Unveiling the Mask: The Discourse on Francis Bacon’s Idols of Human Mind

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Sensationalism, Censorship and superseding opinions- these are the underlying actuations that continue to countermand the reality of the globe. It is like a parasite that continues to feed on the host and in the long run, leaves the host to suffer and be ill. Sensationalism, which means the distortion of facts in order for it to be appealing to the readers, is rampant in terms of mass media (Udeze & Chikezie, 2013). It uses alteration of words for it to be alluring to the senses of the audience, allowing exaggeration and overemphasis to set in and do its part. Going further, Censorship had also been part of the history of the world and Philippines is not excluded from it. Media Censorship, to be exact, is one of the political tactics in order for people not to see the reality that environs the government or institutions. Choices are made in order to determine what the public should see or not (The Balance Careers, n.d.). Like for example, during the Marcos Regime, where-in mass media were forced not to air shows and news concerning insurgency and contradicting ideologies against the late Pres. Marcos. Only those programs that coincide with the president’s vision and ideology are allowed to be watched, heard and seen by the audience. On the other side of the spectrum, Superseding opinions tend to confuse the world. With so many brains trying to override each other, others are left doubtful and murky in understanding the real concept. Because everybody wants to be heard, they would like their stand to be heard and eventually be the one to be put in the limelight.

In trying to examine all of these, we are targeted towards the quest for truth. These are the major setbacks in trying to achieve what is the real thing. This state that we have also is the reason why people continue to be enslaved by ignorance- they never learn. For the part of those who continue to commit it, they are led backwards, and the worst thing is that they become worse than the ignorant. But before we delve towards the discourse, it is proper to ask “What is truth?”. In the philosophical perspective, truth is that which does not change. Things change and sometimes even phenomena but the truth remains because simply, it is the truth. One of the philosophers of the English Renaissance, who critiqued the scientific method, sir Francis Bacon, exclaimed that truth is “naked and an open-daylight” (n.a., 2012). This meaning of truth which is written in his book entitled “Of Truth” will be our primary basis as we go along the discussion. First, in his explanation, we can say that truth is naked because it is undisguised. It is free from blemish, prejudice and subjectivity. Furthermore, it is free from judgement and stays as it is- it is bare. We can also draw here the idea that truth is simple; it is not exaggerated. Also, as mentioned, truth is an open-daylight. Well, we all know that an open-daylight gives a clearer picture of what things look like and how it represents itself and truth can be attributed to this. It gives us a better apprehension on what is happening. Truth allows us to be freed from the bonds of ignorance or in a simpler way, it gives us enlightenment.

Through knowing truth, itself, we come to a better vision of how phenomena and reality unfolds itself. Aforementioned also in his book, Bacon stated that humanity needs truth. Why? The prior reason is that without truth, our lives and our existence becomes senseless and worthless. Remember what Socrates had said, “An unexamined life is not worth living” this alone says to us that without truth, we cannot live well, which is the utmost maxim that we are expected to do. In the Christian perspective also, we read the lines written in the gospel of John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life.” Here, we can see that without the truth, we are directed towards an unknown path that is headed towards nothingness. The absence of truth also keeps us from attaining life therefore, we cease to exist. The latter reason implies to us that one of our nature as humans is our thirst for the truth. This curiosity that we have concedes us that our longing for truth is endless or limitless. And with this, we cannot go away to this kind of nature. We are nothing without the truth.

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However, as man possesses this kind of nature, it is undeniably true also that we can do measures that is contradictory to it. Though man have rationality, sometimes, he tends to incur in himself this naivety which hinders him from leaning in order to achieve the truth. As it is mentioned above the actions like sensationalism, censorship and superseding opinions, Francis Bacon also presents to us the obstacles in arriving towards the truth. In his book Novum Organon, Francis Bacon introduced the Idols of the Human Mind which continues to beset the human race namely: Idols of the Tribe, Idols of the Cave, Idols of the Market Place and Idols of the Theater (Omni, 2005). In his Idols of the Tribe, Bacon elucidates that the human nature is finite- it has an end. For example, he only knows the language in which he is acquainted to and therefore, cannot comprehend beyond it. Due to this kind of view, man tends to formulate a language of nature that he can understand for himself and then at the end of the day, it is uncertain whether his interpretation coincides with the system of nature.

