Bacon’s “Essays”

“Would any of Bacon’s essays have been more persuasive if he had talked about his own experiences?”

Essays was written by Francis Bacon in 1597, England. The work consists of several relatively short essays on various topics such as “Of Counsel” or “Of Friendship.” Bacon wrote the essays to influence people, change thought and behavior and to give advice. For example, in “Of Friendship”, he talks of how true friends are the only thing that can open the heart. Perhaps he wanted people to look more towards having true friends instead of worthless “friendships” that didn’t add anything to their lives. He wanted to give counsel as to what to look for in friends.

However, though Bacon’s topics are excellent and he gives good advice, etc…, there is something missing: personal experience. If Bacon had provided personal experience, like, for example, in the essay “Of Friendship”, you would have been more moved to change or at least think about his advice. Personal experience also gives us a better tie Continue reading

“What Is Done Is Done”

Lady Macbeth’s favorite line in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is “What is done is done.” Was she correct in saying this after she and her husband had committed murder(s)? Surely, what is done is done, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story. You still have to pay for your acts. Macbeth paid—he was killed by the King’s son. So, in one way she was right, but in another not—the act was still not paid for, so what had been done was not done yet.

Selling Your Soul To The Devil

“Why has this theme (selling your soul to the devil) remained popular since 1587?”

Well, honestly, I don’t really know how popular the theme is. In the late 16th century, Christopher Marlowe wrote a play/book called Dr. Faustus. It is about a man who sells his soul to the devil to gain all physical desires. I didn’t enjoy the book, or the subject, but maybe that’s just me.

Supposing the subject is popular, I guess it would be because it focuses on the choices people make. Life is all about choices, and this subject brings the choice: will I sell my soul to the devil for the satisfaction of physical desires or not? It might keep you in suspense regarding whether or not the person realizes his mistake, how he deals with it, can he get out of his trouble? This, I guess, would be what makes the subject popular.

Personally, however, I don’t find the subject interesting or attractive. What do you think? Is it popular? If so, why is it? Leave a comment below!!!

Montaigne’s Essays

“Now that I have finished the section on Montaigne, would I read any more of his essays? Why or why not?”

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was the creator of the essay and a writer who actually wrote about himself, a novelty at that time (with the exception of St. Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions). Montaigne wrote with a style that keeps you reading except when he gets convoluted in his own philosophies. When this happens you want to throw away the book and never read it again.

It really depends on the topic Montaigne is writing about. If he writes about something he knows very well, it is enjoyable to read. When he starts get long-winded and tries to sort out his own thoughts in the essay, he loses his readers.

Therefore, I would only read more of Montaigne if the topic interested me and if the topic was well known by Montaigne.

More’s Utopia: Was There A Risk Of Persecution?

“Was More risking persecution by the Church for writing Utopia?”

Personally, I don’t think so. Although Thomas More was later executed, it was not because of his book, but rather about his loyalty: “God’s first and the king’s second.” There is nothing in Utopia that attacks the Church. More does suggest some reforms, indirectly, for the Church, like more religious freedom, more priestly piety, but he doesn’t attack the Church saying they are wrong, must reform, and so on. Also, More said at the end of the book that he didn’t agree to all the ideas presented by the Traveler in the book.

“In the meanwhile, though it must be confessed that he (Raphael, the traveler) is both a very learned man, and a person who has obtained a great knowledge of the world, I cannot perfectly agree to everything he has related; however, there are many things in the Commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments.”

Therefore, I think that More did not risk persecution by the Church.

The Traveler’s Reforms In More’s Utopia

“Why does More present the traveler as a sensible reformer early in Book I, but not later?”

Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516. The main character in the book encounters a world traveler, named Raphael, and converses and debates with him. The topics of discussion are introduced by Raphael, who takes them from his stay in Utopia.

The ideas that the traveler wants to establish in the middle age societies were taken from this Utopian civilization. Why did More make the traveler look foolish by stating ideas that were clearly not realistic?

One reason could be that More wanted to show that a Utopia is silly or unrealistic. Maybe, through the traveler’s mostly communistic ideas, he wanted to show that Communism is not realistic and should not be implemented.

Whatever More’s reason, I am sure it was a good one. A man like Thomas More would not have written a satirical book just for the fun of it.

Luther’s 95 Theses and Pope Leo X

“Do you think that Luther really believed that Pope Leo X did not know what the indulgence salesmen were saying?”

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) was the head of the Protestant Reformation in the late fifteenth century. He wrote the 95 Theses, a series of logical arguments against the sale of indulgences. The document was aimed at the guilty bishops, priests and salesmen.

Sale of Indulgences

Sale of Indulgences

While reading the 95 Theses, it appears to be that Luther believed the pope, Leo X, was ignorant regarding the extent to which the indulgence salesmen were going. Did he himself believe this? I don’t think he did. I think that Luther knew that the Pope was allowing the sales and not doing this in ignorance.

I think that the reason Luther wrote the opinion of the Pope as he did is because he didn’t want to directly attack the pope. He instead indirectly attacked him through the priests and bishops. However, Luther knew that the pope was endorsing the sale of indulgences.