To Defy the Laws of Tradition

The idea that governments and religions should “tremble at an air pump or an electric machine,” is not an idea that is meant to be taken literally. Rather, Priestley’s quote plays at the idea that new innovations in science and industry challenge the conservative nature of world governments and religious authority. This can be exemplified by Priestley’s life as a whole, which, in a modern view, would probably seem quite contradictory. Johnson calls Priestley “an empiricist driven by a deep and abiding belief in God, who was simultaneously a revolutionary of the first order,” (Jonson 149) which seems contradictory to everything that we are taught in American culture regarding the overlap between science, politics, and religion. Priestley championed the idea that thinkers and great minds should try to push as many people as possible towards the truth, regardless of the pushback from churches, governments, or politicians; which is why Priestly supported the founding of the Unitarian Church by Theophilus Lindsey (Johnson 147).

Techno-fixes are simply the use of innovations in technology to attempt to solve a problem, such as water conservation. However, Huesemann and Huesemann argue that problems related to these “fixes” are inevitable, and that not every problem can be fixed through technological innovation. One specific consequence that the Huesemann’s offer is the mass extinction of thousands of species due directly to the use of human industry and technological innovation.

2 thoughts on “To Defy the Laws of Tradition

  1. The push of thinkers was a factor that i overlooked, this would be the first step in technological advancement. When thinkers and businessmen get together they swap ideas and get investment opportunities. when thinkers get investments and businessmen hear radical thoughts technology can advance.

    the only other thing i can add to huesemann is that nature may not be able to be improved.


  2. Well Priestly was a champion of religion, politics, and science I think it is more important to think of him as a revolutionary. He was a revolutionary in all of his work regardless of the field. In science he pushed the envelope well-being an outspoken critic of government and the church. I would like to see more men like Priestly in our times. These days most people, scientists included, are an expert in one area and focus only on that thing. Men who are revolutionary are renaissance men who can apply their methods and training to many fields.


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