AA And Laid-Back Boys

Advancement of Learning

The Second Book.


  The Division of all Human Learning into History, Poesy, Philosophy; with reference to the three Intellectual Faculties, -- Memory, Imagination, and Reason; and that the same division holds good likewise in Theology.   
THE best division of human learning is that derived from the three faculties of the rational soul, which is the seat of Learning. History has reference to the Memory, poesy to the Imagination, and philosophy to the Reason. And by poesy here I mean nothing else than feigned history or fables; for verse is but a character of style, and belongs to the arts of speech, whereof I will treat in its proper place.
    History is properly concerned with individuals, which are circumscribed by place and time. For though Natural History may seem to deal with species, yet this is only because of the general resemblance which in most cases natural objects of the same species bear to one another; so that when you know one, you know all. And if individuals are found, which are either Unique in their species, like the sun and moon; or notable deviations from their species, like monsters; the description of these has as fit a place in Natural History as that of remarkable men has in Civil History. All this relates to the Memory.
    Poesy, in the sense in which I have defined the word, is also concerned with individuals; that is, with individuals invented in imitation of those which are the subject of true history; yet with this difference, that it commonly exceeds the measure of nature, joining at pleasure things which in nature would never have come together, and introducing things which in nature would never have come to pass; just as Painting likewise does. This is the work of Imagination.
      Philosophy discards individuals; neither does it deal with the impressions immediately received from them, but with abstract notions derived from these impressions; in the composition and division whereof according to the law of nature and fact its business lies. And this is the office and work of Reason.
    That these things are so, may be easily seen by observing the commencements of the intellectual process. The sense,which is the door of the intellect, is affected by individuals only. The images of those individuals -- that is, the impressions which they make on the sense -- fix themselves in the memory, and pass into it in the first instance entire as it were, just as they come. These the human mind proceeds to review and ruminate; and thereupon either simply rehearses them, or makes fanciful imitations of them, or analyses and classifies them. Wherefore from these three fountains, Memory, Imagination, and Reason, flow these three emanations, History, Poesy, and Philosophy; and there can be no others. For I consider history and experience to be the same thing, as also philosophy and the sciences.
    Nor do I think that any other division is wanted for Theology. The information derived from revelation and the information derived from the sense differ no doubt both in the matter and in the manner of conveyance; but the human mind is the same, and its repositories and cells the same. It is only like different liquids poured through different funnels into one and the same vessel. Theology therefore in like manner consists either of Sacred History, or of Parables, which are a divine poesy, or of Doctrines and Precepts, which are a perennial philosophy. For as for that part which seems supernumerary, which is Prophecy, it is but a kind of history: for divine history has this prerogative over human, that the narration may be before the event, as well as after.
[@ Bacon, Works IV, 292-3]