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20 JANUARY 2004

Utopic Representations of an Orderly Society

"Freemasonry during this period [early eighteenth century] was tolerant, enlightened, generally secular yet morally aware, and concerned with issues to do with scientific discovery. This science was used to legitimate a vision of social order as based in natural order. Freemasonry provided not only a vehicle for the scientists to lecture and socialize; it also offered the means through which these economic and political interests might find common support. It played a part in the civilizing of civil society. Newtonian science not only provided legitimacy through the symbolism of masonry for a higher, morally regulated, perfectible society, but also the means through which perfection might be achieved. The lodges were utopic representations of an orderly society by which self–interested bourgeois individuals might be shaped into moral subjects not only through their veneration of the symbolic order found in both nature and architecture, and their acceptance of rank and hierarchy, but also through their own freedom as moral subject sand as part of a group that perceived itself as a moral elect. Through such means the unhewn stranger could be shaped into a trustworthy brother. Such a process could not but help promote the development of the shared political and economic interests that we have all come to associate with freemasonry in more recent times."

(Kevin Hetherington, 1997, p.88)

Hetherington, K. (1997). "The Badlands Of Modernity: Heterotopia And Social Ordering". London: Routledge.

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