The True Idol of the Mind

In Sir Francis Bacon’s Idols of the Mind, the reserved and analytical tones reflect the author’s many theories on human perception in order to show that humans seek to find things that are not there. He cites a great many thoughts and ideas in dry, emotionless language in order to maintain a reserved manner. He uses these reserved examples to carefully examine and inspect human reasoning, and the processes of the mind.

Bacon’s diction in the passage provides the reader with an unbiased unopinionated view of human perception. Using the phrases: “yet it devises,” “and such is the way,” and “and then it is that in” Bacon can state his opinions in the form of statements. “And such is the way” and “and then it is that in” are complex clusters of prepositional phrases that drain the sentences of partiality and emotion, giving them a crisp blanketness one usually associates with fact. “Yet is devises” is a phrase that gives third person connotation to a first person opinion providing a distanced assertion of this opinion. The passive verb phrases: “I have described,” “we cannot conceive,” and “it would thence follow” allows Bacon, as an author, to stand separated from his work. This separation allows for less emphasis that the opinions described in the text are directly from him, instead the opinions are perceived as general statements about the nature of the subject. Additionally, the passive verb phrases allows for a more inward view of the text as it is read causing the reader to examine themselves and reflect on their perception of the text. Bacon’s undemonstrative diction gives the reader adequate space for reflection which surreptitiously persuades the reader to agree with his line of thought. 

Specific detail and analyzation of that detail is paramount in the Idols of the Mind. “And such is…where they fail” (lines 39-43) and “But for that…..overruling authority.” (lines 61-71) are examples of how Bacon uses detail to analyze his intentions. The former quotation use detailed examples and vivid imagery such as “divine judgments” to portray his opinion that superstitions ultimately fail. The latter quotation contains precise phrasing and careful word choice to demonstrate his opinion on how the human mind is moved by things it cannot comprehend. Phrases such as: “The like subtlety….to stop.” (lines 86-88) and “The human…readily believes.” (lines 108-112) are examples of how details are used to solidify a point.  The former quotation ties the ideas of the lines before it together by gathering the collective meaning and delivering it into a more concentrated fore with greater power that aforementioned lines. The latter quotation summarizes the examples of the preceding paragraphs into a concluding example that is broad enough to encompass the wide range of prior examples but also focused enough to deliver a clear and concise idea. Bacon’s use of complex examples bring a focused analytical anonymity to his essay.

Bacon’s idea that humans look look for puzzles in all that we see has a great deal of truth. Each and every person is guilty in some way of the actions that Bacon lists. Whether or not humans will ever be able to overcome this hurdle remains a mystery. Perhaps the true idol of the mind is an ever changing puzzle that will continue to fascinate the human mind until the arrow of time stretches into oblivion. A puzzle of such allure cannot be resisted by any mortal man, not even Francis Bacon.