Francis Bacon’s Concept of spiritus and Thomas Hobbes

Author/s Gregorio Baldin
Publishing Year 2019 Issue 2019/3
Language English Pages 30 P. 401-430 File size 127 KB
DOI 10.3280/SF2019-003001
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

This article investigates the traces of Bacon’s concept of spiritus in Hobbes’s natural philosophy. During the 1620s, Hobbes met frequently with Bacon, and he even knew some important works by Bacon. However, Hobbes scholars have often simply compared the philosophies of Bacon and Hobbes, without searching for a precise Baconian legacy in Hobbes’s thought. Here I examine Hobbes’s concept of internal spirits as it emerges in the 1641 debate with Descartes. This concept seems to echo some features of Bacon’s notion of spiritus. This concept holds different meanings in Bacon’s works, but the Lord Chancellor used it to formulate a theory of hardness and softness which seems to have influenced Hobbes’s own theory of hardness. An analysis of this topic allows me to examine Hobbes’s important concept of internal spirits and its link with another pivotal notion of his physics: conatus. Nevertheless, Hobbes’s theory of hardness does not merely reveal his debt towards Bacon; it also reveals the originality of his philosophy, an originality that also emerges from a comparison of Bacon and Hobbes’s theories of sense. Bacon’s significant legacy emerges when we examine this topic. However, Bacon’s theory also differs from that of Hobbes since it is not completely mechanistic, unlike that of Hobbes.

Keywords: Hobbes, Bacon, spirit, spiritus, mechanism

  1. - Alessio 1963: Franco Alessio, Thomas Hobbes: Tractatus Opticus (II), «Rivista critica di Storia della Filosofia», 18/2 (1963), pp. 147-228.
  2. - Aubrey 1898: John Aubrey, Aubrey’s Brief Lives, 2 Vols., Clarendon Press, Oxford 1898.
  3. - Bacon 1858-1874: Francis Bacon, The Works of Francis Bacon, 14 Vols. ed. James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath, Longman & Alii, London 1858-1874.
  4. - Bacon 1996: Id., The Oxford Francis Bacon, vol. VI, ed. Graham Rees, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1996.
  5. - Bacon 2000: Id., The Oxford Francis Bacon, vol. XIII, ed. Graham Rees, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2000.
  6. - Bacon 2004: Id., The Oxford Francis Bacon, vol. XI, ed. Graham Rees and Maria Wakely, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2004.
  7. - Bacon 2007: Id., The Oxford Francis Bacon, vol. XII, ed. Graham Rees and Maria Wakely, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2007.
  8. - Baldin 2015: Gregorio Baldin, Thomas Hobbes e la Repubblica di Venezia, «Rivista di Storia della Filosofia», 4/2015, pp. 717-741.
  9. - Baldin 2017: Id., Hobbes e Galileo. Metodo, materia e scienza del moto, Olschki, Firenze 2017.
  10. - Barnouw 1980: Jeffrey Barnouw, Hobbes’s Causal Account of Sensation, «Journal of the History of Philosophy», 18/2 (1980), pp. 115-130.
  11. - Barnouw 1992: Id., Le vocabulaire du conatus, in Zarka 1992, pp. 103-124.
  12. - Beaulieu 1990: Armand Beaulieu, Les relations de Hobbes et de Mersenne, in Yves-Charles Zarka et Jean Bernhardt (eds.), Thomas Hobbes. Philosophie première, théorie de la science et politique, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1990, pp. 81-90.
  13. - Bernhardt 1979: Jean Bernhardt, La polémique de Hobbes contre la Dioptrique de Descartes dans le Tractatus Opticus II (1644), «Revue internationale de philosophie», 33, (1979), pp. 432-442.
  14. - Bertman 2001, Martin Bertman, Conatus in Hobbes’ De Corpore, «Hobbes Studies», 14 (2001), pp. 25-39.
  15. - Bitpol-Hespériès 2003:, Anne Bitpol-Hespériès, L’Homme de Descartes et le De Homine de Hobbes, in Dominique Weber (ed.), Hobbes, Descartes et la métaphysique, Vrin, Paris 2003, pp. 155-186.
  16. - Bondì 1997: Roberto Bondì, Introduzione a Telesio, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1997.
  17. - Bono 1984: James J. Bono, Medical Spirits and the Medieval Language of Life, «Traditio», 40 (1984), pp. 91-130.
