The Twoo Bookes of Francis Bacon Of the proficience and aduancement of Learning, diuine and humane
A statesman, lawyer and jurist, philosopher and natural scientist, and writer, Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626) was one of the most remarkable figures in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Bacon’s studies at Cambridge brought him to loathe Aristotlelian philosophy and the practice of science as being taught at the university. He entered Gray’s Inn, was admitted to the bar in 1582, and first entered parliament in 1584. Bacon befriended the Earl of Essex and became his confidential advisor. He hoped that Essex’s influence would help him to be named Attorney General when the position became vacant in 1594; instead, he became Queen’s Council in 1596 and successfully prosecuted Essex for treason after his fall from grace. Bacon was knighted in 1603 by King James.
Bacon finished The Two Books of the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning in 1605 and addressed the book to King James. It is the only work of philosophy that Bacon wrote in English. Advancement of Learning praises learning, surveys existing knowledge, identifies impediments to its advancement, and suggests methods whereby greater knowledge can be acquired. The book makes key contributions to the philosophy of science. As a rhetorician and an accomplished lawyer, he carefully organizes and presents his arguments. In the first book he reasons that learning is a beneficial religious pursuit of God’s book of nature and necessary to achieve a good and just society. The opening of Book Two describes the gross inadequacies of the curriculum in English universities and the need for detailed study of material objects to discover, ultimately, the explanation of every aspect of nature. Advancement of Learning then provides a survey of learning, classifying existing branches of knowledge and pointing to new areas for study.
Bacon continued his rise to power and in 1618, King James appointed him to the position of Lord Chancellor. It is in this time frame that Bacon published Novum Organum (“The New Instrument”), which is a step beyond Advancement of Learning, in that it lays out a massive plan for reorganizing the approach to scientific pursuit. Soon after, his public career ended in disgrace. Accused of twenty-three counts of corruption, Bacon retired to devote himself to study and writing.
The present copy has the bookplate of John L. Clawson of Buffalo, New York, who assembled a splendid Elizabethan and early Stuart library, which was auctioned on May 15, 1926.
Chrzanowski 1605b *