Experiments of light, Bacon insisted, were more important than experiments of fruit. He sought to restore to man something of his fallen dignity, to erase from his mind the false idols of the market place and to regain, by patient labor and research, some remnants of the innocent wisdom of Adam in man’s first Paradise. The mind, he contended, had in it imaginative gifts superior to the realities of sixteenth-century life; in fact, to the realities of the world we know today.
Our ethics are diluted by superstition, our lives by self-created anxieties. Our visions have yet to equal some of his nobler glimpses of a future beyond our material world of easy transport, refrigeration, and rocketry. The new-found land Bacon sighted was not something to be won in a generation or by machines alone. It would have to be drawn slowly, by infinite and continuing effort, out of minds whose dreams must rise superior to the existing world and shape that world by understanding of its laws into something more consistent with man’s better nature. “Our persons,” he observes, “live in the view of heaven, yet our spirits are included in the caves of our own complexions and customs which minister unto us infinite errors and vain opinions if they be not recalled to examination.”
Loren Eiseley, Francis Bacon and the Modern Dilemma