'Beyond, both the Old World, and the New': Authority and Knowledge in the works of Francis Bacon, with special reference to the New Atlantis
This study investigates the role of authority in the works of Francis Bacon, arguing that the issue of authority provides not only an interpretation of New Atlantis, but an important structural component of his body of works. From the first manifestation of his philosophical project to his last works of natural history, authority is an all-pervasive issue - the authority of nature, of scripture, of the named author, and how authority functions in the dissemination of natural knowledge. Chapter one argues that the publication of New Atlantis alongside Sylva sylvarum in 1626/7 was more the result of William Rawley's need to assert his own authority as the protector and disseminator of Bacon's textual legacy than an appreciation of the work's own qualities. Chapter two considers Bacon's views of history and time, suggesting that Bacon not only conceived of a new, progressive mode of historical time which would allow for the assertion of a textual authority based on the records of a civilisation unbroken by the vicissitudes of time, but that he figured these theories in New Atlantis. Chapter three argues that Bacon used theology both as defence and imperative to his intellectual programme, while his attempt to move beyond the deterministic, Calvinist world-view to allow for multiple possible futures, or `chance': Bacon could then present experiment as the way of eliminating chance, in order to accelerate the rate of new discovery. Chapter four investigates Bacon's manipulations of textual authority, from the early rehearsals of the Instauratio magna to the performance of reliability in print in Sylva sylvarum. Finally, the afterword seeks to suggest that the New Atlantis hinges on the issues of authority with which Bacon engaged throughout his career and writings: in the issue of authority, Francis Bacon found the beginning and the end of his philosophy.
AuthorsLangman, Andrew Peter
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