This a 3 part paper the I wrote comparing Malcom X and Francis Bacon's barriers to perception the first part describes Francis Bacon barriers, the second part discusses the speech I chose by Malcom X and the thrid part compares the two.
In the society we live in, there are many Idols. There are people who do not sing but yet we call them the “Next” Idol, to others who are lying around and worshiping a bronze figure and saying their wish is their command. There are all sorts of Idols in our culture and world. Idols do not have to be a figurine on a bookshelf or something we give homage too. Often in the world, we can have Idols that are false or an image. In the 1600's a man by the name of Francis Bacon introduced to the world four new types of Idols or this phantom image to show us the world around us. Bacon used the Idols to describe the words and images that we use when we as a society interact with one another. While these Idols might never produce a gold record, they do offer us a way to classify the barriers we have around us, and help us to perceive what could be real.
In Bacon's book Novum organum, he lists the four barriers to perception. In listing these barriers, he chooses to call them Idols. This is not in the sense of a false god or heathen deity but rather in the sense employed in Epicurean physics. The word idol comes from the Greek word eidolon , which means phantom or image. He classifies the Idols into four classes that beset men's mind (Bacon 47). These Idols are the Idols of the Tribe, the Idols of the Cave, the Idols of the Marketplace, and the Idols of the Theatre. Each of these Idols are used to show how we use barriers to perceive the items around us.
The first Idols that are listed deals with the Idols of the Tribe. This idol has its foundation from human nature in that we are a Tribe of people. These are the natural weaknesses and tendencies common to human nature. Because they are innate, we cannot eliminate them. Instead, we can only recognize and compensate for them. The images we project in these Idols come from the falsity around us. Bacon describes a false mirror that receives images by distorting and discoloring the nature of things (48). By our own nature, we humans are prone to find the existence of more order and regularity in the world than it understands. There are many things in nature whish are singular and unmatched, yet we do not find parallels and conjugates the match them Bacon uses the idea that in our sphere we understand thing when we are moved by the items that strike and enter the mind simultaneously and suddenly that fill our imagination (51). The Idols of the Tribe deal a lot with our understandings as human beings. Our perception is no dry light rather it is an infusion from the will and affections. It moves us and allows us the question the items around us (52). Bacon does warn that the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dullness, incompetence and deceptions of the senses. This comes from speculation that commonly ceases from items not having it strike hard enough into our senses. The main reminder of this Idols deals with the perception we all see, and we all experience. The Idols of the Tribe are a collective phantom. Examples of these Idols are the wishful things that men have because we have a natural inclination to accept, believe, and even prove what we would prefer to be true. We also have the problem in these Idols to rush to make judgments. We see the words or the barrier and when we believe it is not right we rush and judge it to be wrong instead of trying figuring out if it was right.
Unlike the Idols of the Tribe, the Idols of the Cave are more individualized. These Idols arise not from nature but from our culture and thus reflect the peculiar distortions, prejudices, and beliefs that we are all subject to owing to our different family backgrounds, childhood experiences, education, training, gender, religion, social class, etc. Men often attach themselves to certain particular sciences and speculations. This either comes because they fancy themselves and the authors and inventors thereof or because they have bestowed the greatest pains upon them and become most habituated to them. Bacon recognizes that some minds are stronger and more apt to mark the difference of things perceived in the Idols of the Cave. One basic personality of this is the intellectual capacity, educational training and occupation of value system one has in the Cave. These experience are uniquely derived from the unique qualities we as individuals experience (Golden 149). There is also an acknowledgement that people in the Cave have different needs of antiquity or novelty. Some men are given an extreme admiration of antiquity, while others an extreme love and appetite for novelty (Bacon 55). So by having the images from the Idols of the Cave and by using our experience we can experience the items that are self made and not controlled by external force in our perception.
The Idols of the Marketplace are hindrances to clear thinking that arise, Bacon says, from the “intercourse and association of men with each other (49).” He also calls the Idols from here the most troublesome of all. He further states, “For men believe that their reason governs words; but it is also true that words react on the understanding (56).” The main culprit here is language, though not just common speech, but also the special discourses, vocabularies, and jargons of various academic communities and disciplines. He points out “the Idols imposed by words on the understanding are of two kinds.”: “They are either name of things that do not exist” or faulty, vague, or misleading names for things that do exist (57). When jargon and other words are used in a speech they confound the others words and meaning around the jargon word. Take for instance the word “time.” If you were talking to someone about “time,” they might be inclined to think about what “time” it is, how they have no “time,” or maybe they do not need any “time.” If this subject of a speech was on “time” management the person could think of any numerous ideas when it came to “time.” Bacon does caution that in words used in the Marketplace there are degrees of distortion and error to every word (58). When we use words in the Marketplace we must be careful on how we present the words and what they are truly meaning. Bacon also anticipated the twenty-century semanticist, and warned us of the pitfalls confronting those who fail to use the words with precession and care while communicating (Golden149).
