Wrestling with Proteus: Francis Bacon and the "Torture" of Nature

  title={Wrestling with Proteus: Francis Bacon and the "Torture" of Nature},
  author={Peter Pesic},
  pages={81 - 94}
  • P. Pesic
  • Published 1 March 1999
  • Linguistics
  • Isis
Although many writers state that Francis Bacon advocated the torture of nature in order to force her to reveal her secrets, a close study of his works contradicts this claim. His treatment of the myth of Proteus depicts a heroic mutual struggle, not the torture of a slavish victim. By the "vexation" of nature Bacon meant an encounter between the scientist and nature in which both are tested and purified. 

Redeeming Adam's Curse: The Bible and Enlightenment Science in Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia

Abstract Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia, first published and distributed to the American public in 1787, presented his mature thoughts on politics, amid a vast array of

Vico e a objeção moral dirigida a Francis Bacon no De ratione

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Vitalism and the Resistance to Experimentation on Life in the Eighteenth Century

  • C. Wolfe
  • Philosophy
    Journal of the history of biology
  • 2013
This view does not have to imply that Nature is something mysterious or sacred; nor does the vitalist have to attack experimentation on life in the name of some ‘vital force’ – which makes it less surprising to find a vivisectionist like Claude Bernard sounding so close to the vitalists.



See the new Oxford edition: Francis Bacon, Philosophical Studies c

  • 1611-c. 1619, ed. Graham Rees (Oxford: Clarendon,
  • 1612

For a useful treatment of the concept of science as a hunt (venatio) see William Eamon

  • Science and the Secrets of Nature (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton
  • 1968

Reflections on Gender and Science (New Haven, Conn.: Yale

  • The Science Question in Feminism (Ithaca,
  • 1980

emphasizes the sinister aspects of Proteus

  • 1968