Of Simulation and Dissimulation Summary & Analysis: Francis Bacon

Read below our complete notes on the essay “Of Simulation and Dissimulation” by Francis Bacon. Our notes cover Of Simulation and Dissimulation Summary & Analysis.

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Summary:

In the essay, bacon talks about the strategy of deceit, an act of deceiving someone, when to apply and when to avoid. Bacon discusses that simulation and dissimulation, both, are convenient and advantageous but the fruitful use of them obliges brainpower and a strong heart. Bacon starts the essay by saying that dissimulation is a shadowy sort of strategy as it not only requires a strong humor/ intelligence but a strong heart as well. He argues that if a person is smart enough to recognize what to speak, whom to speak and when to speak, moreover, not to communicate more than required, then double-dealing will only get into his way. Bacon gives two options that one should either hold his tongue or should learn how to lie. For instance, if you can’t afford to be that discriminating the “be evasive” than “telling falsehoods.

Bacon argues that in order to hide the real self of a person, there are three degrees of concealment. The first degree is closeness or reservation in which a man doesn’t denounce his feelings and emotions where anyone can get hold of him. The second degree is dissimulation that he called a negative degree. In this, a man lets other to misinterpret what he is thinking or doing. The third degree of concealment is the simulation, a positive one, in which a man pretends himself to the world what he is not.

Bacon explains all the three degrees of concealment in detail. Firstly he deeply argues about the secrecy and reservation of a person. He thinks that reservation is the most supreme virtue of a man. He claims that a reserved man hears more secrets from others than he reveals. He points out that the man who makes himself secret and not tells the secrets to everyone is often told secrets by others. A reserved person, with the passage of time, knows how and to whom he should open himself. This openness is not for the worldly use but to discharge his mind. He argues that all the mysteries in the world are due to secrets. While, on the other hand, the nakedness is not attractive. One who reveals himself to the world is not of that significance than the one which is veiled. This case implies both to the mind of a person as well as to his body. A person loses his respect for his actions and manners by being too much open to the world. The talkative people, to Bacon, are mostly ineffective and useless. As they not only talk what they know but also talk about what they don’t know. Therefore, Bacon advice to set out the habit of secrecy in both public and private life as the man’s facial expression is of more importance and believable than of his words.

The second degree of concealment is dissimulation, which is necessarily followed by secrecy. Bacon argues that a person for his secrecy should be a dissembler, a person who pretends something that he is not, to some extent. The men around us are too sly that they won’t let a person to discreet. They will trouble a person with questions and if one doesn’t answer them, they will assume it by his silence than his speech. So one cannot stance saying nothing. So for avoidance, Bacon says, that one should give himself a little scope of dissimulation in order to be secret, as one cannot hold his silence for too long.

The third degree of concealment is the simulation that he thinks as a false profession and less political. Bacon considers the use of simulation as a vice as it symbolizes the habitual deception and lying. He argues that such people have some mental disorders that they practice simulation in general.

Bacon speaks of the three advantages of simulation and dissimulation. The first advantage is ambiguous yourself and intention, one can surprise is adversaries. As when one’s intentions are denounced, the opponents are alarmed. Be unclear and surprise opponents. The second advantage is that one won’t be ashamed of any failure, by keeping one’s intentions hidden. Once a man declares his goals, he has to achieve them, in case if he is not capable of achieving, he will face the fall. The third advantage is that by keeping oneself quiet, one can discover the minds of others. Bacon argues that the one who opens himself, other would hardly show themselves and it will turn his freedom of speech to the freedom of thought of others. He quotes the shrewd proverb of Spaniard: “Tell the lie and find the troth

Bacon, now, speaks of three disadvantages of simulation and dissimulation. The first disadvantage he mentions is it makes a person week and fearful. The second one is such attitudes makes the people riddle and confused and they don’t want to work with that man anymore and will leave him alone. The third and the last one is it deprives a man from one of the most fundamental principle of life which is trust and belief.

Bacon, in the end, advice that the best composition that a man should have is openness in fame and opinion, reservation in the habits, dissimulation for a particular use, and a strength to pretend (in necessary condition).

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Analysis:

About the author:

Sir Francis Bacon, a well-known philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, and master of English language, was born on January 22, 1561, in York House, London. He was an exceptional advocate of Renaissance pragmatism. During the scientific revolution, his works persisted prominent in the scientific development. He is considered as the father of English essays and empiricism. His essays are marked with short but straightforward sentences that contained truth in them. His most important essays include Of Revenge, Of Study, Of Followers and Friendship, Of Death, Of Simulation and Dissimulation, Of Delay, Of Discourse, Of Adversities and many more. His work reflects impersonality, i.e. he doesn’t mention his personal choices and opinions in his essays. He died on April 9, 1626, at the age of 65, in London.


Of Simulation and Dissimulation is Bacon’s argumentative essay to guide the men actions in their public, personal and business lives.

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Critical Appreciation:

Simulation and dissimulation are the words that are normally considered as antonyms. However, they are synonyms. Simulation and dissimulation are one and the same things with a minute difference in them. A Dissimulation is an act of letting people misunderstand you and you don’t correct them. While simulation is the act of misguiding people of one’s real self by one’s actions or talks.

Bacon, in the essay, argues three degrees by which one can conceal his real self. These are reservation, dissimulation, and simulation, respectively. Bacon discusses that simulation and dissimulation, both, are convenient and advantageous but the fruitful use of them obliges brainpower and a strong heart. He defines dissimulation as when a person let false sign and opinions about him/her without correction. So dissimulation permits others to misinterpret one about his behavior and actions. On the other hand, bacon defines simulation as a person who lies about himself to hide his real self. In both the cases people are misguided but in different ways. In first people misguide themselves while in the other they are misguided. These two, simulation and Dissimulation are the two degrees of concealing oneself. The third level that Bacon mentions at the first is the most highly ranked virtue to conceal oneself by closeness or reservation. Reservation is to veil oneself necessarily that no one notices his/her actions. Bacon claims secrecy to be most requisite and it can be both, morally and publically. Secrecy is just like a mystery whom everyone reveals himself, while the talkative person losses his effectiveness by taking sense and nonsense both.

Secrecy, simulation, and dissimulation, all are important in one’s public, private, business and political life. But the excessive practice of any one of these three could be treacherous. Bacon advised that the best composition that a man could have is openness in fame and opinion, reservation in the habits, dissimulation for a particular use, and a strength to pretend (in necessary condition).

Of Simulation and Dissimulation Themes:

Following is the main only theme of the essay Of Simulation and Dissimulation:

  • Fairness and Modesty in Public and Private Lives:

Of Simulation and Dissimulation, by Francis Bacon, is the best description of how one should live his life. Secrecy, simulation, and dissimulation, no matter are most of the times necessary but one should not practice them in excess. Each of these three has their own uses. It is best described by Bacon that how to use them and when to use. In political career, a person is always troubled by many opinion and argument. If one doesn’t correct them and let them misinterpret things, then dissimilation here is very dangerous. Even, sometimes, a person is considered as weak who practices dissimilation as they don’t have the strength of telling the truth. Similarly, a person should not always practice simulation as it will deprive one from the fundamental principle of one life which is trust and belief.

To live a happy life one should be modest in dealing with people. Bacon advised that the best composition that a man could have is openness in fame and opinion, reservation in the habits, dissimulation for a particular use, and a strength to pretend (in necessary condition).