By Richard Foster Jones
Enticing, erudite learn of upward push of clinical flow in 17th-century England; Francis Bacon’s function really under pressure. Revised (1961) version.
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Additional resources for Ancients and Moderns (Washington University Studies.)
Bacon feared that in observing and experimenting, men would gain bits of knowledge which they could im- -ix- mediately turn into material benefits, and thus be tempted to abandon further investigation; so he cautioned them not to be diverted by such opportunities from a goal larger but not different in kind. The utilitarian spirit is everywhere evident in the twenty years preceding and following the Restoration, that is, among the Baconians, not among the atomic scientists. The effects of it are seen in the attitude of the age toward what we call pure science.
1 It was, then, with something of the sense of new discovery that the English of the sixteenth century explored the recently published stores of learning which proved so much more satisfactory than traditional science. It is not strange that having followed the muddied stream of their knowledge to its unsullied fountain, they should have been content to rest by its side in the belief that this was the source of all learning. So men looked back many centuries for explanations of the surrounding universe, concerning which they had come to be curious.
28 Modern geographical observations added to and frequently corrected traditional knowledge, but they certainly did not undermine respect for the ancients, nor, in academic treatises at any rate, very much lessen their authority in many things. Closely associated with both mathematics and geography was the compass, and consequently the phenomenon of magnetism. Of the three inventions that impressed upon the Renaissance mind the character of the period in which it lived -- gunpowder, printing, and the compass -- the last appeared by far the most significant, not only because it was largely responsible for the discoveries that amazed and thrilled the age, but also because its mystery defied explanation and invited attention and study.
Ancients and Moderns (Washington University Studies.) by Richard Foster Jones