Science and Technology

Royal Society


Desagulier demo electricity in London.
1737 Royal Society. Not first.
Hauksbee's threads and glows, the two electricities, the dangling boy, the tube and feather the electrification of water.
German sparking experiments. Wesley, who can comprehend how flame issues out of fingers (20)
Benjamin Martin, Experimental Philosophy, Freke, quarrel, no one really understood electricity in the 1740s
William Watson, 1737 to Royal Society.
Benjamin Wilson, lightning rods, blunt rather than sharp
Wilson and Franklin in opposition in London
Kleist, condenser
Leyden Jar
Ingenhousz - Dutch, went to London in 1764, became protege of Franklin.

Henry Cavendish

Lunar Society or Lunarmen (later 18th century).

And then there was the English chemist and Presbyterian minister, Joseph Priestley [broken link to] (1733-1804), who in a letter to Edmund Burke (1729-1797) wrote:
How glorious, then, is the prospect, the reverse of all the past, which is now opening upon us, and upon the world. Government, we may now expect to see, not only in theory and in books but in actual practice, calculated for the general good, and taking no more upon it than the general good requires, leaving all men the enjoyment of as many of their natural rights as possible, and no more interfering with matters of religion, with men's notions concerning God, and a future state, than with philosophy, or medicine.

Joseph Priestley [broken link to] (1733-1794 ??), Met Franklin, who encouraged him to write History of Electricity.
1765 in Warrington teaching at the Warrington Academy.
Erasmus Darwin, b 1731
1756 became a doctor in Lichfield and part of its intellectual elite. Knew
Samuel Johnson, who came from Lichfield.
General and wide-ranging scientific interests.
James Watt, b 1736, improved on Newcomen's pump engine in 1765 and set up business. He's in Glasgow at this point.

Richard Lowell Edgeworth, b 1744, m 1763, Maidenhead, interested in machinery and carriages.


David Hume (7 May [O.S. 26 April] 1711 - 25 August 1776) was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history ofWestern philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

Enlightenment thinking. Optimism. Leave behind old thinking to form a glorious new world.
Old: metaphysics -- being and non being
New: epistemology -- exploration of knowledge

Old: basic inherent knowledge
New: learning through experience and experiment. Testing. (Locke)

The Enlightenment put great weight on nature. Nature is truth, nature is honesty. Man is part of nature, and thus can be fully understood. Man can also control nature through reason.

Christianity was not in accord with human reason. Non Christians could be moral. Republican Rome was admired and it had no formal religion.

The philosophes were international and wanted to influence the world without favor or prejudice.