Francis Bacon was born in 1564, three years after Christopher
Marlowe. This makes them contemporaries of a sort, though Marlowe was
long dead by the time Bacon began to publish his most important work.
Yet it can be said that they grew up in the same world, and indeed, both
were educated at Cambridge. Bacon entered Trinity College at Cambridge
at the age of twelve, served the English Ambassador to France when he
was sixteen, took a degree in law, and was elected to Parliament in
1584, at the age of 23. He was knighted by King James I in 1603, the
year in which James ascended to the throne, and served his king well and
faithfully as Solicitor General, Attorney General, and Lord Chancellor,
before resigning because of a scandal over bribes. The Advancement
of Learning was first published in 1605.
The Advancement of Learning, Book One.
The students have been asked to again keep in mind the three questions presented during Doctor Faustus: What is knowledge? Where does it come from? What are its uses?
Just as Doctor Faustus is a play that is full of both dramatic tradition
and innovation, the argument set forth by Francis Bacon is an odd blend
of old and new with the former tending to strike the student as strange
while the latter seem familiar. Thus on the one hand, Bacon subscribes
to the Platonic notion of knowledge as "remembrance" and relies upon
scripture for certain "facts," and on the other criticizes the use of
deductive reasoning in the sciences, favoring inductive reasoning