“The Human Good and the Problem of Bacon’s Intention” by Tzvetozar Minkov

Minkov, S.“The Human Good and the Problem of Bacon’s Intention.” Interpretation 35 (2008): 265–82.

First Paragraph: “Francis Bacon rarely discusses the human good explicitly—the only obvious exception being a difficult and terse treatment in The Advancement of Learning (II.xx-xxii; or De Augmentis Scientiarum VII.1-3). As far as I understand it, that treatment, which at first seems to be a defense of the active life in the name of the common good, proves, upon closer inspection, to be a defense of the contemplative life in the name of the individual good (see Addendum 1). Yet this interpretation needs to be reconciled with Bacon’s great efforts on behalf of the conquest of nature—a good, if it is one, that can hardly be called purely contemplative—for the sake of the relief of man’s estate, a good that is certainly not merely individual. Moreover, an important step in Bacon’s argument about the human good is the assertion that there is one universal appetite that fundamentally characterizes all beings (including stones!). Together with other similar claims, this attempt to understand humans by referring to a “low,” universal tendency has led other scholars to argue that Bacon’s “method,” his “critical epistemology” or materialism, leaves no room for understanding human life (see Addendum 2).”

Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy