Our present understanding of innovation is closely linked to science and research
on the one hand and economy and industry on the other. It has not
always been so. Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the concept
was mainly used in religious and political discourses. In these contexts, actors
used it in a pejorative sense. Innovation, imagined as a radical transformation,
was considered a peril to the established social order. Such was
natural philosophers’ understanding. This article documents Francis Bacon’s
work as an eminent example of such a representation. To Bacon, natural philosophy
and innovation are two distinct spheres of activity. It is documented
that Bacon’s uses of the concept of innovation are found mainly in political,
legal, and moral writings, not natural philosophy, because to Bacon and all
others of his time, innovation is poli tical.
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