Article ID: CBB419100100

Spirits and the Prolongation of Life in Francis Bacon: Commonality and Difference between the Inanimate and the Animate (2023)


This study reconsiders Francis Bacon’s ideas on spirits, death, and the prolongation of life through a chronological examination of his works. His conception of death has often been considered unique because it presupposed a common material basis for the dissolution of inanimate things and the death of human beings. However, his focus on this commonality seems to have faded gradually – though not completely – as his works progressed, from De viis mortis to his later works, including Historia vitae et mortis. He became increasingly conscious of the difference between the inanimate and the animate. While De viis mortis insisted on the role of inanimate spirits in aging and death, Historia vitae et mortis tended to consider vital spirits as the chief cause of human death. My suggestion in this article is that as Bacon’s ideas developed, they came closer to traditional conceptions of aging and death.

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Authors & Contributors
O'Connell, Caryn Maureen
Vita Fortunati
Kędzia, Ilona Barbara
Kästner, Alexander
Troyer, John
Toulalan, Sarah
History of Science in South Asia
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Social History of Medicine
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Medical History
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MIT Press
Cambridge University Press
Development; growth; life; death
Medicine and religion
Medicine and society
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Milton, John
Coxe, Daniel
Harvey, William
Worsley, Benjamin
Vaughan, Henry
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
18th century
15th century
Great Britain
Tamil Nadu (India)
Royal Society of London

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