The last barrier to perception is referred to as The Idols of the Theatre. Like the Idols of the Cave, those of the theatre are culturally acquired rather than innate. And although the metaphor of a theatre suggests an artificial imitation of truth, as in drama or fiction, Bacon makes it clear that these Idols derive mainly from grand schemes or systems of philosophy – and especially from three particular types of philosophy (Bacon 60). The first of these is the Sophistical Philosophy. This is a philosophical systems based only on a few casually observed instances. It is thus constructed mainly out of abstract argument and speculation. Bacon cites Scholasticism as a conspicuous example. He also disapproves of Aristotle on his use of logic to fashion out world categories to classify the human soul (60). The criticism is used to show how the in other Greeks their use of barriers inhibited others with their thoughts and used it show their images of the Cave. The next type is referred to as the Empirical Philosophy. It is a philosophical system ultimately based on a single key insight which is then erected into a model or paradigm to explain phenomena of all kinds. Bacon in his writing cites the example of William Gilbert, whose experiments with the lodestone persuaded him that magnetism operated as the hidden force behind virtually all earthly phenomena. The last of these philosophies is called the Superstitious Philosophy. Bacon uses this phrase for any system of thought that mixes theology and philosophy. In his writings he cites Pythagoras and Plato as guilty of this practice, but also points his finger at pious contemporary efforts. Such examples, similar to those of Creationists today, are found in systems of natural philosophy on Genesis or the bo ok of Job.
Now that we have explored what Bacon calls his barriers to perception there is a need to have another source. There have been many items written about the Idols in Novum organum. One of the authors writing about Bacon describes these Idols not as Idols, but more of fallacies (Wallace 98). Wallace classifies these four fallacies into three groups of sophistical fallacies, fallacies of interpretations, and false appearances. He also writes that from Bacon's point of view, sophistical fallacies on the surface appear to be correct but when we examine them they are proven false. He does offer some insight to the Tribes and tries to explain them in simpler terms. In the Idols of the Tribe Bacon discuses the human understanding and that it receives an infusion of will and affections for what a man had rather were true the more readily believes (Bacon 39). Wallace explains that the tendency of the understanding to rationalize may be due in a measure to the human being's desire to avoid the unpleasantness of doubt (101). When dealing with the Idols of the Cave Wallace uses Plato's explanation of how we would perceive items from the Cave. Plato talks about if a child had lived in a grot or cave under the earth until the age of maturity and then came out, the child would have strange reactions to items and absurd imagination of the world around him (102). This story is used to illustrate how we each experience the Cave differently and when we are brought out of it we are told what the images we have seen are.
In writing about the remaining to Idols he states that unlike the Idols of the Tribe and Cave the Idols of the Marketplace and Theatre are imposed by men, not nature (102). Men are deceived by the very words that comprise the chief medium of their discourse and by philosophical systems they accept on authority (103). So while working in the Idols of the Marketplace we must be care about the world around us and the judgments other men and women are trying to make on us. In the Idols of the Tribe Wallace criticizes the philosophers as to why we have this Tribe. They have taken from the material of philosophy either a great deal out of a few things because they do not take the investigation patiently accordingly to the methods of true inductions (103).
Other people have written about Bacon and his barriers to perception. The Idols of the Theatre was put down by the Journal of Philosophy. Had Bacon believed that the presentation of a new logic of introduction was so important; it is difficult to see why he left it in a so incomplete state (Storck170). The also criticize that in the rest of his papers he does not suggest answers for problems he brings (171). The Idols of Theatre, says another writer, are pseudoscientific doctrines and attitudes (Urbach 122). The main arguments Bacon has for the Idols are they teach the untutored investigator has a proclivity in nature and must be careful when judging items in this idol (123). So is there in then a sense of bias in Bacon's writings? One author wrote that Bacon used a tremendous amount of bias in his writing in that they slant the way humans should think (Walton 387). While we have bias everything has a slant and view.
