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three_sixty
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« on: September 10, 2007, 04:34:48 PM »

". . . religion and religious education were not the only propagational vehicle of patriarchal ideas; other systems of thought and value also delivered the message. One of these was science, which emerged in the seventeenth century mainly in England; its first  and greatest propagandist was Francis Bacon.

There is no question that Bacon in his many writings and experiments sought knowledge for the advancement of human good-he died from a cold that developed after he buried a chicken in the snow to see what would happen to flesh that was frozen. And it is understandable that he and others would at that time believe that human good was dependent upon control over nature. Bacon wrote: "My only eartlhy wish is . . . to stretch the deplorably narrow limits of man's dominion over the universe to their promised bounds"; "I am come in very truth leading you to Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave"; he justified the right of man to dominate nature by invoking the command, given in Genesis, to have dominion, to subdue. The scientist could lead mad to this level of power: "the mechanical inventions of recent years do not merely exert a gentle guidance over Nature's courses, they have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her to her very foundations." Although Bacon believed that "we cannot command Nature except by obeying her," that it was essential to understand the workings of nature in order to control them, and that this understanding was an act of obedience, he also saw nature as female and "rebellious." Bacon set science on a course which has not been questioned ntil this decade: a course of attempting to dominate rather than understand and cooperate with nature, based on a belief that dominance hierarchies exist in nature. This belief has been undermined by study in ecology and of subatomic phenomena.

Descartes was important, if not alone, in furthering the kind of thinking Bacon had advocated. Descartes posited a split between mind and matter which was extended to fragment mind and body, mind and feeling. This may not seem a new idea, since it was in some sense implicit in the Greek belief in reason as the controller of impulse, and the Catholic belief in human ability to control emotion through faith and submission of will. Yet the context of Enlightenment thought was new. in earlier Western societies, production and consumption were inevitable parts of everyday life. There was a network of obligations linking members of communities. These factors prevented people from seeing others simply as objects, or seeing objects as mere items for use.

THE NEW MODE OF THOUGHT USHERED IN WHAT IS CALLED INSTRUMENTALITY, THAT IS, PEOPLE BEGAN TO VIEW OTHER PEOPLE AND THINGS NOT AS ENDS IN THEMSELVES BUT AS INSTRUMENTS FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF THEIR OWN ENDS. THOSE ENDS INVARIABLY INVOLVED POWER, WHICH IS ITS OWN MOTOR, SINCE ONE CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH OF IT. INSTRUMENTALITY IS THEREFORE LIMITLESS: IT IS A CONTINUING
SEARCH FOR AN END THAT IS PRECLUDED BY THE VERY NATURE OF THE MEANS USED. WITHOUT INSTRUMENTAL THOUGHT, SCIENCE WOULD NOT HAVE TAKEN THE COURSE IT DID. "

source: "Beyond Power: On Women, Men, and Morals" by: Marilyn French

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