The Royal Society stands as a bench mark for change that defined the way we validate science to this very day. Science was a closed male-only shop. The experimental model had gained traction with the work of Francis Bacon. His work lacked the ethical framework expected in the 21st Century (eg torture of animals and humans was accepted means to get results). But he was part of a movement that showed how experimentation, repeated trials was necessary to validate results.
They were gentlemen; middle class with sufficient wealth that produced an escape from daily effort to survive. We know it as leisure. If a gentleman said he had found a result, he was not challenged. His word was his bond. There must have been informal processes that restricted flaky thinkers. Nevertheless, in the 18th Century people began to expect that methodology and results would be open to all interested parties. This was the beginning of self-made men. They were unencumbered of financial influences because they paid for their own laboratory and material.
Validation of truths by science overshadowed the former power of kings or bishops or superstition. As England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales welcomed the 19th Century, speculative freemasonry began to take a recognizable form. The history of freemasonry is obscure prior to Grand Lodge. We can hope historians will continue to discover more information but we also have experienced the hidden influence of the men who were the Royal Society. Since 1717 freemasonry has been an explosion of written work; much of it opinion pieces based on fragments of facts. It is vital we continue to read as broadly as possible. This is where an understanding of the context of freemasonry will liberate the intellectual connection to our roots. We discover our future by discovering our past. Metaphysical, philosophical, spiritual and fraternal- we endure.
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