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In the late sixteenth century, the Paduan legal humanist Guido Pancirolli wrote what would become a best-selling comparison of ancient and modern worlds. Pancirolli framed lost ancient things as “debits” and new-found things as “credits” within the inventory of human advantages. Soon after, Francis Bacon and Jakob Bornitz deployed Pancirolli’s temporal accounting for invention to develop a third category of things desired for the future. This story of the development of the research agenda places the seventeenth-century advancement of learning between the recovery of ancient culture and the instrumentalist reckoning of political advantage found in the new reason of state.