Idea map: Bacon, Sprat, and Newton

To help students revise their blog posts for this week, I’ve included below pictures of our in-class collaborative idea map:





Empirical Equates to Truth in Absolute, or does it?

Francis Bacon, in “The New Atlantis,” seems to favor tangible evidence over, hypothetical/figurative reasoning.  He seems to be driven towards finding the truth, empirically, and, in that, seeing truth as a treasure.  But in Bacon’s philosophy about finding truth, is really just the self justification for colonialism.

So the question can be asked: What is his truth?

Let us begin with his explicit truths.  Though his work in “The New Atlantis” is of the fictional genre, his personal values are clearly evident in the choice of rhetoric he uses.  We first see his decision to use the voice of some fictional character who is describing what great riches are to be found upon this perfect world.  With this beautiful scenery, he also describes a systematic process being taken place in this perfect world, and how each individual is assigned to certain roles to make said system run smoothly.  In essence, an industry.  One of the most interesting appeals Bacon uses is when he references a biblical name, calling this perfect world, “the House of Solomon.”  This was perhaps done so as to allow the possibility of the Christian community taking Bacon’s notions into consideration.  While Bacon continues to infer that science can be considered a religion, and that God does have a place in the findings of unanswered hypotheses, he still seems to favor the more visual evidence.

The implicit reality is that Bacon’s ultimate purpose was to romanticize the undertaking of searching, occupying, and ultimately colonizing already occupied lands.  In his writings, the language he uses a lot includes the word “we.”  The use of this words implies a ethnocentric perception of himself and the people that fall within the same category as him, other Europeans.  There seems to be signs of that idealism throughout his writing.  For example, he writes, “There we have the statue of Columbus, that discovered the West Indies.”  Bacon describes the statues that they are rising on this land, and in addition to that description, he goes onto describe Columbus as the “inventor” of so many things.  This seems a bit unfair as he is essentially disregard any other form of culture, or inventor, or school of thought.  

In one of Bacon’s other essays, “Of Truth,” he describes how a man of high authority views poetry as “Wine of Devils” because poetry only covers lies, and in some way creates lies out of truth.  In other words, drowns out facts.  Again, this shows that he feels his own truths, and how they are sought out, is the most relevant.  So, what is his truth?  His truth can be found in the maze of rhetoric he creates throughout his writing, that merely serves as a mask to cover the ugliest of truths, colonialism, and ethnocentrism.

Maricela Martinz

“Take Nobody’s Word for it”

The Royal Society, where “Nullius in verba” or “take nobody’s word for it” is an essential element of “expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment”. The Royal Society takes pride in its history, and to its founders, and its process of work. In Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis , there is the similar foundations as expressed in the Royal Society.

As Bacon is writing about the fellows employment opportunities and he begins to describe:

“We Have three…

“-that collect the experiments which are in all books.”

“-that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts.”

“-that try new experiments.”

“-that draw the experiments.”

“-that bend themselves.”

“-that take care of.”

“-that do execute the experiments so direct, and report them.”

“-that raise the former discoveries by experiments into greater observations, axioms, and aphorisms”

Francis Bacon illustrated the importance of experimenting, fellows needed to look at work over and over. Understanding that science is a process, we can’t just accept one experiment, because then that would mean essentially accepting everything. To ask questions, because those questions will guide upon growth in intelligence. The primary fact that Bacon’s The New Atlantis  was so ahead of his time, parades his thought process. This thought process also illustrates The Royal Society’s pride, in a growing society we are constantly questioning concepts, and ideas. It is a great symbol for growth, which is essential in our modern world.

But at the same time in the website you can’t help but notice the importance of the Royal Society’s grants and how much money is coming in on a yearly basis. And the sad thing is is that’s what is more important today rather than education. We can even look at our own school systems and see how much money is wasted and not properly spent on student programs. Funds have become more important, building the next business that makes a good amount of money has become more important.

-Viviana Ojeda

The Shift Caused by The Royal Society

Many today can agree with some of the statements made by Francis Bacon because he was both and English philosopher and scientist. As stated by Francis Bacon in Of Truth

“And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, though there be not so much blood in them as was in those of the ancients” (1258).

