A Foretaste of

The Sciential Society;


Harvey Wheeler;


...the vision not of an ideal world released from the natural conditions to which ours is subject, but of our own world as it might be made if we did our duty by it...--James Spedding, "Preface to the NEW ATLANTIS"

This is usually considered to be one of the first of the modern utopias and is certainly fictional, James Spedding included it in the philosophical rather than the literary and professional works. It was placed with a number of other philosophical essays that Bacon had written to convey The Works of Francis Bacon 15 vols; New Atlantis vol 5, trans & ed, James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath, Boston, Brown and Taggard, 1861; cited hereafter Continued from previous page... principles of his philosophy of science to the non philosopher. Spedding was absolutely right. The New Atlantis is narrative philosophy. Moreover, it is not about a new breed of human beings whose members have better natures than did Bacon's own contemporaries. On the contrary, it describes a highly functional and practical real world, one not even, properly speaking, utopian in the ordinary sense. In fact, Bacon believed it could be introduced, just as he described it, into the England of his day.

Moreover, it lacks the plot or characters of a novel or of the dramas of Marlowe or the Shakespeare plays. Nothing in the book is determined by the choices and behaviors of the persons involved. Rather, The New Atlantis is like one of today's investigative journalism reports. It is described to us by a narrator who writes like an anthropologist and reports only what he observes and what the New Atlantians he interviews tell him. In fact, the title tells us that Bacon thought of it as a doctrinal essay. The New Atlantis was intended not as fantasy but as what we would call ideology, perhaps the first ideological program in history. It was located in the past, not the future, and conveyed the implicit argument that having been achieved in the past by people just like the early seventeenth century Britons, it could also be realized by Bacon's Britons. Just as his New Organon was intended as a scientific improvement on Aristotle's Organon, the New Atlantis a mythical Christian civilization of great antiquity, was intended as a scientific improvement on Plato's archaic, golden age Atlantis that had suffered a catastrophic end. The New Atlantis is like any other high culture except that ages before the time of the story it had produced empirical science and this alone is what made it idyllic and seem utopian. So because their science is old to the New Atlantians, it provides a practical prescription for the sciential society Bacon's own contemporaries could realize if they decided to do so. Therein lies its ideological dynamic; its implicit revolutionary manifesto. The New Atlantis is a call to rally Europeans to the scientific revolution. As such it became one of the most effective revolutionary tracts ever written. Shortly after its publication intellectuals throughout Europe founded scientific societies dedicated to bringing about what the New Atlantis belies its stated avoidance of politics. Spedding, citing Dr. Rawley, tells us of Bacon that

"he had begun it with the intentional college of natural philosophy; but his desire of collecting the natural history diverted him, which he preferred many degrees before it."

" The title page reads: "NEW ATLANTIS; A Work Unfinished." Rawley's words are:

"His Lordship thought also in this present fable to have composed a frame of Laws, or of the best state or mould of a commonwealth..."

The reason he did not carry New Atlantis to its political conclusion was, we are told, to return to the more pressing task of finishing his scientific work. Although this seems plausible, it does not square with other known facts. Bacon devoted much of his last few years to perfecting the popularized versions of his scientific doctrines, trying to insure their general accessibility. The more likely reason the New Atlantis was left incomplete is that, on reviewing what he had written, Bacon would have discovered two things about the book: first, that it really was finished, in effect. This would have been apparent as soon as he reviewed his description of the chancery of science called Salomon's House and before turning his thoughts to writing the constitution. For this would have revealed that already nearly any reader could detect already the main outlines of the constitution merely by reading between the lines.

It is not surprising that Bacon's writing turned out that way. He had imbibed law from birth and had made its mastery the hallmark of his career. It was predictable that when he came to write the political narrative of Bensalem (the name of the country described in New Atlantis he would naturally portray it with a constitution that was "unwritten" in the same way that the laws and the constitution of England were unwritten. Such a constitution was implicit in the very way Bensalem's sciential society operated. To put the matter a little differently, New Atlantis is scientifically, but not politically, utopian. Organizationally, it could have been instituted in 1620. Scientifically, the beneficial results described would have begun to appear only about a generation later.

Secondly, when Bacon realized that Bensalem already had an unwritten constitution he would have perceived immediately that it described a figurehead king who reigned but did not rule. This was implicitly subversive of England's Stuart constitution and better left unarticulated. Yes, New Atlantis lacks a section that explicitly describes its constitution, but, as will be shown below, for Bacon to have written one would have been almost redundant. It is not very hard for a common lawyer to make Bensalem's unwritten constitution manifest. The New Atlantis has usually been taken to be a seventeenth century forecast of the industrial order that triumphed in the western world during the nineteenth century (Farrington)

Until recently, that was about the only way it could be interpreted because nobody knew what a real sciential society might be like until the last quarter of the 20th century. Accordingly, for centuries it was nearly impossible to take New Atlantis at it's face value and give it serious consideration as the practical model of a sciential society. However, today we are in the opening decades of a new postindustrial society in which scientific innovation has begun to replace market entrepreneurship as the engine of economic development. As this has already happened in New Atlantis, that book now takes on a heightened contemporary significance. Moreover, twentieth century sciential society can understand Bensalem's practicability to a degree that was never before possible.

1. Farrington, Benjamin (1949) Francis Bacon: Philosopher of Industrial Science, London, Laurence and Wishart The Works of Francis Bacon 15 vols;

New Atlantis , translated & ed, James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis and Douglas Denon Heath, Boston, Brown and Taggard, 1861; cited hereafter

Another contemporary mistake is to associate Bacon with positivism. There are many positivisms: logical, Comtean, and even Baconian, though Bacon's is widely misinterpreted. Humanities scholars sometimes use positivism as an epithet and then charge Bacon with responsibility for modern godless materialism (Skolimowski, 1983; Wheeler, 1984) Conversely, those avowed positivists who still use classical physics as their model criticise him for methodological naivete. Although Bacon is acknowledged as the first philosopher of modern scientific empiricism, his doctrines are widely misperceived among nonspecialists. Most of them assume he was a straight inductivist and that he was guilty of the naive expectation that science would grow automatically out of the collection of data. Today, however, with the waning influence of logical positivism, especially in reference to the social sciences, one can more readily distinguish Bacon's special empirically grounded and law based positivism from the mathematically grounded physics based logical positivism that emerged later.

