Estimating a Culture: Bacon, Coke, and Seventeenth-Century England

55 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2019

See all articles by Peter Grajzl

Peter Grajzl

Washington and Lee University - Department of Economics; CESifo

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 16, 2019

Abstract

We use machine learning to estimate the features of early seventeenth-century English culture, applying structural topic modeling to the works of Francis Bacon and Edward Coke. The estimated topics reflect a core set of cultural ideas spanning legal, political, scientific, and methodological themes. Legal topics are highly connected, revealing an advanced structure of common-law thought that straddles areas of ostensibly disparate legal scholarship. The methodology of the common law is used to structure principles that are applied to debates both inside and outside law. Interconnections between topics uncover a distinctive approach to the pursuit of knowledge, embodying both Coke's legal methodology and Bacon's epistemology. Similarities between Bacon and Coke overshadow differences when conditioning on intended audience and time of authorship. Our estimated topics are constitutive elements of an emerging culture that reflected a legacy of common-law thought and that provided the core intellectual paradigm as England began its early ascent.

Keywords: intellectual culture, England, 17th century, Bacon, Coke, machine learning

JEL Classification: B31, Z10, N73, K10, P10

Suggested Citation

Grajzl, Peter and Murrell, Peter, Estimating a Culture: Bacon, Coke, and Seventeenth-Century England (January 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3319386 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3319386

Peter Grajzl (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - Department of Economics ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States

HOME PAGE: http://home.wlu.edu/~grajzlp/

CESifo ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

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