In this quote Francis Bacon emphasizes the importance that literature still had even at the prime of the Royal Society (founded in 1662). Bacon was seen as a “guiding spirit” of the Royal Society, unfortunately not many believed that. The method of inductive reasoning that Bacon presented is in definition is “used in applications that involve prediction, forecasting, or behavior” which is still common in most of the social sciences therefore it is still common today. Newton argued that poetry “was a kind of ingenious nonsense; at best it was a pleasing cheat, supplying pleasant pictures and agreeable visions” (lecture notes #3). Unfortunately, these thoughts are still common among many people today. This has shaped the understanding of today because many scientists are awarded for their discoveries but those who produce literature are often turned away or must work harder in order to be acknowledged. This situation has also served to shape the way in which the natural and social sciences are seen in the eyes of many people. There are many who do not value the English Literature or any of the SSHA majors this might have been cause by the praise the Royal Society has received as shown in the picture that depicts then in a royal scene, especially Charles II.

Although the Royal Society shifted some of the attention from poetry to the sciences it was extremely necessary for them to create a base for the technology that exists today. Their curiosity for that expansion of technology was the commence of the great technology we currently have now.

-Luz Zepeda

Royal Society: Then and Now

The royal society may have overall been influenced by Francis Bacon, Thomas Sprat, and Isaac Newton, but today has now surpassed those original ideals. Today, the Royal Society doesn’t just challenge the laws of nature or scientific law (rules discovered by observation and experimentation), but also challenge natural law (rules discovered by reason, human nature, and governments). The Society began by acquiring knowledge through experimental investigation, and embracing the idea that no one and no idea is safe from criticism and today the Royal Society still follows this model, but today challenging the norm is even more dangerous. As today, there are leaders, media, and governments which try to silence the truth. For instance, fellow Royal Society member Stephen Hawking made headlines when he stated the need for space travel rather than putting all our faith on God for human civilization in the future. He also stated that the ‘Big Bang’ proved that there was no God. This caused much controversy even among fellow scientists. Hawking had to later restate his claim more clearly so that he wouldn’t offend some scientists. Another Royal Society fellow and zoologist Richard Dawkins made his career on challenging  religion and the effects that it has on governments and people’s way of thinking, and he was most definitely shunned by the public. The Royal Society has also lead scientists in a stand against ‘Brexit’ and discussed the effects that leaving the European Union would have on England and its government. Therefore, I think that the Royal Society doesn’t just focus on scientific laws, but all aspects of the world. Their motto has changed from ‘Take nobody’s word for it’ to ‘No idea, governing body, or ideology is exempt from criticism or judgement’. This idea is what makes people think and challenge the norm.

-Ben Montes

The Royal Society

In The Royal Society of London for the Improving of Natural Knowledge told the tales of scientists and their scientific breakthrough accomplishments. Many of the research in the society focused on research that was bringing the idea of God to life. That science can prove that God is real. The society believed that “their research was not only in the service of the newly restored monarchy and economic trade, but was making available new forms of knowledge about the omnipotent Creator and his perfectly ordered universe” (lecture note #3).

Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, stated how science plays into religious and political views. Science must continue to be explored because “We have also parks and enclosures of all sorts of beasts and birds, which we use not only for view or rareness, but likewise for dissections and trials” (Bacon, 1278). Without any scientific discoveries or research, we would not have the knowledge and things that we have today. But Bacon also states that “We have certain hymns and services, which we say daily, of laud and thanks to God for his marvelous works; and forms of prayer, imploring his aid and blessing for the illumination of our labors” (Bacon, 1280). Bacon’s statement led to Sprat and Newton creating scientific research to explain the Creator. But there is controversy between science and religion. There are facts and evidence to support scientific discoveries while religion cannot prove itself other than what a person believes to be true.

On the Royal Society’s website, they state that they “are the independent scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, dedicated to promoting excellence in science”. They seem to no longer base their ideologies on God and more on scientific studies and discoveries.

-Naomi Van

Is it the same?

The Royal Society today takes great pride in their history and it appear that it does not divert much from the founders quest for the truth through scientific inquiry. One of the differences that I noticed was the old royal society is more interested in letting others know of the things they have, while today it is more interested in the things it can do, scientifically. For example, throughout his essay, Francis Bacon goes on and on about everything they have such as the “artificial wells and fountains, made in imitation of the natural sources and baths”, the “great and spacious houses”, the “large and various orchards and gardens”, etc (1278). In his essay, Bacon seems more concerned with showing off what they have like “we have these HUGE houses that we sometimes use to look for meteors”. It really does seem that it more of a literal royal society that focuses on its luxuries. Although it seems that the modern royal society is more focused on the science, it also appears to be a bit elitist in the fact that they randomly throw in that generate around 42 million euros (?) a year. It is as if money is one of the main factor that gives their science value because no one would trust science that is being conducted in a basement.