Skolimowski, Henryk (1983) "Power: Myth and Reality," Alternatives

Wheeler, Harvey (1983) "Power and Positivism,"

The more discerning studies of Bacon's logic of inquiry trace back to John Manard Keynes' analysis, published in 1921 (Keynes, 1921). However, the work of Georg Von Wright (Von Wright, 1960, definitively rehabilitated the philosophic credentials of Baconian induction. Today, the most eloquent interpreters of Baconian "inductive support"called "adminicle" by Bacon himself are L. Jonathan Cohen (Cohen, 1977) and Ian Hacking (Hacking, 1983). In a similar vein, Yehuda Elkana has argued that the realist phenomenology of Albert Einstein finds its closest predecessor inþ Bacon's ontology of the objects of science (Elkana, 1982) These careful reevaluations of Bacon's admittedly opaque concepts help make possible a more accurate understanding of the philosophy of Novum Organum

Keynes, John Maynard (1921) Treatise on Probability. Von Wright, Georg (1960) A Treatise on Induction and Probability, Patterson, N.J., Littlefield, Adams & Co.Georg (1966) "Induction," Encyclopaedia Britannica

Cohen, L. Jonathan (1977) The Probable and the ProvableOxford, Oxford University Press Hacking, Ian (1983)Representing and Intervening, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press Elkana, Yehuda (1982)

"Transformations in Realist Philosophy of Science from Victorian Baconianism to the Present Day," Albert Einstein, Historical and Cultural Perspectives Gerald Holton & Yehuda Elkana, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Furthermore, as classical mechanics lost its methodological hegemony and biology derived conceptions began to gain ascendency, the need grew to conduct a thorough reconsideration of the more substantive aspects of Bacon's philosophy. This has been facilitated by a new archeological Baconianism of a Foucaultian kind, concerned with his substantive doctrines and with correcting the misinterpretations handed down from the nineteenth century commentators. For example, Bacon was predominantely concerned with issues related to biology and several aspects of today's biological revolution are permitting a new appreciation of Bacon's biologically oriented contributions. Recently, the rehabilitation of cladistics, systematics and taxonomy has lent heightened significance to Bacon's theory of classification. W.M.S. Russell has noted that Bacon anticipated the link that Malthus made between population and resources and he proposed that Bacon be recognized as the founder of modern social biology (Russell, 1976) Bacon also made an "inclusive fitness" analysis of altruism ("Wheeler, 1983). Evenÿ more intriguing is the fact that he advocated an "abecedarian" structuralist grammar of nature's inner workings comparable in both process and logic to the discovery process that led Crick and Watson to their abecedarian genetic code. (Wheeler, 1983)

Le Doeuff, Michele, & Llasera, Margaret, (1983) La Nouvelle Atlantide Suivi de Vouage dans la Pense Baroque, Paris, Russel, W.M.S. (1976) "The Origins of Social Biology," Biology and Human Affairs, vol 41 #3 109

Wheeler, Harvey (1983) "The Invention of Modern Empiricism: Juridical Foundations of Francis Bacon's Philosophy of Science," Law Library Journal vol 76 #1, 78

Another factor favoring a new look at Bacon's doctrines is the interest today in neo- hermeneutic approaches (William Sessions, 1987) Michael Arbibá Alter B. Weimerá Several recent studies of the philosophy of the scientific process develop neo-hermeneutic theories of the use of exclusionary rules of evidence to establish probable truths (Heelan, 1983), and these have a strong resemblence to Bacon's own theory of exclusionary inference processes.

13. William Sessions (19XX)

14. Arbib, Michael (1985) In Search of the Person, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press

15. Weimer, Alter B. (1977) "Science as a Rhetorical Transaction," Philosophy and Rhetoric, vol 10 #1, Winter, 1Ç

16. Heelan, Patrick A. (1983)Perception and the Philosophy of Science Berkeley, University of California

All of these aspects of Baconian science are touched upon in They fully warrant taking a new look at the sciential paradise that Bacon located on an uncharted subcontinent in the South Atlantic.

Francis Bacon's New Atlantis was to the original Atlantis of Plato as his New Organon was to the original by Aristotle. The New Science would consolidate what Bacon called history's "third revolution."(Cohen, 1985) Bacon far antedates Kant as the first theorist of intellectual revolutions, a fact that Kant acknowledged in his preface to the second edition of Critique of Pure Reason(Kant, 1929) Bacon said that the first revolution was the invention of philosophy by the Greeks and the second was the invention of positive law by the Romans. Bacon's own new "European revolution" drew upon his modifications of both former revolutions. From Greek philosophy, primarily Plato, he changed Idea into Form and developed a new ontology of empirical objects; from Roman law he took its abstract juridical phenomenology and transferred it from a written to an unwritten domain of positive law. These were then synthesized into a general theory of scientific empiricism with an efficacious new logic of inquiry. Bacon believed that this synthesis would result in a third, European, revolution. There would emerge new societies based upon the New Science the way prior societies had been based upon prior ways of dealing with nature and society. The contrast he had chiefly in mind was between the monistic gothic model of society based on a noumenal Natural Law, and his own model in which society would be based on a new dualistic schema of separate domains for matters of faith and for secularized phenomenal law. (Wheeler, 1983) This prospect is an achieved fact in Bensalem, the name of the island continent described in New Atlantis that name, of course, publicly announces its people's Christian identity. Bensalem, at once sciential and Christian, accurately reflects the separate and autonomous dualisms that pervade Bacon's more technical Novum Organum religion and science, faith and reason, and values and facts. These are the distinctive polarities of the positivist phenomenology of Bacon's New Science. Again, however, it is a positivism was derived, not from physics, which was still a several years in the future, but from the implicit phenomenological ontology of the positive common law of England.
(vol VIII
Novum Organum, Book One, Aphorism LXXVIII, p. I.)

Bernard Cohen's history of the concept of scientific revolution fails to recognize Bacon as the founder of the theory of intellectual revolutions..
Cohen, I. Bernard (1985)Revolution in Science Cambridge Mass., Belknap Press

18. Kant, Immanuel (1787; 1929) Critique of Pure Reason

(2nd ed) trans. Normal Kemp Smith, p. 19ff, New York, St. Martin's Press., Bk I, Aphorism LXXVII, Bensalem is 5,600 miles in circumference, about the size of Britain and France combined. It has a temperate climate and fertile lands, making it completely self-sufficient. There is a flourishing, contained commerce; heavy as well as light industry; a tall ship merchant marine. All this is under the dominance of an advanced scientocratic establishment. Long before 1600 Bensalem had achieved a more advanced level of science, industry and health than was reached anywhere else until well after the opening of the twentieth century. Bacon places the origins of this sciential society far back in time, as ancient to the ancients as they were to Stuart England. This permitted him to create in the archeological anthropology of a mythological age of science. The actual effects of the book were quite close to those he had in mind in writing it, for it was to inspire throughout Europe a sciential neo-renaissance much the way the archeology of the classical humanities had inspired the Renaissance. Bensalem's origin had been coeval with that of the other Atlantis of Plato, which the voyagers learn was really America. However, Bensalem was unique among the high civilizations of the past in having escaped decline and destruction by the forces of corruption, such as had reduced that other Atlantis to the crude and primitive state it was in when discovered by Columbus. That deliverance was due in good measure to the fact that Bensalem's was a hybrid melting pot culture.

When Bacon's boatload of lost Europeans happened to land there, Bensalem still possessed ethnic remnants of most of the world's highest civilizations, including a small but flourishing community of Jewish merchants who enjoyed the same status as all other merchant companies and ethnic groups.Bensalem's amalgamation of the best of both new and old worlds is symbolized by its highly educated population that speaks Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Spanish. The latter, of course, is the lingua franca of the time and is the language with which the natives speak to the stranded voyagers. Although we do not know if they themselves are Spanish, they may well have been for Bacon admired the organizational genius of the Spaniards. In fact, one can probably picture Bensalem fairly well, as a first approximation, by imagining a flourishing urbanized sciential version of the Spanish colonies that once dominated the 18th century coastal plains of California. Furthermore, although Bensalem is sciential, it is also an incomparably devout Christian society. Science and religion are separate but not antagonistic. The Christianization of remote Bensalem had come about miraculously through the agency of St. Bartholomew. He appeared there personally twenty years after Christ's ascension into heaven and gave the Bensalemites all the books of the Bible. Bensalem is an affluent society without any hint of poverty or homelessness. Although few concrete details about its economic order are given, indirect evidence indicates it had a mercantilist economic structure composed of a large number of chartered extractive, manufacturing and trading companies, probably organized like the textile factories that were well advanced in England in Bacon's time. However, there were state operated heavy industry exceptions for we are told of one that was operated directly under the government's scientocratic chancery in connection with metallurgical experiments and arms research.

