Title page for ETD etd-07052012-140651

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hurd, Kimberly
Author's Email Address khurd1@lsu.edu, hurdki@gmail.com
URN etd-07052012-140651
Title The Lost City: Examining the Relationship Between Science, Philosophy, and the Atlantis Myth
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Stoner, James Reist Jr. Committee Chair
Bratton, Kathleen A. Committee Member
Eubanks, Cecil L. Committee Member
Sandoz, G. Ellis Jr. Committee Member
Zerba, Michelle Louise Committee Member
Protevi, John L. Dean's Representative
  • science
  • Plato
  • Francis Bacon
  • political philosophy
Date of Defense 2012-07-03
Availability unrestricted
Francis Bacon, long considered a minor figure in the founding of modern political thought, is now recognized as one of its foremost thinkers. Bacon not only championed a new type and method of scientific inquiry, he also developed a plan for how modern society could be re-ordered to accommodate and promote scientific progress. Baconís scientific writings cannot be wholly understood apart from his political writings, and many of his works combine the two topics so subtly that it is difficult to even place them in a definitive category. My project expands on the previous literature with a detailed analysis of the New Atlantis, which marks Baconís turn to a poetic form in presenting the final image of his new science and the possible political consequences of scienceís ambition. I examine the place of the New Atlantis in Baconís larger project and Baconís place in the founding of modern political philosophy, briefly showing the ways his thought relates to Plato, Machiavelli and Hobbes. While the link between modern science and liberalism is not immediately clear, my project demonstrates that a clear thread can be found linking the two. Baconís demonstration of scientific rule in the New Atlantis is not meant as a blueprint for modern society; rather it shows us the dangers of a scientific society devoid of liberty. I begin my project by asking why Bensalem is considered an Atlantis by Bacon. Does it represent a correction of Platoís ancient myth and by extension Plato himself, as has been argued by the leading studies of the matter? Or does it, as I argue, show the limits of scienceís ability to shape a society without destroying it? By examining what is troubling about the New Atlantis, I can explain what problems lead to the emergence of Atlantean societies, i.e. societies that are prosperous, ambitious, and doomed. My project shows that Baconís portrait of Bensalem may provide the light necessary to guide those of us living in a world shaped by modern science through the dangerous seas.
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