The Philosophical Breakfast Club

The Philosophical Breakfast Club : Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World

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"The""Philosophical Breakfast Club "recounts the life and work of four men who met as students at Cambridge University: Charles Babbage, John Herschel, William Whewell, and Richard Jones. Recognizing that they shared a love of science (as well as good food and drink) they began to meet on Sunday mornings to talk about the state of science in Britain and the world at large. Inspired by the great 17th century scientific reformer and political figure Francis Bacon--another former student of Cambridge--the Philosophical Breakfast Club plotted to bring about a new scientific revolution. And to a remarkable extent, they succeeded, even in ways they never intended.
Historian of science and philosopher Laura J. Snyder""exposes the political passions, religious impulses, friendships, rivalries, and love of knowledge--and power--that drove these extraordinary men. Whewell (who not only invented the word "scientist," but also founded the fields of crystallography, mathematical economics, and the science of tides), Babbage (a mathematical genius who invented the modern computer), Herschel (who mapped the skies of the Southern Hemisphere and contributed to the invention of photography), and Jones (a curate who shaped the science of economics) were at the vanguard of the modernization of science.
This absorbing narrative of people, science and ideas" "chronicles the intellectual revolution inaugurated by these men, one that continues to mold our understanding of the world around us and of our place within it. Drawing upon the voluminous correspondence between the four men over the fifty years of their work, Laura J. Snyder shows how friendship worked to spur the men on to greater accomplishments, and how it enabled them to transform science and help create the modern world.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 439 pages
  • 162 x 238 x 42mm | 698.53g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations, maps
  • 0767930487
  • 9780767930482
  • 311,026

Review quote

"Philosopher and science historian Snyder (St. John's Univ.) has written an impressive biography of four Victorian polymaths: William Whewell, Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and Richard Jones. Their individual achievements are remarkable.... The men's entangled lives and work make engaging and informative reading."
"Snyder succeeds famously in evoking the excitement, variety and wide-open sense of possibility of the scientific life in nineteenth-century Britain."
--"American Scientist"
"Smoothly and meticulously tells this complicated story of intellectual revolution and triumph in Victorian England... provides much interesting social and historic detail."
"--The Providence Journal"
"This fine book is as wide-ranging and anecdotal, as excited and exciting, as those long-ago Sunday morning conversations at Cambridge. To me her book is an example of popular intellectual history at its near best. What's more, "The Philosophical Breakfast Club" forms a natural successor to Jenny Uglow's "The Lunar Men" (which focuses on 18th-century chemist Joseph Priestley, inventors James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood, and polymath Erasmus Darwin), and Richard Holmes's "The Age of Wonder.""
"--The Washington Post
"The scientific method and the respect accorded science seem so obvious now that it is hard to believe it could be any other way. Yet the conversion from what science is and what it was is a fascinating story, one told with considerable charm by Laura J. Snyder in "The Philosophical Breakfast Club."" --"Washington Times
"Laura J. Snyder deftly recreates this age of marvels through the lives of four remarkable Victorian men. In doing so, she tells a greater tale of the rise of science as a formal discipline, and the triumph of evidence-based methods of inductive reason...Much of the delight of Ms. Snyder's telling lies in her eye for details...a sure-footed guide to the mores and foibles of 19th-century Britain...The"
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About Laura Snyder

An expert on Victorian science and culture, Fulbright scholar Laura J. Snyder just completed a term as president of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science. She is associate professor of philosophy at St. John's University and the author of "Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society."
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Rating details

371 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 31% (116)
4 45% (167)
3 18% (66)
2 4% (14)
1 2% (8)
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