  18. - Brandt 1928: Frithiof Brandt, Thomas Hobbes’ Mechanical Conception of Nature, Levin & Mungsgaard-Librairie Hachette, Copenhagen-London 1928 (ed. or. 1921).
  19. - Bunce 2003: Robin Bunce, Thomas Hobbes’ relationship with and Francis Bacon –an introduction, «Hobbes Studies», 16 (2003), pp. 41-83.
  20. - Bunce 2006: Id., Hobbes’ forgotten Natural Histories, «Hobbes Studies», 19 (2006), pp. 77-101.
  21. - Busa 1984: Roberto Busa, “De voce Spiritus in Operibus S. Thomae Aquinatis,” in Fattori, Bianchi 1984, pp. 191-222.
  22. - Clericuzio 1988: Antonio Clericuzio, Spiritus Vitalis. Studio sulle teorie fisiologiche da Ferneil a Boyle, «Nouvelles de la République de Lettres», 2/1988, pp. 33-84.
  23. - Clericuzio 1994: Id., The Internal Laboratory. The Chemical Reinterpretation of Medical Spirits in England (1650–1680), in Piyo Rattansi and Antonio Clericuzio (eds.), Alchemy and Chemistry in the 16th and 17th Centuries, Kluwer, Dordrecht 1994, pp. 51-83.
  24. - Clericuzio 2000: Id., Elements, Principles and Corpuscles, Kluwer, Dordrecht 2000.
  25. - Crombie 1953: Alistair C. Crombie, From Augustine to Galileo. The History of Science A. D. 400–1650, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1953.
  26. - Curley 1995: Edwin Curley, Hobbes versus Descartes, in Roger Ariew and Marjorie Grene, Descartes and his Contemporaries. Meditations, Objections, and Replies, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1995, pp. 97-109.
  27. - Debus 1964: Allen G. Debus, The Paracelsian Aerial Niter, «Isis», 55/1 (1964), pp. 43-61.
  28. - Descartes 1982-1992: René Descartes, OEuvres, éd. Charles Adam et Paul Tannery, 11 Vols., 13 tt., Vrin, Paris 1982-1992
  29. - Ernst 2010: Germana Ernst, Tommaso Campanella: The Book and the Body of Nature, Springer, Dordrecht 2010 (or. ed. 2002).
  30. - Fattori 1984: Marta Fattori, Spiritus dans l’Historia vitae et mortis de Francis Bacon, in Fattori, Bianchi 1984, pp. 283-323.
  31. - Fattori, Bianchi 1984: Marta Fattori e Massimo Bianchi (eds.), Spiritus. IV Colloquio del Lessico Intellettuale Europeo, Ed. dell’Ateneo, Roma 1984.
  32. - Garau 2016: Rodolfo Garau, Spring, Nitre, and Conatus. The Role of the Heart in Hobbes’s Physiology and Locomotion, «British Journal for the History of Philosophy», 24/2 (2016), pp. 231-256.
  33. - Garber 2016: Daniel Garber, Telesio and the Novatores: Telesio’s Reception in Seventeenth Century, in Cecilia Muratori and Gianni Paganini (eds.), Early Modern Philosophers and the Renaissance Legacy, Springer, Dordrecht 2016, pp. 119-133.
  34. - Garin 1993: Eugenio Garin, Il termine ‘spiritus’ in alcune discussioni fra Quattrocento e Cinquecento, in Id., Umanisti, artisti, scienziati: studi sul Rinascimento, Editori Riuniti, Roma 1993, pp. 295-303.
  35. - Gassendi 1658: Pierre Gassendi, Opera Omnia, 6 Vols, Anisson, & Devenet, Lyon 1658.
  36. - Gaukroger 2001: Stephen Gaukroger, Francis Bacon and the Transformation of Early Modern Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001.
  37. - Gemelli 1996: Benedino Gemelli, Aspetti dell’atomismo classico nella filosofia di Francis Bacon e nel Seicento, Olschki, Firenze 1996.
  38. - Gert 1996: Bernard Gert, Hobbes’s Psychology, in Tom Sorell, The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996, pp. 157-174.
  39. - Giachetti Assenza 1980: Valeria Giachetti Assenza, Bernardino Telesio: il migliore dei moderni. I riferimenti a Telesio negli scritti di F. Bacone, «Rivista di Storia della filosofia», 35 (1980), pp. 41-78.
