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VMs: Bacon on wax tablets...

Hi everyone,

Francis Bacon, quoted in Edward O. Wilson's "Consilience", p.27:

        The mind, he argued "is not like a wax tablet. On a tablet
        you cannot write the new till you rub out the old; on the
        mind you cannot rub out the old except by writing in the new."

Bacon may also be (in part) referring to Chapter 12 of Aristotle's "De Anima", which compares perception to an impression in a wax tablet.

Or again, he could be referring to Cicero, who (according to http://www.english.uiuc.edu/405-2000/gossett/thesis.htm which is a very nice thesis on memory)

        calls memory "the twin sister of written speech," and
        compares it to a "wax tablet" upon which loci are gathered
        together like letters in the tablet.

Regardless, it seems likely that - even in Bacon's time - wax tablets were still in use, and their general properties well-known enough to be useful as a metaphor.

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....