Let's study Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis
And his Essays.
Welcome to the second month of our Utopian Collective! In January, we studied Thomas More’s Utopia and started studying the future of work and leisure—if you’re still reading or writing on either of those topics you’re still welcome to comment there and share your essays.
Now that it’s February, we’ll be digging into Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, as well as his Essays. We’ll also start studying the future of education and scientific advancement (but I’ll share those supplementary reading materials later).
Francis Bacon was an English philosopher circa the 1500s-1600s, he also happened to be the grandson of the humanist scholar Anthony Cooke. His whole thing was advancing science, but also he was pretty Anglican—as was in vogue at the time—so he was a bit biased toward that end.
Bacon wound up working in parliament where he gave lectures and became a voice for reform. The Essays are a collection of essays he wrote throughout his lifetime, continuously added to over the years. He is often credited with inventing the essay form. In fact, The Essays are a great inspiration for my own collection of essays, which I’m penning (with you) right here! Here are all of Bacon’s essays if you want to read by topic:
Of Truth (1625)
Of Death (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Unity in Religion/Of Religion (1612, rewritten 1625)
Of Revenge (1625)
Of Adversity (1625)
Of Parents and Children (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Marriage and Single Life (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Envy (1625)
Of Love (1612, rewritten 1625)
Of Great Place (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Boldness (1625)
Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Nobility (1612, rewritten 1625)
Of Seditions and Troubles (1625)
Of Atheism (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Superstition (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Travel (1625)
Of Empire (1612, much enlarged 1625)
Of Counsels (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Delays (1625)
Of Cunning (1612, rewritten 1625)
Of Wisdom for a Man's Self (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Innovations (1625)
Of Dispatch (1612)
Of Seeming Wise (1612)
Of Friendship (1612, rewritten 1625)
Of Expense (1597, enlarged 1612, again 1625)
Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Regiment of Health (1597, enlarged 1612, again 1625)
Of Suspicion (1625)
Of Discourse (1597, slightly enlarged 1612, again 1625)
Of Plantations (1625)
Of Riches (1612, much enlarged 1625)
Of Prophecies (1625)
Of Ambition (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Masques and Triumphs (1625)
Of Nature in Men (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Custom and Education (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Fortune (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Usury (1625)
Of Youth and Age (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Beauty (1612, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Deformity (1612, somewhat altered 1625)
Of Building (1625)
Of Gardens (1625)
Of Negotiating (1597, enlarged 1612, very slightly altered 1625)
Of Followers and Friends (1597, slightly enlarged 1625)
Of Suitors (1597, enlarged 1625)
Of Studies (1597, enlarged 1625)
Of Faction (1597, much enlarged 1625)
Of Ceremonies and Respects (1597, enlarged 1625)
Of Praise (1612, enlarged 1625)
Of Vain Glory (1612)
Of Honour and Reputation (1597, omitted 1612, republished 1625)
Of Judicature (1612)
Of Anger (1625)
Of Vicissitude of Things (1625)
The New Atlantis was Bacon’s attempt at a utopian novel, putting a lot of his ideals into practice to imagine a future filled with the pursuit of knowledge and scientific advancement, and his own aspirations for a more enlightened humanity. Unfortunately, he didn’t complete the draft before he died and it was published posthumously in 1626. As a result, the book is really more of an excerpt—it’s only 9,000 words in length and should take only 36 minutes to read.
The novel briefly depicts a group of people shipwrecked on the fictional island of Bensalem, off the coast of Peru, where they wind up at a sort of state-sponsored scientific college called Salomon’s House, and here we learn about the Bensalem people and their utopian society.
Both the novel and the essays are available to read for free in my Utopian Reading Circle in the Threadable app—they are both pinned to the top, and I’m excited to enjoy discussion with you there in the margins. If you don’t have it yet, get the Threadable app, then click here to join my reading circle—if it won’t let you in, you can find my reading circle on the homepage by scrolling down a few.
For those who don't have an Apple device, the Kindle version of The New Atlantis is free here and the Kindle version of The Essays is free here.
Comments are open to all subscribers as we read and discourse during the month of February!! I’ll be sending supplemental reading materials that take his ideas into the future in the coming weeks.
Thanks for studying utopian thought with me,
How can I view those comments?
Are there other people studying Bacon? How do I link up with their discussions?