  40. - Giglioni 2010 a: Guido Giglioni, Mastering the Appetites of Matter. Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, in Charles T. Wolfe and Ofer Gal, The Body as Object and Instrument of Knowledge. Embodied Empiricism in Early Modern Science, Springer, Dordrecht-Heidelberg-London-New York 2010, pp. 149-167.
  41. - Giglioni 2010 b, Id., The First of the Moderns or the Last of the Ancients? Bernardino Telesio on Nature and Sentience, «Bruniana & Campanelliana», 16 (2010), pp. 69-87.
  42. - Giglioni 2011, Id., Francesco Bacone, Carocci, Roma 2011.
  43. - Giglioni 2013: Id., How Bacon Became Baconian in Daniel Garber and Sophie Roux (eds.) The Mechanization of Natural Philosophy, Springer, Dordrecht-Heidelberg-New York-London 2013, pp. 27-54.
  44. - Gilbert 1600: William Gilbert, De Magnete, Petrus Short, London 1600.
  45. - Göttler, Neuber 2008: Christine Göttler and Wolfgang Neuber (eds.) Spirits Unseen. The Representation of Subtle Bodies in Early Modern European Culture, Brill, Leiden- Boston 2008.
  46. - Grant 1996: Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996.
  47. - Hamesse 1984: Jacqueline Hamesse, Spiritus dans les auteurs philosophiques des 12e et 13e siècles, in Fattori, Bianchi 1984, pp. 157-190.
  48. - Hobbes 1839-1845 a: Thomas Hobbes, Collected English Works, ed. William Molesworth, 11 Vols, Bohn, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, London 1839-1845.
  49. - Hobbes 1839-1845 b: Id., Opera philosophica quae Latine scripsit omnia, ed. W. Molesworth, 5 Vols, Bohn, London 1839-1845.
  50. - Hobbes 1973: Id., Critique du De Mundo de Thomas White, ed. Jean Jacquot and Harold Whitmore Jones, Vrin, Paris, 1973.
  51. - Hobbes 1983: Id., Thomas Hobbes’ A Minute or First Draught of the Optiques, ed. Elaine C. Stroud, PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin–Madison 1983.
  52. - Hobbes 1984: Id., The Elements of Law Natural and Politic, ed. Ferdinand Tönnies, Frank Cass, London 1984.
  53. - Hobbes 1994: Id., The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes, ed. Noel Malcolm, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1994, 2 Vols.
  54. - Hobbes 2010, Id, Moto, luogo e tempo, a cura di Gianni Paganini, Utet, Torino 2010.
  55. - Hobbes 1988: Id., (in realtà Robert Payne), Court traité des premiers principes, ed. Jean Bernhardt, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1988.
  56. - Jalobeanu 2016: Dana Jalobeanu, Bacon’s Apples: A Case Study in Baconian experimentation, in Guido Giglioni, James A. T. Lancaster, Sorana Corneanu, Dana Jalobeanu (eds.), Francis Bacon on Motion and Power, Springer, Dordrecht 2016, pp. 83-113.
  57. - Jardine 1974: Lisa Jardine, Francis Bacon. Discovery and the Art of Discourse, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1974.
  58. - Jesseph 2006: Douglas M. Jesseph, Hobbesian Mechanics, «Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy», III (2006), pp. 119-152.
  59. - Jesseph 2016: Id., Hobbes on ‘Conatus’: A Study in the Foundations of Hobbesian Philosophy, «Hobbes Studies», 29 (2016), pp. 66-85.
  60. - Kargon 1966: Robert Kargon, Atomism in England from Hariot to Newton, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1966.
  61. - Lasswitz 1963: Kurd Lasswitz, Geschichte der Atomistik von Mittelalter bis Newton, 2 Vols., Georg Olms, Hildesheim 1963 (ed. or. 1890).
  62. - Leijenhorst 1997: Cees Leijenhorst, Motion, monks and golden mountains: Campanella and Hobbes on perception and cognition, «Bruniana & Campanelliana», 1997/1, pp. 93-121.
  63. - Leijenhorst 2004: Id., Hobbes and the Galilean Law of Free Fall, in Carla R. Palmerino and J.N.M.H. Thijssen (eds.) The Reception of Galilean Science of Motion in Seventeenth-Century Europe, Kluwer, Dordrecht-Boston-London 2004, pp. 165-184.
  64. - Lupoli 2001: Agostino Lupoli, Power (conatus–endeavour) in the ‘kinetic actualism’ and the ‘inertial’ psychology of Thomas Hobbes, «Hobbes Studies», 14 (2001), pp. 83-103.
