Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was fascinated by the voyages of discovery and the practical inventions just before, and during his lifetime. According to him, these ‘changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world.’ In a bid to contribute in the making of a ‘New Intellectual World’, just as Columbus (discovery of the new world) and Galileo (new visions through the telescope), Bacon began devising new methods of making knowledge that would rid learning of all its contemporary defects, and lead to real and practical knowledge.
Real and practical knowledge, according to Bacon, could only be obtained through adoption of sound methods of inquiry and the riddance of prejudices. The mind of man is, he said, ‘like an enchanted glass,’ giving distorted reflections instead of correct images due to the prejudices or ‘idols’ that plague the mind of man. Bacon identified four types of prejudices which are, respectively, ‘idols of the tribe’ (prejudices common to the entire human race), ‘idols of the cave’ (prejudices peculiar to an individual, and which vary from person to person), ‘idols of the market-place’ (prejudices arising mainly from the use of language, the chief medium of social intercourse), and ‘idols of the theatre’ (prejudices due to the adoption of special systems of thought, arising from special loyalties to certain philosophies, theology etc.).
Idols of the Theatre is a blog on the sciences and technology, and their intellectual, social, cultural, and political histories, by a student exploring the subject and trying to rid his views of the ‘idols of the theatre.’ Its aim is to be candid about all the aspects and views of the history (or histories) of the sciences and technology. Contents of the blog may or may not be academically correct or specialised.
Animesh Chatterjee is currently a first year PhD researcher at Leeds Trinity University, studying the social life of electricity in urban colonial India. Before the PhD, he was an Education Development and Curatorial Consultant at Pimpri Chinchwad Science Park in Pune, India.
Animesh holds masters’ degrees in the history of science, medicine and technology (Imperial College London, 2013) and communication engineering (the University of Manchester, 2009), and worked as an Engineer & Technical Writer/Editor at a multinational engineering consultancy (2009 – 2012) and an Education Development Consultant at Pimpri Chinchwad Science Park, Pune (2014 – 2015). His broad interests lie in the political, economic, cultural and social histories of the sciences and technology in colonial India and elsewhere.
15 November 2015