Of Truth by Francis Bacon
In this famous essay, Bacon demonstrates his profound observation of human beings with a particular emphasis on truth. Bacon asserts in this article that truth is the highest value for humans. He refers to the pursuit of truth as wooing it, knowledge of truth as being present with it, and belief in truth as enjoying it. He has conveyed objective truth in a variety of ways here. Bacon correctly observes at the outset of the essay that the general public is unconcerned with truth, just as Pilate, the Roman empire’s governor, was unconcerned with truth during the trial of Jesus Christ, ‘What is truth?’ Said a mocking Pilate, refusing to stay for an answer’. Bacon is referring to Pontius Pilate, who had a position of authority in the court of Emperor Tiberius. Pilate was not regarded favourably by Christians due to his role in the persecution of Jesus Christ. He earned a slightly tarnished reputation. Bacon uses Pilate’s name to illustrate how humans, on the whole, avoid truth. They consider truth to be inconvenient and difficult to swallow.
Bacon delves into the reasons why people dislike truth. To begin, truth is learned by effort, and man is perpetually averse to exerting effort. Second, truth stifles liberty. Additionally, the true explanation for man’s dislike of truth is his attachment to lies, which Bacon describes as a ”a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself.’ He asserts that man cherishes untruth since truth is like the bright light of the day, illuminating what mankind truly are. They appear lovely and vibrant in the dark light of deception. Bacon correctly remarks in this regard: ‘A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasures’. In this essay, Bacon discusses truth and lie. According to him, truth is the greatest human value. The truth is like clear daylight, in which the performances and spectacles on a theatre stage are seen for what they are, whereas falsehoods are like candlelight, in which the same performances and spectacles appear to be considerably more enticing. When a falsehood is added to the truth, the truth becomes more pleasurable. Man would be dissatisfied if he were deprived of his false beliefs, false hopes, and false judgments, because these false opinions, hopes, and judgments kept him happy. Falsehood provides an odd sort of enjoyment for people. According to him, it is the reality that man wants to treasure illusions that provide spice to his existence. Bacon asserts that without false pride and vanities, the human mind would contact like a deflated balloon, and these human beings would become destitute, miserable, and unwell. Bacon, on the other hand, is not blind to the poetic untruth. He asserts that early church writers referred to poetry as the devil’s wine. However, poetry tells lies that the mind accepts and then forgets. Such fabrications do not take root in the mind. The extent to which lies cause harm sinks into the mind and settles there. Truth, on the other hand, is the highest good for human beings. According to the poet Lucretius, the greatest pleasure that man can experience is realisation of truth. All human understanding should be founded on truth. Not only in theological and philosophical realms, but also in everyday life, truth is critical. Falsehood results in nothing except embarrassment. It degrades and diminishes humans. Montaigne correctly stated that when a man tells a lie, he is courageous against God but cowardly toward his fellow men. Falsehood is terrible, and it will be punished appropriately on the apocalypse, when a trumpet will sound to declare God’s judgments on all human beings.
The essay has a didactic tone. The writer’s objective is to establish a love of truth in the brains and hearts of his readers. Bacon, a moralist with moral idealism, says that the planet can only be transformed into paradise via the use of truth. Man should always adhere to the truth in all circumstances, perform acts of kindness, and have trust in all circumstances, including confidence in God. His firm trust in truth and divinity is expressed as follows: ‘Certainly, it is heaven on earth to have a man’s mentality more inclined toward charity, resting in Providence, and turning toward the poles of truth’. The essay concludes with some didactism infused with Christian morality. Bacon makes reference to the Bible in order to express his thoughts. He closes the essay with a Bible verse and an allusion to the ultimate judgement in which God will assess all human beings’ acts.
The article is peppered with rich similes and metaphors that serve to highlight the points being made. Bacon equates truth to naked and open day-light, which does not reveal the world’s masques, mummeries, and victories in the same way as candlelight does. He reiterates that truth may claim the price of a pearl that shines best in daylight, but truth cannot claim the price of a diamond or carbuncle that shines brightest in a variety of lighting conditions. He compares deception to an alloy in a gold or silver coin. While the alloy improves the performance of the metal, it detracts from its value. Similarly, while lie may be advantageous from a practical and financial standpoint, it diminishes the dignity of the man who says it. Again, Bacon equates dishonest and crooked methods of living to the serpent’s movements, ‘which goeth basely on the belly, and not on the feet’. Bacon’s essay is straightforward, natural, and uncomplicated. The essay’s distinguishing characteristics are its synthetic shortness, conversational style, and Aphorism.