Although we perceive different items from our lives, they can be classified in our barriers to perception. Francis Bacon chooses to call his form of barriers “Idols.” Each of the Idols represents a stage in life were people go between. We each can move in an out of the Idols because they affect our lives. We spend time in the Tribe we learn and remember innate items. We gain knowledge and for our own ideas from the Cave and when we are brought out of the Cave we have to judge our positions on what we believe. The Marketplace gives us the chance to change our opinions and beliefs about the Cave images and allows other to inflict their ideas upon us. Sometimes those beliefs come from the theatre of men. Ideas and thought can change our perception, but there is always one or more barriers to it.
The state of Nebraska over the years has had many famous public speakers. These orators have spoken words that have shaped and redefined how people think and how they are moved. The speeches that have been given are mostly politically motivated and are meant to shape people's views. The first of these great Orators was William Jennings Bryan. In 1896 Bryan delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech were he declared that America had put their money on a cross of gold. While this would be a wonderful speech would be great to apply to Francis Bacon's barriers to perception, there is another famous Nebraska born Orator who, in death, still changes some American view of perspective. This man is not recognized as being from Nebraska , yet he was born here. His views were not always with the mainstream of what citizen of Nebraska were thinking, yet he had followers. He hardly looked like us, yet people outside of Nebraska called him brother. Each year there are cries to celebrate his birthday, when a Christian man's day is held. He was a man ahead of his time, yet shot down in the prime of his life.
When you say the name Malcolm Little, most people do not know who he is. However say the name Malcolm X and the people know who he is. Born in Omaha in the 1920's Malcolm X made a name for himself selling drugs, stealing, and hustling. He was locked up before his 25th birthday for burglary and sentenced for eight-to-ten-years. In prison he "got religion," rejected his criminal past, and became a follower of Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. After his release, Malcolm dropped his surname, calling it a slave name, and began to preach on street corners, extolling the benefits of sobriety and self-respect. He rose quickly through the ranks, organizing mosques in various cities, and soon became the official spokesman for the Nation of Islam, a position he maintained until he parted with the group in early 1964.
Malcolm X's message is as clear today as it was when he delivered it from the Audubon Ballroom on Easter Sunday in March of 1964. The speech was delivered in the late afternoon to a group of black Islamic who were gathered to hear the words Malcolm had for them. This speech was met with tragedy after it was delivered. Eleven months after he gave this address, Malcolm X was shot and killed by assassins in the same auditorium from which he had spoken. After his death, Malcolm X's "ballot or bullet" decree became the slogan of Black Power groups and caught the attention of the press.
The words around us can often have different meanings. Perception can influence how we interpret a word and its context. The rhetoric Francis Bacon called these perception changers “Idols.” These Idols uniquely delt with different aspects of our own perception and how we interpret an item. When people spoke they often did not know they were classifying the words they used into these Idols. Bacon in his use of Idols formed a way to show how words were innate, how would came from our surrounding, how people influence our thoughts and wellbeing, and how philosophical ideas can mold our thoughts. When a speaker uses these four manors we take a stance on what is being said, and make opinions to what the speaker truly wants.
Malcolm X, a former Nebraskan, delivered countless speeches during the Civil Rights Era of the United States . His words, directed toward the Muslim community, inspired the people whom he spoke to. He used words to describe feelings that were both general and complex. Did he use Francis Bacon's barriers to perception when speaking? Well let us find out by taking Malcolm X's “Bullet or the Ballet” speech given in Cleveland , Ohio in April of 1964. In this speech we will examine each of the four Idols briefly and then examine if Malcolm X used these Idols in his speech. If Malcolm X used Bacon's Idols it should be easily seen, if not then this speech does not reach the level Bacon has set for an item being to be used in our barriers to perception.
The first Idols that Bacon list is the Idols of the Tribe. This idol has its foundation from human nature in that we are a Tribe of people. Francis Bacon describes that in this Idol we discover the natural weaknesses and tendencies common to human nature. Bacon describes a false mirror that receives images by distorting and discoloring the nature of things (Bacon 48). The Idols of the Tribe deal a lot with our understandings as human beings. The Idols of the Tribe are a collective phantom of images and realities in the world around us.
