Anderson M (2016) Francis Bacon's Flux of the Spirits and Renaissance Paradigms of Hybridity and Adaptation. In: Giglioni G, Lancaster J, Corneanu S & Jalobeanu D (eds.) Francis Bacon on Motion and Power. International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées, 218. Switzerland: Springer, pp. 133-151. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-27641-0
Francis Bacon’s works cover a diverse range of spheres, including natural philosophy, experimental science, discursive essays and contemporary politics; yet underpinning this diversity, and spanning his roles as intellectual scholar and public official, lies his belief in a hybridity and adaptiveness in Nature that is also expressed in humans. Bacon describes the compound nature of the human body as an extreme manifestation of the hybridity to be found in Nature more generally, and it is this that results in humans’ particularly fluid and impressionable nature. This hybridity is also expressed by the coeffective nature of the bodily humours and the passions of the mind, with the distribution of the faculties of the mind in the organs of the body also reflecting the nontrivially embodied nature of the mind. The embodied mind is described as an ‘uneven mirror’ which ‘inserts and mingles its own nature with the nature of things as it forms and devises its own notions’; this reveals that a blurring between the characteristics of subject and object is inevitable, with a projection of one’s own qualities onto the object (Bacon 2000b, 19). Errors and false beliefs on the epistemological level result from the ontological interrelationship of natural bodies; these errors arise not just from our hybridity, or flawed sensory perceptions, but also from the discernment and motions of the spirits through which all matter is dynamically interconnected. That humans are not only embodied but also extended into the world is implied by the flux from spirit to spirit, not only within, but also between entities, and this resulted in Bacon’s interest in pursuing empirical tests on social permeability, as well as on humans’ and other entities’ more general susceptibility to appropriate another substance’s properties.
Human Nature; Political Body; Human Tendency; Heavenly Body; Enactivist Account