This pilot focuses on 17th-century works of natural philosophy and utopian literature. This period is known as the Scientific Revolution, a historical era of great discoveries and inventions. It was the century of mathematization of nature, mechanical philosophy, laws of nature and experimental method, but also of mathematical magic, curiosity, and discussions concerning the relationship between God and nature. These utopian works were mostly imaginary travel stories or fictional communities of ideal perfection in which the new intellectual achievements were embedded in an imaginary narrative context.

At that time, natural philosophy became poetic and literary, including fiction and imagination. For example, Galileo’s detailed descriptions of the Moon’s surface (Sidereus Nuncius, 1610) initiated new scenarios, which implied that the Moon, since it became “another Earth”, could be inhabited. Few years later, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1624-7) enshrined the moral value of learning and the advancement of knowledge as a great utopian goal. Other thinkers, such as John Wilkins, were concerned about the theological status of hypothetical lunar inhabitants, and whether they were fallen or unfallen.

Such a shift in the view of the Cosmos brought with it a shift in values. It questioned the centrality of man in the world, bringing forth new scenarios in socio-political and theological discussion, and led to a new consideration of the intrinsic value of nature. Our aim is to highlight the inherent moral values in the utopias of the seventeenth century and evaluate the conceptual context in which they were presented. Furthermore, we will investigate how values are transformed, reinvented and reconstruct a new image of the self and of the world in the early modern period.

Past of Values

This pilot will study 17th century texts, aiming to digitize how thinkers of that period perceived the transformation and reproduction of moral values and societies in their present and future. Also, we will highlight the inherent moral values in the new natural philosophy of the seventeenth century. These values were also present in many utopias of the seventeenth century and it is important to understand and evaluate the conceptual context in which they were presented. We will investigate how values were transformed and reinvented, and how they reconstructed a new image of the self and the world in the early modern period.

Present of Values

We will use the findings of the analysis in order to create educational programs for museum visitors or other events/occasions (talks, debates, museum nights, visits in the permanent exhibition) concerning these values. After the events, we will trace the visitors’ views on how/if these values are present in modern society. We would like to highlight the differences or similarities between the seventeenth-century values, which are inherent in the scientific instruments, and the values which are present in the popular image of science nowadays.