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The History of Life and Death A 'Spiritual' History from Invisible Matter to Prolongation of Life

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Over a long period of time, particularly from the nineteenth century on, Francis Bacon's philosophy has been interpreted as centred on the Novum organum and focused on the role that a well-organized method may play in securing a reliable knowledge of nature. In fact, if we examine Bacon's oeuvre as a whole, including some recent manuscript findings (De vijs mortis), we can safely argue that the issues addressed in the Novum organum represent only a part of Bacon's agenda, and not even the most important ones. By contrast, it is apparent that, from the very beginning of his investigations, he emphasized the central role of medicine, the need to establish new approaches in the study of the vital functions and the importance of promoting new discoveries in the medical field, not so much to find a cure for the many illnesses that plagued mankind as to prolong human life. In this sense, Historia vitae et mortis plays a central role in Bacon's programme to extend human knowledge and power, for, in his opinion, human beings could recover their lost ability to live a long and healthy life by embarking on careful investigations of nature. Far from being a purely descriptive or abstract exercise, Bacon's historia can therefore be seen as an operative tool to attain some of mankind's basic aims.

Affiliations: 1: Contrada Bissà 12, 6512 Giubiasco, Switzerland;, Email:


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