Skeptical and Natural Philosophy

Francis Bacon and the Scientific Revolution

What roles did others play in furthering Francis Bacon’s ideas?

Samuel Hartlib (c. 1600–1662), a wealthy merchant with an interest in science, wrote Description of the Fameous Kingdom of Macaria, about a center of practical learning, inspired by Bacon’s New Atlantis. Hartlib’s friend, William Petty (1623–1687), the founder of modern economics, envisioned a center for teaching practical trades, which he first proposed to Robert Boyle (1627–1691). A more theoretical precedent for these plans already existed in Gresham College, which was founded by Elizabeth I’s financial agent in 1598. Professors there lectured on law, physics, rhetoric, divinity, music, geometry, and astronomy to scholars, nobles, and business and professional men.


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