Defining A Bleak World: The Royal Society

Trapped in a state of modernity, Charles II and many others found themselves in despair that the entire construct of government began to flow with indecency, adultery, mistresses, the basic lusts of man. For the time, it must have felt much worse to feel like the world that once felt carefully crafted was slowly beginning to unravel. People were scared, intimidated, lost by a world that seemed to lose regulation for a moment. What could a king do then? The beauty of language and human conscience, is giving definition and establishing rules that technically do not exist. The universe, unbound by labels or true laws, does at least seem to follow a certain schematic of physics, and science seemed to be the way to analyze the one comforting aspect of existence. The Royal Society was born to find this comfort, to establish order in a dreadfully random world.

This lust for knowledge, more towards definition, is perfectly described in Sir Bacon’s tale of “The New Atlantis”. It is important to note how despite being a utopian paradise, this is not a place of complete bliss. Though beautiful, the description of the island lacks other things that would provide aesthetic or materialistic fulfillment. In the lack of said detail, Bacon has thus made clear what is important. Yes, the island has bountiful harvest and beauty, but gold and silver does not line every road, people cannot simply relax and are not merely blessed with knowledge. No, no, it was the fact that the people had the motivation and energy to experiment and test, to theorize and create. “The New Atlantis” is not merely a paradise, rather an intellectual’s dream. All the gold and all of the pleasures in the world will not fill a void where the universe is not defined. Instead what is essentially comes down to, is those blessed mentally will flourish and find their minds in constant pleasure at both the freedom and access to tools to expand their knowledge. Scholars are in pleasure of having definition in their life. Intelligence, knowledge, these are the key treasures to Bacon, and though religion has been an element that has sharply decreased its influence on the Royal Society, one can see that the main point of the organization is to bring greater understanding, to provide laws in a place where things seem to be unruly and lost. Science, in this case, illuminates a bleak world, just as long as you are willing to be in pursuit of more and more.


-William Fernandez

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