Bacon's letters and policy memoranda to King James I show that he wished to stimulate the expansion of commerce and favored relaxing the stringent controls over monopolies. Presumably Bensalem benefitted from these enlightened views and was free of the most onerous burdens on industry and commerce. Economic guidance probably would have been provided through some kind of officially regulated market exchange system, for Bacon did not advocate a handsoff Adam Smith type of laissez faire economy. As to financing, contemporary readers almost certainly assumed that governmental functions were financed on a standardized fee service basis. Most officials in Bacon's time financed their offices from the sale of services and that is the way he tried to finance his own Chancery. Indeed, if some such fee system had been formally recognized under Stuart law, Sir Edward Coke could not have managed Bacon's impeachment. Works, vol XII, "Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates," Bensalem has its social strata. At the pinnacle of society is a powerful learned and scientific aristocracy of lamp, laboratory and robe; knowledge, science and theology. Next can be inferred a large middling gentry burgher class. The merchants are rich but they do not dominate either in numbers or influence. It is a citified but not a bourgeois society. There is a lower class, because the voyagers learn of a "meaner sort" employed as sailors. They also learn that Bensalem began history as a monarchy and they hear vaguely of the present king but he seems primarily to symbolize piety and the comity between the two pillars of the state: religion and science with the latter clearly the more prominent.

However, three hundred years before Christ the nation had been ruled by a great lawgiver called, not surprisingly, Solamona. Now Bensalem's crowning institution is named in his memory, an unusual institution part chancery, part university, and part experimental research laboratory. Although Salomon's House runs the nation's educational system, its prime responsibility is to administer a centralized R&D institute which serves the nation somewhat as Bell Labs serves AT&T. It pioneers in the development of scientific innovations which are then franchised out to industry. Here, of all Bacon's writings, is the sole concrete description of how the New Science actually works in day to day operations. We may frame a preliminary snapshot of Salomon's House by imagining a combination of three institutions of Bacon's day: his own mercantilist Chancery; the guild like apprentice master organization of the Inns of Court and the Bar; and the society of fellows of a Cambridge college. In today's terms it would be visualized as an institutional amalgam of Harvard, the National Institutes of Health, Bell Labs, and the United States federal executive Office of Management and Budget. Direction of Salomon's House was by a sage scientist who can best be pictured in the image of Alfred North Whitehead, not only because he was a distinguished mathematician and philosopher, but also because his philosophy interpreted the presuppositions of modern science in a way completely compatible with the theological presuppositions of the Church of England. If an amalgam of all these were to be placed in charge of the administration of an entire society, the result would be a kind of scieõntific sanhedrin directed by a Baconian scientist regent. That was Bensalem.

Although nineteenth century Germany is said to have been the first to prove that a modern nation could skip the phase of primitive capitalism and jump directly into monopoly, or state capitalism, this approach is now a developmental commonplace in several socialist regimes of Asia and the Southern Hemisphere. Sciential Bensalem did it ages before, evolving out of a society similar to Bacon's own precapitalist commercial mercantilism. However, instead of the capitalism that was soon to emerge in England, Bensalem's centrally coordinated and state franchised operations were more like those of contemporary Japan than any other nation, even to the vast mission oriented "leading edge" scientific establishment that directed the society's development. Bacon patterned the chief scientist of New Atlantis after himself.

Salomon's House not only controlled the investments in pure and applied research, it also indirectly "legislated" Bensalem's future developmental course by evaluating each scientific discovery as it was made and deciding whether or not it qualified for acceptance, or instead warranted suppression. An invention that failed to pass this qualitative assessment could not be chartered out for further development and exploitation. Although the Church had no formal role in those decisions, the entire society was thoroughly suffused with a dense force field of Christian values. These informally set the parameters of the moral ecology within which all activities were judged. It is inconceivable that an immoral discovery or a heinous invention would have attracted further investment merely to satisfy the curiosity of an individual scientist. Although the other formal institutions we are told about by no means constitute the entire complement required by a fully fashioned society, enough are described to give a clear picture of how the soceity operated. They are: In the Erastian tradition of the Church of England, it provides the people with popular rituals and ceremonies of great pomp. These are authorized and ministered to by an august ecclesiastical establishment, autonomous and authoritative regarding matters of faith and morals but apparently devoid of direct authority over anything else.

The Stranger's House

This is a quarantine compound that provides strangers with free firstclass accommodations in a hotel infirmary until it can be determined whether or not they carry any infectious diseases. The society is avidly health conscious. Its ÿscientific medicine has developed pills to combat nearly all maladies, and preventive medicine and hygienic practices are also strictly applied. One would not be surprised to learn that the natives walk about wearing protective respiratory face masks, as is sometimes seen on the streets of today's Tokyo. A Governor, who is a priest, administers the Stranger's House. The emblem on his headdress is a red cross. This surprisingly modern touch may have been the precedent for the International Red Cross but Bacon probably meant something more esoteric by it. This aspect of the Governor of health seems to have been inspired by two books of Andrea, "Fama Fraternitatis" and "Confessio Rosae Crucis." (Yates, 1979) Their Rosicrucian doctrines had captured Europe's imagination in the years just before Bacon wrote the New Atlantis. Bacon was probably trading upon Andrea's cachet, associating the antiquity of Bensalem with the ancient and cabbalistic origins claimed for the titillating Rosicrucians.

Yates, Frances (1979) The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, Boston, Routledge and Kegan Paul Num The Department of Health: This is specifically named but only as the office of Conservator of Health whose responsibilities include supervision of the Stranger's House. His department is likely one of the largest in the nation, a surmise compatible with Bacon's own general scientific concentration on the life sciences. Gerontology, for example, was set on its modern course in Instauratio Magna. (Historia Vitae et Mortis 313ff)

Presumably Bensalem is the name of the capital city as well as of the nation. The level of commerce and industry indicates that there were many other good sized cities throughout the land. Only one of them, an east coast city named Renfusa, is identified. There is nowhere in the book any word of farm lands, country estates, rustic folk, and only slight mention of women. The new arrivals are told that there are several of these throughout the land. The visitors would have seen them standing out as multileveled buildings with departmentalized floors patterned after London's Inns of Court, which were the guild like research and teaching institutions of the common law. Bacon was a member of Gray's Inn and a Reader on its faculty, and had lived there many years in his own residence right on the Gray's Inn grounds.

Another model was surely the long hall like upper storey galleries that had come into domestic architecture in the great manor houses built first by the "new men" of Tudor times. Bacon's father was a leading magnate under Elizabeth and his lavish mansion boasted one of England's most famous galleries. Its upper wall panels were inscribed with inspiring humanistic "sententiae," or maxims. Bacon's own palatial Gorhambury also featured a majestic gallery. In these mansions the marks of high culture held a place like that of our own hi- tech accoutrements. Sculpted and painted portraiture had captured the fancy of England's newly rich, together with the family's putative heraldric banners, crests and arms, and edifying historical relics. These provided an awe inspiring setting for formal banquets, balls, masques and other occasions of ceremony and solemnity. Such contemporary examples appear to have been in the foreground of Bacon's thoughts as he wrote. In addition, he probably embellished the idea of museum by drawing on what was then known about the most impressive research foundation of the ancient world: the magnificent combined library, museum and research center of Alexandria where Callimachus created the world's first teaching and research library. Or Bensalem's museums were thus designed to serve as inspirational and teaching institutions.

