OF STATUES AND VINES:
FRANCIS BACON’S NEW ATLANTIS AND THE QUESTION OF PERSUASION
DESPRE STATUI ŞI LUJERE DE VIŢĂ:
NOUA ATLANTIDĂ ŞI PROBLEMA FORMĂRII CONVINGERILOR
University of Bucharest, Romania
In De augmentis scientiarum (1623), Francis Bacon developed his discussion of “poesy” first broached in the earlier English version of the tract, The Advancement of Learning (1605), and explained in more detail the partition of that realm of learning into narrative, dramatic and parabolical types of poesy. In this paper I discuss Bacon’s The New Atlantis (1627) from the point of view of this partition, and draw attention to the topic of persuasion, which is pertinent to all the types of poesy, but also, in a wider sense, to Bacon’s views about the transmission of natural philosophical knowledge and the epistemology of natural philosophical method. Across these domains, the question of persuasion, or else the question of the formation, manipulation and transmission of beliefs, governs a cluster of themes which include those of authority, credulity, education and reformation. In all these domains, Bacon advocated a dynamic, fruit-bearing approach to knowledge, in contrast with a growth-blocking embracing of authority, represented, respectively, by the eloquent images of the vine and the statue. I would like to suggest that, by looking at The New Atlantis from the perspective of Bacon’s more general reflections on these themes, this text may be seen as a parable about the nature of persuasion itself. This will also be to argue for the cross-fertilization in the late Renaissance between the fields of literature and science.
Key words: Bacon, education, knowledge, New Atlantis, parable.
Cuvinte cheie: Bacon, educaţie, cunoaştere, Noua Atlantidă, parabolă.
 Research for this paper has been partially supported by the UEFISCSU grant no. 871/2009 [code 1980] for the research project entitled The Cultural Institution of Literature from Early to Late Modernity in British Culture.