Posts Tagged ‘Dilbert’

Once upon a time… the ideal society used to be the big topic. How times have changed!

From Platos’ Republic to the particular twist to the genre in Huxley’s Brave New World. One of the earlier attempts in this field was Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia of 1531. But I really want to draw attention to the next big one, Sir Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, of 1627.

It was one of those  ‘discovering already existing ideal world’ stories ie all the hard work done, and we all have fun. The land of Bensalem: an island ‘where generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit’ were the order of the day.

This one had particular repercussions, later in his new work Novum Organon.

In New Atlantis, Bacon drew up this blueprint for an ideal science academy, Salomon’s House.

The functions of the House were specific and rigid; division of labour was the system in use, and each ‘division’ had its sub-division  into ‘offices’. The sum, and the parts.

First were the Merchants of Light.

They brought in from other countries books, abstracts, ‘patterns of experiments’.

There were 12 ‘offices’ to handle all this.

Next were the Depredators, They collected together all the scienctific matters, the ‘experiments’.

They had 3 ‘offices’.

Then the Mystery-men.

These collected into different categories the experiments: mechanics; liberal sciences etc


These tried out the experiments. They had 3 ‘offices’.

Compilers interpreted the significance of the experiments, established axioms and laws of nature.

Dowry Men/Benefactors found ways the new knowledge could be used, ‘exploited’.

Lamps derived new experiments from the old.

Inoculators did the actual new experiments, whilst

Interpretors of Nature drew a ‘true understanding’ of nature and its processes

And so on.

This structure is closely mirrored in Bensalems’s Great Instauratiion, another of Bacon’s blueprints for exemplary institutions.

In this world the individual progresses through the seven walls of the citadel, each one consisting of one of the seven sources of knowledge.

It is essential we understand at this point that there were no such ministries at the period, no Civil Administration, no faculty outside the Court, and the Universities and Inns of Court.

And so, when desperately seeking out superstructures once trade and manufacture really took a hold: Protestant work ethic, the Puritan mentality;  Bacon’s deliberate break from Greek and Latin models of logic and ethics for a more home grown and practically based systems… well, here was something ready-made. Like most temporary measures, they are rarely temporary.

And now comes Bacon’s devastating comment, that plagues us to this day:

“For my way of discovering sciences goes for to level men’s wits, and leaves but little to individual excellence; because it performs everything by the rules and demonstrating.”

From the Novum Organon.

And so, instead of Bacon writing Shakespeare’s plays, as some wayward people have suggested (obviously not read much Shakespeare), my suggestion is he created Dilbert, scion of office tedium and ennui.

What soul and mind-deadening tedium Bacon was to subject his lesser men to! No, Shakespeare was intrigued by his fellow man; not repelled, as Bacon seems to have been.