Scurvy, like sin, was not an impediment to discovery but rather another branch of it. It was a sign of mankind’s infirmity that could be cured by the riches of the world or, paradoxically, it was the sinful ingredient of knowledge that knowledge itself was destined to expel. Francis Bacon’s program for physical immortality was a plan to do without the mediation and sacrifice of Christ. Is that devout or heretical? The universality of scurvy, the disease discovered in the process of discovering the world, might be expected, like the salvific sin of knowledge itself, to participate to some degree in the cognitive labor it appeared only to hinder. I argue that scurvy, discovery, and possession formed a secular triad operating in the same relation to its parts as sin, knowledge, and redemption.


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pp. 495-514
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