What is Francis Bacon saying in his essay "Of Simulation and Dissimulation" about the differences between them?

Expert Answers info

Stephen Holliday eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write858 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Bacon's Essayswritten in three groups between 1597 and 1625, are Bacon's attempts to guide men to appropriate actions in their personal, business, and public lives--they are, in essence, the 17thC version of "How to Succeed."  Bacon's essays are filled with practical advice on every important aspect of a man's life, but they are focused on practical, as opposed to morally ideal, success in the world.  In his essay "Of Simulation and Dissimulation," Bacon defines the terms and then advises the reader on their use and the dangers in their use.

Bacon argues that both simulation and dissimulation are useful but their successful use requires both intelligence and "a strong heart," that is, confidence.  Dissimulation Bacon defines as "when a man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not, that he is."  In other words, dissimulation allows others to misunderstand what he is doing and thinking--he fails to correct misconceptions about his behavior.  Simulation, on the other hand, is much more active: a man takes actions that disguise what he is really thinking and doing.  Dissimulation and simulation are two of three levels of a man's method of hiding or veiling his motives, the first of which is "closeness, reservation, and secrecy," that is, a man hides himself sufficiently so that no can easily observe his behavior.  We might call that today shyness, modesty, reserved behavior.  Bacon argues that secrecy is "both public and moral" because being "open," telling everyone what one thinks about everything, leads to people concluding that the person cannot keep confidences and is therefore weak.

Dissimulation ,...

(The entire section contains 542 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial