air: oxygen or enemy

According to Johnson, governments or religions should fear air pumps and electrical machines because “just as Priestley had demystified what had conventionally been called the “spirit” of mephitic air, or fermenting liquids, so would he demystify the “spirit” of human existence. These were not metaphors…the materialism that helped him isolate pure air could just as readily be applied to the theological question of the soul” (Johnson 132). Basically this rapid process of knowledge “…will be the means… of extirpating all error and prejudice, and of putting and end to all undue and usurped authority in the business of religion, as well as of science” (Johnson 133). With the aid of technology in this rapidly growing knowledge, people are able to create immense wealth and technological supremacy without a hierarchical position. This allows people to transcend governments and religions which is why Johnston believes they should fear air pumps and electrical machines.

This second part is kind of funny to me, I’m writing this blog post in the library and I originally couldn’t think of anything to say but then my friend asked me a question about this paper she’s writing for one of her pre-med classes and I realized that Johnson’s work sheds a lot of light on this type of research. I feel like the medical field is a powerhouse in both scientific and technological research and it almost always holds social or political consequences. On one hand we want to advance and better our medicine and medical technologies in order to help more people, but on the other hand we have to test these things out and in order to enact these tests, and this is when politics can get heavily involved. I feel like being able to advance in this field without being “held down” by the power of religion and government could be extremely dangerous.