Like today's anthropological museum in Mexico City, they contained specimen collections classified according to Bacon's "natural history" system of gathering data in the sciences. "Civil Science" was what Bacon called the social sciences and was to be studied in the same way as was nature. As the new arrivals saw, Bensalem's museums contained archives, statues and replica displays to illustrate "civil science." The aim was to document for all periods the historiographic principles Bacon himself tried to illustrate with his History of Henry VII Companies. It should be repeated that each city contained an assortment of chartered companies through which all Bensalem's business was conducted. They were doubtless like the joint stock enterprises thatÿ the new business promoters, called "undertakers," had recently brought into vogue in England. Such companies had been found useful for pooling capital to support expensive or hazardous endeavors like the financing of freebooting vessels, or risky chartered businesses like the small beers monopoly.

The Science Marine:

People of the "meaner sort" are identified as furnishing the crews for the country's top flight "merchant" marine (actually this was primarily a science marine fleet). Their tall square riggers were of advanced design and superb quality. They were used primarily for explorations and to make regular forays to foreign lands, which were conducted under the mask of forged registry paper. The purpose of these voyages was to collect information about any discoveries, arts, sciences or institutions that might be useful at home. Bensalem took all the world's knowledge for its province,but carefully kept the world ignorant of its own existence. This sector of Bensalem's endeavors was controlled, if not directly administered, by the science establishment as part of a shipping, metallurgy and armaments combine. Such conjectures are confirmed by the knowledge given elsewhere in the book that the metallurgy industry, especially including the heavy industry foundrÿy works, was under Salomon's House, the central R & D institute. Bacon's own England had put into operation a large scale ordnance/shipyard/gun founding complex, part of which was under the Cambridge trained master shipwright, Phineas Pett. Above him was the Office of Ordnance, under a Master General of Ordnance who was none other than Bacon's own patron and friend, the ill starred Earl of Essex. Bacon may have drawn also on the model of the famous Venetia Arsenal. It had reached its zenith in the midsixteenth century when it was a vast, government supported and government administered technological compound whose state of the art engines and techniques were so advanced as to capture Galileo's analytical interests.

The Family System: The heart of Bensalem's social order was its family system. Although its closest approximation was probably that of ancient Rome, none like it has ever existed. Each family was legitimized by a royal charter that authorized the performance of formal ceremonial and juridical functions by a pater familias. This patriarch's official and ceremonial prerogatives included the dispensation of justice and the resolution of conflicts. His rulings carried the force of law and were formally sanctioned by the Governor of the city who also saw to their execution. Furthermore, the family seems to have been a kinship analogue to the chartered company. Its extended, patrilineal monogamous order acomplished several state purposes: instilling piety; insuring fecundity; maintaining official population policy; providing adjudication services; encouraging productivity; supervising inheritances; and administering social security. This regime, together with other kinds of chartered activities, supports the inference that Bacon saw Bensalem as operating under a kind of large scale functional, rather than territorial, federalism something like a vast, extended and formalized family. The sheer number alone of all these different types of chartered institutions and companies would have required something like a federative coordinating authority. Although feudalism had been a form of land based federalism, and the later guild system, together with the mercantilist crown monopolies, can be considered a functional form of federalism with much of its regulation under Bacon as Lord Chancellor federalism itself had not yet been invented. However, something similar to functional federalism did appear in the early the seventeenth century. The theory was by Johannes Althusius and was published in 1603 in the Politica Methodice Digesta. It was based on the structure of the family (Friedrich, 1932) A transitional work, more than a utopia, not quite a modern treatise in constitutional theory, this important book portrayed an ingeniously designed functional federalism. Describing the family as founded on biology and the state as founded on the family, thus us went on to generalize from these principles, filling his visionary society with a network of complementary associations. There is remarkable similarity between this and New Atlantis.

Bensalem was also the first modern state to have an official population policy, and it was carried out through the family. Bacon appears to have drawn the essentials of that policy from his essay "Of the True Greatnesse of Kingdomes and Estates." The word population, in the sense of the total number of inhabitants, occurs there for the first time. That essay also contains the first analysis of the principles of population policy (Russell, 1976), a policy that encouraged large families to enhance the resources of the state. As applied in New Atlantis its central device is the officially sanctioned "Feast of the Family," an extended religion judicial celebration.


The first two days of the feast featured the formal discharge of the father's judicial offices. These were conducted under the presiding benediction of the Governor of the city, who then continued in attendance at the feast for the remainder of the celebrations. Not every family in Bensalem was entitled to a Feast of the Family, as one was only permitted to the families of those patriarchs who had produced a progeny of thirty or more. This was the state's way of encouraging both economic productivity and marital chastity. The policy derived from Bacon's own theory that economic development rests upon the ratio of population density to potential productivity. In the case of Europe Bacon had concluded that there was overpopulation relative to resources, so in Bensalem he was concerned to maintain a certain optimum density necessary to sustain its advanced sciential society. The Feast of the Family is an extended religios judicial celebration that lasts for several days and then concludes with dancing and revelry; no salacious details are furnished and Bacon maintains an almost puritan prudery when discussing sexual mores and relations. The feasts do, however, have a suggestive Dionysian undertone.

For example, there is a "Son of the Vine,"chosen at the start by the fatherá and afterward permitted to live in the father's house. The emblem for all families entitled to a feast is a cluster of grapes wrought of gold and decorated in enameled. If sons predominated in the offspring the design featured purple grapes topped by a sun. Green grapes with a crescent denoted that females were in the majority. The strangers at first assume from Bensalem's large family size that the society must condone polygamy. No, the narrator explains, Bensalem is monogamous but also free of prostitution, adultery, licentious "stews," perversions and homosexuality. The visitors are led to conclude that the reason the nation's level of marital fidelity has never been approached by any other people is because the canons of sexual morality are reinforced by policies and practices based on social biology. Due to Bensalem's advanced state of medical science, the people enjoy excellent health and vigor and an extended longevity, and these help fuel the high birthrate encouraged by the Feast of the Family. Moreover, the families compete against each other to qualify for as many of these feasts as possible. In several ways Bensalem's marriage partners are rewarded for engaging in religiously sanctioned reproductive activity lasting well beyond the normal child-bearing period. It pays well in Bensalem to qualify for a Feast of the Family.

This rejection of primogeniture to permit preference for the most talented son doubtless reflects Bacon's distress over not having been adequately provided for by his own father.

