Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary: Read Before a Society in Edinburgh (Hardback)Paul Wood
Hardback Published: 15/08/2002
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The three volumes of the "Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary" (1754-71) contain 89 papers presented to the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, a group which served as a major institutional focus for physicians and men of science in the middle decades of the 18th century. Led by such luminaries as Colin Maclaurin and Lord Kames, the Philosophical Society was the forerunner of the Royal Society of Edinburgh which still fourishes today with a fellowship of some 1200 members from a multi-disciplinary background. "Essays and Observations" attests to Edinburgh's standing as one of the leading centres for science and medicine in the Atlantic world. The list of contributors reads like a roll call of the most prominent figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. Lord Kames, Colin Maclaurin, Robert Whytt, Alexander Monro, William Cullen and Joseph Black all authored papers, as did Benjamin Franklin, while David Hume helped to prepare volume 1 in his capacity as Secretary of the Society, thus providing an intriguing insight into his intellectual milieu. The excitement generated by the innovative scientific and medical discoveries of the period is captured in essays on the philosophical foundations of Newtonian natural philosophy, Newton's theory of light and colours, practical and theoretical chemistry, anatomical dissections, the botanical system of Linnaeus and Franklin's theory of electricity. "Essays and Observations" is a valuable work, for no other single source can rival the comprehensive view that it provides of the pursuit of science and medicine in the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment. Containing many fine engraved plates and an introduction by Paul Wood, the first reprinting of this journal should be welcomed by Scottish Enlightenment scholars and historians of science.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC