Same Spirit, Different Structure: Francis Bacon on Inanimate and Animate Matter

In: Early Science and Medicine


This article argues that for Francis Bacon there is only one type of spiritual matter, which acquires different qualities and performs different functions within bodies depending on the structure it has. In order to prove this hypothesis, the paper takes as a case study the process of spontaneous generation, where there is no pre-existent spirit, as contrary to the case of the generation out of seed. For Bacon, tangible matter is prepared to produce certain species, leaving to the spirits the function of shaping what lies in matter in potency.

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