Analysis of Francis Bacon's New Atlantis

Essay by routhian May 2005

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Humankind can easily be characterized by its fascination with unexplainable phenomenon. Throughout history, all discoveries have been conducted by men who were unable to accept the present explanations for different realities and felt constrained by existing boundaries. Francis Bacon is no stranger to this innate fascination with the unknown and attraction to the elements which lie beyond the confines of human understanding.

This controversial figure of the late 16 and early 17th century in England was credited with instigating the evolution of what is known as modern science today. After being impeached for accepting bribery as one of the highest lawmen for king James I, he concentrated the later parts of his life on the development of natural philosophy. The lawman and philosopher wrote many influential essays, such as "The Great Instauration" and "the New Organon" which explained his approach to a practical and theoretical project to reform the way men study nature.

Based on those essays, he composed his only short story, "New Atlantis", which pictured a perfect world beneficiating from the thorough application of his vision. The New Atlantis is nothing more than the account of a world in which men possess a successful inductive method to study nature. Bensalem can be viewed as a society of happiness dominated by science and monarchy and there is an evident connection between the state of science today and the idea Bacon had in late Renaissance.

The story was published by Rawley after Bacon's death in 1627 and was supposed to include an account of the political and legal constitution of the Island of Bensalem. A crucial aspect of the story is perhaps the "House of Salomon" which controls the development of science in an effort to enlarge the human empire. At first sight, "New Atlantis" is the mere...