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Francis Bacon, created Baron St Albans, lawyer, some time Lord Chancellor of England, close to and in and out of favor with  the courts of Elizabeth I and King James I, came close to be executed....deeply in debt in his later life... controversial thinker and key in the establishment of British and French science becoming
central to national thinking -- hence the deep idea of 'Progress'.
Bacon proposed that man should conquer the earth.
His utopian New Atlantis was published just after his death which was in 1626.

Victim to Progress & Science?
The biographer John Aubery suggested that Bacon died of pneumonia having caught cold when testing whether meat could be preserved by freezing.

The New Atlantis
The Planet Technopolitana puzzle.


Bacon proposed: A reconstruction of the sciences, arts and all human knowledge to extend the power and dominion of the human race...over the universe.

In the 17th century, Bacon's ideas for systematizing science were crucial in the foundation of the Royal Society of London and also in the French project which became the Enclyopedie of Dennis Diderot. He lived between the time of Galileo and the time of Newton. His statue, sitting, made of marble in his expensive pantaloons, is next to that of Newton in King's College, Cambridge.

Bacon's New Atlantis is a utopia about a society founded on science. The basis of the Royal Society was that ideas should be tested experimentally, proved, published and then re-tested to challenge them. If a scientific experiment cannot be repeated, then it must be judged false. Earlier science had done this. The Royal Society of London with its Proceedings systematized the process. No longer was discovery so random. The idea of peer review was born.
The idea was one of a totality of knowledge, leading to a totality of control.

With this came the idea that the good life, human progress, emanates not so much from service to God. It comes from the harnessing of science to make invention and from inventions to develop mechanical processes for the manufacture of things or the extraction of the materials that make things.

Problems arise, as now, when knowledge is not total and when we suffer the sensation that going forward may lead us back. The more we invent, the more we consume, the more we pollute. I am not dogmatic about this. I am saying that it can happen. Which is why I invented Planet Technopolitana to be a place where we can ask questions.

I think this is relevant to now. Bacon wanted 'dominion of the human race...over the universe.' We don't have that. We do have dominion over our own universe, this planet. Increasingly, we do. My question, which is not an exact one, is about whether we have come to worship invention and progress to such a degree that we can't go back on where we are.

Can we? Or do we want to? I don't know the answers. I do think that while scientists frequently reject God or his 'existence', it is possible to argue that science has become our God. As it was heresy in the middle ages to doubt divinity and people went to the stake for arguing specific dogma, is it not now heresy to say we have too much development?


We sailed from Peru... for China and Japan, by the South Seas, taking with us victuals for twelve months; and we had good winds from the east.....

[Then] finding ourselves, in the midst of the greatest wilderness of waters in the world, without victual, we gave ourselves for lost men... Yet we did lift up our hearts and voices to God above, who 'showeth his wonders in the deep'....

And it came to pass that...we saw within a kenning before us...thick clouds which did put us in some hope of land...knowing how that part of the South Sea was utterly unknown; and might have islands or continents that hitherto were not come to light....

[Having been told how the society of this island depends on the accumulation of knowlege]... 'The End of Our Foundation is the knowledge of causes and secret motions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of human empire, to the effecting of all things possible...'

[They had, on this island, as J.G. Crowther, Bacon's biographer notes, 'their Association for the Advancement of Science'.] Bacon saw this method as the base from which man would conquer the earth. Later in the century this was reinforced by John Locke who was born in 1631, five years after Bacon died, is crucial in the development of the idea of the rights of man [and woman], known as the 'father of liberalism'. Locke felt that any undeveloped land in the world was wasted land. On these foundations we sit in 2019.

That is the Planet Technopolitana puzzle -- how to move on from Bacon & Locke while maintaining the essence of their work.


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