God’s Game of Hide-and-Seek: Bacon and Allegory

  • Kristen Poole
Part of the Palgrave Handbooks of Literature and Science book series (PAHALISC)


‘Allegory, both intuitively and historically, seems to be that discourse that would be most threatening to science,’ writes James J. Paxson.1 Allegory is about hidden meanings and knowledge; it is the discourse of polysemy. Science is about bringing knowledge into the light; it is the discourse of perspicuity. Allegory and science are thus inherently inimical. Such, at least, is our modern assumption. In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century natural philosophy, however, allegory and scientific pursuits were not antithetical. Indeed, the intellectual architecture of allegory—which, after all, had been the dominant interpretive mode for well over a millennium—offered a familiar structure for new ideas. As Paxson himself so brilliantly demonstrates, for instance, the idea of allegory shaped the sixteenth-century advent of the logarithm.2


Natural World Seventeenth Century Natural Philosopher Literal Sense Cedar Wood 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen Poole
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelawareNewarkUSA

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