As a result, the unfolding of truth becomes a measure that is centered on man. It is tainted with the so-called “Anthropocentrism.” Why? It is because man, because of his formulation of what should be and how should things be interpreted, he then believes that he is the center of everything. For instance, the superseding opinions that circulate around the internet and mass media, everybody thinks that they possess the right answer in all the problems that arises in human existence. It’s as if man turns out to be omniscient while at the end of the day, he forgets his very nature- he is finite and that there are things that are beyond his apprehension. The second fixation which continues to betray the revelation of truth is the Idols of the Cave. Contained within is man’s preoccupations and predispositions. Yes, it is true as man enters the society, he also attaches himself to worldly things such as fame, power and riches and as a consequence, he refracts the idea of truth. Like the reailty that lies in censorship, when man tries to manipulate what his viewers will see; he masks himself with artificiality and not with transparency. Also, the doings of scientists and even researchers sometimes favor to this. They forget the value of letting people know what is the fact and compromises the truth of everything. In order to be successful, they manipulate the data and lean towards their desired outcome. Furthermore, owing the fact that this is happening, some of our citizens continue to live in a big lie. They never learn because they are subdued by a lot of distortions. Going further with Bacon’s discussion, he spoke about the Idols of the Market Place. This talks about man’s use of words. Imagine yourself going to the market. There you will observe lots of vendors trying to entice, convince and persuade buyers to avail and purchase their products and produce. And in trying to allure the vendors, they use words which appeals to the ears of the people. While, hearing to the words, others end up buying their products even if they actually don’t need it. During the ancient times, they can be compared to the Sophists- the prostitutes of wisdom.

Even if their stand or ideas are nonsense and false, people are made to believe especially to those who don’t think critically because of their beautiful craft and use of words. In the modern era, they can be compared to the acts of sensationalism. News, facts and advertisements are made with such persuasive words to the extent that truth becomes now a mere fragment of reality and a big dose of lies and contortions. Last barrier that Bacon talked about is the Idols of the Theater which in his explanation delved on the false systems of Philosophy and Dogmas that we continue to use. Even Sciences are not excluded from it. Bacon grew tired of Deductive Method, where according to him, we only discover what has been discovered before- we never unlock new knowledge. Also, in terms of dogma, where everything is set to have been what is true and uncontestable. In addition, he also included in this preoccupation, the ongoing Vogue System in our society. Everything seems to follow what is in the trend and what everybody is used to without daring to stand out and fight for what is right. We just go with the flow and that’s it; end of the story.

What then should be the best and ideal process? Well, according to Bacon, he said that it is better to follow the Inductive Method where-in we start from the particular idea going to the general aspect of it. As an upshot, by going first into the specifics, we broaden our horizon and we learn things we never uncovered before. It is like looking at a plant. You start first on the details of it and then as you go along examining and viewing it, you start to realize that there are still more details left unexposed so you try dig deeper and open your mind to the reality that you need to strive more and acknowledge that your knowledge still needs to be enlightened. After that, you try to look at the bigger picture and at the end of the day, you end not sacrificing and leaving out what is important and you gain new things you didn’t expect to come out or happen.

Unveiling the mask of subjectivity in achieving the truth is a must that humanity should know and realize. Before we know certain truths, we should first put aside our biases, preoccupations and self-vested interests. When we start to meddle on the truth and putting our own story to it, we start to impose stains on its nakedness and be allowed to be concealed within our own nature. We should let nature unfold itself. What the idea says is that, we shouldn’t put it in a controlled environment and a distorted image. We don’t stay as spectators doing nothing but to just look at it as it unfolds its reality, we, then start to use our critical and analytic reasoning and bearing in mind the extent of our subjectivity. Truth is not something which can be manipulated. It remains for itself. Also, each individual has the right to know the truth and therefore, we should learn to propagate it in a proper manner. We should not be devoured and be taken away by the sweeping tide of fallacious idols. Man is given capabilities for him to be better and be an example; we should not lean on its diversions. As long as we incur in ourselves a false notion of subjectivity, we continue to chained by the bonds of ignorance; truth will never be in our grasp if we continue to live in it. Bacon offers to us not only a new way of arriving towards the truth but he offers us an explicit manifestation on how we can live the truth. The only question is that, Are you going to stay within the borders or are you ready to step in to the light? You just need to unveil your mask and sift in to the realities of our existence.

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