-Nancy Sanchez

Bacon and the Modern Day

Sir Francis Bacon has been one of the most influential figures in 17th British colonization of north America. Bacon was a royalist, philosopher, statesman, scientist and even published author. His work, From The New Atlantis, focused on the marriage of theology and science. These ideas of the marriage between science and religion was the basis for the creation of the Royal Society. Bacon writes about this connection in From The New Atlantis. Bacon shows the necessity for this connection to reach his version of a perfect society. He states that “God bless thee, my son, and god bless this relationship give thee leave to publish it for the good of other nations” (Bacon 1627). To Bacon, a utopian society is theological and scientific. Science is the explanation for God’s actions. 17th century British colonist culture revolved around their religious faith.when comparing these colonists to modern day american, it’s apparent that the colonist wanted religion to be mixed in with government. This mixing of religion and government is also found in england during the time when Bacon wrote. The idea that government needs to be married with religion and science is not found in modern day America. In fact the cultural importance of a person’s faith has faded over the last 400 years. This fade is due inpart to the lessened importance that religion plays into the average American’s cultural identity.

Bacon’s ideas on how science affects goverment rings true even in the modern today. His thoughts on how important scientific development is  on the fabric of society was a major influence for the creation of the royal society. Bacon wrote that science is the basis for state power and economic growth; also, that it benefits the social progression and technological development.
-Conor Morgan

Utopia: Then and Now

The original goal of the Royal Society was to have an organization focused on scientific discoveries as well as making them relevant within society. Sir Frances Bacon envisioned a utopia where science is included and how it would become vital in advancing throughout centuries. This is a huge statement since science was still a controversial subject when met with religion. Stuff such as discoveries would indicate a world where religion does not have the answers or may even contradict ideas places by the puritan and Catholic Church.

Now, within the Royal Society, it not only continues to thrive as a noble-prize worthy organization but has expanded its’ study of the natural world. There seems to be fewer philosophical ideals since Philosophy does not lead to concrete facts; only inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning alone cannot explain discoveries such as those in astronomy and even chemistry. Science is not only respected but rather depended upon when advancing in the world; religion is now a separate matter due to both subjects questioning the legitimacy of their practices. While I’m all for philosophical viewpoints within a subject being studied it makes me wonder whether it’s philosophy that kept tensions rising for religious citizens? Would it have been possible to have these contemporary results of scientific discoveries if philosophy was a perspective still engraved in people’s minds? Women having involvement in the Royal Society is an accomplishment worth mentioning since it, Royal Society, was brought up to an group of the elite thus time being more accepting towards women in the field of science.

-Kristy Frausto

The Same Utopia of Science

Francis Bacon writes of a Utopia in his novel The New Atlantis. In this utopia there is a lot of structure around science. Throughout the text Bacon writes of the utopia having oder from the way they store their food to the way in which they “imitate and demonstrate meteors (1278)”.  I believe this is what many people today still see as a Utopia. One can easily see the influence of science and the way it designs a Utopia. We see this around us daily, we see it in films. Almost every film depicts a Utopia where science is helping us make life simpler and much smoother. Often Utopias are depicted as not having many problems due to science. In a Utopia we also see the answer to many questions. As Bacon described in his Utopia people were conducting experiments, experiments to understand the unknown. We have come a long way in understanding much of what Bacon did not understand but still hunger for other unanswered questions. I believe not much has changed on our view of Utopia and ways to approach it, influences by the Royal Society. Our world today is still obsessed with Science (though not a terrible thing) it is not allowing for more freedom in both the sciences and English. Because of all the questions that still remain today many remain focus on their goal to achieve all answers, like the experiments in Bacons novel and the Royal Society. The Royal Society today has moved even farther away from the humanities and culture. As an English Major I believe it is important for the Royal Society to make changes in finding way to incorporate the importance of English in science. Culture is also a huge factor in our world today and would be very important in forming a Utopia.

-Alondra Morales Aguilar