What are Francis Bacon's views on studies in his essay "Of Studies"?

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Francis Bacon claims studies serve purposes for "delight," "ornament," and "ability." In his view, studies help enrich life, both for enjoyment and practical purposes. However, key to his view, Bacon also believes that moderation is necessary for studies to be most useful. He thinks one shouldn't study so much that it distracts from applying one's studies and living.


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While men who have worldly experience may be turned to for insight and plans pertaining to events that come up in the course of everyday affairs, men who have partaken of courses of study are invaluable when a broader perspective is needed. The benefit of studies, Bacon suggests, is that they afford the man who undertakes them (and, yes, Bacon does refer to "men" in this context, although it should be noted that his mother, Lady Anne Bacon, was a distinguished scholar herself) with the capacity to generalize in light of a longterm view of things.

At the same time, Bacon takes care to note that the broad, longterm view of things afforded by study needs to be supplemented by worldly experience. Here, he is thinking of the particular needs of the education suited for statesmanship.

Bacon's essay on studies gives only a partial glimpse of his ambitious plan for the advancement of human knowledge. It should be kept in mind that he wrote the essays not so much for scholars as for would-be statesmen, court officials, and the like; hence, he emphasizes the need to refrain from studying in excess and to correct study with the counteracting forces of experience and exercise.

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Bacon's essay "Of Studies" is part of The Essayes or Counsels, Civil and Moral, of Francis Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban (London, 1625)

Bacon argues that studies "serve for Delight, for Ornament, and for Ability."  For delight, Bacon means one's personal, private education; for "Ornament," he...

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