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Learning to Read Nature: Francis Bacon’s Notion of Experiential Liter- 
acy (Experientia Literata)

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Chapter Summary

Francis Bacon's elusive notion of experience can be understood when one relate it to his views on matter, motion, appetite and intellect, and bring to the fore its broader philosophical implications. This chapter examines Bacon's notion of experience by examining those steps that he considered to be the crucial initial stages in the formation of human experience, stages described as a process of experiential literacy (experientia literata) or, in emblematic terms, as a hunting expedition led by the mythological figure of Pan. It argues that a well-rounded analysis of Bacon's experientia literata needs to take into account the complementary notion of the "spelling-book of nature", that is, the original code of the primordial motions of matter. By getting acquainted with the first rudiments of experience through its spelling-book, one learns to read the book of nature and, most of all, to write new pages in it.

Keywords: empiricism; experiential literacy; Francis Bacon; Pan; philosophy



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