  65. - Maier 1968: Annaliese Maier, Zwei Grundprobleme der Scholastischen Naturphilosophie, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Roma 1968.
  66. - Malcolm 1984: Noel Malcolm, De Dominis, (1560–1624): Venetian, Anglican, Ecumenist, and Relapsed Heretic, Strickland & Scott, London, 1984.
  67. - Malcolm 1996: Id., A Summary Biography of Hobbes, in Tom Sorell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1996, pp. 13-44.
  68. - Malcolm 2002: Id., Robert Payne, the Hobbes Manuscripts and the ‘Short Tract’, in Aspects of Hobbes, Clarendon Press, Oxford 2002, pp. 80-145.
  69. - Malcolm 2005: Id., Hobbes, The Latin Optical Manuscript, and the Parisian Scribe «English Manuscript Studies 1100–1700», 12 (2005), pp. 210-232.
  70. - Malcolm 2007: Id., Reason of State, Propaganda and Thirty Years’ War, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007.
  71. - Malherbe 1984: Michel Malherbe, Thomas Hobbes ou l’oeuvre de la raison, Vrin, Paris 1984.
  72. - Rusu 2013: Id., From Natural History to Natural Magic: Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, PhD Thesis, Radboud University Nijmegen / University of Bucharest 2013.
  73. - Manzo 2001: Sylvia Manzo, Francis Bacon and Atomism: A Reappraisal, in Cristopher Lüthy, John E. Murdoch, and William R. Newman (eds.), Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscular Matter Theory, Brill, Leiden-Boston-Köln 2001, pp. 209-243.
  74. - Manzo 2004: Id., Francis Bacon y la concepción aristotélica del movimiento en los siglos XVI y XVII, «Revista de Filosofia», 29/1 (2004), pp. 77-94.
  75. - Manzo 2006: Id., Entre el atomismo y la alquimia. La teoría de la materia de Francis Bacon, Biblos, Buenos Aires 2006.
  76. - Manzo 2016: Id., From Attractio and Impulsus to Motion of Liberty: Rarefaction and Condensation, Nature and Violence, in Cardano, Francis Bacon, Glisson and Hale, in Cecilia Muratori and Gianni Paganini (eds.), Early Modern Philosophers and the Renaissance Legacy, Springer, Switzerland 2016, pp. 99-117.
  77. - Marquer 2003: Éric Marquer, Ce que sa polémique avec Descartes a modifié dans la pensée de Hobbes, in Dominique Weber (ed.), Hobbes, Descartes et la métaphysique, Vrin, Paris 2003, pp. 15-32.
  78. - Martinich 1999: Aloysius P. Martinich, Hobbes. A Biography, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1999.
  79. - Médina 2016: José Médina, Matière, mémoire et mouvement chez Hobbes, in Arnaud Milanese et Jauffrey Berthier (ed.), Hobbes et le matérialisme, Éditions Matériologiques, Paris 2016, pp. 33-74.
  80. - Mersenne 1636: Marin Mersenne, Harmonie Universelle, Vol. I, Sebastien Cramoisy, Paris 1636.
  81. - Mersenne 1932-1986: Id., Correspondance du P. Marin Mersenne, 16 Vols., Éditions Universitaires de France et Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris 1932–86.
  82. - Mersenne 1985: Id., Questions Inouyes (1634), “Corpus des oeuvres de philosophie en langue française”, Fayard, Paris, 1985.
  83. - Micanzio 1987: Fulgenzio Micanzio, Lettere a William Cavendish, ed. Roberto Ferrini, Istituto Storico O.S.M., Roma 1987.
  84. - Mulsow 1998: Martin Mulsow, Frühneuzeitliche Selbsterhaltung. Telesio und die Naturphilosophie der Renaissance, Niemeyer, Tübingen 1998.
  85. - Paganini 1990: Gianni Paganini, Hobbes, Gassendi e la psicologia del meccanicismo, in Bernard Willms et Alii, Hobbes Oggi, Franco Angeli, Milano 1990, pp. 351-445.
  86. - Parigi 2011: Silvia Parigi, Spiriti, effluvi, attrazioni. La fisica “curiosa” dal Rinascimento al secolo dei Lumi, Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, Napoli 2011.
  87. - Pietarinen 2001: Juhani Pietarinen, Conatus as active power in Hobbes, «Hobbes Studies», 14 (2001), pp. 71-82.
  88. - Raylor 2001: Timothy Raylor, Hobbes, Payne and A Short Tract on First Principles, «The Historical Journal», 44 (2001), pp. 29-58.