Salomon's House Bensalem's crowning institution combines education, research, legislation, adjudication and technological problem solving. There is nothing like a conventional parliament in evidence anywhere in the book. The fellows of Salomon's House rely upon research to determine the scientific solutions to problems correctly propounded, both natural and moral. Scientific research is conducted on the basis of subdivided fields and separated functions. The portrayal of this organization in New Atlantis is probably the first description of an explicit plan for an assembly line system of subdivided production and assembly operations. However, it is an information age, not an industrial age, type of factory: the processing is all done on raw information, not raw materials. Salomon's House is thus a bureaucracy whose form and functions are determined by the aim of organizing people to úconduct the operations of what is in effect a computer

Oulike knowledge processor. Salamon's House is, to adapt Plato's metaphor, a knowledge processing computer "writ large." A particular knowledge product resulting from this process has the status of a scientific law. For political and social issues, the result is a scientific positive law that determines human action, collective as well as individual. These passages of New Atlantis help clear up one of the puzzles in Bacon's scientific writings. For when Bacon says in Novum Organum that science produces axioms and maxims, he is a lawyer who is trying to talk science before there was science. When he went on to theorize that the expression of scientific laws would be in aphorisms, he was thinking of the social as well as the natural sciences. Scholars have had trouble with Bacon's use of aphorism as a way of describing a law because it is not at all like the algo-rithmic laws of motion Newton was soon to announce. It is however, the way a judge summarizes a finding of positive law when expressing it in an obiter dictum Even more interesting today is that this way of expressing scientific relationships is compatible with recent postmodern, neo-hermeneutic modes of stating scientific propositions (Wheeler,1987). Wheeler, Harvey (1987) "A Constructional Biology of Hermeneutics," Journal of Social and Biological Structures vol 10 #2, 103

In his more technical writings, Bacon tries to define what he called the special "Forms" which, when discovered by his New Science, would lead to ever more abstract and general scientific laws. Although Bacon insists that this is not merely a refurbished version of Platonic Idea applied to empirical research, few terms in the history of philosophy have led to more speculation and controversy. From the internal evidence of Kant's references to Bacon it is quite likely that he had Baconian Form in mind when he developed the concepts of schematismus and the "concrete universal" (Wheeler, 1983), for they are very close to what Bacon meant. Indeed, Novum Organum explicitly uses Bacon's special kind of Form to develop a probabilistic and exclusionary modal logic in explaining how empirical evidence can be processed into empirical science. However, that discussion is so abstract and the referents of the terms are so obscure that we are never quite certain exactly how the New Science was to be conducted in actual practice. Salomon's House is the only place in all his writings where we can observe concretely how Baconian science operates to produce empirical scientific laws. It operates much the way a Manhattan Project does, or a Lawrence Livermore Laboratory does, or a mission oriented research task force does. But as we shall see shortly, it also operated the way a seventeenth century Lord Chancellor would systematize a vast collaborative research operation.

In Salomon's House every subdivided special field of research is headed by a chief scientist. A careful analysis of New Atlantis indicates that each research director has under his direction a staff of fifty apprentice assistants who have a status analogous to today's university post doctoral research fellows. A calculation of the total scientific complement for the pure research activities of Salomon's House adds up to about 1600. This does not include the scientists engaged in the other aspects of Bensalem's scientocracy: those who staff the many museums, the universities, the numerous applied techno-scientific operations, and various other policy forming and administrative activities. All these rely upon and contribute to science to the greatest extent possible. It is obvious that Bensalem is permeated by scientists the way the USSR is permeated by Party apparatchiks. The precise organizational schema of Salomon's House can be derived from the internal evidence of the text where Bacon catalogs the various different kinds of investigators. For example, the list begins:

For the several employments and offices of our fellows; we have twelve that sail into foreign countries, under the names of other nations, (for our own we conceal;) who bring us the books, and abstracts, and patterns of experiments of all other parts. These we call Merchants of Light.. This makes twelve fully manned science research ships. I have not tried to estimate their scientific staff complements. We have three that collect the experiments which are in all books. These we call Depredators.We have three that collect the experiments of all mechanical arts; and also of liberal sciences; and also of practices which are not brought into arts. These we call Mystery New Atlantis.

Continuing with this list, it is possible to chart and graph all the research activities Bacon describes. What is striking is the modernity of the plan, an impression somewhat hampered by titles Bacon assigned to the leaders of the various research departments: "Dowry men... Lamps... Innoculators... etc." In the following revised description the department heads are left nameless in order to focus attention on their actual operations and not be misled by their archaic sounding names. Raw data is produced by six departmentalized task forces containing a total of twenty-seven principal investigators.

Twelve scientists are always abroad conducting surveys to bring back data about the activities of foreign nations that might help the Bensalemites enhance their knowledge and improve their conditions. Three scientists are in charge of library research, a form of research that grew out of Bacon's theory of unified science and explicitly including the social as well as the natural sciences under the same investigative protocols.. Three scientists are specially charged with the analysis of the arts and technologies; both mechanical and functional. These include the professions and the trades, and any other practice where "know how" might lend itself to theoretical expression. Three pure research scientists are commissioned to engage in completely free and previously unattempted experiments. Three scientists are in charge of statistical methods and standards and use them to analyse the results of all new research according to standardized methods. Their findings permit recording the results of all scientific experiments in a master database from which systematic comparisons of many types can be made. Three scientists are charged with making theoretical analyses of all the foregoing information from the standpoint of both immediate, or potential future, practical applications that might contribute to the health, education and material welfare of the people.

The thirty six deans of the college of scientists constitute a kind of science cabinet. They are charged with the overall direction of Bensalem's science policy and with the allocation of funds for further research. Their deliberations are aided by a research staff of facilitators, divided into three panels. Each panel is headed by a scientist with his own separate support staff. The job of the facilitators is periodically to collate all current research findings and reports and use them to prepare a master report for submission to the deans. The facilitators can be compared to the most powerful committee chairmen in a modern legislature. They prepare draft policy reports, draft legislative bills, and provisional research programs and projects for future investigation and experimentation, designed to guarantee further scientific progress. The provisional bills are debated and revised before ratification and adoption. After approval by the full college, they are turned over to yet another team of three science administrators who are charged with the execution of the newly adopted science policies. No provision for ratificõation by a conventional parliament is mentioned.


At the apex of this system, above the college, sits yet another panel of three "Interpreters." Their function bears careful attention. We know from Novum Organum that "interpretation" is the highest and final stage of Bacon's "logic of inquiry," Jonathan Cohen's apt term for the New Method. Interpretation, however, is the special office of hermeneutics. Bacon does not use this latter term but he employs its processes throughout his writings, which include extensive treatment of the encoding and decoding of texts. His use of the processes of "interpretation" in the scientific writings accurately focuses attention on the hermeneutic character of Baconian method. It also emphasizes the contrast between Bacon's logic of inquiry and later methodological positivisms, such as that of Comte. But more important yet is that interpretation is a juridical operation. In fact, the Baconian unwritten constitution of nature is like the unwritten constitution of England. In each domain the axioms and rules of their unwritten laws could be discovered through a modified version of the then emerging evidentiary case method of research in the English common law, a development in which Bacon was the leading figure. Furthermore, because Baconian laws are stated in hermeneutic aphorisms, not mathematical formulas, the special advantage Bacon sees in the aphorism is underscored. The Baconian aphorism is an expression of lawfulness in a form that lends itself to later revision, rejection, or supersession when new evidence in the future might so warrant. This function in built in to the administration of science. Bensalem's special science courts sit in review of current research and apply what their scientist judges infer to be the relevant rules of nature's laws a process by no means far fetched. A similar science court for today's science related issues has been under serious consideration in this country for many years. Bensalem's three chief science interpreters constitute something like a supreme court. They evaluate the final results of the whole scientific endeavor and draw from them the axioms and aphorisms that can be validly established in light of all available evidence. The entire process has led up to this capability. One can imagine an annual "First Tuesday" of science say in October when the prior year's scientific deliberations have been drawn to a close and the science lords of Salomon's House, amid great pomp and high ritual, meet in public session. One may visualize a formal occasion that is something like the opening session of the Supreme Court in Washington and the Nobel Laureate ceremony in Stockholm. The three Chief Interpreters promulgate those scientific laws of nature and society that have been discovered during the preceding year's research. This completes the governance of science in Bensalem. Its scope is much larger than what we now call science.

