1.Critically examine, with relevant illustrations, Bacon pragmatism (or practical consideration) in regard to the fruits of friendship as revealed in this essay Of Friendship.
Or, Discuss the extent of Bacon’s practical approach to the importance of friendship in the essay Of Friendship.
Pragmatism means practical consideration. It implies a practical assessment of an affair or matter particularly for its utilitarian value. It is not much concerned with moral right or wrong, but with the utility of a particular action. A pragmatist is one who judges and acts from the basis of what appear to be a practical necessity. He is, thus, more or less a follower of utilitarianism.
It is true fact that Bacon is noted particularly for his practical approach to diverse issues and problems in human life. He is of his best when he writes keeping his eyes on material world. There is, of course, no ethical guidance or lofty principle of morality here. His views and opinions are guided purely from earthly considerations of specific benefits. Moral questions are definitely involved in Bacon but he is not a conventional moralist. The essayist in him rather thinks and speaks on the basis of what constitutes the practical utility to achieve happiness, success and peace in life.
In his essay Of Friendship Bacon’s pragmatism is also distinct. Of course, this is somewhat distinctly different from his other short essays. Bacon here speaks rather in a less utilitarian tone. The essay itself is a fruit of his long drawn friendship with Toby Matthew and it contains much of his sincere feelings and appreciations of friendship as an endearing element ever to be cherished and nurtured.
Bacon in this essay appears very much practical in his approach to friendship. He is no follower of the Platonic theory that friendship is the highest form of love, a sort of spiritual companionship, in the union of the two souls of the same sex. He rather follows the Aristotelian views of the values friendship from three angles for profit, for pleasure and for a frank and genuine communion between two souls.
According to Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher truth and untruth can be discussed in few words. To him, a man who finds delight in solitude, who prefers to live a lonely life outside the society is either a beast or a god. It is true that the hatred and aversion of a man towards society has somewhat of the savage beast. If one finds himself out truly in love and enjoyment everything would be heavenly to him. Epimenides, Numa, Empedocles are some those characters who find the true nature of self-realization. But very few people can actually come to know the nature of solitude. A crowd is not a company, the pictures of some people can take a place in the out gallery but it would be wrong to say that we love them. Magna is one of the biggest to cities of Greece, but there is no friendship here. Friends live here in a scattering manner and, therefore, friendship never grows warm. Loneliness engulfs there, where there is the lack of friendship, love and humanity. It is also a fact that without a true friend the world appears as a land of wilderness.
One can open his heart to a true friend. We can feel ease if we lay down our mental suffocation to a friend. An inflicted mind finds relief expressing to a friend. Various treatments are there for the physical or bodily problems. Artificial or natural medicine can cure our body but not the mind. We only can open the door of our heart to a friend with whom we can frankly share our grief, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions and almost everything. In a word true friend is like a confession box.
The great kings make friendship between them in spite of the hazards of their own safety and greatness. It bears golden fruit for them. It is seen that the princes if break the distance between them and their servants or subject they can easily be benefited by it. As a result of it distance breaks and they come close to each other and the result of which is obviously enormous. In modern language this tie is named as favourites or ‘privadoes’ In the Roman name of this tie is ‘sharers of cares and anxieties’. Nothing can be more beautiful than this. It is also noticed that not only the princes but the wisest and the most serious persons make friendship with their servants or common persons.
Pythagoras rightly put that if a man never opened his mind or formed closeness he would be the eater of the heart. If one shares his joy with his friend the joy would be double and if he shares his sorrow, the sorrow would be reduced. It is seen that inspite of the contrary pulls we always find or get benefit from friendship as we bodily be fitted inspite of the chemicals, the use of which often apparently causes contrary effects by the alchemists.
Friendship is healthful and it makes the understanding clear. It brings a fair day after the tempests and storms of affections. In the light of friendship darkness flies away. If one can not find what to do coming into a situation he can be easily guided by counseling with friend what one can not make out inspite of a whole day’s meditation can find the way of solution if consults with his friend. One will get clear light after arguing with his friend: You can lessen your suffering by conveying it near your friend.
A man receives more pure judgment and understanding by counseling. There lies the difference between the judgment that one take himself and that he knows from his friends. Man’s self is his highest flatter and only a true friend can check that flatter. There are two types of counseling — one relating to manners and other relating to business. In case of manner the best advice is come from a friend. We often can not understand our absurdities and errors which destroy our fame and fortune. In this case a friend can guide you to the right way. In case of business a good counsel often sets the business in the straight direction. It is dangerous to pick counsels piece by piece. If will surely bring two types of dangers. First of all he may not be faithfully counseled and secondly the counsel may prove hurtful and unsafe for him. It may be like the case that for curing your disease you call a doctor who is unacquainted with your body; he may cure your body but sets another problems to your health. It will sound like – ‘cure the disease and kill the patient’. Therefore, never rest upon the scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead you.
The last fruit of friendship is like pomegranate, full of many kernels. There are many things in the world that one can not perform himself. It is said that ‘a friend is another himself’ but the fact is that a friend is far more himself. An unfinished can be finished if you go away by a friend. What one can not express through his own lips can be better pronounced by a friend. “A man can not speak to his son but as a father ‘to his wife but as a husband; to his enemy but upon terms: whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person.”
In his essays, Bacon studies, observes and judges different elements from the practical standpoint and lays down his practical wisdom for the betterment of human understanding.