Turning the Tables on Bacon: Computer-Assisted Baconian Philology

Peter Pesic


Francis Bacon recommended the compilation of “Tables of Instances” as a crucial ingredient of his new natural philosophy, and his own methodology can helpfully be applied to his own texts. Controversial issues about the meaning of certain crucial Baconian terms can be elucidated by the use of exhaustive tables collecting all his uses of those terms. In particular, these tables help resolve long-standing questions about his use of the terms “violence,” “vexation,” and “torture”; the generation of such tables with the help of computers provides a new tool for Baconian philology.


Francis Bacon; violence; vexation; torture; computerized philology; Carolyn Merchant

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