America and France

The American experience contrasts with the Irish. The role of Benjamin Franklin illustrates how the scientist who is a long way from the core of scientific culture can contribute. He became a printer / editor / publisher, popularised useful technolgies (like the 'Franklin stove' without which it would have been difficult to survive the New England winter) and helped to make the political revolution. He had to go that road, because the road to peer-esteem via core-recognition was blocked to him by the width of the Atlantic.

When American democratic ideas were taken up in France, reinforcing the European Enlightenment, there was already in existence a central imperial State, with Baconian institutions, which influenced the flavour of the democratic revolutionary aftermath, pushing it towards the Bonapartist (proto-Stalinist) model. This favoured scientific technology, under the Faustian pact, and the Ecole Polytechnique became the focus of the European scientific core, with England relegated to fringe status. (The focus later shifts to Germany, and then in this century to the USA. but this is another story, with which scientists will be familiar).

In Ireland and Scotland in the 1790s the link with the European core was closer than it was in the case of the US, and there was mobility of people. French influence on science in Scotland (the 'Scottish Elightenment') and Ireland was considerable, and the English were leapfrogged. In Ireland by the 1800s the Royal Dublin Society was consciously on the way to becoming a technological university(4) on the Ecole Polytechnique model. Had the United Irishmen established their pluralist democratic republic in the 1790s, under American and French political influence, they would have had access to European core-quality science, organised as such, on the Baconian model.

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