The Four Idols

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Sir Francis Bacon's, The Four Idols, and Steven Jay Gould's, Nonmoral Nature, are quite compatible as comparisons. I would say more so than comparing Gould's work with Charles Darwin's Natural Selection, from a literary standpoint. I think Bacon and Gould would have shared some similar ideas and agreed with one another on several issues.

When describing Bacon's Idols of the Tribe, Bacon states,"have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measurer of things...And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it." Bacon is saying that men are pretentious and they have distorted "nature" with their own human nature.Gould, in Nonmoral Nature, refers to man as a "host" and says that "I suspect that nothing evokes greater disgust in most of us than slow destruction of a host by an internal parasite - slow ingestion, bit by bit, from the inside." Gould is speaking in literal terms about the host and the internal parasite; however, I think Gould is speaking figuratively, as well, and that is exactly what Bacon was describing in the Idols of the Tribe. Man or "human understanding... distorts and discolors the nature of things" according to Bacon just as the "slow destruction of a host by an internal parasite" according to Gould. The intellectual issues that Bacon and Gould share are that basically, men destroy themselves from the inside out.

Gould and Bacon may find common ground in science and religion. Bacon says that the Idols of the Care "are the idols of the individual man." Bacon claims "men become attached to certain particular sciences and speculations, either because they fancy themselves the authors and inventors thereof, or because they have bestowed the greatest pains upon them and become most habituated to them." Bacon is saying that men find their root...
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