So does Malcolm X use innate words and understandings that are common to human nature and other elements in this tribe during his speech? In the beginning of his speech he talks about bravery and the need to be brave. He tells the people that if they can be brave fighting Koreans and Chinese they can be brave fighting over here (Eidenmuller 7). This is an example of the Idols of the Tribe in that bravery is something that comes from with in. The ability to stand up for something we do not believe in and to take a stance against it comes from bravery. Since bravery is innate quality to all of us this statement from Malcolm X spoke is an Idol of the Tribe.
Voting is an issue that comes from the feelings of wanting to be free. Freedom is an innate idea that people have and believe in. Malcolm X uses the idea of voting throughout his entire speech. In the extent of his speech we are reminded constantly that it is the Ballot or the Bullet at the General Election that is coming that fall. This is a constant reminder of freedom or death that comes from the inherent need to be free or die. This also a constant reminder of the Idol or the Tribe and that we need to focus on what we always need to remember what we believe is true.
For every good example trying to use the Idol of the Tribe there are failures along the way. Towards the end of the speech Malcolm X tries to show how the black people must use guerilla style in fighting. He comments that the white man's style is to use direct fighting (Eidenmuller 43-45). While could be seen as an attempt to draw on items that we are born with, skin color does not determine how we should react to a situation. While there are ways this could be interpreted as something innate, this is not a manor. It is not a use of the Idol of the Tribe. Instead Malcolm X is a using a form of racism. The line between being innate and being racist is a tight line. However when I child is born they do not know if they are black or white at birth, it is something they are told and taught.
The next barrier to perception Bacon uses is the Idols of the Cave. Unlike the Idols of the Tribe, the Idols of the Cave are more individualized. These Idols arise not from nature but from our culture and thus reflect the peculiar distortions, prejudices, and beliefs that we are all subject to owing to our different family backgrounds, childhood experiences, education, training, gender, religion, social class, etc. Some men are given an extreme admiration of antiquity, while others an extreme love and appetite for novelty (Bacon 55). In this tribe our opinions are formed and shaped by what we observe around us.
In the context of Malcolm X's speech does he use the Idol of the Cave when speaking to the people? Well the culture of the people he was speaking to were mostly Muslims and he describes that the people who are there have the same problems, which are common problems to everyone, no matter if you are Muslim or Methodist or Nationalist(Eidenmuller 3). This is an example of using the Idol of the cave, we all have problems and it does not matter where we come from or how we are brought up. The problems that we experience can make us whom we are. By using this example of problems Malcolm X is expressing his use of the cave.
Another item Malcolm X uses is to discuss the audience's background. He tells of how the white man is rich, yet individually all the black people are poor. He tells them that their poorness came because of their ancestors who made the white man rich. However, he explains if they were to pool together their resources then they would not be poor and that they could overcome any challenges given to them (Ballot 26-27). This is an example of the Idol of the Cave in that it draws on the people's backgrounds and experiences. In using this he shows commonality among the people.
A final example of Malcolm X using Bacon's Cave Idol comes toward the end of his speech. Malcolm X describes how the white man does not want money taken out of the economy of the city. He suggests that all black people be re-educated. As part of this re-education he suggest they learn about economics, because his people have been taught when you spend a dollar in a community not of their own their neighborhood gets poorer, while the other community gets richer. Yet he points out that his people do not realize that even when they keep the money in their neighborhood, the white man takes and spends it somewhere else (Eidenmuller 48-49). The object of these lines is to show that the black people need to be educated in life and know were things are going. This point falls directly on the Idol of the Cave in that education and being educated is a strong part of growing. It is our education that makes us stronger and to develop parts of us that we want to develop.
The third Idol of Francis Bacon comes from the Idols of the Marketplace. This Idol is a complex one because it involves interaction with other people. In different cultures there are certain contexts to meanings of words. When jargon and other words are used in a speech they confound the others words and meaning around the words. Bacon does caution that in words used in the Marketplace there are degrees of distortion and error to every word (Bacon 58). When we use words in the Marketplace we must be careful on how we present the words and that we must present what they are truly mean.
Now during Malcolm X's speech does he use the Idol the Marketplace in his dialogue? Yes he does and the answer can be found in three areas of his speech. Malcolm X discusses what is taking to be an American. He describes that when some people step of the boat from a distance land they are Americans. While other who have been here for generations are still not considered American (Eidenmuller 9). This is a referral from the Idol of the Marketplace in that society teaches that if you are born here you are American. Yet Malcolm X uses this idol to turn the people's perception of what an American is and who truly is.