Bacon was a "two cultures" theorist but the two domains were not like those of Sir Charles Snow. As science covered everything but religion, law, government, politics, commerce, population, family policy, social structure and medicine, all fell just as squarely under science as did physics, biology and pharmacology. Although the mathematical laws of physics and chemistry lay just in the future, Bacon believed he had already uncovered juridical principles of lawfinding, and that these would apply to the physical as well as to the social sciences. He was a kind of "reverse positivist" (Wheeler, 1975; for he extended the hermeneutic methods of lawfinding that he ÿhad found successful as a jurist to his experiments in the physical sciences. At the end of his outline of the activities of Salomon's House, Bacon tried to satisfy the curiosity of his readers by providing a long inventory of the specific research projects that were conducted by Bensalem's scientists. As in other works, this list reflects the departmentalization of the fields of knowledge that was found more fully in his descriptions of "natural history" in the technical writings. His schema soon led to the departmental reorganization of Europe's leading universities, and more vividly to the principles on which the first great encyclopedias were designed. Within a few years of its publication, New Atlantis had transformed the constitution of the mind of Europe.

Hermeneutic Baconian laws are different not only from the algorithmic laws of physics that were soon to emerge but also from the ordinary conception of positive law current in the early seventeenth century. Sir William Holdsworth makes this point in his authoritative History of English Law Holdsworth contrasts the Scholastic "realism" of Sir Edward Coke's idea of a common law term with Bacon's scientific conception of law. Coke "reifies" terms almost concretely, whereas Bacon has a phenomenological, proto Kantian idea of law. His laws are not terminological "things,"rather they make up the abstract phenomenological environment we create for ourselves in order to cope with thingness. Like the unwritten law to which Bacon gave a phenomenological ontology, science constitutes a domain with an unwritten reality. This was a new ontological construction. Like Sir Karl Popper's "third world," it is distinct from both thing and idea. This phenomenological domain is where Bacon lived all the time, in law and in science. It was the main reason many contemporaries, among them Coke, did not understand him. Even his brilliant mother complained that she could not "construe the interpretation..." of his "...enigmatical enfolded writing. Bensalemites already live in that new cognitive domain that the seventeenth century scientific revolution was soon to stamp upon the modern mind. Salomon's House of New Atlantis was one of the main vehicles of that cognitive transition.

Holdsworth, William S. (1924) A History of English Law, 10 vols, London, Methuen & Company, Ltd

We come to the end of the list of Bensalem's science projects with a vivid reminder of Bacon's persistent concern with the motions of things, either large scale motions as in the behavior of winds or invisible interior motions, as in acoustics. Characteristically, these were sciences that had practitioners: sailors and musicians. Bacon would derive natural sciences from them just the way that he had derived a jurisprudential science from the practice of law. Then suddenly New Atlantis breaks off, a fractured text, an ending that has always seemed shockingly abrupt. The shipload of strangers has seen and been told about many marvels. They have witnesssed the consolidation of history's third intellectual revolution in a revolutionary sciential society; seen the future and seen that it works! At the discussions in the Stranger's House they looked a century and more ahead, straight into the heart of the Age of Progress. Their biggest lesson was that science is the engine of wellbeing. But they did not get a lesson in constitutional law. Bacon has told us elsewhere why he decided against revealing the structure of Bensalem's political order. To describe Bensalem's politics, he said (speaking obliquely to King James) would involve divulging the arcana imperial secrets of the monarchial mystique. To do that would be highly improper. But the disavowal has always been a perplexity.

For Bacon then procedes to tell us so much that we find his claim of judicious self-restraint curiously paradoxical. It is a curiosity confounded by the most obvious feature of New Atlantis, the fact that it falls technically within the genre of utopia. Previous utopias had rested on an ideal constitution of government. Now Bacon deliberately puts before us a complete, fully functioning sciential society, minus its government! We know that Bacon was a serious student of secret codes and messages, and that doing science involved the hermeneutical decoding of nature's covert "abacedarian" messages (Rees, 1987). Is it conceivable that Bacon's disclaimer does not really mean what it says? Is it possible to analyse New Atlantis the way Bacon himself might have done and seek out the structure of its unwritten constitution?

(Graham 1984 "Bacon's Philosophy: Some New Sources with Special Reference to the Abecedarium Novum Naturae" Marta Fattori, ed., Francis Bacon: Terminologia Fortuna new XVII Secolo.)

If one tries to write, then, the part of the text that Bacon did not, the first discovery is: New Atlantis is itself a proto constitution. It prepared conceptually for the emergence of modern constitutional theory. Prior utopias had been based vaguely on Plato's Republic. Bacon's represents a significant new constitutional transition, however; one that is somewhat hidden by its fictional form. The textual maneuver Bacon employed to achieve his goal was one crucial to the development of modern constitutional theory. He used a kind of literary alchemy to convert the gothic model of the relation between the earthly and heavenly cities into what became the modern model: the world as an arena of ineradicable original sin and suffering was transformed into an earthly paradise of progress and perfectability.

The world of St. Augustine had been based on the diremption between the City of God and the City of Man. Although the gothic City of God had been morally relevant to affairs on earth, it constituted a qualitatively different order from that of human society because original sin prevented the heavenly city from being realized on earth (Pagels, 1988) Bacon, secularizing Augustine, brought the City of God out of the firmament and naturalized it on a seventeenth century island subcontinent. This was consistent with his own self image as a science bringer; a latter day heaven raiding science stealing Prometheus shows us how this momentous conceptual trick was turned. First, it changes the conventional two cities dyad on its axis and assimilates it to the conventional two swords (church and state) dyad. Then it translates the conventional church/state dualism into the new theology/science dualism; exactly the ontological dualism on which Novum Organum rested. With New Atlantis the way is paved for the secularized heavenly city that the eighteenth century philosophers will produce a century and a half later (Becker, 1932) Elaine Pagels (1988) Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, New York, Random House Carl L. Becker (1932) The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers, New Haven, Yale University Press

Medieval constitutions had been static, and so was England's, we'll into the seventeenth century. Sir Edward Coke built his reputation as a common lawyer on the unparalleled genius with which he maintained rigidly and concretely, while getting around it with super sophistical terminological and syntactical distinctions. Modern constitutionalism is dynamic. This requires two orders of fundamental law: the "higher law" of the constitution, and the body of operational constitutional law that rationalizes actual practices with the higher law (Wheeler, 1960). Bacon invented this new kind of higher law by lodging New Atlantis governing structure above England's common law, and making it a proto constitution, in the modern sense. The result was a modern juridical mechanics of progress. This is achieved concretely in Bensalem,where the people are healthier, richer, smarter, more affluent, more pacific, more Christian, longer lived, and at once more sensually gratified and more chaste than any other people who had ever lived. - Wheeler, Harvey (1960) "Constitutionalism and the Quixotic," Natural Law Forum

