Trinitarian Roots of Francis Bacon’s Pragmatism

Heythrop Journal 60 (2):197-204 (2019)
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From his earliest publications until his last, Francis Bacon displayed an intense interest in theo- logical and religious issues, and expressed this interest in both public and private. On the other hand, he has long been recognized for his proposals for a grand reform and reconstruction of natural philosophy, in which experience, observation, experiment, and technological implementation of abstract claims all took center stage. This practical bent has often neatly been encapsu- lated in the slogan derived from Bacon himself, ‘knowledge is power.’ The many and interesting connections between these two sets of interests – the theological and the natural philosophical – have not gone unnoticed by scholars; however, one central component of Bacon’s pragmatic approach to natural philosophy that was deeply influenced by his theological concerns has remained unexplored. The equation between knowledge and power, so well known, in fact developed out of Bacon’s conception of the Christian Trinity, and out of the rela- tionship between the Trinity and humanity’s pursuit of knowledge about nature. It is the task of this essay to trace the development of this connection from the beginnings of Bacon’s literary career until its end.
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