Wednesday, May 9, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm – The Philosophical Breakfast Club and the Invention of the “Scientist”


In 1812, four remarkable men met at Cambridge University: Charles Babbage, John Herschel, Richard Jones and William Whewell. 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 seventeenth-century scientific reformer and political figure Francis Bacon, the Philosophical Breakfast Club plotted to bring about a scientific revolution—one which privileged an evidence-based, inductive method of discovery, and one which asserted the need for science to serve the public good. In her book, The Philosophical Breakfast Club, Laura Snyder follows the intertwined lives and works of these men over the next 60 years, and shows that by the end of their lives they had succeeded, even beyond their wildest dreams, in bringing about a scientific revolution. She will speak about one aspect of the revolution they wrought: the shift from the amateur natural philosopher to the professional scientist.  Dr. Snyder, Associate Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University, will speak at the Hunnewell Building of the Arnold Arboretum on Wednesday, May 9, from 7 – 8:30 pm.  Register online at www.my.arboretum.harvard.edu.  Fee: Free for Arboretum members; $15 nonmembers.