The Experimental Self Humphry Davy and the Making of a Man of Science

Ebook Details

Authors Jan Golinski
Year 2016
Pages 267
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Language en
ISBN 9780226351360
File Size 1.73 MB
File Format PDF
Download Counter 22
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Ebook Description

How did someone become a scientist before the profession itself existed? Jan Golinski finds an answer in the remarkable career of Humphry Davy (1778-1829), one of the foremost British men of science of the nineteenth century. Originally a country boy from a modest background, Davy s remarkable accomplishments propelled him to a knighthood and the presidency of the Royal Society. He was a brilliant and celebrated lecturer, and his chemical investigations led to the discoveries of sodium, potassium, and other elements and to the invention of the miners safety lamp. He was also a poet, a friend of Coleridge and Wordsworth, who wrote philosophical dialogues, a book on salmon-fishing, and narratives of his travels. An enigmatic figure to his contemporaries, Davy has continued to elude the attempts of biographers to classify him. Golinski argues that Davy s life is best viewed as a prolonged process of self-experimentation. Readers will follow Davy s course from his youthful enthusiasm for physiological experimentation to his late-life manifestation as a melancholic traveler on the European continent. Along the way, they will gain an appreciation for the creativity Davy invested in his self-fashioning as a man of science, and the obstacles he overcame, in a period when the path to a scientific career was not as well-trodden as it is today. The Experimental Self is an inventive treatment of a major figure in science history."