effect. For nature is only subdued by submission, and that which in contemplative philosophy corresponds with the cause, in practical science becomes the rule.

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Francis Bacon is know for being a major advocate of the "plain style" in writing. He was a consistent opponent of the ornate rhetorical mstyle favored by many Renaissance humanists. He argued that clear thinking about science and philosophy required transparent clear language, and saw many of the errors of Romanism and Aristotelianism as being due to their having used language in imprecise ways. Bacon's reformation of language was connected to his opposition to scholasticism and the entire system of deductive logic and a priori categories that the schoolmen had appropriated from Aristotle's "Organon" in service of Roman Catholic theology. He saw much of what he considered category mistakes in theology as due to misuse of language.

Bacon's own writing, compared to that of his contemporaries, uses relatiovely short sentences, Germanic as opposed to Latinate words, and minimal figuration.

 

 

 

 

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