1st Edition

Science in the Public Sphere
Natural Knowledge in British Culture 1800–1860



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ISBN 9780860788652
Published December 27, 2001 by Routledge
324 Pages

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Book Description

The common focus of the essays in this book is the debate on the nature of science - often referred to by contemporaries as ’natural knowledge’ - in Britain during the first half of the 19th century. This was the period before major state support for science allowed its professionalization; indeed, it was a time in which the word ’scientist’ (although coined in 1833 by William Whewell) was not yet widely used. In this context, the questions about the nature of science were part of a public debate that included the following topics: scientific method and intellectual authority, the moral demeanour of the man of science, the hierarchy of specialised scientific disciplines, and the relation with natural theology. These topics were discussed both within scientific circles - in correspondence and meeting of societies - as well as in the wider public sphere constituted by quarterly journals and encyclopaedias. A study of these debates allow us to see how British science of this period began to cast loose some of its earlier theological supports, but still relied on a moral framework to affirm its distinctive method, ethos and cultural value.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Scientific Method and the Ethos of Science: Scientific method and the image of science, 1831-1891; An idol of the market-place: Baconianism in 19th-century Britain; Reviewing Herschel's Discourse; Scientific method and the rhetoric of science in Britain, 1830-1917; Natural Theology and the Practice of Science: William Whewell, natural theology and the philosophy of science in mid-19th-century Britain; The principle of plenitude and natural theology in 19th-century Britain; Science in the Public Sphere: Genius, method and morality: images of Newton in Britain, 1760-1860; William Whewell on the history of science; Reading encyclopedias: science and the organization of knowledge in British dictionaries of arts and sciences, 1730-1850; Alphabetical lives: scientific biography in historical dictionaries and encyclopaedias; Science and intellectual authority in mid-19th-century Britain: Robert Chambers and Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation; Index.

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