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The essay argues that The New Atlantis attempts more than it advertises. On its face a description of a society in which natural philosophy has been institutionalized as a college or court household, it amounts in fact to an attempt to discover new social forms or relations. From a domestic point of view, the college of Salomon's House appears as an attempt to imagine a new kind of guild, a state joint-stock company, thus indicating that Bacon's conception of science as coordinating activity is premissed on struggles within the livery companies over control of labor processes. From an international point of view, the society of Bensalem appears as an attempt to imagine a new kind of empire, neither military nor commercial; in this dimension, Bacon's scientific goal of discovering the alphabet of forms whose combination constitutes the object-world is shown to be conditioned by a fantasy of social regression, of returning social institutions to their roots.