Superstition, Idolatry and the Advancement of Learning.
From the Brotherhood of Light to the Solomon’s House
In this article, I offer a survey of Bacon’s use of the term superstition, tracing the evolution of his views on the matter, as well as the articulation of what I call a “problem of su- perstition.” The problem of superstition regards the discipline of assent, but also the formation of a certain capacity of distinguishing truth from “superstition and impostures.” In his early writings, Bacon suggested that certain forms of knowledge can cure superstition and entitle a select group to become “sons of science.” I claim that Bacon abandoned this solution. Instead, in his late writings, the recipe from keeping superstition at bay is based on collaborative prac- tices of what I will call “externalizing assent”. I show how such mechanisms of externalizing assent are vividly illustrated in Bacon’s description of the ranks and functions of Salomon’s House, the blueprint institution for the production of knowledge.
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