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Lyke de Vries joins the Vossius Center for three months in September 2020 as a Research Fellow with the project 'Universal Reformation: A Study of Francis Bacon’s ‘Advancement of Learning’'.

About the project

Francis Bacon published in 1605 the first edition of his Advancement of Learning, in which he described his reform programme in detail. It contained a programmatic proposal to open up worlds both geographical and scientific. He pleaded for an instauration of philosophy and a reformation of learning, which was to culminate in the restored dominion of man over nature. His plans were couched in metaphors and fuelled by religious considerations and apocalyptic expectations, as he expected that with the rediscovery of the New World, a new day would dawn and prelapsarian knowledge would return to the world, restoring humanity to an original state of cognition.

We know that Bacon dismissed traditional learning and drew on ancient and Renaissance texts, but the precise nature, contents, and developments of his apocalyptically inspired reform programme remain unclear. It has been associated with his mother’s English Puritanism, but this connection fails entirely to explain the apocalyptic and programmatic side of his reform plans, as Puritanism had aspirations quite dissimilar from Bacon’s. It is the purpose of this research project to study a) the nature of Bacon’s apocalyptically inspired views; and b) the development of these views, in order to better understand his intentions and the heterodox aspects of his scientific programme, and therefore to cast new light on a seminal episode of the Scientific Revolution.

The first step in carrying out this research project is to study in detail the two editions of the Advancement of Learning. It was first published in 1605 in English, with an expanded edition in Latin entitled De augmentis scientiarum, published in 1623. Their respective contents and conceptual development over time still need to be analysed in detail.5 Additionally, closely related, shorter works need to be consulted, such as the Redurgatio philosophorum (1608) and New Atlantis (1626). Ultimately, it is my intention to study the sources of Bacon’s reform programme.

About the researcher

Lyke de Vries is research fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Radboud University. She wrote her PhD thesis on "The Rosicrucian Reformation divini at humani: The Rosicrucian Call for Reform, Its Contents and Early Response" in Nijmegen and Oxford. Lyke obtained her Master's degree (cum laude) in July 2015 from Radboud University. Her MA thesis was devoted to the history of Paracelsianism, and concentrated specifically on the official Catholic reception of Paracelsus' works. In May 2015, Lyke was awarded a PhD Scholarship in the Humanities from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In 2015, she received a scholarship from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds to study at the University of Oxford. In 2018, she was awarded a Christine Mohrmann Stipendium. She is now a postdoctoral fellow of Nijmegen's Center for the History of Philosophy and Science.