  89. - Rees 1977: Graham Rees, Matter Theory: A Unifying Factor in Bacon’s Natural Philosophy?, «Ambix», 24/2 (1977), pp. 110-125.
  90. - Rees 1980: Id., Atomism and Subtlety in Francis Bacon, «Annals of Science», 37 (1980), pp. 549-571.
  91. - Rees 1984: Id., Francis Bacon and Spiritus Vitalis, in Fattori, Bianchi 1984, pp. 265-281.
  92. - Robinet 1990: Alexandre Robinet, Hobbes: structure et nature du conatus, in Jean Bernhardt et Yves-Charles Zarka (eds.), Thomas Hobbes: Philosophie première, théorie de la science et politique, Puf, Paris, 1990, pp. 127-138.
  93. - Rossi 1974: Paolo Rossi, Francesco Bacone. Dalla magia alla scienza, Einaudi, Torino 1974 (ed. or. 1957).
  94. - Rusu 2012, Doina-Cristina Rusu, Francis Bacon: Constructing Natural Histories of the Invisible, «Early Science and Medicine», 17 (2012), pp. 112-133.
  95. - Rusu 2018: Id., Same Spirit, Different Structure: Francis Bacon on Inanimate and Animate Matter, «Early Science and Medicine», 23 (2018), pp. 444-458.
  96. - Schuhmann 1988: Karl Schuhmann, Hobbes and Telesio, «Hobbes Studies», 1 (1988), pp. 109-133.
  97. - Schuhmann 1998: Id., Hobbes. Une Chronique, Vrin, Paris 1998.
  98. - Telesio 1586: Bernardino Telesio, De rerum natura iuxta propria principia libri IX, Salvianum, Napoli 1586.
  99. - Telesio 1976: Id., De rerum natura iuxta propria principia (1586), Libri VII–VII–IX, ed. Luigi De Franco, Olschki, Firenze 1976.
  100. - Telesio 2009: Id., La natura secondo i suoi princìpi, (2a ed. 1570) ed. Roberto Bondì, Bompiani, Milano 2009.
  101. - Terrel 2009: Jean Terrel, Thomas Hobbes: vies d’un philosophe, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes 2009.
  102. - Terrel et al. 2015: Benjamin Bourcier et al., Hobbes et Bacon: le sens d’un silence, «Philosophical Enquiries», 4 (2015), --
  103. - Tonelli Olivieri 1991: Grazia Tonelli Olivieri, Galen and Francis Bacon: Faculties of the Soul and the Classification of Knowledge, in Donald R. Kelley and Richard H.
  104. Popkin (eds.), The Shapes of Knowledge from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht 1991, pp. 61-81.
  105. - Tricaud 1992: François Tricaud, Le vocabulaire de la passion, in Zarka 1992, pp. 139-154.
  106. - Tuck 1989: Richard Tuck, Hobbes. A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1989.
  107. - Walker 1972: Daniel P. Walker, Francis Bacon and Spiritus, in Allen G. Debus (ed.), Science, Medicine and Society. Essays in honour of Walter Page, 2 Vols., Science History Publications, New York 1972, vol. II, pp. 121-130.
  108. - Walker 1984 a: Id., Medical Spirits and God and the Soul, in Fattori, Bianchi 1984, pp. 223-244.
  109. - Walker 1984 b: Id., Spirits in Francis Bacon, in Marta Fattori (ed.), Francis Bacon: terminologia e fortuna nel XVII secolo, Edizioni dell’Ateneo, Roma 1984, pp. 315-327.
  110. - Zagorin 1998: Perez Zagorin, Francis Bacon, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1998.
  111. - Zarka 1988: Yves-Charles Zarka, La matière et la représentation: Hobbes lecteur de la Dioptrique de Descartes, in Henri Méchoulan, Problématique et réceptions du Discours de la méthode, Vrin, Paris 1988, pp. 81-98.
  112. - Zarka 1992: Id. (ed.), Hobbes et son vocabulaire, Vrin, Paris 1992.
  113. - Zarka 1992 b: Id., Le vocabulaire de l’apparaitre: le champ sémantique de la notion de phantasma, in Zarka, 1992, pp. 13-29.

Gregorio Baldin, Francis Bacon’s Concept of spiritus and Thomas Hobbes in "RIVISTA DI STORIA DELLA FILOSOFIA" 3/2019, pp 401-430, DOI: 10.3280/SF2019-003001