Moreorer, certain kinds of government were no longer needed because so many governmental function were discharged at the family level. This is illustrated by the office of patriarch described earlier in the Feast of the Family. A large branch of what would otherwise be criminal law, and much civil law as well, was administered by the patriarch. The mere structure relieved government of many of its customary functions and offices. There are resonances here with Sir Thomas More and Plato, but as always in Bacon, there is also innovation. Benalem's institutions, from the scientifically designed family system to the companies that provide the goods and services, have an autonomy that is officially chartered by Salomon's House. Like Althusius in 1603, Bacon envisions a new kind of social federalism of self governing units resting on a decentralized authority structure, much like the theory of subsidiarity in modern Catholic political theory. The second discovery is that Bensalem's institutions are shaped in two special ways. Some are determined by the functional imperatives of making the conduct of organized scientific research the government's prime occupation. Others are rationally designed on the basis of the revolutionary findings of the new natural and social sciences. Hence much of the institution making that is done by legislatures in ordinary states was determined scientifically in Bensalem. Any agency that can determine the science of the future can in effect legislate the future. That is the essence of a sciential society. At the end of Book One of Novum Organum Aphorism CXXIX, Bacon makes the same point. Printing, gunpowder and the magnet, he says, "have changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world...." Clearly, Salomon's House was a legislature, an idea that would have come quite naturally to a science minded Stuart Lord Chancellor. Rousseau's utopia, Social Contract would later incorporate this notion into his treatment of law making as the logical solution to problems scientifically propounded.

Other discoveries follow. Bensalem's Salomon's House is something like a scientific version of the Soviet Kremlin, with a science elite functioning as the agents of the dictatorship of the scientific revolution. However, there is a big difference. The state is a scientocracy whose self-validating authority rests not upon power and force but solely on the objective truths of the science it produces. We can imagine promotions to higher office being made the way Nobel Laureates are awarded. Equally important here is the fact that Bensalem, as a devout Protestant nation, has made science its official secular religion. The scientocracy is sanctified by an Erastian theology that pronounces over science the same kind of Christian benediction that Henry VIII's Erastian Reformation pronounced over the secularized state he stole away from Roman Christendom. Finally, the revolutionary new economic order is a sciential form of mercantilism operated by a science chancery that runs a novel assembly line knowledge processor to generate discoveries and inventions. Through these it largely determines the country's social and industrial structure. All these discoveries place the true arcanum arcanorum mystery of mysteries, of Bensalem in its physiocratic science of science in which knowledge has supplanted mercantilism's gold as the standard of value.

If we contrast Bensalem's political and moral order with the realities of Bacon's England as of about 1620 the difference is dramatically apparent. England was in thorough disarray. A subversive laisse-faire religious fundamentalism was spreading throughout the disaffected lower and lower middle classes. The judicial system was in crisis. Its high justices were restive over the king's attempts to govern by fiat. The state was bankrupt. Parliament was beginning to toy with the idea of making remonstrations, dangerous though they were. Its members were speaking under their breath of petitions of right. The universities, half gothic and half innovative, were in turmoil. On England's throne sat the first of a short, doomed line of kings, precociously Division, paradox and disaffection were the keywords of the times.

Furthermore, at the time of writing New Atlantis, Bacon himself was a living paradox. Although he was at the height of his scientific and literary achievements, he was deep in disgrace; an impeached (yet innocent) Lord Chancellor. Old and broken, he was out of jail only by royal sufferance. His pen held his only power. He set it to an audacious task, for with he threw into the cauldron that was England the detailed blueprint for a cultural revolution. It is at once an overt manifesto for the sciential revolution and a popular exposition of the New Science; a device to evoke an intuitive understanding of a philosophy far too abstract for the ordinary reader. The two aims are complementary for it is plain from the book that Bensalem's real power lies in the college of scientists an institution that, like the British parliament of the next century, consolidates in one agency the exercise of executive, legislative and judicial power.

At the top are the "Fathers," who appear to constitute an executive council, or cabinet. Effectually, however, authority is concentrated in the hands of their chief, a scientist Chancellor. He is never identified. However late in the book the strangers are granted the privilige of a talk with one of the Fathers of Salomon's House. He bears his great office with gravity and speaks like a person in command. The narrator tells us that he had an aspect as if he pitied men" clearly a Bacon self portrait. It is highly unlikely that contemporary readers of New Atlantis doubted that the scientist of Bensalem was any other than England's own one time Lord Chancellor and sometime philosopher regent. Nor is Bensalem's true constitution really much of a secret. The further unravelling of its structure takes us back to Bacon's prime, the Bacon regency. Biographical Sources of Bensalem's Constitution Shortly before he became Lord Keeper and head of the Chancery Bacon had engineered Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke's dismissal from the bench. It was a daring stroke. Coke was a man of great power and greater pride. That bench had brought him an enormous fortune. The two men had been rivals since early manhood and had even fought for the same bride, Bacon losing.

Following Coke's dismissal from Common Pleas, the bench that was the crown jewel of the common law, Lord Keeper Bacon moved rapidly to establish his own primacy. Soon he had a retinue of a hundred retainers and ran the Chancery's York House, where he had been born and grown to manhood, with a splendor that rivaled the king's own court. Then, when King James packed off his court for a vacation in his native Scotland, Lord Keeper Bacon was left behind as England's regent. At the beginning of his rise, Bacon had wrangled for his young wife an entitlement to social precedence over all other women in England, save only the queen herself. With James away, Bacon and his young twenty-five year old wife made a Camelot couple. Reaching far beyond the minimum requirements for running a caretaker regency, the Lord Keeper actually governed England, and did so with a stunning regality. He received ambassadors, outfitted his enormous retinue, and commissioned a lavish masque for performance at Gray's Inn, his law guild alma mater. Regality, came natural to Bacon. His father before him had been Lord Keeper under Elizabeth. His mother was a brilliant scholar who cut a stunning figure in English letters. The young Francis had known the manners of majesty since he was a toddler and a favorite with Elizabeth, who fondly called him "My young Lord keeper." He had apprenticed himself to authority since childhood. But after his father's death Bacon was sidetracked at court by the powerful Cecil and outshown in the law by Coke. This gave his career the pattern of a Toynbee like "withdrawal and return." When Bacon finally did ascend to the Chancery, it was with a more intimate knowledge of administration and a better professional training in both the Roman and the common law than any chief executive in England's history, before or since. However, it was during his work as a lawyer that the distinctive elements in the new logic of scientific inquiry were perfected.

Here again his life exhibited a contrapuntal feature for he was always turning away from the positive law to try to puzzle out how to discover the unwritten laws of nature (Wheeler, 1983) When he became Lord Chancellor he again alternated the seasons between official duties at York house in the city and scientific studies at his twin palaces just eighteen miles from London. As always, there was a reciprocal benefit. His legal research into the documentary empericism of the case method and the logic of the evidentiary processes of the common law furnished the scaffolds with which to create his new logic of scientific inquiry. It, in turn, helped him develop a mode of case law research that still today commands respect as an exemplary model of a scientific approach to the law. His most brilliant effort at this kind of lawfinding drew praise even from Justice Coke. This was a case in which Bacon uncovered in the common law precedents a doctrine of the coeval authority in England of both law and the king, and thereby resolved a deep seated constitutional law issue over sovereignty. This doctrine of a separated and balanced parity of commonlaw independence and royal prerogative autonomy, which became a leading case for both the English and the American constitutions' (Wheeler, 1956; helps account for the parallelisms of authority in New Atlantis science and religion; chief scientist and king.