A second way in which the Idols of the Marketplace is attempted to be worked into Malcolm X's speech is by using jargon that sounds good to the people. The common use of expressing that people shall over come is a rallying cry that people use to show all is well. Malcolm X shows that while they sing all is well, Uncle Sam has his hands dripping in the black man's blood, while all the time the white man is calling for a free world (Eidenmuller 36). In this aspect Malcolm X use of jargon to stir people to a call is a use of the Idol of the Marketplace. It is because he uses words that flatter people and that gives them inspiration. The reference to we shall overcome is a symbol word that states the purpose, and that Uncle Sam is the not the person they think he is and that this come from deception.
A final way in which the Idol of the Marketplace is used in Malcolm X speech comes in how he describes white people and their politics. During the duration of his speech he calls white people by many names such as crackers, the man, white man to describe him and calling him a Dixiecrat and a liar and thief to mankind. This is a very finicky use of the Idol of the Marketplace in that jargon is used to confuse the people. The white man is portrayed in a different light to make them look dark and mischievous, while the black people in the audience are made to look better then the whites.
The last barrier to perception is referred to as The Idols of the Theatre. The first of these is the Sophistical Philosophy. This is a philosophical systems based only on a few casually observed instances. The next type is referred to as the Empirical Philosophy. This is a philosophy built on experimenting. The last of these philosophies is called the Superstitious Philosophy. Bacon uses this phrase for any system of thought that mixes theology and philosophy.
During Malcolm X's Bullet speech does he uses philosophical ideas to lead his people to his goal? In the first part of his speech he does use the Superstitious Philosophy from the Idol of the Theatre. He is very superstitious of the leaders in Washington D.C. and he warns his people to keep their eyes open (Eidenmuller 13-14). This is an attempt at using this aspect of the Idol of the Theatre, yet it is not. This area of the speech is given to show Malcolm X personal doing with the government and to show his disliking of the leaders.
Well the Empirical Philosophy is part of the Idol of the Theatre, yet does Malcolm X use it anywhere in his speech? Yes he does. In discussing the law and what one can do under the law he suggest that the next time they demonstrate against segregation and the police use their dog, kill the dog and see what happens to you. Malcolm X uses this to show why the man is breaking the law when using dogs. The result Malcolm X predicted if we do not kill the dog is that our children will grow up and be ashamed of us (Eidenmuller 31-32). This is an example of the Idol of the Theatre used in the Empirical Philosophy because we are given an experiment to try and see the results of it.
A third aspect of the Idol of the Theatre comes from the use of Sophistical philosophy. This part of the idol deals with thinkers or just thinking about what one can accomplish. In the speech Malcolm X tries to stat that his purpose is Black Nationalism, not to join and conform to any church ideas (Eidenmuller 54). Yet he encourages his congregation that if a group or church is teaching Black Nationalism, their role is join that organization and to support it. This is an attempt failure at trying to have his people think. The reason is that he wants the people to look at the groups and see if they preach them ideas Black Nationalism are preaching. However, when he tells the people to join them, he is taking away from there thinking and therefore they are no longer under the Sophistical Philosophy or of the Idol of the Theatre.
The question then comes is this speech in conformity to Bacon's barriers to perception which calls Idols. To figure this out let us examine each Idol together. In all twelve parts examined in the speech did they follow the barriers to perception? The answer is the ten of the twelve did follow the barriers. Could the two which did not follow the Idol they were being examined by fall under a different Idol? One of these, the section of the speech that was examined by the Idol of the Tribe could fall under and conform to the Idol of the Cave. However the piece examined by the Idol of Theatre does not have a place it could fit into under the barriers to perception. The ten other pieces of the speech that were examined could have been examined by the other Idols and passed. They each have their own weaknesses, but can fit into being a barrier to perception.
Overall this speech is very well given speech and it does in general follow the Idols of the Tribe, Cave, Marketplace and Theatre. Malcolm X uses these parts unknowingly, and this is known in that different parts of his speech are using these four Idols at multiple times. Often a paragraph he starts of using something that is very innate from the Tribe, and ends the paragraph or sentence inspiring them to take an experimental Theatre action. The artifact is very well written and very emotional. Some of the emotions come from the use of the Cave that draws on his audience's background and experience they all have shared. He also draws reference to values and ideas that all the people are sharing in common and the ones they would like to hold dear.