Perception and analogy explores ways of seeing scientifically in the eighteenth century. It discusses literary, theological, and didactic texts alongside popular works on astronomy, optics, ophthalmology, and the body to demonstrate how readers are prompted to take on a range of perspectives in their acquisition of scientific knowledge. With reference to topics from colour perception to cataract surgery, the book examines how sensory experience was conceptualised during the eighteenth century. It argues that by paying attention to the period’s documentation of perception as an embodied phenomenon we can better understand the creative methods employed by disseminators of diverse natural philosophical ideas. This book argues for the central role of analogy in conceptualising and explaining new scientific ideas. It centres on religious and topographical poetry by writers including James Thomson, Richard Blackmore, Mark Akenside, Henry Brooke, David Mallet, Elizabeth Carter, and Christopher Smart. Together with its readings of popular educational dialogues on scientific topics, the book also addresses how this analogical approach is reflected in material culture through objects – such as orreries, camera obscuras, and Aeolian harps – that facilitate acts of perception and tactile engagement within polite spaces. The book shows how scientific concepts become intertwined with Christian discourse through reinterpretations of origins and signs, the scope of the created universe, and the limits of embodied knowledge.
the state of Ireland in the nineteenth century, that John W. Clerke came
from a family of Protestant medical and legal people, while his wife,
Catherine, was the daughter of the Roman Catholic Deasy family of
brewers. Agnes and her siblings were devout Roman Catholics, while
the Clerke and Deasy families appear to have lived on the closest and
warmest terms with each other.)
Agnes Clerke’s A Popular HistoryofAstronomy in the Nineteenth
Century,9 first published in 1885, should be understood in its nineteenthcentury context, when the word popular meant ‘no
connections to be made between the known and the
unknown. In ‘The HistoryofAstronomy’ (1795), Adam Smith describes
‘wonder’ as the natural response to a sequence of unknown or unexpected events;
he suggests that this response vanishes when the imagination discerns ‘a connecting chain of intermediate events’ that explains such phenomena.
‘Who wonders at the machinery of the opera-house who has once been admitted behind the
scenes?’ he asks in an echo of Fontenelle’s earlier analogy. 110 As a result of astronomical
The relations of the 3rd Earl of Rosse with scientific institutions in Britain and Ireland
to Earl of Rosse, 8 January 1855, Birr Castle
Hoskin 1982: ‘The first drawing of a spiral nebula’, by Michael Hoskin, Journal
of the HistoryofAstronomy, 13, pp. 97–101.
Hoskin 1989: ‘Astronomers at war: South v. Sheepshanks’, by Michael Hoskin,
Journal of the HistoryofAstronomy, 20, pp. 175–210.
Hoskin 1990: ‘Rosse, Robinson, and the resolution of the nebulae’, by Michael
Hoskin, Journal of the HistoryofAstronomy, 21, pp. 331–44.
Hyde 1987: ‘The calamity of the Great Melbourne telescope’, by W. Lewis
Hyde, Proceedings of the Astronomical
Ball R. 1895: Great Astronomers, by Robert S. Ball, Isaac Pitman, London.
Ball V. 1915: Reminiscences and Letters of Sir Robert Ball, edited by Valentine
Ball, Cassell, London.
Bennett 1981: ‘The Rosse papers and instruments’, by Jim Bennett and Michael
Hoskin, Journal for the HistoryofAstronomy, 12, pp. 216–29.
Mollan, William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse double column foonotes.indd 266
Non-stellar objects and the development of nebular theories
Bennett 1990: Church, State and Astronomy in Ireland. 200 Years of Armagh
Starre, Leading Wisemen
unto Christ (London, 1649), sig. A4r; and R. Gell, A Sermon Touching Gods [sic]
Government of the World by Angels (London, 1650), sig. B1r.
21 G. Wharton, 1653, sig. F8r.
22 D. Browne, 1615, sig. A2v; and J. Booker, 1645, sig. B4v.
23 A. Foulwether, 1591, sig. A8v; M. Aston, ‘The fiery trignon conjunction: an Elizabethan
astrological prediction’, ISIS, 61 (1970), p. 160; J. North, The Fontana HistoryofAstronomy and Cosmology (London, 1994), p. 264; H. Coley, 1682, sig. C5r; and P. Curry,
Prophecy and Power, pp. 23, 27 and 33.
24 J. Booker
Sentiments, ed. Raphael, D. D. and Macfie,
A. L., Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Smith, A. (1980), ‘The principles which lead and direct philosophical enquiries; illustrated by the historyofastronomy’, in Essays on Philosophical Subjects, ed. Wightman, W. P. D. and Bryce, J.C., Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 33–105.
Smith, A. (1983), Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. Bryce, J. C., Oxford,
Oxford University Press.
Ziman, J. M. (1978), Reliable Knowledge, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
quotes Adam Smith’s Essay on the HistoryofAstronomy , in
order to illustrate that despotism is a proof of low civilisation: 13
The opinion by which [Adam Smith] supports his
disbelief in the ancient civilisation of Asia is at once
philanthropic and profound. That ‘despotism [which
prevailed over the East] is more destructive of leisure and
lovers, then burghers and
merchants and vicars and doctors and lawyers. Then social realism:
you. Then irony: me. Then maniacs and murderers, tramps, mobs,
rabble, flotsam, vermin.’
She was looking at him. ‘And what would account for it?’
He sighed. ‘The historyofastronomy. The historyofastronomy is
the history of increasing humiliation. First the geocentric universe,
then the heliocentric universe. Then the eccentric universe – the
one we’re living in. Every century we get smaller. Kant figured it
all out, sitting in his armchair. What’s the phrase? The principle
and Lower Nubia’, Journal for the HistoryofAstronomy , 36:3 (2005), 284–6.
Ancient Egyptian culture was – usually – polytheistic. Still, Ra's importance and association with the sun can be seen in the ubiquity of Ra iconography, a slender male figure with a sun disc atop a hawk head. In her chapter on the literature and religion of Egypt in Pharaohs, Fellahs, and Explorers , Edwards acknowledges the importance of Ra as a