Sir Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis is a utopian novel about a mythical land called Bensalem, where the inhabitants live happily with the sciences. In The New Atlantis, Bacon focuses on the duty of the state toward science, and his projections for state-sponsored research anticipate many advances in medicine and surgery, meteorology, and machinery. Although The New Atlantis is only a part of his plan for an ideal commonwealth, this work does represent Bacon's ideological beliefs. The inhabitants of Bensalem represent the ideal qualities of Bacon the statesman: generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit. These were the ideal qualities which Bacon wanted to see in 17th-century England.
In The New Atlantis, Bacon breaks from Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient writers by insisting that humans do not need to aspire to fewer desires because the extraordinary advances of science would make it possible to appease bodily desires by providing material things that would satisfy human greed. For Bacon there is no reason to waste time and energy trying to get human beings to rise to a higher moral state. Ultimately, Bacon clearly sees the advances of science as the best way of increasing humanity's control over nature and providing for the comfort and convenience of all people, and England's Royal Society and similar organizations dedicated to scientific progress are generally regarded as embodying Bacon's utopian vision. The utopia of The New Atlantis underscores the idea that science will solve the evils of this world.
The citizens of mythical Bensalem live in harmony with the sciences. They live in a society where the state supports scientific advancement. All rewards gained through science benefit the citizens, making life safer and richer. Disagreeing with ancient and modern peers, author Bacon argues that humans can afford to dream big, to imagine greater happiness, given that they live in places like Bensalem, where science provides according to human want. Bacon’s utopic novel is narrated here by Gareth Armstrong. Armstrong’s lofty British accent matches the mannered writing in this novel. Armstrong describes the idealized citizens of Bensalem with utter sincerity. His patient recitation helps listeners achieve some understanding of the complicated ideas and naïve ideologies that mark this work.
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