(Nati of Scotland," 189 Wheeler, Harvey (1956a) "Calvin's Case (1608) and the Mcwaiñ Schuyler Debate," American Historical Review, vol 61, April
Wheeler, Harvey (1956b) "The Constitutional Ideas of Francis Bacon," Western Political Quarterly, vol 9, Dec.)

Once Bacon was regent, he represented law and the king. With Justice Coke out of the way, he was able to innaugurate the practice of presiding over a collegium of all the chief and puisne (associate) justices of England's common law courts. He was "one of them," he said to them reassuringly, "but a foreman." This later became the model for England's appellate Law Lords and for supreme courts of appeal. It worked so well that parliament made a special exception and permitted Bacon to sit there. He was indeed a superb political engineer, one of England's most thoroughly prepared and effective statesmen. He was also privileged to realize a dream that traced to back to Plato's invention of discursive philosophy. Briefly, for one splendid moment, he became a true philosopher regent he later immortalized in New Atlantis.

The Bacon regency lasted only a few exhilarating months. He fell from favor for disapproving, on policy science grounds, a dower deal that meant personal riches for James and his favorite. Bacon tried to argue that the disapproval was solely on policy grounds but hardly anyone believed him. The principal in the deal was his old rival and fated nemesis, Sir Edward Coke. Bacon sat in both parliament and Chancery, a combination that prefigures England's modern prime minister. The constitutional principle that supports this practice also began with Bacon. This is the principle of the cabinet's responsibility to parliament. Its origin lies in the early seventeenth century when parliament harshly began to impeach those crown ministers it did not like. Bacon's impeachment was the first one of a practice that was not regularized until the constitutional divide of 1688, when Britain became a monarchial republic.

When Bacon wrote New Atlantis, the beginning of the Whig revolution was only some twenty years away and he had warned of it nearly twenty years before Bacon's own Stuart regency was the model, first for the constitution of New Atlantis, and later for that of the Windsors. Effectual supremacy in Bensalem lay in the overlordship of a Baconian prime minister, under a ceremonial king who reigned but did not rule. But it would have been folly for Bacon to spell out that part of Bensalem's constitution concretely. In retrospect, it is also apparent that the original model for Bensalem's Salomon's House was regent Bacon's prime ministry, extended the way he would have done had it lasted longer. As it stands, the structure of Salomon's House is much like that of the "judicature" of mercantilist England.

At the bottom, in Bacon's time, were the apprentices of the Inns of Court; at the middle levels were the barristers and lower justices; at the next level up sat all the associate puisne justices. Together these latter constitute a collective panel for consideration of the gravest state trials. When Bacon was Attorney General, just such a full convocation was called to hear the pleadings in the Case of the Post Nati of Scotland, where Bacon's dualistic theory of England's constitution was affirmed. Above the puisne justices, at the very top of the legal system sat the three Chief Justices of the highest common law courts. These were the justices that Bacon, during his regency, convened under his own presidency in the Chancery. This reorganization permitted him to coordinate the way the judicial system as a whole worked to produce positive laws out of England's unwritten common laws. Hence it is not a surprise to find that Bensalem's scientocracy produced scientific laws out of nature's secret codes of behavior with the same structure and using the same process, for in Bacon's special kind of juridical positivism the natural and "civil" (social) sciences both yielded their secrets to the same hermeneutic empiricism. Conversely, the contemporary English reader of this most popular of Bacon's books could associate Bensalem's practices directly with those of England. In many ways, therefore, Bacon's regency, his impeachment and his New Atlantis provide ingredients for Britain's future form of constitutional monarchy. BACONIANISM. New Atlantis epitomizes Francis Bacon's philosophy of scientific empiricism and his new logic of inquiry.

It illustrates what he meant by:

1) the ideas of scientific revolution and progress,

2) the dualisms of science and religion, and the contrast of Form and Idea,

3) positive in contrast to algorithmic laws of nature,

4) lawyer like task forces engaged in hermeneutic lawfinding contrasted with students of optics and mechanics seeking the mathematical formulas of closed causal systems,

5) applied social biology, and

6) higher education.


New Atlantis occupies a pivotal historical position. It is the only place where the man who invented scientific empiricism explains concretely how it worked in actual practice. Bensalem shows us that it worked according to the hermeneutic processes of lawfinding that Bacon had developed for the common law case method. The fact that Bacon's approach has much in common with today's developing theory of hermeneutics for the postmodern sciences gives New Atlantis a special currency, deserving the attention of the scientific community for both philosophical and operational reasons. It is more relevant scientifically today than at any time since Bacon wrote.Together with the more abstract discussions of the New Science Novum Organum the New Atlantis facilitates exploring the foundations of a new experimental hermeneutics.


When Francis Bacon decided not to describe concretely the frame of government of New Atlantis what he did instead was almost equally as important, possibly even more so. For New Atlantis has an implicit constitution. As such it "predicts," so to speak, the nature of the modern British constitution, not only in some of its actual structural aspects, but most importantly because New Atlantis describes a constitution that, like the English common law itself, is "unwritten." New Atlantis shows us both how such a thing is possible, and how it could happen in a society. Hence it provides for constitutional archeology something like the deposit remains of an extinct institutional mutation which, like a Darwinian, or Foucaultian, link, permits us to see how England's unwritten constitution actually did emerge out of early seventeenth century institutions and practices. For the "working" constitution of Bensalem operates according to a set of "constitutional conventions," instead of according to written provisions, like those in the United States Constitution. He also has a contemporary social significance. Today's hi-tech societies are rapidly becoming post industrial sciential societies, but without the benefit of a systematic public discussion of the social, economic and constitutional implications of this major Baconian type of scientific revolution.

New Atlantis comes nowhere near being a blueprint for our future. However, because it is a kind of systems theoretic simulation of a sciential future to seventeenth century England, it furnishes a valuable heuristic, or indeed, for analyzing the foreseeable problems of the twenty-first century's sciential societies. There are many today who argue that the world's hi-tech future will be both post-Marxist. As Bensalem's governing structure is more like that of today's hi-tech Japan than any other nation, New Atlantis stands as a more valuable model now than it has at any previous time in the 350 odd years since is writing. Today, from the vantage point of our own emerging sciential society, we can evaluate New Atlantis better than was possible at any New Atlantis was a new genre, based upon a practical new science of inquiry. It derived from empiricist Baconian Form, not metaphysical Platonic Idea. This made New Atlantis into a constitution in the modern sense; a fundamental frame of government to give English mercantilism a sciential orientation. Similar to the constitutions that were to follow later, Bacon" believed that New Atlantis set realistic guidelines capable of practical approximation by ordinary people alive in his own day.


Additional Resources for this essay

Harvey Wheeler Martha Boaz Distinguished Research ProfessorUniversity LibraryUniversity of Southern California

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6. Von Wright, Georg (1966) "Induction," Encyclopaedia Britannica

The Probable and the Provable, Oxford, Oxford University Press Elkana, Yehuda (1982) Transformations in Realist Philosophy of Science from Victorian Baconianism to the Present Day," Albert Einstein, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, eds. Gerald Holton & Yehuda Elkana, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Le Doeuff, Michele, & Llasera, Margaret, (1983) La Nouvelle Atlantide Suivi de Vouage dans la Pense Baroque, Paris, Payot

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