A Panegyric to Our Prophets – Past, Present, and Future

“For instruments of navigation can be made without men as rowers, so that the largest ships, river and ocean, may be borne on, with the guidance of one man, with greater speed than if full of men. Also carriages can be made so that without an animal they may be moved with incalculable speed…. Also instruments for flying can be made so that a man may sit in the middle of the instrument, revolving some contrivance by which wings artificially constructed may beat the air, in the manner of a bird flying. Instruments can also be made for walking in the sea or rivers, down to the bottom, without bodily peril.”

Remarkably, this prophetic utterance “on wonderful artificial instruments” was enunciated by the Franciscan friar and Aristotelian (Scholastic) philosopher Roger Bacon in the 13th century.

Thank you to the visionaries and prophets who have always, in every generation, moved humanity forward.

I often wonder who will stand out, eight centuries hence, as the Roger Bacon of our age.

The privilege of being an educator is that we can see that potential, real and present, in each child we encounter every day.


Jim Tracy is Head of School at Rocky Hill School in East Greenwich, RI.

One thought on “A Panegyric to Our Prophets – Past, Present, and Future

  1. Kent Bicknell

    Thanks for that great reference! Here is another good one;

    “The Carthusian monk, Werner Rolewinck, writes in 1474, in his OUTLINE HISTORY OF THE WORLD (Fasciculus Temporum):

    ‘The art of printing which has been discovered in Mayence [Mainz] is the art of arts, the science of sciences, by means of which it will be possible to place in the hands of all men treasures of literature and of knowledge which have heretofore been out of their reach.'”

    from George Haven Putnam’s 1896, BOOKS & THEIR MAKERS DURING THE MIDDLE AGES

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