Why We Are Called The New Atlantis
The New Atlantis (1627) was the title Francis Bacon selected for his fable of a society living with the benefits and challenges of advanced science and technology. Bacon, a founder and champion of modern science, sought not only to highlight the potential of technology to improve human life, but also to foresee some of the social, moral, and political difficulties that confront a society shaped by the great scientific enterprise. His book offers no obvious answers; perhaps it seduces more than it warns. But the tale also hints at some of the dilemmas that arise with the ability to remake and reconfigure the natural world: governing science, so that it might flourish freely without destroying or dehumanizing us, and understanding the effect of technology on human life, human aspiration, and the human good. To a great extent, we live in the world Bacon imagined, and now we must find a way to live well with both its burdens and its blessings. This very challenge, which now confronts our own society most forcefully, is the focus of this journal.