Scientific utopianism

Princeton seminar: Scientific utopianism

20 April-20 May Princeton University

Dana Jalobeanu:

Solomon’s Houses: Reading New Atlantis in seventeenth century

Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis had a very interesting career in the seventeenth century. Widely read and quoted, it had also inaugurating a style of thinking about the proper way of producing and disseminating knowledge. Partisans of the “new philosophy”, members of the Royal Society or the Royal College of Physicians in London, antiquarians and members of formal and informal “academies” on the continent, often took Salomon’s house as an ideal model for shaping out the actual research communities. Various schemes for the advancement of learning are formulated in such a way that they involve a (somehow amended form of) Solomon House for carrying out the project.

Moreover, New Atlantis was not only read and emulated, but was also continued or rewritten during 17th century, in England or in France. Such rewritings, although interesting in themselves, gain weight and depth when read in the proper context: as various shapes/types of a general plan for the reformation of human beings and society, a plan for which Bacon’s college/brotherhood provided the blueprint.

My project aims at studying comparatively such readings and rewritings of New Atlantis, showing in what way the differences between them might be seen as relating to their different agendas: scientific, political or religious. I will focus especially on the impact of Solomon’s House as a model for various intellectual communities of scientists and philosophers, looking for the impact such rewritings have among their potential readers.