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Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 4, Issue 2, Fall 2015

The Care of the Self in Early Modern Philosophy and Science

Matthew Sharpe
Pages 37-68
DOI: 10.5840/jems20154214

“Not for personal gratification, or for contention, or to look down on others, or for convenience, reputation, or power”
Cultura Animi in Bacon’s 1605 Apology for the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning

This paper examines the apology for the life of the mind Francis Bacon gives in Book I of his 1605 text The Advancement of Learning. Like recent work on Bacon led by the ground-breaking studies of Corneanu, Harrison and Gaukroger, I argue that Bacon’s conception and defence of intellectual inquiry in this extraordinary text is framed by reference to the classical model, which had conceived and justified philosophising as a way of life or means to the care of the inquirer’s soul or psyche. In particular, Bacon’s proximities and debts to the Platonic Apology and Cicero’s defence of intellectual pursuits in Rome are stressed, alongside the acuity and eloquence of Bacon’s descriptions of the intellectual virtues and their advertised contributions to the theologically and civically virtuous life.