Carolyn Merchant (1980) outlines how Francis Bacon (1561-1626) fashioned a new ethic sanctioning the exploitation of nature

This post concerns concerns an interesting book by Carolyn Merchant entitled Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (1980).

In a 2020 preface to the book, Merchant notes (p. xvii) that in the 1970s, inspired by the widespread questioning of 1950s assumptions about science and other matters, she began to re-evaluate her earlier work in the history of science.

Merchant’s 1980 study concerns the process whereby the sixteenth-century metaphor of the earth as a nurturing mother gradually faded away “as the Scientific Revolution proceeded to mechanize and rationalize the world view” (p. 2). She speaks, as well, of a second metaphor, that of nature as disorder, which “called forth an important modern idea, that of power over nature” (p. 2).

Her study outlines how Francis Bacon (1561-1626) used the power of the written word to advance a Scientific Revolution that, as it has turned out, has a highly problematical side.

A online article, “2020 anniversary edition of The Death of Nature,” at nature.berkely.edu offers a succinct overview of the book’s message.

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