"The Four Idols" Rhetoric Technique Enumeration

Topics: Reason, Mind, Understanding Pages: 2 (725 words) Published: October 10, 2009
“There are four classes of Idols which beset men’s minds. To these for distinctions sake I have assigned names- calling the first class Idols of the Tribe; the second Idols of the Cave; the third Idols of the Marketplace; the fourth Idols of the Theatre.” - Francis Bacon “The Four Idols”

The quote above excerpted from Francis Bacon’s “The Four Idols”, is an example of a rhetoric technique called enumeration. Enumeration is a list of names that categorizes an idea. In his work, Francis Bacon uses this rhetoric to classify and organize what the four idols of human nature are and what they mean. Two particular idols, The Idols of the Cave and The Idols of the Marketplace, show how Bacon uses this rhetoric to present the problems in human nature, and to explain how each idol is developed to understand what the problem is and its solution. “The idols and false notions are now in possession of the human understanding and have taken deep root therein, not only so beset men’s minds that can hardly find entrance, but even after entrance obtained, they will again in the very instauration of the science meet and trouble us….” (Bacon 582). An idol, according to Bacon, is an illusion. These idols present the problems of human nature and how individuals understand the truth. The Idols of the Cave are “the idols of the individual man” (Bacon 582). The individual man is held captive in a cave of his own perception of the truth. This individual’s way of understanding is altered by numerous reasons: his own way of thinking, his conversations with others, the books he reads, and from the people he admires. Individuals are held captive of seeing reality through these reasons. This presents how Bacon’s use of enumeration sets up a list of many reasons why an individual can misinterpret human nature. He also categorizes that an individual’s mind can be predisposed by being held captive of what an individual believes instead of knowing the truth. Another example is the Idols of...

Cited: Francis Bacon. “The Four Idols.” Trans.Francis Headlam and R.L. Ellis A World of Ideas. Ed. Lee A Jacobus. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martins 2010. 449-457. Print.
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