Science in the Public Sphere: Natural Knowledge in British Culture 1800–1860, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Science in the Public Sphere

Natural Knowledge in British Culture 1800–1860, 1st Edition

By Richard Yeo


324 pages

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Hardback: 9780860788652
pub: 2001-12-12

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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.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General