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Bacon and the Politics of the Prudential Imagination

Todd Butler
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
Vol. 46, No. 1, The English Renaissance (Winter, 2006), pp. 93-111
Published by: Rice University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3844564
Page Count: 19
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Bacon and the Politics of the Prudential Imagination
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Abstract

While Francis Bacon has often been considered hostile to the powers of the imagination, this essay argues that Bacon must be seen as simultaneously suspicious of and fascinated by this mental faculty. For Bacon, the imagination becomes a key pathway to political authority, one accessible to any individual. In texts such as De Augmentis, the Sylva Sylvarum, and his brief reflections on Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, politics becomes less about Bacon's specific relationship to royal authority and more about his assessment of a mental mechanism that when properly restrained offered significant power to all who could master its workings.

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