Bacon was, no doubt, man of letters. He was given the title of father of English prose due to his contribution to English literature. Nonetheless, Bacon’s pragmatism and worldly wisdom tempers his philosophy throughout. It has been said that he was mentally giant but morally dwarf. He prefers personal ambitions on morality and decency. He was not an ethical moralist but a practical person having tips and tricks to become successful in every field of life. In his essays he either advises to kings or expresses his political opinions. His philosophy is materialistic. His nature is mean due to which his attitude towards life is considerably wrong. He is one of those persons who can do anything for success. Pope has rightly sketched nature of Sir Francis Bacon in following words:-
“If parts allure thee, think how Bacon shined
The wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind”.
Pragmatism is a policy of having pragmatic attitude. Pragmatic attitude means dealing things sensibly and practically and not theoretically or emotionally.
From above said definition, it seems that whole Bacon’s philosophy contains pragmatism and worldly wisdom. Although he talks about worldly benefits yet his opinions are sensible. Pragmatism and worldly wisdom are two different things. Let’s discuss them one by one.
He was born in a well settled family with a golden spoon in his mouth yet he struggled too much in his life because of his father’s death. He fought for success. Resultantly, he became selfish. His knowledge of law and keen observation made him different from other writers. In fact, his flattering tongue and knowledge of law were two prominent traits of his personality. These two traits helped him in gaining success. When he talked, people listened him without winkling. In spite of having too much enemies, he survived and gained fame. He did never give anything free to anyone; not even to his friends. He always wanted something in return. His philosophy is much different from common writers.
Sir Francis Bacon was also an opportunist. He advises that one should not miss any opportunity for his own cause. He does not hesitate to change his own rules and principle for an opportunity. It is believed that he had no morality due to which he faced criticism. None of his essays gives any moral lesson to the readers. Friends are tools for him. He uses them without any hesitation. He is a selfish utilitarian. In his eyes, marriage is a hurdle in way of success.
He never prefers morality. Lack of morality is another trait of Sir Francis Bacon. He is a lusty person having a lot of ambitions. He does not want morality or honour but benefit. To get benefit, he can do anything. He is against corruption yet he himself was corrupt. He has good knowledge and his philosophy is acceptable by everyone but his approach mainly concerns with worldly desires.
Bacon’s approach is Machiavellian. It can be witnessed in every essay of Sir Francis Bacon. His philosophy depicts one and only principle: “end justifies means”. His essays contain a common message that one should get success by hook or crook. He ignored the idea of eternal life and adored the worldly life.
Sir Francis Bacon is a selfish person. His philosophy has marks of selfishness. His attitude towards Earl of Essex is evident that he can do anything for his own pleasures. He gathered evidence and produced in the Court, against a person, who once favoured him. Instead of returning the favour, he went against him and made his condition critical. His marriage is also evident that he was selfish as it was not result of love.
On the other hand, many critics defend Bacon. They consider him a sensible person. His philosophy is pragmatic. It is applicable because it is practical. He has a practical solution of every problem. He suggests taking decisions wisely and not emotionally. In this way, he is practical and results oriented, rather than idealistic dreamer.
Many examples of pragmatism and worldly wisdom are there in Bacon’s essays. For instance, in “Parents and Children”, he suggests fixing a handsome amount of pocket money for children lest they should find illegal ways of getting money. Similarly, in “Of Firends” he suggests choosing friends wisely and not emotionally.
These examples reveal that he is a man of world. Bacon’s philosophy is acceptable for every generation because it contains pragmatism and worldly wisdom.
Suffice is to say that Bacon’s pragmatism and worldly wisdom tempers his philosophy through. His philosophy ignores morality. It is emotionless. It advises us to avail opportunities. His autobiography reveals that he himself was an opportunist. Nonetheless, his philosophy is a result of his practical experiences. There is no denying the fact that Bacon’s worldly wisdom and pragmatism is called his philosophy .
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