The Royal Society’s Conquest for Knowledge

Like all advancements in culture, there are political implications that shaped the Royal Society when Charles II reigned. The terms science and exploration tell us the implications it had on the scientific world. However, these terms also reflected that at the time, science and reasoning were put on a hierarchy, which in turn shaped the way people thought about the world around them. The important thing to note here is that, as a western civilization, they were not the first to put these terms on a pedestal.

The image of the Royal Society that includes Francis Bacon has references that could be expressed as intertextualities about the classical times of the Roman and Greek empires. Judging by Bacon’s “New Atlantis” there were many ideas of, not only a utopic vision, but also the importance of functionality. The narrator’s litany that is offered by the wise man he meets represents the ideal world for a learning environment. Indeed, the location is fictional, but like all utopic visions, it represents the ideal. It is significant to see how the characteristics of the location are emphasized by their function, even if they are just for ornament. When the narrator lists the “beasts” that will be there for both visual pleasure and dissection, it is stated matter-of-factly to further emphasize the idealistic characteristics that would make the civilization whole. This phase of praising science and reasoning seems to be like a fashion, as if trying to emulate the classical times. This begs the question whether the Royal Society is doing it to allude to the classical times or to actually seek out knowledge. Furthermore, the importance of seeking a location like New Atlantis serves to recognize conquest of knowledge on a spatial format. I say conquest because this almost seems to justify the colonization of other lands in order to search for this idealistic pinnacle of learning—and even teaching.

 

–Cesar Ramirez

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